Today was a typical hectic day. I showed off gray and green treefrogs to kindergarteners in four classes at Pepperell Primary School and got to tell them Pete Seeger's story "The Foolish Frog". I've been telling that story for over fifty years. I finished up there at 1:30 and had exactly an hour to get to Naomi Elementary School in Walker County to lead a YoungTales Storytelling session there. So, with the petal to the metal I took off on this beautiful daffodil-spangled February day through Lindale, Rome, Mt. Berry, Armuchee, Gore, Subligna and arrived at Naomi exactly on time.
Wow. No buses lined up out front. The usual bumper to bumper queue of parent cars is missing. There are a few cars though. I make my way to the upstairs room where we meet. No one there. A teacher is working in the room next door. She is the one who let's me know; Walker County Schools are on their winter break.
Some might be angry or frustrated or pouty in that situation. Actually I would not be surprised to learn that I was told about this and somehow managed not to get it on the calendar. I do hate to miss a session with that great group of kids, as they prepare to compete in the Debby Brown Storytelling Competition.
But on a day like today? I had just been given a free hour.
I drove toward Viilnow, stopping to read the historical markers then taking the gorgeous Pocket Road toward Everett Springs.
I thought about stopping at the spot where the Pinhoti Trail crosses that road and maybe hiking a ways along that, but instead pulled onto the gravel National Forest Road to Keown Falls. on the east side of John's Mountain. There were two other vehilcles in the parking lot when I reached it.
I'd only climbed a little ways along the trail when I decided to check my fitbit --- already 11 flights of stairs.
I heard the little stream before I saw the evening sun skipping across the water as it bounced around the stones cascading down the side of John's Mountain.
The path makes an exaggerated zigzag up the long ridge. There are no blooms of any kind except a lonely bluet I found near the top. But the leafless trees allow for more expansive views as you climb the ridge....
....long wrinkles in the earth's surface called the Armuchee Ridges.....
Near the top I suddenly came upon four nice young fellows out for an afternoon hike and the picturesque little Keown Falls tumbling over a roch shelf. Steep steps carved into the rock face lead to the top.
Resurrection Fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides) finds a foothold in crevices of the rock steps.
From a wooden overlook platform you can witness a great view of the valley....
.... and this overhead view of the falls.
Here near the top of the falls several trails cross, including the long Pinhoti Trail which begins in Alabama near Cheaha Mountain and crosses the Northwest corner of Georgia to join the Benton McKay Trail in the Cohuttas, which in turn leads to the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain near Amicalola Falls and, of course, from there you can walk to Maine, if you have the time.
The quiet scene above is the little stream calmly trickling along the ridge with no idea that just beyond the fence it will tumble over the brow of a deep recess in the mountain's face.
Standing against the back wall of the cool recess you can view the Pocket of Horn Mountain though the small free fall shower of Keown Falls.
Crossing under the falls the path follows the base of the seeping rock face, marred occasionally with graffiti...
...and another falls, perhaps just a wet weather one.
Just before juice ran out on my iPhone I snapped this bit of color, lichens and mosses along the trail....
I wish I could have captured the beauty of the mass of these organisms ...
....making a lustrous green border for this section of the trail.
The walk down the mountain is harder on the feet and ankles. As I finally see my vehicle again I meet a young couple just beginning their ascent with a beautiful spotted dog that must have been part Dalmation.