Exploring Georgia / DeSoto Falls & Helton Creek FallsWednesday, October 26, 2016
I had big plans last week for a weekend of camping and hiking. Mark kept reminding me that I might not feel so great after having my wisdom teeth removed, but I was determined not to postpone. Mostly because I wanted to forget about the stupid surgery and also because I didn't want to miss seeing the fall leaves at their peak. I buried myself in planning out the best campsites and hikes. I think at one point the sentence "Is 18 miles too far to hike?" came out of my mouth.
And then the weekend rolled around. Heh.
I couldn't reconcile the idea of sleeping on the ground and climbing a mountain with the throbbing ache in my teeth and jaw (yep, Mark was right), but after two days I was in full-on cabin fever mode and ready to get out of the house. We scrapped the grand camping trip plan and opted for a drive up to DeSoto Falls instead. It was the perfect compromise and gave us plenty of time in the great outdoors without all the effort involved in major hikes.
Legend has it that a piece of armour from the Spanish conquistador Hernando DeSoto's scouting expedition in the 1500s was found in this area, hence the name of the falls. I alway try to imagine what it must've been like travelling through these mountains before there was any kind of transportation, let alone a cleared trail to hike. I wonder if these waterfalls were something that early explorers would've stopped and admired or if it was just everyday explorer stuff, no big deal.
We haven't had rain in quite some time, so the falls weren't as beautiful as some of the pictures I've seen. Mark gave me grief about coming to see a waterfall in the middle of a drought, but it was still a pretty walk!
We still had some time left in the day after leaving DeSoto Falls, so we just started driving farther up the mountain. We found a spotty country station playing The Mississippi Squirrel Revival which gave us plenty of entertainment driving around all the switchbacks. We ended up stumbling on Helton Creek Falls, which was a total win since there was actually water there! We got there right as the sun was settling over the treeline which made all kinds of cool sunbeams across the water.
I have no idea who this waterfall was named after, but (like DeSoto), it's actually two falls. The cool thing about Helton is you're basically hiking up the side of the waterfall for most of the hike and there are multiple places where you can step out on the rocks at the base of each fall. I highly recommend both hikes (they're only about a half mile from one another) if you're ever in the North Georgia mountains. They're both kid-friendly or, in my case, sore-mouth-can't-walk friendly. Is that a thing? :)