Our next stop was Fort Mountain State Park in Georgia, Again, because of the very nice reserve system Georgia has we made reservations before leaving. It was spring break and Tallulah Gorge State Park was very busy and near full so we were concerned about having space. We needn’t have been. The drive to the park was completely different from the last two drives of unrelenting interstate. Instead we had a lovely visual delight going through rolling Appalachian foothills through farm country. The other business that seems to thrive in the area is antique shops. Every turn we saw an antique shop. If we had been the type to stop for antique and vintage shopping the trip could have lasted a whole week. The last stretch of highway into the state park itself was harrowing. We came in from the east so we took the easier less steep 18 miles route and a good thing we did. We had to stop three times to let the tranny cool and we had one stretch at “Pheasant Hill” of about a half a mile where it was so steep we had to do the 4 wheel drive in 1st gear to make it up. We made it by early afternoon and settled in for two nights.
The feel of Fort Mountain was entirely different. Tallulah Gorge felt touristy and busy. It began when the ranger warned us they had been having some bear issues so be alert for hungry bears just awake from hibernation. Our campsite was very nice with a little creek curving around. There were laundry facilities that were 75 cents each for wash and dry so we took advantage of that to change a mound of dirty laundry for clean. Our fellow campers were mostly serious camper types. There were far less chidlren and a lot more folks with heavy duty hiking boots and higher quality campers. We didn’t see anyone with tents. The temperature had plunged to below freezing overnight and our propane furnace had to work hard to keep us warm. Strangely enough, this campground campground had some kind of fancy cable TV over air set up so we passed the cold with 50+ TV channels.
Fort Mountain is for hikers. It has several miles long trails and a few shorter ones. We took in the “Wall” trail. This trail goes up to a mysterious wall that is a remnant of a fortification of what the Cherokee call “The Moon People”. The Moon people were blond with blue eyes and present when the Cherokee arrived. The Cherokee and Creek went to war with them and killed them all. Exactly who the builders of this and several other similar fortifications and the reason for the buildings are unknown. The builders left no artifacts. My personal guess is northern Europeans made it into the area before the Cherokee and Creek and were the first indigenous people. They were then displaced and killed or integrated into the arriving tribes from Asia. That would explain some apparently European genes in the gene pool of North Americans even though the standard text book answer is everyone came over the Bering straight from Asia. Of course my guess is as good as anyone else’s as we will never really know. The black rock wall is certainly a place of mystery and a such is very interesting.
Misty had her own puppy mystery to cope with. Our previous dog Fred got very sick and almost died after a nasty bite from a cotton mouth in the south. Because of this, I used the small harmless prairie garter snakes in our home that migrate through in great numbers to train Misty to never touch a snake. Every time we saw a migrating snake I reacted with horror and shouted and pointed at saying “Off!” and “Bad!” and “Danger!” and the training seems to have stuck. The result of this has been that Misty is extremely suspicious of anything snakelike and barks in alarm at it to signal us a snake is present.
On the trail Misty spotted a small brown lizard and she jumped on it with her front paws. The lizard leaped away and Misty tried to bite it, catching it by the tail. The lizard spun around and bit her nose and then ran off leaving it’s tail behind that twitched and squirmed. Misty was not hurt just startled and totally bewildered. Apparently the lizard also tasted bad because she dropped the tail. The wiggling tail looked like a small snake and, horrified, she backed off and barked her snake alarm at it before circling wide to get away from it. I praised her for her discretion and I could see her puppy brain trying to process it. Small mouse-like thing became a small snake. Snakes are yucky. It was a good training experience and I’m glad the poor innocent lizard got away with only the loss of a tail it can regrow.
That evening the night was colder yet and ominously, snow was being predicted for Tennessee. Our next planned stop was Falls Creek State Park in Tennessee but we did not want to hit snow. After a check of the map we decided to skip that stop and go straight to the middle/west of Tennessee to Montgomery bBell State Park.