It’s hard to say Blood Mountain without wanting to sound like Dracula. Bloooood Mountain. Say it…….see how easy it is? This was a great quest because it was done with a friend of 17 years and my two most wonderful best friends who are hysterical and awesome. Because of their hysterical tendencies, I also place blame in having my first spill off a rock in which yes, I did bleed a tiny bit.
Blood Mountain is not like usual hikes I’ve done. This is part of the Appalachian Trail folks and to sound like I’m a newbie hiker, this is a REAL trail. To quote Zelda, “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this!”. Don’t go it alone and make sure you are prepared. Also, make sure that when you want to check out your surroundings and admire nature to perhaps stop because you really need to pay attention to where your feet are going. Much of the trail was rocky and it was pretty challenging. There’s a reason it’s challenging, it’s the highest peak on the Georgia section of the AT and the elevation is about 4500 feet. Make sure you wear proper shoes and utilize a walking stick if it helps you balance out clumsiness.
I know you’re dying to find out why they call it Blood Mountain. The popular theory involves, you guessed it, a bloody battle. This battle was quite a gory one, indeed. If you read in my Etowah Indian Mound quest, the Creek Indians were occupants of that land before the Cherokee came about. So when the Cherokee Indians came knocking at the proverbial door and discovered that the Creek Indians “owned” the mountains there, they of course fought over the land. The battle was waged at Slaughter Gap and Blood Mountain and it was said that the streams ran red with the blood of both warring sides. It’s too bad Edwin Starr wasn’t around prior to this so he could sing “War”. Maybe they would have listened. Here’s the song so it can get stuck in your head as well.
All jokes aside, the Cherokee’s enjoyed their new lands until the white man came around and discovered gold in them thar’ hills. It was all over in 1828 when Georgia passed legislation that extended ownership to North Georgia and the Indian Removal Bill came soon after. The Trail of Tears in 1838 was the final nail in the coffin for the Cherokee’s, or so it would seem. Many Cherokee Indians hid out in caves and among the mountains to escape persecution. Maybe those who died there became a Nunnehi to help lost hunters and wanderers.
In researching Blood Mountain, a quote came up numerous times and it’s for a reason. It’s a wonderful quote and it’s very true and descriptive.
“Visiting among the mountains of North Georgia, I have often been possessed with the feeling that an impalpable presence moves about the hills and wanders through the sweet, green valleys. There is a whisper in the corn, and a sighing in the leaves, a pathos int he moonlight, and a ghostly grouping int he clouds. What is it? Do the spirits of the departed Cherokees linger yet about their beloved hunting grounds? And do they whisper to the sympathetic heart of today, ‘O pale faces, write of us;give us a little page in the history of the that denied us a home.”
Belle Abbott, “The Cherokee Indians of Georgia” October 27, 1889
There are a lot of cool things on top of Blood Mountain besides the little waterfalls and streams that dot the trail. At the top, for one, has views of something that is just too beautiful to describe. There is also a hiker’s shelter at the top that is maintained by the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club . When we got up to the top and I saw so many other hikers I really just felt like I was a part of something cool. Some people were beginning their Thru and were loaded up, others were spending the day above the clouds or weekend camping. It was the first time I’ve been on a hike where, for if only that day, I felt like I was a part of an invisible group of modern day adventurers.
Another gem is to take a visit to the Walasi-Yi Interpretive Center. You won’t miss it either walking or driving because it is usually brimming with people stopping in to enjoy the festivities outside, purchase some of the cool stuff they have in their store, or they are a Thru hiker. Walasi-Yi is the only place along the 2,175 mile long AT that passes through a man-made structure. Which means you don’t have to leave the trail. Hikers often will mail-drop and stock up on supplies for their adventure.
So in short, Blood Mountain is a pretty challenging hike if you aren’t too used to hiking. But if my friend, who hasn’t hiked in a very long time/at all, made it then why not you? It’s easy to sit around at home or to do things that require less effort but as he soon found out, the effort was very much worth it. And you never know the amazing people you can meet along the way.