The Rain is Mocking Me – North Georgia

Author: followmea

I am from Florida. It is warm most of the time. Our rain is usually a warm rain. My friend, Dani, and I made plans to go camping in North Georgia. I kept checking the weather. It was supposed to be in the 40s (°F) with a big chance of very light rain. I could totally handle this, right? From the comfort of my dry and warm home, I will tell you of our wet and cold, adventurous weekend of camping and chasing waterfalls.

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Day 1 – Our campsite! Enota Mountain Retreat, GA

The first day of our trip showed real promise. With three hours of sleep, we left on time at 5:30am. The nine hour haul (or nap time for me) went smoothly. When we arrived at Enota Mountain Retreat in the early afternoon, Dani began to tell me about the waterfall we’d be sleeping near, the stream we’d be sleeping next to, and the forest we’d be sleeping under – and then my GPS travel tracking app crashed and reset my phone. I may have uttered some unpleasant words. Thankfully, not much GPS data was lost. After this momentary distraction and checking in at the front office, we headed to the adult camping site where we’d be setting up camp. Once I saw the waterfall and stream Dani had mentioned earlier, I squealed and did my happy dance. My first camping experience was going to be so awesome!

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Day 1 – Our dinner. Beef bratwurst and corn on the cob. The buns might have been the wrong size. Enota Mountain Retreat. Hiawassee, GA 

That first night of camping was mostly what I expected camping to be like. We set up the tent, blew up the air mattress (yey for car camping), set up the grill on the picnic table by the stream, and ate yummy grilled food. We ate beef bratwurst and and corn on the cob. We went hiking up the hill on the other side of the stream. We got a fire going (not me of course, I know nothing of making a campfire). It was around this time we realized we were the only campers in our section. We had the whole area to ourselves! Everything was fun and exciting, that is, until the moment I climbed in to my sleeping bag and realized how much I do not like being confined (I’m generally not claustrophobic) and just how much my sleeping bag was not going to keep me warm.

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Day 2 – Proof that it was cold! My gauge said 38°F and the Internet said 35°F. Enota Mountain Retreat. Hiawassee, GA

The temperature the following morning was 38°F inside the tent. I certainly did not need a thermometer to tell me that when I opened my eyes. I woke up throughout the night because (1) I was not wearing the right kind of cold weather bedtime clothes and (2) I kept getting too close to the side of the tent (it was freezing!). I dreaded the moment I’d have to get out from under my sleeping bag and thick blanket. Once nature called, I mentally prepared myself. Like pulling off a Band-Aid, I jumped out of bed and put on my thick outside clothes really, really fast. That moment when you realize you are no longer freezing but are now warm is fantastic.

The rest of the day went without a single problem or element of discomfort. We ate breakfast at camp – grits, oatmeal, and hot tea. We took warm showers up at the Bath House (sweet mother of warmth, it felt good). We left Enota and went waterfall hunting. We managed to fit in De Soto Falls and Dukes Creek Falls. For lunch we ate yumminess at Dairy Queen in Cleveland (Georgia, of course). After all the fun, we ended up at Walmart in need of grocery items and a sleeping bag to cover the air mattress to help ward against the cold ground. The latter will be greatly appreciated. Back at the campsite, Dani made a fire and grilled us dinner. Tonight’s dinner menu consisted of grilled chicken wings (oh you know you are jealous), mashed potatoes, couscous, and baked beans. We underestimated the amount of food that is made from instant dry food packets. This night, sadly, two other couple of campers showed up in our campsite. I wished them away.

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Day 2 – Dinner and fire time! Away from the fire, it was still quite cold outside. Enota Mountain Retreat. Hiawassee, GA

We were much more prepared for the cold this night. Aside from getting the sleeping bag for the air mattress, Dani heated up some river rocks in the fire and placed them in the tent (safely) so that we could have some heat in there. What a brilliant idea! I actually enjoyed lying in bed as I wrote some notes down and listened to the stream. While it was still a bit chilly in the tent, the temperature was more manageable than the previous night. I thought to myself, “I think we have this figured out. I can relax now. It is time to sleep.”

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Day 3 – Proof that it was cold and that it was raining. My gauge says it was 99% humid in the tent. Which means, essentially nothing was actually dry. Enota Mountain Retreat. Hiawassee, GA

I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the rain fly and to a partly wet pillow. “You have to be kidding me,” I thought to myself. “There’s water all around the edges of the tent floor!” The water was leaking through the seams and seeping through the rain fly and dripping down through the netting on the top of the tent. Inside the tent, the temperature was 49°F with 99% humidity. I kept good spirits but it was miserable. I know weather forecasts tend to be unreliable especially in areas known for rain. With that thought aside, we were only supposed to have very light rain this weekend! Dani had forgotten to bring her shoes in the tent last night, so now she will have damp shoes for the rest of the trip. I mentally cursed the rain as I forced myself out of bed to, once again, answer the call of nature. Later in the day I will actually have to work in drying all the bedding at the laundry facility on-site.

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Day 3 – Bean Creek Falls. Yey waterfall! Too bad we couldn’t go down and get right in front of it. The ground was too wet. Sautee-Nacoochee, GA (D)

Aside from laundry duty and the rain, the day actually offered up quite a bit of fun and adventure. Dani finally got a chance to try out her Subaru on an off-road mountain trail (nothing serious). The drizzly day provided the perfect time to do this! We started the day off at Wendy’s in Helen. Since we completely skipped showers and breakfast at camp, we needed something to eat and I needed a dry place to freshen up. Then we were off to drive around!

