Tuesday, April 27, 2010


My focus these past few days has been to remove all the pine straw to the right of the raised bed, remove the cardboard underneath, dig out all the weed/grass roots and sod, then replace the cardboard and top it all off with a thick layer of pine bark mulch.

Here's what it looks like right now, after an hour or so on Sunday and about three hours today.  Only half done! By the way, my cardboard experiment was definitely not a total flop.  The only thing living under the cardboard is the Bermuda or crab grass, whichever it is. All the other stuff, including clover, is long gone and rotted away.  And, the roots of the grass seem weaker .  These areas are much easier to clean out than the areas that have had no cardboard.  Hindsight tells me that I should have put the pine bark down in the first place, instead of the pine straw, but I thought it would be too expensive and I'd need to buy in bulk and have it delivered.  Wrong on both counts.  I doubt that it would have cost much more than the pine straw, and since I can buy it in bags at HD, it comes home in the car.  Not all at once, but that's OK.

I've done my bit for today and am now crunching on some freshly-roasted peanuts (from my own oven).  Then, it's time to chill, rest the old body.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Exploring the North Georgia Mountains

The Appalachian Trail headed north from Three Forks.  These two are probably thru-hikers, headed to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.  It's the time of year when hundreds of good souls begin the 2000+ mile trek, and only a fraction actually make it all the way.  I didn't catch up with them to ask, but it's a lot of gear for an overnight hike. They have the look of thru-hikers, and I saw and spoke with many of them back when.  I used to make a point of working on my trail section in April, just to meet and talk to them.  At this point, all of four miles, they are all still gung-ho and excited, haven't had a chance to burn out or give up.

As  you can see, I opted to drive up to the mountains today, instead of tomorrow.  In fact, I drove for a total of about 7 hours, with only two stops -- one for gas and a bathroom, the other here at Three Forks for a few minutes.  I started out walking on the Trail headed for Longs Creek Falls, about a mile in, then I realized what time it was (3pm) and knew I didn't have time.  Aside from that, the place was like a parking lot/playground!  I've never seen so many cars parked at that place, or so many people just walking to or from that direction.  I had a sad sense that I'd find a crowd splashing at the Falls, and I just couldn't face that.  It's a lovely spot, a highlight of this section, but doesn't deserve to be a tourist hangout.

First of all, I couldn't believe people would drive into the wilderness just to reach this spot.  It's not exactly on the beaten path.  It's 20 miles from the nearest highway, and 5 of those miles are over FS Road 58, which is mostly good, but has a lot of potholes and numerous rough spots.  Lots of people in Lexus SUVs and the like, and even a Hummer.  Horrible!  When I was driving out, two very chi-chi women with a couple of kids strapped into the back seat of their Lexus SUV stopped me and asked if I knew where Longs Creek Falls was.  Good grief.  I told her, including the fact that they'd have to walk a mile on the trail to reach it, but that didn't seem to daunt them.  Where do these people come from, and what has happened here in the last 14  years?  If I sound upset, it's because I am.  Not seriously so, but very disappointed.

Still, it was a lovely trip and I was surprised how it all came back to me, how familiar so many of the roads and towns I passed through were.  I timed the trip at various points, to help me gauge driving up to meet people for a hike.  The trip home from Three Forks took almost exactly 3 hours, which isn't bad when you consider the first 45 minutes is on a dirt road moving slowly.  I started way too late in the morning, after I'd walked to the hardware store then walked to the library.  I know better, but it was rather impulsive and I didn't want to wait until tomorrow.

OK. Enough editorializing.  Bring on the photos.

This is Noontootla Creek, which parallels FS Road 58 for its entire length through here.  It has always been one of my favorite places, and it's not hard to see why.  It's a beautiful little creek that tumbles over rocks and cascades as it winds its way through the forest.  For you people in Oregon, we have Rhodies here, too -- the mountains are thick with them.

This is the Three Forks AT crossing, looking towards Springer Mountain (the starting point of the AT).  

Noontootla Creek from the footbridge.

And, from the other side of the bridge.

That's all the AT photos for the day -- I wasn't here very long, but I'm really glad I went.  Great to see it again, although the crowds still rankle.

A sign off Roy Road/Doublehead Gap Road that takes me to the FS road.  This is FS Road 42, which doesn't really go to Springer Mountain, but goes to the first AT road crossing where one can hike up the trail for about a mile and reach Springer.

