Friday, June 20, 2014

3 WHY GEORGIA: Amicalola Falls

I love to travel.  I love standing on new soil, wondering who has been there before me and who is yet to come.  The places with natural beauty or with ancient manmade wonders are my favorite.  I’ve been fortunate to sit on the edge of the Grand Canyon, looked down on small villages from the top of peaks in Italy, gazed in amazement at the Coliseum, and wondered what it would have been like to see an army of ships coming across the ocean as I gazed out at the waters from a fort in Puerto Rico.  It was in Puerto Rico I also married my best friend with the sound of the waves crashing.  The flavors of the places we travel to are as big a part of the experience as the sights.  There’s nothing quite like trying a new amazing dish that you know just won’t be the same if you try to get it at home.
In the nearly 14 months since we became parents, our trips have been a little less exotic and have required a lot more baggage.  We’ve found ourselves on the more traditional family beach trips at the tourist trap locations.  Without a doubt, we will pick up our exploring and travelling again when baby girl gets a little older, but at this point it would be more stressful to try than enjoyable.
Given the spirit we have for exploring when we travel, it is interesting that we have admired the beauty of places far away, but have never really explored our own backyard.  It was a few weeks ago that we began our latest set of adventures.  To be honest, I don’t even remember what started us down this path, other than maybe my husband asking during Memorial Day weekend if there was somewhere we could go to and explore.  Somehow based on his prompting, I ended up on a website that had the Favorite Trails to Waterfallsin Georgia.  Looking through the pictures I couldn’t help but think these are exactly the kind of places we search for when we travel.  Who would have known all of these beautiful landscapes are within two hours of us in our own home state?  It feels silly to have travelled across the ocean to hike Cinque Terre, when some really gorgeous hikes are right here. 
So that first weekend we picked a water fall that was easy to access, but still boasted the stat of being the tallest cascading waterfall East of the Missisippi: Amicalola Falls in Amicalola State Park.  I quickly packed up a bag of goodies to take with us for the baby and we grabbed the backpack baby carrier that I scored at a yard sale for $7 a few weeks before.  A quick call to my parents to see if they wanted to be our partners in crime on this adventure and we were picking them up and heading north.
Amicalola Falls has a staircase that climbs along side it with viewing platforms at the bottom, middle, and top.  A parking lot at the bottom and top of the staircase makes it extremely accessible.  My parents dropped us off at the top of the staircase, and met us with the car at the parking lot at the bottom.  We planned to hike down the staircase, admire the falls, and then Mom and I could enjoy some holiday shopping at the outlets nearby.  Unfortunately as we began the hike, we noticed that baby girl was starting to have an allergic reaction to something from lunch.  She had a hive forming on her elbow that began growing.  We finished the hike down the staircase and the hives went away for a moment, but then came back.  In the interest of being cautious, we decided to skip the outlets and instead stop for some Benadryl and head back home.  She ended up being okay after a day or two of taking Benadryl, and we still have absolutely no idea what caused the hives because the first bump appeared before we even entered the woods.  We thought it was a mosquito bite at first. 
Quick family photo in front of crowded Amicalola Falls
Amicalola Falls were definitely very pretty, but were also the most crowded falls we’ve been to thus far.   It takes away from being in nature a bit when there are so many other people around you.  This was our first hike, and admittedly I haven’t been as active since having baby girl as I was beforehand.  As we were descending the staircase I felt great.  It wasn’t nearly as difficult to go down the stairs as it looked for the people coming up the stairs.  When we reached the first viewpoint and stopped for a moment to enjoy it, I began having the strangest sensation.  My calfs began shaking uncontrollably.  Luckily, I didn’t feel quite so out of shape as my husband spoke up and noted that he was experiencing the same.  The uncontrollable shakes in our calfs continued the rest of the descent downwards.  We've done several more hikes since, and haven't had this sensation at all, so I'm not too concerned.  Little by little we're getting in better shape and making some amazing family memories along the way.    
And, of course, once you’ve seen one on the Top 10 Trails to Waterfalls in Georgia… you have to see the other nine.  More to come!
Amicalola Falls


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