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Mon, Jan 15 2018 - I Have a Dream: to hike 4 CNRA parks in one day (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Mike S, Lisa
Participants:George, Aaron, Michelle S., Paresh, Steve, Grace, Bill, Laura X, Mike S, Lisa


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Write Up:

We fulfilled our dream of exploring four of the Chattahooche National Recreation Area (CNRA) parks in one day, and shared plenty of great conversation and laughter along the way. It was a bit chilly as we hit the trail at Island Ford, so we endured just a brief history lesson about the CNRA parks and Jimmy Carter's involvement in protecting and preserving the river. The geese were all fluffed up to keep warm as they sunned themselves on the river rocks. We spotted two bucks right away, followed by three does who scampered off over the hill. We made note of the beech trees, caves, and "waterfall" before moving on to park #2...

We thawed out enough to remove one layer by the time we hit Gold Branch. We admired the old Studebaker and agreed that a couple of us would return later to see if we could get it running. Near the end of our Gold Branch miles, we basked in the sun along Bull Sluice Lake to enjoy our lunch. Entertainment included a kingfisher trying to catch her own lunch, and a few moments of relection on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on what would have been his 89th birthday. "...Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last."

Park #3 was Cochran Shoals and Sope Creek, starting at Columns Drive. We wound our way up past the old Scribner family cemetery and then pounded out some miles to the old mill ruins. We shielded ourselves from the torrential mist shooting from the horseshoe falls. We glanced about nervously as we peeked into Bigfoot's lean-to. Plentiful sunshine accompanied our lighthearted conversation, and before we knew it, we were back at the Columns Drive parking lot. 

Onward, to Park #4, our final hike of the day. At East Palisades we dove down into the forest and along the narrow, muddy creekbank to cross a couple of little footbridges on our way to the bamboo forest. A bit of boulder scrambling yielded a lovely view of the river in the late afternoon sunlight. Late afternoon?! We better get moving as the shadows were lengthening. So back through the bamboo and to a formidable challenge: the BAH after logging over a dozen miles. Took a deep breath and up we went, to be rewarded by another gorgeous vista over the shoals. Then up the 52 steps and down along the riverbank, providing some Tic-Tac trail magic for a couple of young boys. Then the final push up and out of the woods and back to the parking lot.

Most of us chowed down on hearty and unusual sandwiches at North River Tavern where our table awaited us. We relished our successful 17.5 mile day and shared tales of tents with roomy vestibules. We had a dream... and today it came true.