Sometimes it’s fun to meticulously plan a trip, charting every place you’ll go (and a good place for good barbecue for lunch). Such trips are remarkably un-stressful because you know exactly where you’ll be when and so don’t have to worry about where you’re going to go. You’ve planned it all beforehand, see, and that takes the stress away.
But at the same time such an adventure can be a little, well, confining.
If I’m honest with myself, I think I enjoy the spontaneous trip more than the one that’s planned out in detail. Sure, I need a little direction (as in north or south or east or west) and perhaps at least a vague idea of what I’m going to be doing (fishing, rock collecting, hiking, canoeing and so son) so I can at least dress for the part. Beyond that, though, it can be fun and even a little exhilarating to just climb up into the old gray truck and go.
That’s what I did the other weekend. I’d spent the morning as a volunteer working with cancer patients in a program called Casting for Confidence. The Georgia Women Fly Fishers offers this annual one-day fly fishing retreat to female cancer survivors with the idea of providing (as the organization’s website puts it) “fundamental fly fishing instruction while also engaging participants in the therapeutic qualities that trout stream fishing brings.”
It’s a great program.
“When I told my oncologist what I was going to be doing this weekend,” said one of the ladies, “he told me it would change my life.”
I understand exactly what the good doctor meant.
My assignment at this year’s Casting for Confidence event was to talk to the ladies about the “gear” side of fly fishing. We chatted about rods and reels and line and waders and all the rest. We even covered the fine art of tying some of the knots that folks use when fly fishing. I think everyone had a good day, and it was an uplifting and really quite thought-provoking morning.
The morning session ended about lunchtime, and I had to excuse myself to meet a deadline, the bane of every writer’s existence. Packing my stuff into the passenger seat, I pointed the truck back toward Roswell.
But I hadn’t gone far when I decided that I didn’t really want to head back to the keyboard. Not just yet. Instead, the thoughts that the morning had provoked still rattled in my head. I wasn’t done with them. I needed to give them some time to resolve. So I decided, instead, just to set out and wander around the mountains for a while to literally (and figuratively, too) see what I might see.
That’s how I found myself on Dicks Creek Road off U.S. 19 not far from Turner’s Corner.
We’ve talked about Turner’s Corner before. It’s the place where you’ll find Stone Pile Gap, a storied pyramid of stones tied to a legend involving a Cherokee princess and the idea that dropping a stone on the pile of rocks will bring you good luck.
If only life was that simple.
Anyway, when I saw the sign for Dicks Creek Road, a bell rang in my mind. I hadn’t been that way in a long time, but I recalled that it led to another road — Waters Creek Road — which provides (foot) access to one of the state’s more storied trout streams.
It wasn’t far.
I bumped along Dicks Creek Road for a while, the driver’s side window rolled down so I could enjoy the crisp fall air. Then, as I approached Waters Creek Road, I heard the unmistakable sound of falling water off to my left. The road widened into a parking spot. I pulled off and parked and went to see what I might see.
What I found was a delightful two-tiered waterfall just a few dozen yards from the road. At the first tier, the creek dropped over a ledge into a pool. From there, the second tier dropped the creek into a long, narrow chute which exited into a bigger pool below. The water was crystal-clear, and it seemed I could make out every detail of the streambed.
Angled rocks between road and waterfall provided access, and I scrambled down for a better look. I went carefully, taking my time. Now and then I stopped to take a photo, but mostly I just watched the water and thought about things.
As I was picking my way down to the bottom of the cascades, I met two adults with an indeterminate number of kids in tow coming back up the indistinct trail.
“You’ll like it!” said the leader, presumably the mom.
“Do you get here often?” I asked.
“Now and then,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful place. I always feel better after I come here.”
They went on to their car, and I continued to pick my way over the rocks. The best photo spot, I decided, was a ways downstream. But I decided it would take too long to get there. I had taken a long time wandering, and to my faint surprise I saw that daylight was fading. So I turned back to climb back to the truck and at last head for home.
Daylight does that sometimes. It fades before you know it. So you’ve got to grab those waterfalls when you can — or help someone else grab one when they need a hand along life’s way.
That’s the way it needs to be. It’s so simple. It really is.