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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

How Many Steps?

~Saturday, March 20, 2021~

Day 279

After a few days of rain and cold, which I guess was good tax prep weather), it’s time to venture out. Our campsite is amazing, with canyon scenery and riverfront views, which we are grateful for. But…..we have been really looking forward to seeing THE place to explore in Georgia…...The Tallulah Gorge.

Since most of the hike encompasses going over bridges, and perforated steps, it’s not conducive to bringing dogs except around the rim of the canyon, so we decided to leave Sadie back at the trailer for a few hours while we investigate. Hopefully, we’ll get to bring her along, another day.

First things first. We had to check out the 50-site Tallulah Gorge State Campground that we weren’t able to get into, since it seems all the rage. Of course, we have to take into consideration that the trees are just beginning their blooms, but would imagine that once filled in, it would have a less open feel. Very nice, but very exposed. I think that confirms that we’re quite happy with our choice of being right on the river.

One of the first things we do when visiting any park system, is to check out visitor centers or things along those lines. It’s a great way to plan out the adventure, and what better way to get the latest and greatest information than from a park official? They’ve done an amazing job with this interpretive center, AND… was open!! Appropriately named after conservationist and environmentalist Jane Hurt Yarn, who single-handedly helped save thousands of acres of wild land in Georgia, including Tallulah Gorge, the center highlights the rich history of this Victorian resort town as well as the fragile ecosystem. And we learned something new that really was quite surprising. With the fact that we are at the very southern end of the Appalachian Mountains, we learned that these mountains were once as tall as the Himalayas, until 2 miles deep of erosion made them otherwise. You mean they were taller than Mt. Everest? Crazy to think about this in Paleo times.

Many movies have been filmed here, such as “Deliverance” (one I will never see), “The Great Locomotive Chase” , and “The Avengers”, just to name a few. Another standout attraction of Tallulah Gorge was back in 1970, when German/American high wire artist and founder of the Flying Wallendas, Karl Wallenda, agreed to give the city a little more recognition by performing one of his most difficult high wire acts, across the gorge. Attracting over 30,000 spectators, he walked 1,000 feet across, in 18 minutes in which he performed 2 handstands, one in honor of soldiers in Vietnam and another for laughs. At the end was his wife eagerly waiting to hand him a martini! Insane stuff! The platforms of the metal towers that held the wire in place are still visible along the gorge’s trail (see photos).

With the completion of a railroad intensifying tourism in the late 1800’s, and the building of a hydroelectric dam in the early 1900’s, the efforts in establishing Tallulah Gorge as a state park gained momentum. It wasn’t until 1993 that Tallulah Gorge finally became a state park. This 1,000 foot deep gorge formed by the action of the Tallulah River, has 6 waterfalls known as the Tallulah Falls with a suspension bridge and a never-ending series of steps (1,062 to the bottom),

and think it may be the longest staircase we’ve ever done. And what goes down, must come up. 😝😩. It felt so great to be back on a hiking trail, climbing up and down, and getting that heart really pumping again with some altitude changes. Way overdue!

A great way to top off our day was sitting by the river, enjoying a few horderves while smelling all of the wonderful campfires being started around us, as we caught up with our daughter Hannah, Devin and our grandson Carson. Seeing them can’t come soon enough!

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