Monday, April 29, 2024

Tallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge is a thousand-foot deep (more or less) canyon carved by its namesake river, and it's some of the wildest-looking country in north Georgia. In reality, it's not as wild as it once was: in 1910, the Georgia Railway and Power Company (now just Georgia Power) started building a series of hydroelectric dams on the Tallulah River, and the one just above Tallulah Falls (not a single waterfall but a series) was completed in 1913. Since then, the river's flow has been much reduced, though under an agreement between Georgia Power and Georgia State Parks volume is periodically increased from time to time for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

Jessa and I stopped here with limited time to spend, and with her experiencing double vision and balance issues, so I present here a brief tour of the most accessible section of the gorge's north rim:

L'eau D'or Falls, the first major falls below the dam.

At the right-hand side of this photo is the foot of L'eau D'or Falls; at the right, the top of Tempesta Falls. In between is Hawthorne Pool. 

The top of Tempesta Falls again—the only view of this waterfall to be had from the north rim trail.

A different angle on L'eau D'or Falls.

Tallulah River below Tempesta Falls.

Suspension bridge over Hurricane Falls.

Hurricane Falls is best appreciated at close range...

...but easier to see from the rim. 

The rusting steel frame and concrete pads below are what remains of the tower erected for Karl Wallenda's highwire crossing of Tallulah Gorge in 1970. As daring (possibly insane) as that feat was, it was not a first—a J.A. St. John, using a pseudonym (either Professor Bachman or Professor Leon, depending on the source), walked a tightrope over the same part of the gorge nearly a century earlier (either 1883 or 1886, again depending on who you ask).

It's a long way down...

Oceana Falls.

A view down the Gorge...

...and downstream toward Bridal Veil Falls.

Again, it's a long way down. 

Peregrines have nested here for a few years now, but we didn't see them in our brief visit. I saw a slightly out-of-focus ruby-crowned kinglet—it's not just the photo; the bird itself was blurry, I swear—and Jessa, who couldn't get her eyes to focus, nevertheless got crisp shots of a white-breasted nuthatch. (Even the red "trousers" are visible in one picture.)

Friday, April 26, 2024

Toccoa Falls

At 186 feet, Toccoa Falls is not the tallest waterfall in Georgia, but I believe it is the longest single plunge. Certainly it's dramatic.

There were quite a few turkey vultures (and at least one black, though it didn't end up in any of our photos) soaring immediately above the falls when we were here; I suspect the falling water displaces air, creating an updraft, for this did not seem to be random, happenstance gathering.

After its long drop from the ledge, Toccoa Creek winds through the campus of its namesake college and north of the town of Toccoa, eventually emptying into Lake Hartwell, which is itself an impoundment of the Savannah River. So while I did not realise it at the time, the water pouring into the plunge pool eventually passes the Savannah docks, Cockspur Island, and Tybee Island...where we had been just a couple of days earlier.

Photos by Mark & Jessica Farrell-Churchill. Maybe just one more...

Monday, April 22, 2024

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Bot Garden cuties

During a brief stopover at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens, Jessa made the following photos of a grey squirrel...

...a green anole...

...and a white-throated sparrow wearing jewelry.

But the star of the afternoon was an eastern chipmunk: