Rabun Bald Day Hike

Sure Foot day hikes are as much about meeting new people and building community as they are about physical exercise and experiencing the natural beauty of north Georgia.

Though I did not know any of the hikers who had signed up for this trip, when I arrived at our meetup location at the Days Inn in Clayton, GA, I began to realize what an unusual and outstanding group of hikers I would be spending my day with.

Somehow I had not realized that Gary’s son was not an adult. But after I shook Gary’s hand and I met Zach, a 10-year-old who was playing his Nintendo DS and sitting in the trunk. Gary assured me that Zach loved the mountains and was a strong hiker.

Two other hikers met us at the Days Inn. Mitch is a recent retiree who used to lead scout outings. Tracy is a sci-fi buff and excellent photographer who had actually messaged our Meetup group before the trip to ask if we though she would be fit enough to do the hike. Of course we encouraged her to come!

We all piled into cars and drove to the trailhead, where we met up with Corey and Katie. And from the start, we found that our 10-year-old, Zach, would easily be our strongest hiker. In fact, on the way down the mountain, he and Tracy led our group, discussing their mutual love of Star Wars the whole way down.

Rabun Bald is billed as the most difficult day hike that Sure Foot offers, and I found that our participants signed up for this one because they were looking for a challenge. Corey and Katie even told me that they wanted to get “their money’s worth” so they signed up for the longest hike available.

As our group wound our way up the Bartram Trail towards Rabun Bald’s summit, we admired the lush greenery, tunnels of rhododendron, and views of the valley. We learned about Mitch’s career with Kroger and Tracy’s adventures at Dragon Con, Gary & Zach’s hikes in the Adirondacks, and Corey’s t-shirt business.

With sweat running down our backs, we finally reached the stone observation deck on top of the mountain. Skies were blue and we sat on top of tower admiring views of Standing Indian Mountain, Scaly Mountain, and the small towns of the mountain valleys. What a reward for our hard work hiking the 4 miles and 1500 vertical feet up the mountain!

After an hour of relaxation at the mountain peak, we started down. Zach and I found a geocache hidden near the peak, and our group then settled into a rhythm of walking and conversation that soon brought us back to our vehicles. Tired, but proud and invigorated by our accomplishment, we drove back to the city with good memories, new friends, and beautiful photos.