Fort Mountain and Cohutta Wilderness Area

These beautiful black-eyed susans were in bloom in mid-July in northwest Georgia's Fort Mountain State Park

These beautiful black-eyed susans were in bloom in mid-July in northwest Georgia's Fort Mountain State Park

In my ongoing search for sunrise and sunset locations within driving distance of my home, I planned a trip to north central Georgia. I enjoyed my sleep a bit too much and got a late start barely making sunrise at Fort Mountain State Park near Chatsworth, Georgia. I found a great sunrise location inside the park at the Cool Springs Overlook. Unfortunately, the sunrise wasn’t that great. But, it’s a good location to remember because it’s only about a one hour drive from my front door. I scouted out some other locations in the park, but the streams were dry so the small waterfalls I had envisioned simply weren’t there.

I had read about some intriguing locations in the Cohutta Wilderness Area. I decided to drive to Lake Conasauga since I had never been there before. The roads to it are mostly gravel and are all Forest Service Roads. It took a while to get there and honestly the lake wasn’t that great for photography – at least from the shore. Perhaps it would have been better from a canoe, but I didn’t have one and I wanted to move on. As usual the best shots of the day were ones that I hadn’t planned on. The first great location was on the drive to Lake Conasauga. I found a 1950s era Ward LaFrance fire truck that was sitting next to the road. The truck tires were still inflated, but it was covered in rust, moss, leaves, and the driver’s side door was held closed by a stick. Clearly, it had been sitting there for a long time. I spent a happy hour or two shooting details, playing with depth of field, bracketing exposures, and generating as many interesting images as I could conjure.

The next unexpected find was on the way away from Cohutta and towards Blairsville – my mother’s birthplace. On the main road, I found Smith Station Antiques. The store was closed but the front yard of the building and the building itself were covered in interesting junk and antiques. I honestly don’t know when a piece transitions from junk to antique or vice versa. It struck me as I stood taking images that some of the stuff that looked worthless to me was probably priceless to a collector who would love to see what I was seeing. I don’t know that my shots were beautiful, but they were certainly interesting and make for some interesting images.

I moved on from there to make a long loop following the Georgia and Tennessee border as closely as possible. Sometimes I was in Georgia and sometimes in Tennessee. I took some shots of rafters on the Ocoee River. They were enjoying their cold whitewater adventure on a hot, steamy, Southern day. I finished by heading back to Fort Mountain State Park hoping for a fantastic sunset from a high vantage point. Unfortunately, the weather turned on me and a series of thunderstorms formed. There were forecast to last well into the evening. I thought about shooting the gathering storm and hoping to photograph some lightning. However, the storm formed directly overhead. I decided that the potential of being struck by lightning rather than photographing it outweighed any desire I might have to stick around. I headed home but I gained some great knowledge about future locations.

These images and others from the area can be viewed here.

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