Sunday, January 1, 2017

Georgia Traverse - December 27, 2016

The Georgia Traverse is a 390 mile series of trails and roads crossing northern Georgia. According to The Georgia Traverse, there are 226 miles of dirt and 164 miles of pavement. I started at the eastern terminus (Burrell's Ford Road) and stopped near Helen, GA. This was a solo overlanding trip to check the Traverse out and to shakedown some of the gear I've assembled for Jeep trips. Thanks to my sweet wife, Jenny, for supporting the build of our overlanding rig! If you're curious about getting overlanding, check out Overland Bound and Expedition Portal

This was my first trip using Gaia GPS for route finding. In short, IT IS AWESOME! I was able to download the GPX from the Georgia Traverse website and easily load it onto my iPad & iPhone. I could only track my progress on the iPhone during the trip because you need GPS on your device (iPad is WiFi only). It was handy to have the map on the larger screen of the iPad so I'm considering a GPS antenna like the Garmin GLO. The DeLorme InReach seems like a nice piece of gear as well but the monthly service rates are expensive. 

Ready to go! 

I've always loved exploring the quiet two lane roads of the South. You can go slow and see so much. It is peaceful and relaxing for me. Taking a little time to just 'see where that road goes' is gratifying. It's even more fun when you can do the same with dirt roads without being worried about how technical it gets. 

We're lucky to have endless vistas in our back yard. 

So many options...

I love trees. I even have favorites - White Oaks & Sycamore. I like to imagine everything that these branches have seen.

This waterfall was down a long dirt road in someone's front yard. The pool in front of it would be ideal for a dip in the summer. Can you imagine when the first settlers came across the clearing and this waterfall and immediately said, "This is home."

Sky Valley, GA treated me to a perfect spot for lunch and a breather. 

PB&J and a banana for lunch out of my gourmet kitchen. 

I came around the bend to find this barn. Perfect. Just perfect. 

This sign on an old barn. Yes. 

Have I mentioned that I love my Jeep? 

I sat and watched this water flow for maybe 10 minutes. I just lost myself in time. You forget to take time to experience now. Just being where you are with no concern about the past or the future. I do a terrible job of over-scheduling myself and setting unnecessarily aggressive goals about being productive. This moment was a reminder that nothing is more important than appreciating the moment. 

Love what you do. Do what you love. Life is too short for anything less. 

This log cabin is hidden about 10 miles deep down one of the most rugged trails I've ever driven. The trail wound through endless forest then you pop out in a clearing with this perfect log cabin. 

Gaia GPS did a really nice job keeping me on track even when there was no cell signal. It won a place on my permanent outdoor gear list on this trip. Really, really well thought out software. 

Forest fires ravaged thousands of acres in the Southeast this Winter. I drove through a lot of areas showing signs of the burn. It was encouraging to see that the damage was minimal. The enormous scale of the fires was humbling. 

The Tallulah River. 

This is the longest river crossing I've ever done. Apologies for the camera incident mid-crossing. I didn't have the GoPro running at this point in the trip. I did dozens of crossings on this trip with a few of them being intimidatingly deep. This one was easily the most picturesque. 

Happy. Cold. 

Miles and miles of solitary adventure. 

Don't tease me with a good time...

Home sweet home for an evening. This is somewhere in the woods in the general area of Helen, GA. I can park and have the tent set up in about 15 minutes. I really like how little time I waste setting up gear with this system. 

Here's my kitchen. I'll probably add a tarp for rainy days but for now I'm really happy with the setup. I made dinner and packed up for the night by 6:30 or so. By 7:00 I was asleep which turned out to be a good thing. Weather radar around 10pm showed a nasty front rolling through in the next few hours. Pine beetles left behind several large pines that looked ready to come down if you looked at them crossways so I decided to pack up and move on. Another advantage of having no set plan for your trip allows you to stay fluid and move about as you please. 

Packed. Ready to rock. 

The original plan was to head down the trail a bit to find a site to park that didn't feature dead trees but I ended up enjoying the drive so I just kept going. 

I ended up on Highway 123 where the Waffle House was calling my name. I rolled in around 1:30 to have the standard - two scrambled eggs, grits, toast, bacon & coffee. You meet interesting people in Waffle Houses. I ended up catching a few more hours of sleep in the back of the Jeep in the corner of a WalMart parking lot. Not many people know that all WalMarts allow overnighting in their parking lots. It's not a scenic part of the adventure but an experience everyone should have in my opinion. After a little morning coffee I was on my way. As a side note, never drink bad coffee.

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