Brasstown Bald – Highest point in the state of Georgia

Panoramic view from the top of Brasstown Bald

This past Saturday I took a trip a little outside my usual 60 miles of Atlanta range.  Some friends and I traveled up to Blairsville, GA to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in the state of Georgia at 4,783 feet.  From the top of the mountain you can see four states – Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Carolina.  The English name for the mountain comes from a translation error of the Cherokee name, Itse’yĭ (New Green Place or Place of Fresh Green).  White settlers in the area mistakenly translated it as Ûňtsaiyĭ (brass).

Brasstown Bald is approximately a 2 hour drive from Atlanta, mostly due to the last 45 +/- miles of the trip being on winding mountain roads.  It’s several miles from any city/town so just be aware if you decide to travel up.  Due to stops for lunch at a nice Cuban restaurant, the cigar shop to grab a stogie for the trip up and the gas station for fuel and drinks we headed up a little later than intended.  We arrived close to 5:00 PM just as they were shutting down the small General Store and the museum on the peak of the mountain, no big deal for us but worth noting if these are areas you’d like to see.  Brasstown Bald is also a wonderful place for star gazing.  We were there once it got dark (unintentionally, it’s a long story… I’m still traumatized so I’d rather not talk about it.) and I have to say I’ve never seen a night that dark before.  The sky was crystal clear and moonless and the stars were the most brilliant I’ve ever seen.  Absolutely indescribable how amazing the night sky was, if you get a chance you should definitely check it out.  The trail to the summit is open 24 x 7 for those that would like a night hike to the summit.

View from the top of Brasstown Bald

View from the top of Brasstown Bald

There are a few ways you can get to the top of Brasstown Bald.  One popular route is via Jack’s Knob Trail, a 4.5 mile trail (each way) with the last 1/2 mile being the trip from the visitor’s center parking lot to the top.  Although I’d like to think I was ready for a 9 mile hike over steep hills I’m not one to lie to myself so I opted to do the short 1/2 mile on this trip.  Fortunately we had a couple others that agreed with me so majority won.  Even the half mile is a tough half mile, very steep hills.   The trail is paved all the way up and is flanked on both sides with trees and plants.  As I pushed my hardest to make it up the mountain I really wanted to trip the kids that were sprinting past me… but I didn’t, even though those little show-offs would have deserved it.  Once I managed to make it to the top I was greeted with an amazing view from the observation tower.  The sky was clear but there was a light fogginess over the mountains, a really amazing sight.  The towns and lakes we could see in the valleys looked more like they belonged on a model train set, very cool stuff.  I snapped a few pics and we wandered around a bit then headed back down.   I was very happy to be trotting 1/2 mile down the mountain rather than back up.

Some technical details for the trip.  There is a lot of winding roads to get to the mountain, we had one person in our group that gets carsick and this trip whipped her around pretty good.  You can ride a shuttle bus to the peak if you’d rather not take the hike.   The shuttle bus is $3.00/person for adults.  If you choose not to take the shuttle bus it’s still $3.00 per adult (anyone over 16) to enter the park, I believe older kids and teens were $2.00 with young children being free.  There is a newly constructed restroom facility at the welcome center and also a small General Store with t-shirts, hats, stickers, magnets, etc.  The day we went they also had a vendor there with a cart selling hot dogs, cold cider and hot chocolate.  There are machines if you’d prefer water or a soda.

Definitely a fun trip and one I’d do again.  We caught it about mid-way through the fall foliage change and there was still a lot of green.  It would be nice to see it when leaves are at there peak, perhaps I’ll take another trip next year.

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What I Learned From a Week at the Beach

I spent last week in Destin, FL with some family and friends.  The beaches and water there are amazing, I highly recommend it.

I knew before heading out that staying on track with my diet would be tricky.  So much good food at the beach, and so many cocktails.  Fortunately seafood is pretty healthy and when you’re at the coast why not enjoy it as much as you can.  However a trip to an Irish pub and a BBQ place were challenging.  I was well-behaved at the BBQ place, had a smoked turkey salad and water, however the Irish pub was a different story, I had a huge Reuben, boxty, beer and an Irish Wake. The Irish Wake alone had almost 700 calories!

After the first day we decided to hit the store and get some groceries for the condo to avoid eating out every day.  I picked up mini-carrots, celery sticks, hummus, Babybel Light cheese, green tea and protein bars.  However the others grabbed chips, pop tarts, more chips, popcorn, etc.  I know food is my weakness and I do my best by staying away from bad foods, I held out for a few days but then I started snacking on the chips and other goodies that were there.  I don’t consider myself cheating when I have a meal or a snack that is bad, I simply adjust my calories for the day or work out a bit more.  However a few bad meals (pizza, cheeseburger and fries, Irish pub grub and lots and lots of cocktails) and the week added up more than I expected.  That said, I only had two days that I was over my calorie goals.  As far as exercise goes I did OK.  Our condo had a fitness center however it was pretty small and with 100 units every time I tried to go it was full.  I did swim quite a bit and we walked a lot.  However I didn’t get in as much activity as I wanted to.

So, the sum total of the week when I stepped on the scale this morning is that I was up 7 lbs.  Wait, what?!?!  7 lbs in 6 days?!?!  Yep, that’s what the scale said.  I honestly don’t see how that could be but I guess the scale doesn’t lie.  I hope some of it is just needed to flush the system from a week of slacking but I guess we’ll see, my normal weigh in day is Friday so I’ll see where things stand then.

Outside of the diet and exercise I had a great time at the beach.  Destin is gorgeous, my family is a fun bunch to hang out with and the food and cocktails were (obviously) damn good.  This is my first real slip-up since I got serious about my health.  I learned a lot from it and we’ll be more diligent when in the situation again.  A week of slacking means I have to work twice as hard for the next couple weeks just to be back where I was, it could cost me a few weeks progress… I just don’t think it’s worth it.

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