Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Hike To The Gorge Floor

The weather dudes had predicted rain for Friday night and yesterday morning (actually for the next six days) but, no such event had occurred.  We watched the sun rise over the mountain and decided it would be a great day to hike to the Gorge floor.

Several times a year “they” (whoever “they” are) open the spillways at the dam to release more water in the river/gorge.  It is done for those people crazy enough to ride a kayak over the falls and/or for an “aesthetic weekends”.  The construction of the dam in 1911 greatly slowed the water flow through the gorge; these releases bring back some of the river’s glory from days past. 

This weekend is an “aesthetic weekend” so we wanted to witness first hand, “up close and personal”, what the falls would have looked like prior to the dam’s erection.  The best view of Hurricane Falls, which is the largest at 96 feet, is from the observation deck at the Gorge floor.  To get there requires climbing down 568 stairs (347 to the Suspension Bridge from the South Rim and 221 to the Gorge floor) and climbing back up 2,359 stairs (at least that’s what it felt like).  Fortunately for us, being volunteers at the park, we were able to take the freight elevator back to the top (yeah, right!!!).  The going down is tough on the old knees and backs of your legs while the climbing up is a gr-r-r-eat workout for the old heart (huff, puff, pant, pant).

We made the trip in an hour and a half making plenty of stops along the way; both for making pictures and for getting air.  The following is a photo-journal of our morning hike.

First we stopped by Overlook 7 to see the difference in Tempesta Falls.  As you can see from the pictures, what a difference a little water makes.  By the way, Overlooks 1, 2, 7, and 9 are our favorites.

Tempesta Falls - Before the Release Tempesta Falls - After the Release

The flight of stairs to the Suspension Bridge on the South Rim start between Overlooks 7 and 8.

Stairs Down and Stair Up

Once you descend 347 stairs you arrive at the Suspension Bridge which crosses the Tallulah River at the top of Hurricane Falls.  Yes folks, Miss Judy walked across the bridge (she had to keep moving though and was in no mood to stop half way across for sightseeing purposes).  The bridge is 80 feet above Hurricane Falls and, being a suspension bridge, it moves as people walk across it which is just a little unnerving for Judy J.

Suspension Bridge Another View of the Suspension BridgeAnd Another View She Did It!!  She Crossed the Bridge!!

Having this much water flowing over the falls makes it just a little bit noisy but, it is still beautiful and worth the “ride down” the 568 stairs to observation deck at the Gorge floor.

Hurricane Falls Downstream From Hurricane Falls

Here are some “Before” and “After” pictures of Hurricane Falls from Overlook 9.  Again, you can see the difference that a little water makes.

Hurricane Falls - Before the Release Hurricane Falls - After the Release

The park is, also, home to many different wild flowers.  We know the names of three of these but the last one still evade us.  We wanted to get a picture of the Persistent Trillium which is an endangered species and only found in Northeastern Georgia but, it’s already gone by, however, we did find the plants but with no foliage.  

Mountain Laurel Crested Dwarf IrisWhite Rhododendron Still Unknown

As you can see, we are enjoying our stay at Tallulah Gorge and we will be making some trips to other scenic places in and around Northeastern Georgia as soon as this weather pattern passes by.  The mountains can be beautiful with all the fog surrounding them but, the views are restricted so we are waiting for those “clear days” to show up which will be beginning on Wednesday according to the weather sources.

Today is going to be a “Zero Day” (a phrase learned from our hiking buddies, Gene and Judi Curp).  We will go to church and do a few chores, however, most of the day will be spent sitting on our butts in our recliner’s working on our Katt nap strategy.  After yesterday’s walk, the ol’ bod is telling us, “Rest, Idiot, Rest!”  So rest it will be!!!!


  1. NO WAY!! That would be my response to "Let's take a walk . . ." If the stairs aren't enough to deter me, that suspension bridge would put me over the edge, literally. I'm not good with heights anymore and the swinging??? Fuggedaboudit!

    You are my heroes today. :) And the pictures are gorgeous.

  2. Judy - Next time Darrell wants to volunteer for a few weeks - you need to insist on flatter terrain!