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Snowshoe Mountain, WV
February 12-14, 2015

29” of snow in 72 hours!! That’s what we were fortunate enough to experience on our annual Snowshoe trip this year. This was the 5th year of our group trip with great friends and probably one of the most exciting ones with all of the fresh snow.  

We arrived on Wednesday after a 7 hour drive in beautiful sunny weather all the way from northern GA. However, as the sun was setting, the weather had other plans for us on Thursday. We awoke to 10” of fresh powder and were soon itching to get out on the trails. Visibility was pretty low, but we knew the trails would be epic today.  

It was extremely cold that morning and we were constantly reminded of that bitter cold every time we got on the lifts and had to sit still for the 5-7 minute ride back up. With a fresh powder day behind us, we decided to continue into the evening at Silver Creek. Can you say whiteout? Visibility was a mere 25 feet and incredibly hard to see each other. The wind was howling and blowing upslope creating even more difficult runs for us. We decided to meet at the parking lot when the lifts closed due to the impossibility of staying together.

As the trip wrapped up, so much snow had fallen from late Wednesday to Friday evening, the mountain roads were completely shutdown and if you were on the mountain, you were staying. If you weren't on the mountain, you weren't coming up due to the treacherous conditions. We were starting to wonder if we’d get out on Sunday morning, but as luck would have it, the clouds cleared up late Saturday night and we were able to pack it out on Sunday. Of course packing up in -4 degrees in the morning was extremely fun, and getting the vehicles dug out was another story as well. The roads down the mountain were covered in about 3" of packed snow so we took our time getting off the mountain. Needless to say, getting down was just part of getting out of the mountains altogether. The drive out took a lot longer and we really didn't see a clear highway until about 100 miles later, which turned out to be about 3 hours of driving about 25-30mph just to get to that point. Even so, the trip was well worth it. Everyone had fun and stayed injury free, with some more lifelong memories at Snowshoe logged in the books. Now we're already looking forward to 2016!

Keown Falls / Chattahoochee National Forest
January 18, 2015

We were treated with unusually warm weather this weekend here in North Georgia, so we decided not to miss out on the opportunity and went for a hike! There are so many trails and parks near our small town of Ringgold, GA, that our possibilities are pretty endless and that’s really not an exaggeration. Once we got our pack ready, deciding where to go wasn’t too difficult. I'd passed by the forest service road entrance to Keown Falls several times in the past while mountain biking on the Pinhoti off Pocket Road in Villanow, GA, but had never gotten the chance to check it out. Today was the day! The sun was shining, it was around 60 degrees and we needed to get out and into the woods, so it was time to experience Keown Falls.  

The service road in is fairly short, perhaps a 1/2 to 3/4 mile long and ends at a parking lot that accommodates around 12-15 vehicles. A few yards from the parking lot are restrooms, picnic tables and an informational board letting you know all about the trails and surroundings. We grabbed our pack, stepped onto the trailhead and headed off to Keown Falls!  

The Keown Falls loop trail begins with an easy ascent as you get away from the parking lot and further up the trail. At the fork of the trail loop, you can go left or right to get to the falls. We chose to go right which in my opinion is the better ascent to the falls and overlook platform. After a few good switchbacks, the trail opens up as the canopy is lifted and you get a nice view of the surrounding mountains. The granite staircase to the falls and up to the overlook platform is not difficult, but can be slippery if wet so be careful. Pay attention to the warning signs and stay on the trail. Enjoy the view at the top, have some snacks and begin your ascent down on the loop trail by passing under the falls.

If you come to the crossroads of the Pinhoti and Johns Mountain trail loop up by the overlook platform, keep in mind that this is the outer loop to the Johns Mountain overlook. This outer loop trail is much longer than the Keown Falls loop trail, and that outer loop trail will not take you back to the parking lot. You will be hiking for another 4.5 miles and will end up right back at the Keown Falls Overlook Platform. If you’re up for that hike, go for it and make it a day. Just be sure you're prepared! If not, return to the shorter Keown Falls Loop trail and head back to the parking lot, all the while enjoying our surrounding mountains here in North Georgia on your way down!