Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When Dicks Creek used to be fun...

When I was in college, we learned of a swimming hole and camping area in the Chestatee WMA of Chattahoochee-Ocoee National Forest. It was up 19N out of Dahlonega, Left onto FS-34 and straight ahead.

Several years ago, I had noticed a change. A large portion of land and the first real waterfall on the FS Road had been purchased and was being developed by an engineer. "POSTED PRIVATE PROPERTY" signs also began to pop up after "Falling Waters" was built. Shortly thereafter, camping just south of "Falling Waters" (not to be confused with the mountain lodge of the same name near Ellijay), became prohibited due to "lack of use" (though every time I was there...someone was camping).

FS-34 has a warning that the road is not maintained for passenger cars, but the maintenance on the road for any vehicle started slipping.

The last time I drove up to Dicks Creek (only as far as the swimming hole), it was November 2007, and there was barely any water coming down off the falls. It was a pitiful sight. I took some photos. It was right around the time of our severe drought here in Georgia.

I was excited last weekend. It was officially Fall, and I was convinced that Dicks Creek would be as I remembered it: quiet, crisp, and wonderful. I drove up to Dicks Creek/Chestatee WMA for camping, and was even more saddened. It wasn't so much by the desolate, now overgrown camping area that the forest reclaimed before Falling Waters as it was the almost complete abandonment by the Forest Service. Now, I can semi-appreciate this, and I know funding is probably incredibly limited, but because of this abandonment, there aren't many Rangers patrolling the area.

According to the Georgia DNR, camping is permitted in ANY area of a WMA in a National Forest unless otherwise posted. I began to notice almost every primitive site being filled. I then noticed U-Haul trucks parked at the sites with people sleeping in the open backs of them. I noticed people with cars that, instead of minding the peace of the woods, had the stereos turned on, and their high-beams shining into the road. Doing that blinds the rest of us coming up the barely maintained FS-34 (yay for a truck!).

As we headed up the mountain, we get to a final main curve in the FS Road heading to the top of the mountain by some entry gates for the rest of the WMA. As we drive up, a drunk, 20-something (if that) redneck stands in our headlights pounding his chest like a gorilla and flexing the muscles he doesn't have saying, "You don't want none of this!" I roll my eyes and begin getting sickened by the shear lack of respect and appreciation for solitude.

We turn the truck and keep heading up the road as two drunk rednecks come running after us screaming and hollering that we still "don't want none of this!" We get to the top, at a turn-around made for vehicles, and dumbasses have set up camp here. I guess they didn't realize the GIANT gate that allows FS vehicles to drive through, the fact it was a turn around, and the fact they had made camp in the middle of a road *rolls eyes*.

Maneuvering a multi-point turn, we drive back...once again being chased by drunk rednecks, and we head down the mountain.

So much for solitude at Dicks Creek anymore. I guess those days are long gone.

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