First Day In Black Rock

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Flag of United States  , Georgia
Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday morning, we woke up super early (okay, 7:30 is pretty early for us, we usually sleep until 1) so we could get going. The hotel had complimentary breakfast, so we packed up the car then grabbed a bite to eat. As soon as we stepped out of the hotel room, bundled up in our thick jackets, hats and scarves, the scenery took our breath away. Having driven into town in the middle of the night, we weren't able to truly see the mountains when we arrived the night before. The mountains were spectacular, stretching back as far as the eye could see, with the morning fog rolling over them and the sky an orange-y gray. I wish we had taken a picture that morning, the view is something I will never forget though.

So back in our car again, we drove further into the mountains to reach Black Rock Mountain State Park, where we were staying for the weekend. It turned out to only be about 5 minutes from the hotel, and we initially missed the turn because it was this tiny back road turnoff. The drive up the mountain was nerve-wracking; lots of twists and turns and steep cliffs. There was a small hidden driveway with a large sign for a southern Baptist church that we were curious about, but we kept heading further toward the top of the mountain, with a note in our heads to make sure we explored it later. When we got to the campground, it was still early so the office was closed. We had talked to the ranger the night before, and he had told us to just go ahead and set up camp when we got there, so we picked a spot in the 2nd campground that overlooked the valley. Sure enough, when we got to the camp office after setting up, it turns out we had picked a campground host site, oops. Luckily for us, it was off season so they let us stay. The site was amazing, with a picnic table, wooden deck, and a fire pit, along with being right next to the bathrooms facility. (Don't judge, I'm not a fan of the dark.)

Since we had everything set up, we were determined to get on the trails and start exploring the local wilderness. The first place we wanted to go was Tallulah Gorge, to hike the trails and possibly go kayaking on the gorge's white water release. When you drive into Tallulah Gorge State Park, there's a split in the road: one leads left onto a dirt mountain road, and the other leads right on a paved road into the park. There aren't great signs to tell you this, so instead of choosing to go right, we drove left. Once you get onto that road, you don't have anywhere really to turn around, even as there are huge signs warning that this is an all wheel drive only road. Mind you, we're driving in my little Hyundai Elantra that I just bought less than a week earlier. So we're driving down this dirt road, which is quickly becoming steeper and narrower, listening to Georgia's Beautiful Music radio station. (No really, that's what it was called. We vlogged about it.) We get to the bottom of the road and pull into the dirt parking lot, taking notice that all of the other cars are huge trucks and SUVs. Cockily, we take a picture of "yeahh these guys needed their huge ass trucks, we just needed our little sedan." There was a beautiful lake at the bottom of the mountain, and a breathtaking view of the mountains over the water.  
We spent a while sitting out on the dock and skipping rocks on the water. After a good amount of sunlight, and determining this was not where we were supposed to be, we got back in our car to go back up the mountain. As we started our ascent, an F-250 with a lovely couple pulled up alongside us, asking whether we were going to be able to make it up the mountain. Of course we said we would have no problem, but just in case the couple gave us their cell phone number to call if we needed any help. Well, about halfway up the mountain, our tires just wouldn't go any further. We had just rounded a hairpin turn and were on a steep incline, and no matter how much we stepped on the gas, the wheels just rode straight into the ground. We must've tried for an hour to get the car up, to no avail. My brand new car, stuck on the side of a mountain. We had no cell reception to call the rangers, or the helpful couple, so the only thing we could do was go back down. Putting the car in reverse, I stood behind the car and led Jacob as he slowly drove it to a point where we could turn the car around. We did a three-point turn that was closer to a thirty-point turn, as I stood on the side of the cliff; if he hit me, we were going over. Finally, we got back down to the bottom and parked at the dock. We called the ranger station, who screamed at us about not reading the signs and told us we would have to call a tow truck company who might be able to help, that would cost hundreds of dollars. As we hung up and tried to remember the number they gave us, the couple we met on the way up was just getting done with their trail. They agreed to try to help us, so we followed them up to the point we got stuck at, and started tying up the car with canoe straps. Jake got behind the wheel, floored it, and snap, there went the canoe straps. One more rope left, I decided to drive instead. Luckily I'm a bit softer on the accelerator, and we were able to make it up the mountain. It turns out the couple was celebrating their eighth wedding anniversary. We didn't get their names, and they wouldn't accept our money, even for the broken canoe straps. Those people are awesome.

Now that we were safe and sound, we decided to go into the park and find out info about white water kayaking and rafting in the area. Unfortunately, seeing as it was November, we learned that there weren't any guided groups for rafting. I didn't feel like I was a strong enough kayaker at the time to be able to do the rapids by myself, so we ended up hiking on a couple of the trails. We got to the top of one peak, and sat together and watched the sun set over the mountains. The view of the gorge, the mountains, the scene, and the company I was with, made the evening amazing. We made our way back down the mountain in the dark, flashlights lit on the trail ahead, me clinging to Jacob's arm as if that was going to stop a bear from mauling me.

On the drive back up our mountain, the church we had driven past so many times finally piqued our interest. Down another narrow and winding road, taking us to what seemed to be the bottom of the one mountain going into the other, was a small white church. The darkness and tall church spire made an eerie scene, but beautiful at the same time. Almost to the campground, we stopped at one of the scenic overlooks and looked out over the valley at the lights on the mountains, the houses looked miniature from how high up we were. We cuddled up on the ground and stared at the stars; my astronomer pointed out all the constellations, I just liked to see them twinkle, so many of them. We were starving when we made it back to the campsite, so I got out the propane and made us some fajitas. Doesn't everyone have a full home cooked meal of fajitas when they go camping? Jacob tried starting a fire while I was cooking, about 30 minutes later when the food was ready he gave up and decided to try again once we ate. The wind was fierce on the side of the mountain, making starting a fire one of the hardest tasks we faced that weekend. We finally got it to start, though weakly, a while after we ate, and sat by the fire together for quite a while.
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