July 27, 2002, around 11:00 am
It was about 3 hours and 15 minutes from summit to summit coming from Clingman’s Dome in TN. I had never been to GA and didn’t know how green it is. I was amazed at the foliage growing on the sides of the road. There were some spots that were completely covered with vines that I thought were straight out of a dream world. The scenery made the drive very enjoyable.
The parking area at Brasstown Bald was huge. They must have a lot of people coming through there. Parking for a car now costs $3. You can also take a shuttle up to the tower and building at the top, but it costs extra. I don’t know how much because I hiked the 1/2 mile trail. I grabbed my camera and tripod and headed up the trail. There were a lot of people around. I passed quite a few on the trail. About 2/3 of the way I ran into a boy in his early teens that was slowly wending his way toward the top. He had to be with family but they weren’t nearby so I stopped and chatted with him for a while. He was very talkative and told me all about himself and what he was doing there. We started walking again, at his pace for a while and we talked. He was from Murphy, South Carolina and there with his parents. They were going to go white water rafting later that day. He was very nice and we had a good little talk. However, I knew that if I kept walking with him at his pace, I would barely reach the summit by nightfall and I still hoped to get to 3 more summits that day. I finally excused myself and headed off. I made it to the summit about 5 minutes later.
The summit is covered with what looks like a fortress. I didn’t go inside the museum because I was in a hurry, but apparently, there is a theater inside as well. The top 1/3 of the summit was surrounded in a thick blanket of fog, completely blocking any view one might have from the summit tower. I climbed up to the lookout point and was searching for a place to snap a few pictures when I was engaged in conversation with a man from Murphy, South Carolina. It was the boy’s dad. He was a doctor and we ended up talking for about 1/2 an hour. It was a great conversation. His wife wandered in and out of the conversation and disappeared for a while. He did say something that I found very humorous when his wife told him to let me go. I wish I had gotten his name, but anyway, he said, “Honey, there are probably 4 intellectuals in this entire county and I have found someone who is willing to talk to me. Let me talk.” Our conversation ranged from places we had been to things we had read and studied. When he found out I was studying to be a sociologist, he told me about a book he had recently read and then told me a joke about economists. It went something like this:
“There were three professors sitting around discussing The Creation as written in the Bible. One, an engineer, said, ‘God must be an engineer.’ The others asked him why and he explained, ‘Well, think about it. The first thing God did was create the earth. That is a feat of engineering. He must, therefore, be an engineer.’ Another of the professors, an English professor corrected him, ‘No. God is a poet and writer.’ Again, the others dismissed his comment, but he explained, ‘It’s true, he did create the earth first thing, but think about how he did it. The Bible clearly says that God spoke and the world was. Because he spoke and the power to create lies in his words, he must be a poet.’ The third professor, an economist, scoffed at them both. ‘God wasn’t an engineer or a poet, he was an economist.’ Knowing that there was very little before what God said, the engineer and the English professor thought he was crazy. Both were thinking, ‘There is nothing about money or finances in the Creation story, what is he talking about?’ But the economist explained, ‘Before anything else, the Bible clearly states that there was chaos.'”
Anyway, I probably butchered this in the telling. I’ve never been very good at telling jokes, so I apologize to all those that are reading it and to the doctor from Murphy, who told it masterfully and made it very funny.
After our conversation come to a close, there was a small break in the fog for just a few minutes. I snapped a few pictures and headed out. Just as I was going down the last few steps to the trail, I saw the boy who was now with his father. They were sitting just outside the museum. I asked the boy how he was doing and he smiled, said hi and told me he was fine. I had mentioned that my topic of interest in sociology is religion to the doctor. As I headed down the steps he said one more thing, “Think about it this way. Now that you talked about religion (we had briefly discussed religion) on this trip, you can write it off as a tax deduction.” I smiled and laughed and thanked him for the good advice. We said goodbye and I headed down the trail.
I passed a lot of people as I headed down, usually offering a bit of encouragement as they puffed their way up the trail. Ten minutes later I was in the car and headed to South Carolina’s Sassafrass Mountain.
(Note: This is not my panorama. I found it on Youtube. The day I visited it was too cloudy to shoot a panorama, so I don’t have one.)