A Perfect Georgia Afternoon

Trip Start Aug 09, 2009
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Trip End Oct 23, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Georgia
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Arriving back in America was like my trip out but in reverse now.  A MARTA ride infused with the latest in hip hop culture welcomed me home and I was able to catch up on the latest in filthy, nasty rap lyrics.   Thank God for those annoying tinny tones that ring out from earbuds and headsets so I could to catch up on all I had missed out on during my absence.  And man how I missed out.  I had completely forgotten that people wear their pants down by their knees and that others scream into their cellphones so an entire traincar of people can listen in as some hoochie mama describes in vivid detail how she got "freaked on after the club."  Man oh man.  All this culture alive in well inside a tunnel below downtown Atlanta. 

Now that a ride on MARTA brought me back to reality and I was fully reimmersed in all things US, I needed a day by myself to decompress from all the travel and to slowly bring myself back into the real world.  What better place than to find some solitude than the mountains nearby in north Georgia.  A lot of pretty waterfalls dot the area and I chose one that looked halfway interesting in the pages of a forgotten hiking guidebook I found on one of my bookshelves last night.

The destination is Raven Cliff Falls near Cleveland and Helen, Georgia and viewing the falls requires about a six mile roundtrip hike through some much needed peace and quiet.  The best part is that the leaves are starting to change so the scenery is just out of this world right now.  Crowded markets, constantly honking traffic, exhaust choked cities, cramped airplanes and buses and constant noise seem like distant memories now.

The Raven Cliff Wilderness area inside the Chattahoochee National Forest has the misfortune of being just north of Helen, GA.  How can I describe Helen?   Well, I guess a while back some rednecks decided to reinvent their little mountain hamlet and up sprang a faux Bavarian village.  I should put Bavarian in quotes because this version has gone horribly wrong compared to the real deal.  Of course the ubiquitous tourist joints sell lederhosen and German chocolates to worldy Georgians and even the Wendy's is supposed to look like a Alpine chalet.  My advice...keep the gas pedal pressed down and don't stop for anything. 

Not only did my mind need a good cleansing today from my world adventure but my eyes needed one, too from all the kitsch I had to see while crawling through Helen at 20mph behind granny and gammpy in their Michigan plated motorhome .  The sight of super obese redneck children on the sidewalks chomping down on giant pretzels is just not the type of scenery I came to North Georgia for.  Luckily the mountains just beyond all this crap are an oasis from 250 pound women in spandex and oversized Atlanta Braves tee shirts who delight in their trip to what they think is "Germany.".

Once inside the colorful forest, about the only noise I could hear was Dodd Creek or the occasional bird or two up in the trees.  I didn't really realize what a sensory overload this trip has been until I slowed down and took in some nature right here in my own backyard.  I know you are here to read about places you might never venture to yourselves but sometimes places just as great are right here close to home.  And look at it this way, I am saving you a 6 mile hike over muddy trails in the mountains here (and a trip through Helen).

This waterfall is one of the neater ones I have seen here in the Southeast,  The path leading through the yellow, gold and red forest wanders past several smaller falls that are worth a look but the end of the trail is where the good stuff hides.  Raven Cliff is hard to describe.  It's like a grey canyon with a waterfall flowing right down the middle.  Quite the sight actually.  From the base water looks like it flows out of a hole in the rocks only to dump down in between the sheer walls.  Add to that a perfect show of leaves changing colors and I can't get enough.

Picture a perfect sunny day with no humidity and a temperature about 65 degrees.  On top of that just the slightest breeze and heaven on earth is right here in Georgia only miles removed from hell on earth in Helen.  I traveled to the ends of the earth the past few months to experience all things different but am really glad I have all this scenery right here in my own backyard when I need a quick getaway.  But as far as Bavaria goes, I think I would rather sit on that plane 9 hours and experience the real deal.
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