Yes, it's summer in Georgia, which means stifling heat, high humidity, and the strange propensity of the weather to be unpredictable. I went off to the North Georgia mountains to try the Andrews Cove Trail, which is a 2-mile in-and-out trail north of Helen, GA. I knew that there was a chance that rain would be on the playlist for this jaunt, but if I didn't try to go even with the threat of rain, I might never get my chance to get on the trail. That is especially true of this summer.
So, it was not surprising that when I pulled into the Andrews Cove campground, I was feeling the rain hitting the top of the car. The first thing I did was to try to find where the trailhead was. I had difficulty locating it, however. All I saw was campsites, and at the fee station there was nothing but information about camping. But there was supposed to be a trail around here somewhere, I thought. So, I decided to park at one of the campsites and wait for a break in the rain to go looking on foot.
The rain lasted for a while, as I read through a couple of chapters of the book I had handy, and then started to let up. I figured now was the time. I got out of the car, got my gear on, and made sure to latch my poncho onto the strap of my camera bag, just in case. I had brought my hiking hat, as well, water resistant with a wide brim to keep off most of the rain. Not seeing any trailhead parking, I left the car at the empty campsite, and figured I'd hope nothing would happen.
I walked through the campsites, and ended up going up what appeared to be a spur road to more campsites. Just at the top of this hill, I saw not only the trailhead, but a small parking area for the trail. So, I went back down, got the car, and re-parked up near the trailhead. And then, I headed out.
The recent rain and the heat resulted in a misty haze across a lot of the trail, giving the surroundings a ghostly, yet serene, feel. The sunlight filtered through this occasionally, rays of light slipping through the fog. The trail itself was lovely, and only moderately strenuous, winding through lush post-rain greenery. Somewhere around the first third of the trail, the rain started to pick up, so I unfolded my poncho and got ready to stay dry-ish. This also meant packing the camera way, to keep it protected from the rain, so I didn't get as many pictures as I usually do.
But, I was glad I put the rain gear on, because not long after this, I heard the roar of the rain rushing through the canopy overhead. It wasn't as drenching as it could have been, because most of the foliage broke it up, but I was glad of the poncho and hat all the same. It continued to rain on and off for the rest of the trip up to Indian Grave Gap, which is the end of this trail. But that last half-mile or so was a bear. It was steep, broken up by strategically placed logs to provide stairs as an aid to the climb. By the time I got to the top, I was ready for a rest. Indian Grave Gap allows access to the Appalachian Trail, and I thought about just wandering along the AT for a bit before heading back down.
But by this time, the rain was coming down in sheets, and the AT at this point didn't have much cover. So, I just relaxed against a tree for a few minutes, and then headed back down. The trip down was challenging, too, as expected, because the downhill always wreaks havoc on my old knees. Add to that the slippery mud along the trail, and I felt fortunate not to slide my way to the bottom.
Finally, I reached the end, the rain continuing to pelt down and I worked hard to get the camera into the car out from under my poncho without a thorough soaking. I was unable to do the same for myself, as I had to get free from the poncho, pack, and camera before getting into the car. I brought a spare set of clothes, but next time, I'm bringing a towel.