The end of work on Friday couldn’t get here fast enough. I was meeting a long time buddy of mine at the South Carolina/Georgia state line at Oconee State Park to begin our weekend on the Georgia Traverse. John lives in South Carolina and I’m obviously from Chattanooga, Tn so we thought this would be a good halfway point for us to meet at to begin our weekend on the traverse.
He got there several hours earlier than I did since I didn’t leave at the time I had anticipated. I arrived right at 9 p.m. and luckily the gate to the park hadn’t been closed yet. I pulled in to see his 4wd suburban sitting there with his bright green CVT roof top tent and him and his 2 boys sitting by the fire they already had built. I got out and they greeted me with open arms and lots of catching up. We talked by the fire for the next couple of hours but retired to our beds so we could get a start in the morning on our adventure.
I woke up Saturday morning to the sounds of kids playing and John getting his cooking gear out of the suburban. I quickly realized I had slept later than I wanted to and jumped up to help him get breakfast ready for all of us.
When I hopped out of the Land Cruiser, this was the first time I had really seen the campsite we were in. It was right next to the little lake that is in the state park and it was a beautiful setting to start this journey.
After we downed our breakfast and got washed up, we loaded up the trucks and headed off to start our day. We had started the traverse one time about 3 years prior to this trip and we took our time and made it to just outside of Helen, Ga. This time, I was hoping we could make it further, but if not, it wasn’t a big deal, we were out there having fun and that’s what it’s all about.
Since we’d been here before, we decided to skip the portion that crosses Burrells Ford road since there’s really nothing notable to see on it. We opted to start on Overlflow Creek road and go from there. It is a pretty area and not a hard trail at all. We were just bumping down the trail and my phone suddenly started going off, I thought, “cool, I’ve got a little service”. So all the commotion on my phone was my wife wondering how it was going and where we were. She went to Florida for the weekend and was curious about our progress. So I promptly pulled over and called her since I had service for once, and so everyone could stretch their legs.
We finished our short conversation and headed off again. We wound our way through the twists and turns of the planned route provided by Georgia Overland and just kept to it. We passed a little area with a small water cascade right off the road and stopped to let the kids out to play and I snapped a photo while there.
By this time, we had been on the trail for several hours and we wanted to make it to the Tallulah River crossing before we ate lunch. This proved to be a longer drive than what I thought. We were driving down Persimmon drive and the original trail says to turn right onto another trail, well we passed it up by accident because we didn’t notice a road there. I quickly realized this and we turned around about 1/4 mile down the trail. When we got to the turn off, I found that the reason we didn’t notice it was because there was a gate across it. So, since it was closed, I looked over my Gaia maps app on my iPad pro navigation and found a way around it to connect back to the traverse. We then turned back around and continued on meet up with the traverse where we could.
This was so far, the only point on the traverse where there was problem with what we had on gps files and what was truly there. We finally made it to the Tallulah River crossing after passing some beautiful scenery along the way. We drove up the trail a little way to find a spot to pull off and make some lunch. We found this little spot that was nice for us to sit back for a little while and for the boys to run down to the water and play in it, along with climbing on rocks and trees.
We finished up lunch and headed onward and upward. The trail twisted, climbed and descended multiple times with plenty of water crossings and tight trials. Once we got on Highway 76, I had to search hard for the next turn onto Dick’s Creek area. Last time we went through this area, we completely missed this turn and never did find it, and for good reason. It’s extremely hard to see unless you have the track downloaded into a GPS. I drove right up to it, pulled off the highway and still almost missed it even knowing that it should be there. It’s a hairpin turn off to the right and we had to make a 3 point turn to get onto this one. It turns downhill and is pretty tight. This was probably one of my favorite areas of the day to ride. There was a good amount of water crossings just on this section of trail and it was littered with nice looking campsites along the route.
The day was getting late and we decided to start thinking about finding a campsite. We needed to also find a store to pick up a couple supplies before setting up camp so we made that priority. We made it out of Dick’s Creek area and found a store off the traverse track. We stopped and picked up what we needed and proceeded to find a campsite. We headed to Tray Mountain to find a nice spot and when we got up there, we found that it looked like more of a weekend party area than what we were wanting for the night. So we turned back and headed down the mountain and back to Wildcat Campground area. We finally decided on a spot, setup camp and ate supper before the rain moved in. We also had a couple visitors come in for a couple hours from Dirt Roads and Good Mates, Joe Bonstra and Jonah Wilson. It was nice to catch up with them and shoot the breeze for a little while around a pitiful campfire. They took off around 12:30 a.m. and we headed to bed to listen to the pouring rain come in through the night. The next day will bring a whole new adventure, better get a good nights rest for Sunday…
To Be Continued….