What is a scramble you might ask?
Scrambling (also known as alpine scrambling) is "a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one's hands". It is an ambiguous term that lies somewhere between hiking, hillwalking, mountaineering, and rock climbing. Canyoning often involves scrambling. (wikipedia)
The most insane and awesome part of the adventure, hands down, was the scramble...and yes, my hands were down pretty much the entire time as I made my way up...grabbing hold of rocks, dirt, and tree trunks to make the ascent!
I was feeling pretty much in tune with that wild space and the wildlife as I engaged in the scramble today. Reading the forested canyon wall from the bottom, it was clear that the best approach would be to follow a route where dirt continues to get washed out of the beds of seasonal hillside cuts. The cuts were dried up leaving large sporadically placed sedimentary rocks for gripping.So, I followed the same hillside cut virtually all the way from bottom to the top...well, almost. I was met by a sheer wall of rock that was maybe about 30 feet tall that prevented my hillside cut from taking me to the top. Reading the soil I noticed a couple of deer tracks. I figured any deer that made it this far up would surely be looking to make it over the top and so I resolved to follow those tracks which led to what looked to me like a well-used deer trail. This deer trail took me around the base of another HUGE sheer wall of rock following a narrow (maybe two feet wide) path; rock wall to the left, 45 degree slope to the right! Well, the deer must know what they are doing because the trail wrapped around the base of the rock wall and then took me up a short muddy path to the top.
Drenched with sweat and pretty exhausted, I took a moment to pause at the top of the hill. Giving thanks to God for such a beautiful wild space and a fantastic scrambling experience, my heart was and still is filled with gratitude for the hillside cut and white-tailed deer that helped significantly in my navigation!
Here are some photos from the adventure:
(This is my "I made it to the top!" pic)
(left- my full route from today which included a walk along Owassee Rd, a West Rim scramble, and a hike along West Rim Trail. right- a zoom in on my scramble route; note the straight shot most of the way up following the hillside cut and the dip just short of the top being the deer trail I followed the rest of the way.)
(A walk along Owassee Road to start things off)
(the hillside cut looking up)
(the hillside cut with camera looking back towards what I'd already done)
(At the top of the hillside cut: left-looking into the canyon. right-looking towards the rim. So close!)
(Followed the deer trail and made it to the top!)
(Can you tell how happy and how sweaty I am to have made it?!)