Lynn and I spent a week in Georgia this month. She had a school reunion and we wanted to visit the north Georgia mountains for a few days beforehand. We have fond memories of weekend hikes along the Appalachian Trail when we were in college. I can report that the area is just as pretty as I remember, but the trails seem a lot steeper now.
We stayed in a cabin at the Enota Mountain Retreat, between Helen and Hiawassee. This was only a few miles from Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. The Cherokee people called this mountain Enotah.
Brasstown Bald is in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and there’s a small entrance fee at the parking area, but if you have a National Park Service Senior Pass, you can use that. The 0.6 mile paved trail from the parking area to the top is very steep, although a bus runs between 10am and 5pm. We arrived after 5 on our first day – it was well worth the hike to the top. The spectacular 360 degree view was the best one we saw.
Compare that to a very similar view from an un-modified camera to see how the infrared sensor helps cuts through the haze.
Good vistas don’t seem as common here as they are for instance in the Rockies. The small roads have places to pull over, but the view is often blocked by trees. Which makes the outlook from Brasstown Bald exceptional.
North Georgia also has a huge number of waterfalls – but some are more difficult to find, get to, and see clearly than others. There are four on the Enota Resort grounds. The trail to this one was steep and muddy in spots and led up along the side of a ravine to this spot across from the falls. We couldn’t find a viewpoint with a clear view through the trees, although there were other paths that we didn’t have time (or energy) to try.
We did visit other waterfalls that are easier to get to and see. There’s even a pull off just outside Vogel State Park where we could view a large waterfall from the road (no hike!). Anna Ruby Falls is on federal land inside Unicoi State park near Helen. The paved path to the falls is about 1/2 mile long and not too difficult with resting places along the way. We also visited Amicolola Falls near Dahlonaga after our wonderful lunch at the Smith House Restaurant. This falls also has a relatively short and easier paved path to a wonderful open view. But the hike might be even easier when your stomach isn’t so full!
I used a variety of shutter speeds on the waterfalls and I think 1/10 to 1/2 is the range to play in to make the water look best. Unless you find a pool of swirling water – where a longer exposure might be better. Try different shutter speeds while you’re there so you can pick the best result when you get home. Most of the time I could get my shutter speed in range by adjusting ISO and aperture. I did have a variable neutral density filter with me that I used a couple of times – it was handy when the sun was out. Most of the time it was cloudy enough so that I didn’t have to worry about using the filter or fight the extreme contrast of sun shining on white water.
As far as wildlife goes, we didn’t spend a lot of effort looking and we didn’t see many animals. I was able to photograph one new life bird: a Louisiana Waterthrush. Lynn found it foraging on the ground outside (while we did the laundry!).
After our time in North Georgia, we headed to Atlanta for the reunion. For various reasons, my photo ops there were limited, but we did have a nice vantage point from our hotel room.
One place I’ve heard great things about but didn’t get to visit is the Georgia aquarium. I’ll have to save it for next time.
All in all, an exceptional, relaxing, and photogenic trip which we both thoroughly enjoyed. These and other Georgia photos are in this album on Flickr, where you can view larger versions. Also, if you haven’t seen last week’s post about the Narcosee Indian Mound, please take a look at that.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.