Posts Tagged ‘waterfall’

The Best of North Georgia: Eating…

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Yes, I’m gluten-free and I have to watch my sugar intake and my thyroid makes it difficult for me to feel hungry at all sometimes, but this southern girl knows good eatin’. And when you’re in the mood for it, there’s nothing like the the flavors and variety of Georgia cooking. Top of the list? One of my favorite mountain meal destinations–The Dillard House.

front of restraunt

Keep in mind I grew up in a family that was half-full of farm people. When I say that The Dillard House’s fresh veggies and southern-prepared casseroles are the best EVER, I know of which I rave. And while I’m not much into animal protien, I’ve always on the prowl  for meat options that hearken to yester-memories. And there’s something for everyone at this special slice of heaven on earth. Take a look at a typicl menu. (more…)

Best of North Georgia: Getaways!

Monday, October 29th, 2012

There’s magic in every community. Every part of our country. We live in a world where we can discover within our own national boundaries wonderous moments of endless variety. Or, if you want to get all Wizard of Oz about it, we don’t have to look any further than our own back yard to find ourselves enchanted with who and what we are as Americans. We’re so very lucky to live where we live, and I’m never more aware of that than when I’m writing a novel set in my world for the last twenty years of North Georgia.

On this day where so much of the east coast is battening down and hoping nature won’t beat the everloving c**p out of them, I’m feeling particularly charmed to have places like Sylvan Falls Mill less than an hour from my landlocked self. Check them out near just past the city of Clayton, technically part of Mountain City, I believe, at the base of Black Rock Mountain (the highest national part in the country).

mill at christmas

Water is my muse. I grew up surrounded by ocean, river and marshland. My low country, coastal beginning was alluring, healing, beguiling, and, yes, at times dangerous. And while my heart will always beat fastest with the surf’s roar beyond my windows, it’s near mountain water now that I find myself most peaceful and inspired.

I thrive amidst mostly untouched nature and the unconditional acceptance of mountain places where technology seems so completely unnecessary to your well being you don’t even stop to wonder whether or not wifi is available (which it is, but you won’t care). Places like Sylvan Falls Mill.

Mike and Linda have been our get away for close to a decade, yes. But they and their community have become more than our friends. They’ve become life’s blood cosing through our veins. (more…)

The Soul of the Matter: A Mother’s Day…

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

I’m not your average mother (I know. Hard to believe, right?). What with the staying up all night, or basically for weeks at a time except for catnaps. And then there are the cooking and cleaning binges I go on, once the deadline’s met. And, oh yeah, my Mother’s Day ideal is dragging my family on mile after mile of interior hiking to untouched waterfalls. Dozens of them, that you can only get to by climbing down steep embankments from the safer high ridges where the rough trail runs, then scrambling over fallen trees and up steeper rises to the next ridge that’s been cut off by last year’s storms. Doesn’t that sound divine? Take a look at the presents you get, if you’re along for the ride.

 opening 1

opening 2

opening woods

Most of these were taken actually in the middle of “creeks” that are running high still from the spring thaw and a few weeks of steady rain. You have to get close, where the rush of the water is making you shiver, even though you’re wearing a sweatshirt and jeans in mid-May. You have to feel the mist after it crashes into the rocks that over time are worn smooth and covered in the greenest moss you’ve ever seen. You have to reach your hand into the ice-cold softness of this eternally-running perfection while you’re hunting for the ideal picture to remember your day by.

running 1 (more…)

I Hear The Craziest Things: See Tate City and Hidden Waterfalls

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Waterfalls are my zen. They’re my destination every time I flee my every day and the weather permits interior driving/walking. My Waterfall Challenges are off-road, in the middle of nowhere stuff, which makes seeing this on one of those dirt-road trips a bit of a surprise:

See Tate City

Get it?

There I was in the middle of some of the most beautiful and rugged country a car can drive to in the North Georgia mountains, just shy of the state border with North Carolina, when off to the side of the road someone had painted a big red barn with a spoof on the tourist trap signs all around the more popular Rock City.

In the middle of a field.

Next to a mushy dirt road that resembled a mud puddle that morning because it had been raining for days.

Cute,” I thought to myself. “The locals have a quirky sense of humor. I like that.” And off I went to find the obscure turn off where I could park Bessie and hike into the woods in search of interior falls several miles away.

Then, I saw this.

Tate City Pop 32

“Seriously?” I pulled out my local map. (more…)

Waterfall Challenge: Hemlock Falls–You’re Here

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Water is poetry for me. It’s breathing. Thriving. Living. It’s escape and coming home and coming back. It’s today and yesterday and tomorrow. It’s dreaming.

Come to Hemlock Falls with my husband and me. This last May. Spring thaw. Never made it to the higher falls. Mudslides everywhere.  Never quite there. Never want to be.

You’ll see.


Sun peaking. A halo. A path. You’re here.


Water teasing. A taste. A promise. Stay here.

On the way

Impossible winking. A want. A need. Know here. (more…)

Waterfall Challenge: Stonewall Falls

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Stonewall Falls is a shy, flickering interior cascade I almost didn’t achieve. Almost… Some miracles take their time unfolding. They hide. They challenge the determined heart. Everything that could stop you bars your path, while magic lies just beyond your grasp.


“…a very easy cascade for waterfall watchers to visit while in Clayton…” says Boyd of Stonewall Falls (p. 107).

Difficulty of hike?


Stream flow?




“Why not tack it onto the end of my hiking day,” I say to myself as I read.

