Brasstown Bald, Georgia had been one of the most unique experiences of this Labor Day 2013. It had been composed of three phases. The ascent, descent and the 4,783 foot summit. All three had unique characteristics. En route to northern edge of Georgia, I had seen the rolling valleys and mountains on the side of the highway. After spending a considerable portion of the year traveling Florida, the varied topology had been a welcome break. Getting to the last few miles of road, little had I known the importance of having a newly replaced fuel pump. For most of the drive, the climb had been a series of sharp winding roads with a strong incline. There had been portion of the final stretch almost requiring second gear on my vehicle. In contrast, I had seen a vehicle in my rear view mirror struggling to make the drive. With the thick mist and slick road, I had wondered how truly awful a mechanical breakdown could be. Whipping around every turn had been vehicles speedily heading to the base exit. I had thought, ”Someone hand out crazy in Georgia today?”
Once near the top, there had been a gate for paying admission and a place to park before going up the last portion of the summit. From this location, the park shuttle had been available for those wanting or needing assistance to the top. However, this had seemed a bit cheap for a hiking endeavor. Walking up the mountain through the winding paved trail, I had exited at summit facility. Much to my disappointment, heavy clouds had obstructed the multi-state view in every direction. Crestfallen, I had opted to watch a 30 minute film on Brasstown below the observatory. The film had been informative regarding the history, weather, and views of the mountain. One of the facts regarding the summit had been the climate’s similarity to that of New England. With the show over, I had been ready to leave the summit without any good pictures or video. During the 30 minute film, enough of the clouds had been whisked away revealing the surrounding Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountain ranges. The sight had been simply astounding. To describe the breath and scope of this view had almost been a disservice. What had made it more rewarding, the last minute sleight of hand by mother nature, God, good luck, or whatever you chose to believe in.
After taking some departing shots, I had a friend switch driving duties. The roads being narrow with steep incline had posted speed of 30 MPH. So I had chided my friend for driving too fast. In the passenger seat, I had wanted to be back in control.To his credit, he had been riding the breaks all the way down. Having some foresight I had replaced all the brakes on this vehicle right before the trip. However, I hadn’t been too confident swerving around the edge of disaster like Mr. Toad’s wild ride. All I had recalled seeing two roadside crosses on the way up, denoting two accident fatalities. The smell of the breaks overheating had started to drive me fracking nuts. Now I had discovered why the descending cars move dangerously down the mountain. The answer, there had been little choice.
So the summary, if you had been living at sea level all your life, what a great first experience to be on a real mountain. If you had wanted to see a stellar view, a great value for a few dollars. If you had needed a good thrill, well you get that too. Just make sure you had good set of brakes and a good fuel pump to feed gas to your engine.
Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s Highest Mountain – USDA Forest Service