It had been a busy week and I just needed to get in the woods. After checking the short list of candidates to go with me, Tanner, nope, going to the gym…..Alyssa, no, having lunch with Lindsey,and David, laying on the bed chillin’ ……I filled my platypus, stuffed my hammock in my day pack, grabbed my sticks and boots and left.
Pointing the car in the general direction of Red Top Mountain State Park, I considered hiking a trail I had recently heard of off Bethany Bridge Rd but as I neared the little log cabin Trading Post at Red Top made a quick decision and turned in. Quickly gathering my things I head into the woods, anxious to distance myself from the noises from the road.
Just stepping onto the trail immediately affects me in a positive way, the dark shade and shadows of the summer leaves give an illusion of a coolness, (trust me, it was only an illusion!) The sharp staccato sound of katydids start to muffle any other sounds. Tiny trickles of water slip through the creek crippled by such a dry hot summer.
I enjoy these first steps, familiar as the back of my hand. Having always lived near Lake Allatoona and having walked these well worn trails hundreds of times, it is comforting to see familiar landmarks. The ridge where a gaggle of wild turkeys scared my husband as they took flight, the tree with a hole that Tanner always used to climb in, the part of the creek where you can hear the water on both sides….. Red Top Mountain State Park has over 12 miles of trails, miles of which hug the lake coves and offers beautiful views much of the year. Only 15 minutes from my home, make it my “go to” spot when a quick trail fix is needed.
About a mile in I catch some movement out of the corner of my eye and spot a handsome Eastern Ribbon snake about 4 feet in length. He stops for a moment seeming to look in my direction as a couple of quick photos are shot. He is swift and graceful as he departs and I marvel at how quickly snakes can move with seemingly little motion.( I am glad he is going in the opposite direction!)
Continuing on, there are no other hikers as the trail climbs the ridge and curves around heading to the beginning of Homestead Trail. This is a sweet little loop and the decision is made to hike it from the left as opposed to the more popular right route. This lets me see oncoming hikers and while it has a few more climbs, will reward me with a cool green lake cove and fern filled creek ending. (It is also the direction less traveled )
As I climb and dig my poles into the hard thirsty earth, the trail briefly leaves the cover of the trees and I feel every bit of the 95 degrees that the day has delivered. Topping the ridge and starting down toward a cove, the blue green water of the lake is visible with a bright ribbon of red Georgia clay around it. Little horned lizards camouflaged by the leaves rustle on both sides of me and teeny tiny frogs cross the trail.
Reaching my halfway and favorite point, the lake can be viewed in almost all directions and a slight breeze is detected. This was the perfect time to pull out my hammock and take a break. Stepping off the trail a bit, it only took me a few minutes and there was the perfect place to enjoy a snack and cool my feet. Swaying between two trees with the lake to my side and the trees shading me, a nap was a strong possibility!
After a sweet rest and a pint of Rainier cherries, the hammock stowed and my feet happy, the journey continued. Nearing a piney forest area with soft needles to cushion the trail, five young deer were spotted searching for food. Four took off, white tails flashing but one just stood and watched me until bored, he took off too.
As anticipated the loop made a nice green and shady end and I crossed the road to pick up Sweetgum Trail to finish up my route.
On the way, I disturbed an immense black racer, saw two more deer and a nice family camping with their kids. As always, I had to sit a spell on the now lone rocking chair on the front porch of the Trading Post to end my hike.
So, life balanced,(maniacal laughter) worries shed and with a peaceful spirit, I headed back home ready for the week ahead…