One summer between childhood and adulthood, we took the plunge over banjo-serenaded boulders into icy, mountain fed white water rapids. We breathed in crisp, clean rarefied air, and slept peacefully above the clouds. It was our last vacation together as a family, and we met the challenge with laughter and exuberance. All was right with the world.
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One August weekend six years ago, between the end of our daughter’s high school days and the start of her college years, our family headed to Black Rock Mountain State Park in Clayton, GA. At over 3,600 feet elevation, it lives up to its claim of being the highest park in the state. The drive up was gorgeous and the cabin we rented was tucked neatly back in the woods.
We did a little hiking and little roaming around the woods, and just enjoyed the cool weather and near zero humidity.
On that Sunday morning, bright and early, we drove across the South Carolina border, and made our way to the Chattooga River. For all you movies buffs, this is the river where Deliverance was filmed.
There were falls, eddies, cold feeder creeks, rock outcrops and lots of white water. We swam through caves, jumped off huge boulders, and did more paddling than I thought possible.
Our family managed to stay inside the raft more than out, but were the only ones to completely flip over. One or two other rafters would fall out along the river, but we went air-borne once and put all that pre-trip orientation to good use.
We smiled a lot, and laughed even more. Everyone had a good time and no one got hurt. There were no arguments, no tears, no general grumpiness. It was as near to perfect as I could have asked for.
The following weekend, however, was not a good one for me. We moved our daughter into her dorm in Gainesville and then left her in a town that was, at best, five hours away from home.
*Backstory from the Vault of IMSO, originally published Aug. 16, 2007; edited and updated.