Tallulah Gorge with Friends
Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
217Trip End Ongoing
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Tallulah Gorge State Park
We've been told about Tallulah Falls and Tallulah Gorge by many of the Georgian friends we've met while RVing. When we mention checking out GA state parks, Tallulah comes up as a must visit for scenery, hiking and history.
It was overcast and calm when we took off hiking down into the gorge. The weather forcast predicted possible showers and t-storms so we had packed rain ponchos. The path changes from gravel to woodchips, to schredded tires (for a springy step), to steel and wooded steps, that descend into the gorge. Our first trip from the north rim was labelled "340 steps down to the suspension bridge" The walk down was easy and as we got closer to the riverbed, I kept hearing Duelling Banjos from the Deliverence. For those who aren't familiar with the movie Deliverance (you could never forget it), it's about a canoe trip gone terribly wrong, starring Jon Voit, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and 2 convincing dudes who played inbred raping hillbillys. THIS gorge IS where the movie was filmed and lots of the scenery looked familiar.
The suspension bridge had a great view of one of the 3 major falls you see along the way. After ascending the stairs we reached the interpretive center that's filled with exhibits and a film about the gorge, including footage of insane kayakers running the rapids and "paddling" down waterfalls. This place has been an attraction for tourists since the 1800s and performers have dared death by walking across the gorge with thousands of people looking on. The latest tightrope walker was Carl Wallenda, who in 1974, at the age of 65, took 20 minutes to make it across and stopped to do 2 handstands along the way (shown in the film). Great historical information about the dam, power generation, the rise and fall of tourisms and exhibits throughout.
As we walked along the path on the south rim we came upon a cavelike area of the steep stone wall which had a stone bench just waiting for us. Just as our butts hit the seat, BAABOOOOM...the lightning started and the thunder vibrated through the rock. It began to pour in sheets of rain and we had the luck to be sitting in the only dry spot around. It was amazing...we were totally protected and the sky was opening up and dumping rain 5 feet away from us. After about 20 minutes, the rain let up a bit and we hiked back to our site laughing about our luck.
Our good friends Louise, Sass, Gloria and Alan, showed up for lunch before our trip back into the gorge. Jodie and Louise had arranged to put lunch together and we all sat around visiting and enjoying their delicious spread when a police car pulled up and stopped. As if I were 18 again, I had a flashback of my guilty youth and a flash of panic hit me..."oh no, what did I do to get this cop's attention?" But instead of getting a ticket or a lecture, a friendly voice called out an invitation for all of us to join the regular Saturday night bluegrass jam across the street and down the road. How cool!
After lunch, we all repeated the hike Jodie and I had done the day before and enjoyed each others company and the sights. It was a beautiful day in a magical setting. We broke up early so they could do their mountain road driving during daylight.
This park is another of the Georgia Power Parks and besides having the gorge, it has an art center across the street. Local artists run the place and exhibit there crafts, perform demonstrations and sell their art work. Paintings, pottery, woodworks, jewelry and fabric creations are on display and we appreciated many of the pieces.
At 7:00 PM, we found the Tallulah Falls Oprey... a lean-to set up on a nice grassy piece of property hidden away on a back road. There must have been 200 people there and they were all having a blast listening to the performers and eating dinner. Some were on blankets, others were sitting in folding chairs, but all were eating and enjoying their regular Saturday night get together. The man at the grill was the police chief, who incidentally was the cop who stopped to invite us over. The mayor, Carl, came over and introduced himself when he saw that we were strangers. After about 5 minutes he told us that he owned the place and that "this would be a good place for you 2 to live and use as a homebase". Lots of friendly people and characters to boot. One guy named "Train Man" was called up on stage at least 3 different times to do his outstandingly realistic impersonation of a steam train whistle. He would do it on cue (when needed in a song) to the screaming cheers of the audience. Train Man had a huge cheering section whenever he did his slow stroll up to the stage from the rear of the audience. Then as he mozied up to the mike to do whis patented "woooooooooooo.....wooooooooooooo" from somewhere in his throat or solorplexus (???) the crowd would go wild!
The talent was tremendous!!! An 80 year old fiddle player, grey haired banjo players, guitar players, standing bassist, slide guitarists, vocalists and even a yodeler (about 10 years old) all joined in at different times. At one point we counted 10 of them up there. It was fantastic and even when the rain came most of us just sat there and ignored it so we could listen a little longer. At about 10:00 or so they did their last number and it was over. What a lucky break to have been at the right place at the right time to get the invitation to join this amazingly talented group. This is one place we are looking forward to revisiting.