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Steven
I'm from the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. I was a woodworker for about 12 years. Well, up until I had the rug pulled out from under my feet, and I was laid off. I got back into photography in 2008 and decided to give that a try professionally, but haven't made any money so far because rednecks, white trash, and hicks are cheap. So, I'm working in a local grocery store where some days I hear and see the craziest stuff. I tend to complain a lot about things, but I'm too poor to afford a good therapist. So, I decided to make a blog and complain online to all of you instead. But I digress. I really just wanted to do the blog to share ideas and stories with the interwebz. =D
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Monday, March 28, 2011

Panther Creek



A couple of weekends ago, I did my first backpacking trip since last year’s broken leg. At first, Marcus and I were going to go to the Smokies, but the recent rise in gas prices had us looking for somewhere closer. We ended up going to the Panther Creek trail, which is in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Habersham County, GA. I’ve walked this trail a couple of times from each end, but it has been at least a decade since my last trip here. (When I realized this, I suddenly realized how old I’m getting to be.)




The trail is an easy walk. You can make it down to the falls in a couple of hours if you walk at a pretty decent pace. Me? I’m a little on the slow side since I’m out of shape, and I’m using a leg that still doesn’t feel quite right when moving over certain conditions. It took us a little over an hour to get to our campsite, which was out of sight of the first set of shoals that are worth mentioning.


Speaking of out of sight of the trail, we were the only people I saw there using any “leave no trace” ethics. Once we set up our camp, we noticed that someone had set up right between the trail and the creek – with in feet of each – just over a knoll from us. There were several people along the way to the falls, and at least eight tents set up right at the falls. Which leads me to wonder how much outdoor education is being offered by the REI stores in the Atlanta area. I say this because I noticed that almost every single car in the parking area had a metro area tag. The only exception was a Florida tag and my own.

I’m somewhat torn by my observations from this weekend. In a way, I’m glad that these people are concentrating on areas that are highly used, yet I would like to see at least some of them using LNT ethics so that others can enjoy these areas as well.

The other issue I have is that if they aren’t following LNT ethics here, then they won’t use them in more pristine areas like the Smokies.

There’s my rant… I got it out. I feel a little better. I know it won’t change the world, but I feel better now that I got it out.

The trail has changed a little since the mid 90’s. The most noticeable is the loss of all the pines. The southern pine beetle has all but wiped out what used to be a cool, quiet walk along the valley that the creek flows through. Now, sections of the trail look more like they’ve been clear cut. It almost reminded me of walking through the spruce-fir sections of the Smokies in a way.



The second change was a re-route in the trail that takes hikers away from what used to be a cliff that you had to climb up and across. This new trail leads you high up above the old trail, and it’s added a bit of a steepness both walking in and out.



All in all though, the section beyond the first bridge is a super easy walk. Only the final hundred feet down to the base of the falls is treacherous. I have never attempted that section with a backpack on. In fact, while we were sitting at the base of the falls (in someone’s campsite…mind you…ugh), I saw a girl fall down about 30 feet of steep hill, with the final 5 feet being off of a rock.

Which leads me to another observation – If someone gets injured in the backcountry, it’s those who are around that are the difference between life and death to those that are injured. So, to those men that were shrugging their shoulders when they saw that the girl had fell, I say get an attitude adjustment. Next time it could be you!



All in all, it was a decent trip. Marcus got some good shots of the falls, and some nice night photos of the creek in the half moon light. You can see them here.

We’re looking at doing a Smokies trip next month. I’m glad to be back in the woods, and I’m looking forward to more trips this year.

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