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Day 3 – Cheese! At Bean Creek Falls. Sautee-Nacoochee, GA 

Our first little journey would be a drive through Unicoi State Park and to visit the dam there. The next journey would be a drive on Bean Creek Road, which I chose from Google Maps on my phone. I figured we might get lucky with a road that follows alongside a creek of the same name. How satisfying it was to be right. We did discover a waterfall! It is appropriately named Bean Creek Falls. I was very excited about this and still am, actually.

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Day 3 – Crossing the river. You have to cross through Hiwassee River to continue on Indian Grave Gap Road. After discovering it wasn’t a big puddle, I was very excited. Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia

The final drive we would take in the car would be on Tray Mountain Road in Chattahoochee National Forest. So far we have driven on a paved, two lane road and an unpaved, well graveled, mostly one lane road (Bean Creek). This one, however, is only covered in rocks and gravel and is strictly wide enough for one vehicle. We drove north beginning at Unicoi Turnpike. We stayed on this trail for 6 miles until branching off on to Indian Grave Gap Road (another trail). You would think that we would have had a reasonably filled tank of gas before heading away from civilization, right? Dani’s gas tank was damn near empty! We really needed to get off the trail to a place AAA could actually find us if it became necessary. Fortunately, we made it off the trail and back to Enota just fine. Of course, this was after we had to cross a small river (yes, I mean through the water). Check out the picture! We were pretty excited about this.

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Day 3 – Me kind of wall climbing down. We hiked up a hill (not easy) and in order to get down to the water of the “upper” falls, you have to do this. Enota Mountain Retreat. Hiawassee, GA

By the time we made it back to camp, the drizzle turned into a light mist and the other campers were gone (yey!). We didn’t waste any time. We ate a small lunch of instant mashed potatoes and then headed out to hike and see the waterfalls on-site! If you haven’t been paying attention, waterfalls and streams make me giddy. Viewing the tall waterfall is easy because there isn’t a hike involved. To view the small waterfall (it’s part of the larger waterfall, I believe) involves a strenuous hike. I operate at a reduced lung capacity, so I had to stop a few times. There is no other motivation like getting to see a waterfall at the end of a hike. Dani was hesitant to take me on this hike due to all of the wet clay on the trail. I made sure to be careful of my footing and to make sure I paid close attention to her instructions so that she may trust me on future expeditions.

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Day 3 – Pretty waterfall. Here is the “upper” falls. So worth the hike! Enota Mountain Retreat. Hiawassee, GA (Dani’s photo. Credit is all her’s.)

Our last night of camping was a mixture of enjoying the “non-rain” (fine mist) and preparing ourselves for another cold and potentially wet night. Dani tried to make a fire but the damp conditions were against her. We hung out in the tent by the warmth of the camping grill (do this with care). It served as our heater and a grill to cook our dinner of shrimp and veggies (I love grilled shrimp!). After warming ourselves with hot cocoa, we took our showers up at the Bath House (yes, the milk was heated in a pot on the grill). We made sure to position the air mattress so that only our feet were near the tent wall. I am very thankful for this. Also, Dani placed our towels on top of the tent netting right above where the mattress lay to catch the water droplets from the rainfly. This means we will not be showering tomorrow!

Was all of that preparation for another wet and cold night worth it? Yes! Lo and behold, the weather laughed at us again with more rain. The tent floor was yet again puddled with water. At least the bed stayed drip-free. What is it about being cold that makes the “forces of nature” powerful and make you in pain? I think nature in general was out to get me this weekend.

At this moment we began the home stretch. We methodically planned out the rest of the morning to help us get through the uncomfortable dampness. We fortified ourselves with grits and hot tea. Let the fun begin! Dani cleaned and emptied out the tent (in bare feet, mind you) while I loaded the car. I am sometimes surprised about how alert and organized I can be while traveling. At home, I tend to be more jumbled.

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Day 4 – Me and the falls we slept near! Say hi to the little waterfall. Now say bye bye waterfall. *sigh* Fine…bye bye waterfall. Enota Mountain Retreat. Hiawassee, GA 

As we were taking down the tent, a man showed up at the campsite who turned out to be a photographer chasing waterfalls. He said to us, “I can handle a dry cold because you can always put on layers. But when it’s a wet cold, man, there is nothing like a wet cold. It’s miserable.” We’ve all heard this saying before but when he said it, it hit close to home. While the nights were a challenge, I am grateful and a little surprised that they did not dampen my ability to enjoy the days. I can only speak for myself, of course. Dani has not said too much about it. I think she’s hoping she hasn’t scared me away from camping altogether!

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Day 4 – Cookie Monster! I wore thermal pants and two pair of thick pajama bottoms to bed. Plus, three pairs of socks. I really need to buy camping clothes that’ll keep me warm…and camping gear too. Enota Mountain Retreat. Hiawassee, GA

I find it interesting the kind of things you have to deal with while camping that are otherwise non-issues in day to day life – like being warm, dry, and near facilities almost all of the time. Everyone in a first world country should have to camp in less than ideal conditions at least once in their lives, just so that they can fully appreciate modern comforts.

When I crawl into my bed at home later tonight, I will think on this new experience. I will wiggle and be very happy that I’m not constricted by a sleeping bag. I will sprawl out like a child just because I can. But most importantly, everything will be warm and dry! (Take that sleeping bag and tent!) Though, it is raining in Florida tonight. The sound of the rain hitting the roof haunts me. I can hear the rain mocking me. The rain may have trumped us this time but next time, I will be the one mocking the rain!

http://www.travelblog.org/North-America/United-States/Georgia/Hiawassee/blog-834541.html

Author: followmea
 

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