Just after I finished college, my friend Brian and I went down South for a highpointing trip. We hit Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, but Georgia was my favorite.
A snowstorm had just hit Atlanta a couple days before, and the road to Brasstown was closed. With snow on the road, it would have been impossible to drive up anyway. It was early evening, and we decided it would be fun to hike up the snow-covered road to the summit, 1780 feet, and 3 miles up.
The starlight above us made the road easy to see. We did use a flashlight, but ultimately the way up was obvious. Points on the road were very steep and trying. Some spots were very icy, so I had to be careful not to slip. In fact we had a similar experience when we hiked up Cheaha Mountain earlier that day, which too had a closed road (due to ice). The road to Georgia's summit was longer of course. In fact, very quickly, my friend fell behind as I pounded ahead, enjoying the complete solitude of the mountain road in winter.
After nearly an hour of walking on steep, hard snow, I reached the upper parking area. It was another 1/2 mile or so to the summit up a paved trail, but the hike seemed tricky since this part was in the woods and it was pitch black. At this point, my flashlight didn't help my view very much.
I reached a dirt road, and turned right (up) towards the summit, which I could see was close by. I finally saw a clear view of the nights sky. There were more stars than I had ever seen in my life! Dazzling and bright, with gas clouds - it seemed like I could see the entire universe from this vantage point! The surrounding mountains were lighted by the starlight, and cast huge shadows over the dim lights of the town below. I hiked down to find Brian, and we walked back up the summit, where the summit tower was closed. We hiked down the long, snow-covered road together, looking for his flashlight, which he dropped on the way, but never found it. We kept hearing the sounds of a large animal all the way down, as if it was following us, and we kept waiting to see if (whatever it was) would pounce on us and make us dinner!
Overall a great trip. The darkness kept me from photographing, but for this reason alone, I suggest climbing Brasstown around sundown in winter (DEC, JAN). This is a truly unique experience that no highpointer should pass up.
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