Do you ever have a moment in life when you think; "Wow, I can't believe I made it through that in one piece!" Well, that was our adventure on tuesday!
We wanted to visit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt museum, and take a hike up in the Pine Mountain. We checked the weather before we left and there was only a 30% chance of rain, but I always grab a rain jacket just incase, as my oldest son did as well. We've never been to the west part of Georgia yet, so we were all pretty excited to see what it looked like.
Our first stop was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Little White House/museum. It was a little pricey, but was really informative and our youngest was really thrilled to learn more about one of his favorite Presidents. We got to walk through a beautiful museum with artifacts from so many different era's. It was like taking a step back in time. Then we were able to walk through his house, the servants quarters, and the guest house. It was really amazing to actually walk in the same place that he had been.
After our tour through the museum, we decided to hike to Cascade Falls in Pine Mountain. It's only 5 miles up and back and we used to hike that every weekend in Alaska, so no big deal....right?? LOL! If it was only that simple........
While driving out to the trailhead, I noticed a ton of trees all uprooted and had fallen in the same direction. I kept thinking to myself "could this be from a storm? No way! That would have been a horrific storm!" The thought kept going over and over in my head. Then we passed by a hotel (looked like what could have been a very nice Best Western) with the windows boarded up. My first thought- it might have went bankrupt during the recession and never recovered. But then I noticed the sign was bent like a pretzel and that voice in my head said "horrible storm" again. You think at that point I might have listened to that little voice in my head, but did I? Nooooo.... of course not. Let's just go hiking in this horrible storm-prone area! Come on kids! It will be a blast!!
We parked the car next to a t.v. tower, grabbed all our rain gear, my camera, the phones and headed up the mountain. Beautiful scenery with waterfalls everywhere. Some very steep areas with dangerous slippery cliffs, hundreds of uprooted trees (again the "storm" voice went through my head). There was one tree that was so large that the uprooted part had made a cave in the ground. It was incredible to see such force, and to think that wind could have done such horrific damage!
We kept hiking up the steep mountain, passed waterfall 1, waterfall 2, waterfall 3, on and on until we finally reached the Cascade Falls. They were beautiful and looked like a great place to swim during the summer. We noticed there were 2 groups of other people out there. One group was 2 guys and 1 girl, and the other was 2 guys. They chatted with us for awhile, and seemed like really nice guys, but then my gut told me; "you need to start hiking back NOW!: So this time I listened which the kids were really disappointed that they didn't get to play in the water much, but this was the time to go and something told me we needed to book it!
We started heading back when all of a sudden "CRACK- BOOM!!" Lightning, thunder rain everywhere!!! It was pouring down buckets with insane lightning shooting everywhere and cracking thunder so loud it was shaking the ground! We're surrounded by water, and trees- not a good place to be at all!!! We all remembered the uprooted tree from earlier so we headed straight for it. As soon as we found it we noticed the other couple (1 girl 2 guys) sitting under it as well. We shared the small den, like cave people, as we watched the storm just pound down on us and the trails completely fill with water. Then it started to hail! Quarter sized hail were falling like someone throwing buckets of pebbles at us. The next thing that went through my brain was tornado!! I was so mad at myself for not listening to my instincts!! All I could think was either we're going to be swept away in a tornado, or my kids are going to be crushed by this tree caving in and squashing them!!
The storm started to fade a tiny bit, and we all just knew we needed to bolt to the car. Then we remembered where we parked....next to the large t.v. tower. Yep, one large 100+ feet of metal right next to our car. Let's just all fly a kite with a key on it while we're at it! But, we had no choice! We had to get to the car, so we ran as fast as we could. It seemed like forever, but we finally made it. Completely soaked(especially 3 people because they didn't want to bring rain gear, but I won't mention any names *cough cough*), but we were alive. As soon as we got in the car, a weather alert came on the radio that 2 more storms were heading our way with high amounts of lightning and 70+ mph winds. Thank God we didn't wait under that tree for the storm to pass!!
I feel blessed that none of us were hurt, and we made it off the mountain in one piece. It amazes me how fast life can change. One minute it's hot and sunny, the next minute we in a hail storm full of lightning, and it feels like buckets of pebbles are being thrown at us. I guess it's a good example of how life in whole really is. No matter how many storms we might have to go though, we just have to keep running and keep going to get to that safe place. To that place where you can look at your family and say; "Well, we did it. We made it through the storm and now we're stronger and smarter because of it". You'll never get to your safe spot if you just sit under the tree and wait for your storm to pass, and who knows, it might just end up crushing you underneath it.
I did manage to get a few beautiful photographs before I hid my camera in my jacket. Here are a few of the beautiful day BEFORE the storm rolled in.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's Little White House
Pine Mountain Trail Hike