April 15, 2016
Last summer I had been section hiking the Bartram Trail with friends. On the morning that we were going to hike the section from Wilson Gap, up and over Rabun Bald, then down to Hale Ridge Road, I got very car sick. The drive had been on winding mountain roads (at times comparable to the infamous Dragon’s Tail) and included a very bumpy gravel road. By the time that we stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom, I was nauseous, could barely walk, and my fingers were beginning to feel numb. There was no way that I was going to be able to hike that day. I don’t tend to get sick if I’m driving or if I’m at least in the front passenger seat, but I had made the mistake of sitting in the rear. We had two vehicles so Tally gave me a ride back to Walhalla (sorry that you missed the hike Tally).
On Friday, I decided to give it a second attempt, so I made the drive to the trail-head at Hale Ridge Road. Since I was alone, I couldn’t set up a shuttle. If time had permitted, I would have hiked to Wilson Gap and then made the return trip for a total of about 17.2 miles. It was too late though by the time that I began hiking so I had to modify my plans. Instead, I made the climb up to Rabun Bald and then back down to my car for a total of about 8.5 miles.
The morning air was still quite cool as I put my pack on, grabbed my hiking poles and headed up the trail.
I soon crossed over a small creek on this wooden bridge tucked in amidst an abundance of Rhododendron.
Here, the trail passed right by the base of this pretty little waterfall.
Later, I crossed another wooden bridge that led me deeper into the woods. The tree in the second image had an elongated hole in it that went all the way through and resembled the eye of a very large needle.
For the first 1.5 to 1.7 miles of my hike, the trail simply undulated. It would climb 50 or 60 feet only to descend again. It did this three or four times. With 2.5 miles to go on the hike in, I was still about 1300-1400 feet below the summit.
After hiking an hour and forty-three minutes, I arrived at the observation tower.
At an elevation of 4,696 feet, Rabun Bald is the second highest peak in Georgia. Only Brasstown Bald is higher, with an elevation of 4,784 feet.
I ate my lunch at the summit and enjoyed the great views before turning around for the hike back out.
On the way down, I stopped to take this picture of where I had been. That’s Rabun Bald in the center.
While I’m glad to have finally been able to do this hike, I’ll still need to go back to do the piece of trail from Wilson Gap to Rabun Bald.