Waterfalls and Christmas Cards

It’s becoming an annual family tradition that when I go visit my sisters’ families in Atlanta during Thanksgiving and Christmas we go on some sort of hike.

And, now the tradition has been not only hiking, but hiking to some waterfall of some sort.

When you think of Atlanta, usually you think of just a huge city that is the business and economic hub of the south.

However, it actually doesn’t take too long of a car ride (strike that, I grew up out west in Montana, so anything less than three hours is considered a short drive) and you’ll find yourself in the Appalachian Mountains and in National Forest land. The car ride is about a two hour drive north of Atlanta.

I actually like these mountains a lot, from what I’ve seen of them. They’re big. They’re expansive and while they’re not the raw granite power of the Rocky Mountains, they are actual real mountains. I also love the sweeping views you can find out there. They do have plenty of trees and plant life, but on the trails you can see views that exist beyond what’s five feet on either side of you. For me, that’s huge. Hiking can be long and frankly boring if you’re packed in by trees the entire route.

I routinely hike for hours at a time, so after awhile, if I only see trees, I can get so bored that I’ll begin talking to myself in funny voices and singing Disney songs from my childhood.

Yeah, it gets scary real quick.

Anyway, my oldest sister and her family and I decided to wake up super early in the morning. I was actually staying with my other sister who lives in north Atlanta, so I didn’t have to wake up until 7 in the morning. My oldest sister, however, woke up and got them and four little girls in the car around 5 a.m.

Super impressive!

Oh, we woke up early in the morning, in order to drive up to Amicalola Falls State Park, which is in the Chattahoochee National Forest. On a map, the forest actually dips downward in a reverse peninsula pattern and Amicalola is on the southern edge of that. That means it’s literally the closest point in the national forest you can get to Atlanta.

Upon arriving it was a pretty spectacular waterfalls.

According to the website, http://gastateparks.org/AmicalolaFalls, Amicalola is 729 feet tall, which makes it the tallest waterfall in the southeast. I’m not sure what that means exactly. Is that a couple states or the whole former Confederacy. Anyway, the website wants you to be impressed and I can assure you, in real life, it’s pretty impressive.

It’s one of those waterfalls that feel so big that you have to take it in segments. For me, it felt like two different segments. First you had the base and we climbed a lot of stairs right next to the ‘base.’ and then you get about halfway up and you cross a wooden bridge over top of the waterfall. From here you can look up and see the entire top half and it’s a great view.

That’s a good stopping point for a lot of people, but you can also continue to climb on the other side of the waterfall and make it to a campground all the way at the top of the waterfall and then they also have a bridge here allowing you to look from the top down.

Anyway, I was snapping a few pictures while this was happening, but then my brother-in-law and sister asked me to take more of a family picture style photo for their Christmas card.

Because the falls were so epic, I wanted their picture to be epic. So I had them stand on the bridge that crossed the waterfall and then I ran all the way down the steps.

From there I signaled them to be ready and snapped some pictures. Once that was done, I started climbing back up to meet them and they sat on some steps waiting for me. They actually naturally formed a great shot, so I snapped a few more of that spot.

I’ll let you be the judge on how epic these shots actually turned out.

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