|This was only the 2nd time that I had been back to Cowpen Mountain to check on my flag that I had planted|
here back in September, 2001. I came back in 2003 and it was still up so I was fully expecting to see it
still up on this trip.
Joining me on this hike was my dear friend Debbie from the UK. She and her husband Martyn vacation every
year with us at Edisto Beach, SC, and had surprised us this year by coming to join us for Christmas. While
Martyn stayed glued to the TV watching all the football games and staying nice and warm, Debbie and I decide
to head for Cowpen Mountain and freeze our behinds off. The goal was to eventually get to the top, check on
the flag and if necessary, put up a new one.
This was Debbie's first trip up into the high mountains of North Georgia, so I took the long way around to get
her to the trail head for Cowpen Mountain. After leaving Blue Ridge, we headed north just a bit to Old
Highway 2 and turned left and headed west for Watson's Gap on the edge of the Cohutta Wildlife Management
area. The gap is on Forrest Service Road 64 that is of course dirt and gravel and runs basically north and south
along the eastern set of ridges that forms the eastern boundary of the Cohutta Wilderness.
We were greeted by lots of wildlife and panoramic views of the mountains and valleys surrounding us. Since it
was very cold and the sky crystal clear, we could see forever it seemed. Soon we were at Three Forks Mountain
and the trail head for Cowpen Mountain. The hike up to the summit was easy, cold, but very beautiful with all
the ice on the ground in lots of places.
Alas, when we reached the summit, my flag was gone -- the pole had rotted and collapsed to the ground and the
flag had just blown away. I immediately set about "acquiring" a new pole that just happened to fall over right in
front of me -- how lucky can you get. Anyway, within minutes, my new flag was flying proudly
over the summit of Cowpen Mountain.
Giving a final salute to the flag, we happily made our way back down to the parking lot and relished in the
warmth of the truck and the heated seats. Hiking does have its share of simple rewards and this (in the
winter time) was most certainly one of them ... :-)