The scenery along this access road was spectacular.  Spring has not sprung so much up here yet -- further north, higher elevations.  But the sun was glinting off everything and there were many pastoral scenes such as this, and even better, as I drove.

As I neared the main highway that cuts across the bottom of the Chattahoochee National Forest, I decided to go in search of this church, Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church.  I've driven past Wesley Chapel Road countless times in years past without ever driving up here or ever having any sense that any of my personal history would reside here.  I learned several years ago in Oregon, during my genealogy research, that some of my ancestors founded this church.  I cruised the small cemetery, found lots of Waters but none that I could identify.  My second great-grandmother, Sarah Waters, was born in this area in 1831 but moved away after she was married.  

Her father's name was Moses, but he was born in the 1700's.  This isn't one of his sons, but probably a nephew, and thus Sarah's cousin.  I was surprised that most of the gravestones had death dates in the early 1900s, because the church was there long before then and surely some of the elders died and were buried here, as well as the 'younger' generation.  Anyway, it was good to find it.  Going strictly on memory, which is always dangerous, I believe this particular Moses was one of the founders of the church.

Now, I'm pooped -- a lot of driving for one day, even though the mileage wasn't nearly as much as the days I spent driving across the country.  I've had some dinner and am now ready to hit the comfy chair and watch some movie.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Biking and Gardening

This morning I thought I'd explore the Silver Comet Trail to the east, but it was a short-lived effort!  The trail map I have states clearly that this direction is hilly, but I wasn't sure just how quickly I'd find hills or how steep they'd be.  The answer to those questions is:  soon, and steep.

This is as far as I got -- about 2 miles from the depot.  I didn't even bother to continue to the top of this hill -- wanted a photo of the sign and saw no point in struggling up a few feet more.

This is from the same spot, headed back to town.  Now, this hill wouldn't have bothered me at all in past years, when I was more in condition for hills, but it was a struggle today.  It also wasn't the first hill I'd encountered, just the steepest.  I also wasn't interested in coasting down the other side because -- yep, I'd just have to come back up.  Not today, thanks.  I'm thinking I may confine my cycling to the westerly section of the trail.

After I got back into town and up another hill, I was struggling again and downshifted -- only to have my bike pull its famous trick of losing the chain when I try to make that particular shift when there's pressure on it.  Hasn't happened for awhile, so I'd forgotten about that habit.  I barely saved myself from a fall onto the concrete, since both feet were in the toe clips and all forward motion stopped.  Having fallen more than once because of toe clips (when I first started using them I'd forget about them, and try to put my foot down to catch the bike when I'd stop) my body has developed rather a reflex action that remembers before my brain thinks about it.

So, it was a short-lived ride of about 40 minutes, but that was enough for today.  It's been a tough week and my energy is still low -- I just needed to get out on the bike because not much else cheers me up quite so well.  We have rain coming in soon anyway, so I hadn't planned a lengthy ride.

Early this morning I went outside and moved the herb garden.  I've been thinking about it for a couple of days, did a little research, and realized that it was just too close to the nearest blueberry bush.  It needs to be about four feet away, and it was barely more than two.  That would be fine for right now, but in a year or two when the rosemary and blueberries get bigger, it just wouldn't work.  I put the glass dish out a couple of days ago but haven't seen a bird in it yet!

Previously, this little grouping occupied the upper right corner of this plot.  I'm not in love with the new location, but hey, they're perennials and can be moved again at a later date if I find something I like better.  I sowed chamomile seeds in all the bare spots here, while I was at it.  May be a tad too early, but I'll take my chances.  It's only seed, after all.

After I finished the move, of course, I thought that the previously dug circle in the upper left corner above would be the perfect place -- just the right size and shape plus the birds would probably be happier further from the house.  But then, I'd have to rethink the entire herb garden and I don't want to do that right now.  It needs to be close to the back door, anyway, so I can go out and snip what I want easily.  There will be lots more here, eventually.

As an afterthought, something really interesting is going on in that I'm getting visitors from all over the world to this page of this blog.  They are mostly coming from Google Photos, but I don't know which of the three photos is catching their attention.  I get two or three per day looking at this page.  Tis a curiosity!

So for the rest of the day?  No plans -- I expect some reading is in order.