Some days, I walk miles with a story on my tongue, waiting for some hapless bystander to walk by so I can tell it to them.
Other days, I realize the internets have everything I need. Why wait for hapless bystanders when I have you? Trapped. Staring at your shiny pixelated screen. Yes, technically you could leave… But let’s be real; you aren’t going anywhere soon. Why go off and do real things when you can look at cats and surf articles like this one?
This is a story you can find five miles from Springer Mountain, near the start of the Appalachian Trail. (I heard it from the proprietor of Top of Georgia Hostel, whom I had asked for stories like a nerd. Calm down.) Long Creek Falls is easily accessed by a tiny wee trail that branches off of the AT. It’s very, very close to the main trail… Apparently, there is even a hand-scratched addendum at the bottom of the sign: “270 ft,” or something. I wouldn’t know. I trampled straight past like a charging boar, intent on my 20000 mile mission or what-have-you. Probably was thinking about food.
If, however, you are a discerning hiker, you might think to yourself, “Self, I like waterfalls. This one is so close. Let us take this tiny wee trail for a short ways.” Wise choice, Sherlock. Truly you are deserving of only the best- think this to yourself as you trample down the path. Why, what a lovely waterfall! Why, what wonderful rocks! Why… it appears someone has scratched a figure of a man holding a pumpkin in his outstretched hands, right over here on the rock!
I hate to break it to you, but that, Sherlock, is not a pumpkin. That is the head of a Spanish conquistador, and you have just found a Native American pictograph. Congratulations.
People in olden times, like us distinguished modern folk, used to commemorate important events by keeping a written record, especially if you were Cherokee and possessed of a pretty darn advanced societal structure. Now, if you were Cherokee and heard of a bunch of folks in shiny armor with sharp swords making their slow way up the coast towards your part of the woods, you might be mildly interested. We’re all interested in odd and pertinent strangers. We’re even more interested when we hear that what they’re doing is asking local people for their gold, staring at the small pile that they bring forth for their guests’ perusal (ok, seriously, who has that much gold, it’s not like there’s a city or anything), declaring something along the lines of, “This is not enough! Where is your gold, really,” and killing everybody in sight. Very interesting, indeed.
So the Spanish finally reach what is now modern-day Georgia, and find the Cherokee, who have been watching them. “Bring us all your gold!” they say. (“Donde esta El Dorado??“) The Cherokee are awed by these shiny strangers. Wowww. Horses. Civilizationnn. Wowwww. Here, O Strange Men, here is a very large pile of gold that-we-haven’t-been-gathering-especially-for-this-moment-we-promise-this-is-all-totally-legitimate. Here. Hey, want some more? We have some more. This small child will lead you to our gold stockpile. Yes, come, shiny strangers. Follow the small child.
Then they ran back to what is currently called Long Creek Falls, and waited until the small child showed up, ambushed the Spaniards, killed everyone, and cut off the head of their leader as an example to any more marauding gold-seekers, and nevermore did Spanish conquistadors come to Georgia climes.
Then they drew a picture of this momentous event, and that, you discerning wayfarer, is what you are staring at right now. Aren’t you glad you took this wee tiny side trail?
The End. (Although I think there were legends of white strangers involved, too. It had been foretold, or something. I am not sure. Any and all inaccuracies in this telling are my problem and not due to our most excellent hostel proprietor.)
P.S. Oh man. There’s a tree creaking ominously on the hill above me; I’m going to go make sure it won’t fall on my head when I’m sleeping. #ForestProblems #IfIDieDidIHearItMakeASound