Hiking up to Amicalola Falls!

Guys, it was harder than I thought it would be.

A lot harder.

Ascending to the top of Amicalola Falls is no simple feat. This 729-foot waterfall is nestled atop a cliff in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and is considered the southeast's tallest cascading waterfall. While my little family was enjoying a mountain getaway in Ellijay last weekend, we decided to hike up to the Falls that I had previously heard so much about. I knew it would be strenuous, especially with a toddler in tow, but we were just crazy/enthusiastic/high on mountain air to gleefully attempt such a feat. And while it was obviously worth is and totally beautiful, I will say that it wasn't easy. Okay, it was downright hard. There, I said it.

Stevie wore Everett in a hiking pack (ours is from REI and is no longer available but see similar here) and I wore a Camelbak (similar here) with all our snacks, water, and of course the camera, and we found ourselves seriously huffing and puffing to get to the top. The 2.1-mile trail begins like a normal hike and then turns into a series of steep, winding staircases that lead you to the top of the falls. I didn't do a great job of photographing the actual stairs (because those were the moments that the camera stayed put away, because well, I was wheezing for the life of me), but now I really wish I had a shot of those rickety stairs that looked like they were leading up to a forest of Heaven. It was quite an experience, climbing those 600-ish steps. Everett did a zillion times better than he did the last time we hiked (thank goodness!), so at least his kicking and screaming wasn't an issue this time around. But even though the trail was seriously challenging, my two boys were happily chattering, singing songs and making animal noises the whole time. Stevie asked Everett about the sounds that really obscure animals make, like giraffes and zebras. Who even knows? But Everett made up some really hideous screeches that he found thrillingly entertaining and proceeded to die laughing and then make more of the same sounds. These two are just peas in a pod these days.

This pack stands up on it's own, even with a kid inside! Such a great gift that we got from our buds Travis and Liz :)

We found a crazy tree. What could possibly have caused it to grow like that??

The pinnacle of the hike was getting up to the falls. However, it was crazy crowded at the top (we are talking swarms of people, children, dogs and trail mix), so we didn't manage to get a good family pic of the three of us at the top. It was actually kind of claustrophobic. But we decided to continue the hike up above the falls and managed to take in this view:

Getting to see this sweeping view of the valley below from up above the trees was incredible. Watching the eagles soar at our eye level was a little eerie and wondrous all at once. We stood there for a long time, drinking in the view and enjoying the lack of swarming hikers. It's moments like these that I'm reminded of just how GREEN the state of Georgia is. And I don't really mean eco-friendly green, I just mean GREEN green. It's the greenest, leafiest, kudzu-iest state.

This is kind of a bad photo of us, but I still love it because this was when we finally reached the top of the mountain and Everett and I plopped down in the middle of the trail and ate fruit snacks. Which he calls "fruit sans". I love how he carefully watched me dole out each bite would immediately demand, "more!" before he even finished his bite. He's something, that little guy. Also, his hat plus tank top just kill me. I bought him more of these tank tops this week.

We came, we hiked, we conquered. It was an awesome experience, one that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in hiking to a gorgeous view and can handle the 600+ stairs that lead up to the falls. I'm sure Stevie would agree that without a toddler on your back screeching "duck sounds" at the top of their lungs, this gig would be much easier to accomplish. But then, what's the fun in that? :)

P.S. - If you into other hiking/camping adventures, check out the time we went glamping with our toddler, and the time I road-tripped and camped across the U.S.