Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cumberlain Island

I can’t believe that we left the sun and warm weather of Florida and started heading north already. We made our first stop in St Mary’s Georgia for three days (you have to do this in baby steps) to get used to the temperature change. While we were there we went to the Submarine Museum, which is not on the base but right downtown. The museum is in a little disorganized but if you’re interested in subs this is the place to go, there are a lot of exhibits and hands on things to see and do.

The last day there we had reservations on the ferry to Cumberland Island National Seashore, we packed the backpack with sandwiches, water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, wind breakers, cameras and some other stuff, don’t worry Cathy’s a hardy girl she can handle all that on her back. Then it was on the ferry for a 40-minute ride to the island, on arrival we were met by Ranger Arron (call me Ron) Crawford. He answered questions for about 15 minutes then we started our tour of the south end of the island, which is called the Dungeness Trail tour. He gave us a very good history lesson of the island as we walked through the forest of Live Oaks all of which are at least a hundred years old, one that he pointed out had a trunk with a diameter of over 7 feet and was named Lucy. Then we arrived at the main part of the tour, which is the Dungeness Mansion. There were two mansions at this location the first built by Revolutionary War hero Nathaneal Greene, the second was built about a 100 years later by the Carnegie family. The Carnegie family had over 200 servants living here with them and were totally self sustained with a farm, ranch, hot and cold running water and even electricity 2 years before the mainland had it. After the fire of 1959 all that remains are the ruins, which now houses the rattlesnake population of the island. The tour ends at the gravesite of Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee, another Revolutionary War hero and father of Robert E. Lee, who died on the island when he was a visitor of the Greene’s.

From here we had a few choices, take the main road back to the dock, take the center road about a mile and a half to the beach area or walk out to the beach and take that back to the dock. Since there was a cold wind blowing off the ocean we decided to take the center road through the forest, after about a two-mile hike we came to the beach trail, which took us out to the beach. The tide was out and we had a beach that was 300 feet deep and 17 miles long all to ourselves.

The island hosts a herd of about 250 horses that run wild, we saw about ten during our stay, we also saw wild turkeys and a ton of armadillos.

Cathy and I were the first ones back to the ranger station so we grabbed the two rocking chairs on the porch and refused to give them up to anybody, even if they were older and more feeble then us. They showed us a 30-minute video about the history of the island and then it was time for the ferry back to the mainland. We were both sound asleep by 9:30 that night.

Then it was a long cold wet rainy drive across Georgia to Elko (about 10 miles south of Perry). Were resting here for three days (another baby step) before heading to Chattanooga were we will be staying for a month, including the trip up to Michigan (giant step) to spent winter break with the kids.

More when we thaw out in March.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A little Hiking

Today was our hiking day on Lookout Mountain, which means we won’t be able to move for the next few days. We started out on a little short trail called “Sunset Rock”, it was only about a quarter mile long but it was straight up the side of a cliff. Everything on Lookout Mountain is on a cliff. This is one of those places without guardrails and it was a long, long way down. It’s amazing that no one has ever fallen off the edge.

Next we drove around for 20 minutes trying to find a place to park where the car would not be towed away, they don’t like visitors in their neighborhood. We finally found a place and had to walk uphill for about ½ mile to get to the trailhead or the “Natural Bridge”, and then it was straight down for about 60 feet to get to the start of the trail. I slipped and fell that last 20 feet but I didn’t get hurt, fortunately I landed on Cathy and she broke my fall. This used to be one of the big attractions years ago but they have let it go lately and it’s getting quite over grown, after a few hundred feet of fighting through the underbrush we found it. It really is kind of neat and it looks like the city is going to fix up the trail to make it a little easier to get to. We didn’t want to try and climb out the way we came in so we just kept following the trail and about ¼ mile later we came out at the place where we had parked the car. That will never happen again.

After 30 minutes of sitting in the air-conditioned car and catching our breath we were ready to go find the trailhead for Glen Falls, this one looks easy, we can park right at the trailhead and it looks pretty flat. A half a mile down the trail and it was a piece of cake

Now we just need to climb about 100 feet up the granite wall and find the falls, we can hear it just not see it. OK 30 minutes later we made it to the spot where you can see the falls, well kind of see them you have to cross a little bridge climb about 100 stone steps try to get through a little stone tunnel that we now call fat mans squeeze and there it is. Not a lot of water coming over it but it drops into a little pond and was nice and relaxing.
Time to head back to the car, back down the granite cliff to the trail and we discovered something, the reason the trail was so easy coming in is because it was all down hill. That half mile trail turned into a 20 mile march with full packs on the way out, when we finally got to the car all I could hear was the thump thump thump of the blood rushing through the veins in my ears although I could swear that I heard Cathy in the background cussing me out about something. Go figure.