Then again, the printed guide I’m using is a decade old, and even then it was a reprint.

If you’re local to the area and have a four wheel drive truck, I’m sure you could persuade yourself that this is an easy-to-get-to destination. Actually, this day I’m not sure at all. The park service has let things go a bit. Mostly, I suspect, because, as Boyd says, the area is a mecca for “campers and mountain bikers…” Not the pickiest lot, when it comes to the upkeep of their outdoor pleasures.

You get the idea. The dirt path I’m driving comes equipped with pot holes the size of the front of my car. Steep uphills and drops greet me, where rain and run off have made things steeper and more nerve-wracking. Nifty, not-so-little turns lead to near-blind hazards. Maybe this destination and I aren’t meant to be? (more…)

Waterfall Challenge: Becky Branch’s Steep Climb

Monday, February 21st, 2011

You know a few things at the beginning of a challenge.You learn a few more as you immerse yourself in the day-to-day. Like when Brian Boyd in his Waterfalls Book says, “turn at the Days Inn from Clayton,” you better hope the Days Inn is still there, but he’s serious about his landmarks ;o)

enough movement for a breeze

The problem with working from a 20-year-old guide book is that some things just are where they used to be. Luckily, the North Georgia Mountains is still enough of a tourist destination certain times of the year, I found my right-hand turn onto “Warwoman” Rd (you better believe I double-checked that name to make sure I wasn’t misreading it), because without the Inn to show me my way I’d have been a bird dog without a scent to track–there’s NO STREET SIGN at the intersection, because it’s a funky little fork off HWY 441 (that perhaps they added FOR the Days Inn), and you don’t really hook up with Warwoman until a few hundred yards further.

Good, I thought, as I and Warwoman got better acquainted, the first challenge was behind me on my way to Becky Branch falls. I’m now on the lookout for the Warwoman Dell Recreation Area, 2.4 miles down the road. 2.4, mind you. And I was tracking that mileage carefully, given that the directions were so exact. Turns out mileage is something Mr. Boyd played a bit more fast and loose with. That .4 can come sooner in some directions, take you further in others. At some point, you have to throw the guide book onto the passenger seat, slow your speed to a crawl and scan the farmland outside your window, often for several passes, until you find the obscure entrance into a local park that everyone who lives there can locate blindfolded. (more…)

Waterfall Challenge: My Dick’s Creek Adventure

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Sometimes life, and water, is about the journey. How many times have I said that? Well, I’m saying it again. Dicks’ Creek (Boyd, 110) seemed like an interesting idea for a waterfall destination. It didn’t really sound like a falls at all. Turned out, it was an ADVENTURE instead. It was an amazing revelation you have to see for yourself one day.

Hiking the half-mile wild, meandering, non-existent trail in to the water and then out again, I had lots of time to wonder why there wasn’t a picture of the falls in Boyd’s book. Was I being toyed with? Was there really nothing to see, despite the EXCELLENT rating in the description?

Didn’t really matter, because the FOUR MILES of dirt, back-country, mountain roads I drove in my Nissan sedan just to get to the parking spot had been fun enough already to make the trip worthwhile.

It was beautiful country. Fields and undisturbed farmland.

cows and high country farms

 VERY interesting mailboxes and property markers.

Address Marker for the mail truck

Yes–that is a rusted out truck between two lamp posts on the side of a dirt road, with the homestead’s street number  painted on the front so the mailman (and few other’s I’m assuming that venture this far in from the main road) can find the place. (more…)

Watefall Challenge: Toccoa

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

My quest to visit all waterfalls in the North Georgia mountains continues. On it, I’ve discovered that it’s not always about the water. Or the hike. Or the remoteness of the area I’m trying to see. Though the fascination with all of that is part of the journey for me, sometimes the challenge becomes about sitting and seeing and hearing things I wouldn’t anywhere else, except right where I am in moment where water’s speaking to me above everything else.

Toccoa falls is a tiny blip. It’s a barely there cascade controlled by a damn. A damn that broke over three decades ago and decimated the small college community around it, killing three dozen people. In middle school, I read a biography written by one of the survivers, and the experience lead me to avoid visiting the falls for longer than I care to admit. Places of great destruction tend to maintain a negative rush of energy I’m rarely comfortable with. But Toccoa falls is part of my journey now, so this past August I made my way to its base.

Access to the area’s restricted by a gate. You actually have to walk through a gift shop of all things to get to the sedate, paved path that leads to the sprinkling of water that is all that remains of the falls. Along the way you pass a plaque that tells the story of the tragedy that happend in this quiet place so different from the rugged, wild journeys I’ve taken to other water destinations. It was like visiting a grave. Not scary. No dark energy. Just…nothing. As if the past has  been whitewashed away in an attempt to pretty up the present for our viewing enjoyment.


You’re struck by the hush. The almost non-existent brush of water over stone. (more…)

Waterfall Challenge: Minnehaha

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Ever wonder if the world enjoys making mock of your special projects? Then you wonder if you’re being just a little too cynical. Then you get some breakfast in you, warm up, take a look at your digital photos, and suddenly the world looks ethereally beautiful again…

What the heck am I talking about?

Well, I’ve done a lot of waterfall walking over the last few months. I’ll be blogging weekly about my many adventures.

The first new post HAD to be Minnehaha (Boyd, p. 112), and there’s a whole different story to share than I thought there would be.

New Minnehaha cascade

I mean, Minnehaha…

The joke’s there in the name. (more…)