Georgia had a very wet fall. I’m pretty sure it rained for three weeks straight! During that time, Tyler and I met up with some friends in north Georgia to get some apples and go for a short hike. In usual Morgan fashion, I didn’t take any pictures since I was with a group of people, so instead you get to enjoy my artistic depictions of the day’s events!
Tyler and his friends planned this trip, so I was surprised to learn that it was going to be an early morning start. We woke up to dreary gray skies and drizzling rain. Despite the less than ideal conditions, I was excited. I love apples and had wanted to go to the north Georgia mountains to get my apple fix for a while. I was also excited for hiking with friends.
Tyler and I drove to an apple house off 515 on the way to Elijay. It was a nice little store, but it doesn’t compete with Mercier. I may be a bit biased. Growing up, my parents owned a cabin in Blue Ridge, so we often went to Mercier. It’s a huge apple house, but like most apple houses they don’t have just apples. They have apple based products such as apple cider, apple turnovers, apple cider donuts, apple butter, jellies, and jams. They also have an asortment of other items too, like peach cider, elk sausage, kettlecorn, ect.
My favorite part about Mercier that differs from most of the other apple houses is the apple tasting. Most places have some tupperware containers with precut apple pieces for you to try. At Mercier, they have an apple tasting counter where a very nice person waits for someone to come up and ask for a sample. Then, they cut it fresh, which to me makes a big difference! Fresh apples are way better. The other nice thing is that you can describe what kind of apple you want, such as sweet, firm, and good for snacking, and they can suggest which type of apple to try.
My favorite type of apple is Pink Lady. However, I was not expecting to get any because they ripen very late in the season, usually not until Novemeber. To my delight, they had Pink Ladies! I was so surprised. I talked to the man putting out the bags of apples. He said that they just harvested them the day before, and that these were the first Pink Ladies of the season. Because of that, they were far more tart than usual, almost like a SweeTart. Still, I happily selected a bag to take home.
Tyler’s favorite thing about apple houses is getting apple cider donuts. I have no idea how they are made, but they are a cake like donut coated in sugar and cinnamon. Delicious! As we were walking around, we spied the donuts and picked up a container. It’s a good thing we grabbed some when we did, because a few minutes later, a lady came and took all of the donuts! We would have been very disappointed if we didn’t get donuts, Tyler especially since he can’t really eat apples.
After everyone had made their selections, we drove to Bear Creek Trail to go hiking. I had never hiked the Bear Creek Trail before, but I have ridden my mountain bike on it a few times. I’m pretty sure the first time was at least five years ago with my dad and Tyler, back when Tyler had a bike and went mountain biking with us occasionally. I remember Dad and Tyler were out front of me, probably because we were climbing and I’m pretty slow. As I was riding along, I noticed a crowd of people and a ginormous tree! It turns out, it was the Gennett Poplar, the second largest tree in Georgia . When I asked Dad and Tyler about it later, neither one of them had noticed; they had blown right by it.
As we drove up to the trailhead, I was reminded of another time I had visited the Bear Creek trail. Dad and I had just finished biking and were extremely muddy from creek crossings and mud pits along the trail. To clean up, we stripped off our socks and shoes and waded into the creek nearby. There we splashed water all about to wash the mud off our legs, arms, and even our faces! I remember the water being freezing, but it must not have been that cold outside since we were wearing shorts.
Revisiting a trail is like seeing a old friend. I’m reminded of all the memories; the time I fell here, the time my cable broke there, the time Tyler proposed to me at the summit. I always feel at home in the woods. While exploring new places is exciting, sometimes it is nice returning to a trail to remember old memories and make new ones for the next time I visit.
But enough with the reminiscing. This time at Bear Creek, we hiked. Upon getting out of the car, I donned my rain jacket, hiking boots, and trusty backpack. I was ready to go! There was a bit of a chill in the air with all the wet. Silly Tyler did not have a rain jacket. Instead, I offered the tiny purple umbrella I found tucked away in the back of my car. Surprisingly, he took it. I guess it was raining hard enough at that point to be a nuisance. Thus, for the first bit of the hike, Tyler carried a purple umbrella through the woods. Eventually, he warmed up and stashed the umbrella in my bag.
As we hiked, Tyler and Rob mostly talked about dice masters and other board and/or video games. Liz and Josh talked something or another. I’m not really sure because I was out of ear shot. Gauss and Tesla joined us on the hike too. Neither of them seemed to mind the rain. As we hiked to the Gennett Poplar, we crossed several tricky streams. With all the rain, it took some balancing acts to make it across without soaking our feet.
The hike to the Gennett Poplar was a short one. After testing how many people it took to wrap their arms all the way around the trunk (I’m pretty sure it took four), we decided to keep hiking farther along the trail. I found three huge snails on the path waiting to be squished. Naturally, I moved the off the trail to safety, but really, these snails were huge! Their shells were the size of a quarter. I’ve never seen snails so big. We also saw a toad, which gave me the opportunity to tell Liz about the difference between toad and frogs and how they use their eyes to help swallow their food. I was happy to share my odd facts and Liz at least seemed interested.
After a while, we decided it was time to turn around. Hiking in the rain is fun for only so long. We trudged back the way we came, crossing difficult streams and trying not to slip in the mud. My best guess is that we hiked just over 3 miles. Next time I come back, I’ll have some new memories that play in my mind’s eye.