About three years ago I heard of this place in the mountains of Georgia called “Hike Inn”. After discussing with a friend just what it was like and reading more on the internet, I added it to my bucket list. Finally, after nearly three years my desire to visit the Hike Inn became a reality. A friend from Georgia agreed to join me on the two day adventure. It took me about three hours to drive to Amicalola Falls State Park. We quickly decided a good lunch would be appropriate before beginning our 5 mile hike. So, after a hamburger and fries in the nice dining hall at the state park, we put on our hiking boots, grabbed our backpacks and got on the trail. Because temps on our first day was near 70 and the forecast for our second day was a high near 40, we were forced to load our backpacks with some cold weather gear. And that made them a little heavier than we would have liked. But staying warm was a big deal to us both. Our hike up the mountain was very nice. The trail was in excellent condition and didn’t require a lot of climbing. We took our time and arrived in a little less than 3 hours. The Inn is very nice and the rooms very small. There are warm showers and restrooms available in a separate part of the Inn and they are very nice and clean. At check-in we each received a bag with 2 sheets, pillow case, towel and wash cloth. A pillow and some blankets were in the room. The Inn is a great place to spend the night, share a couple of meals with other hikers and then hike back out. The Inn host gave a guided tour of the property which we found interesting. The family style dinner and free time afterwards gave ample time to meet and talk with several other hikers. That was enjoyable. And there are plenty of rockers both on the porch and on the grounds to relax and enjoy the views and a little conversation. One of the highlights for us early risers is watching a beautiful morning sunrise over the mountains. But it was mostly cloudy when we were there making for a so-so sunrise. Following a hearty breakfast, we were asked to strip the sheets from our bed and put them in a basket outside along with our towels and wash clothes. Just like home. After a little more conversation with fellow hikers we were ready to head down the mountain. We chose the Springer Mountain Approach Trail as our way back down which was about 6 miles. The temp was in the upper 30’s with high winds. One might say it was cold! But we were prepared. Once back down the mountain we took another short hike to get a better view of the amazing Amicalola Falls. Wow, that is one gigantic water fall! Following our nearly 7 miles of hiking we were hungry, and I wanted pizza! We consulted with the Park staff and chose to try MOD Pizza in Dawsonville. It was a good choice. Then, after two fun days of fulfilling another bucket list item, it was back on the road for the long drive home.
Last month a few of our “Pungo Paddlers” group headed south to do a little kayaking and cycling in Florida. We had a fantastic time. There were 12 of us total but not all were able to do every day’s adventure. I missed the first day on the Itchetucknee River. But I was fortunate to join in on the fun as we paddled Juniper Springs, Silver Springs, Rainbow Springs and the Weeki Wachee Springs. While paddling along we would see beautiful birds, alligators, turtles, snakes, monkeys and of course fish. It would often look as if we were in a jungle! We took a day off from paddling and rode our bikes on the Withlacoochee Trail. We would go out to dinner together and sometimes just go out at night for a special piece of pie at the Back-Porch Restaurant. A couple of mornings were really cold, like 32, but it always warmed up in time to start our adventure of the day. This was a fun packed week with a great bunch of people. I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip!
Day 1: Itchetucknee River I arrived a day late and missed the excitement of day one.
Day 2: Juniper Springs This was my introduction to kayaking in Florida and I loved it! Today was like paddling thru a jungle. The spring was very narrow in places and had a lot of tight turns.
Day 3: Silver Springs Wow! we saw lots of alligators today. And lots of turtles. Great paddle. There are lots of monkeys along the shoreline but we kept missing them.
Day 4: Rainbow Springs This was our toughest day due to
the constant headwind. Much more residential looking than our other days but
still a very nice float with lots of fish.
Day 5: Withlacoochee Trail We decided to get out of our boats and on our bikes today. We took a relaxing ride on the very popular Withlacoochee Trail. We did an out and back ride so each person
decided their own riding distance. I rode 58 miles. Following our ride we all had a great lunch together in Inverness.
Day 6: Weeki Wachee Springs Wow! Suddenly it’s the last day of our 2018 Kayak and Cycling Adventure. And what a great finish it was. Beautiful weather once again as ten of the Pungo Paddlers floated down the marvelous Weeki Wachee River. It was a combination of jungle looking areas and areas of water front cabins and cottages. Our encounter with the manatees was a highlight. And to top off the day we shared a great dinner together at the Front Porch Restaurant in Dunnellon. What’s that again? You want another piece of pie? Sorry, but that was the Back Porch Restaurant.