Back in September 2020 it has been exactly 7 months and 10 days since we came back from our India trip which like always was a larger than life experience. And then in the month of March, it was recognized in the US that the pandemic is very much here. Schools, offices shut down their buildings and everyone, children and adults adapted to the new normal – going digital and staying at home. With the increasing number of cases in our state and then those numbers eventually creeping into our county we cancelled all our bookings we had made months ago to visit the Great Smoky Mountains. Obviously our hearts broke as this would have been our first time to the Smokies but safety comes before anything.
Come September, the normal looks a little different than how it started back in March. We contained the itch to make a beach trip to gorgeous Panhandle beaches during the entire summers – something we have been doing every summer. Labor day weekend was here and we decided to start with short yet safe one day trip. We started really small. Seven months of research for places to visit when corona goes away led us to little Grand Canyon of Georgia. Providence Canyon State Park in southwest Georgia(Lumpkin, Georgia) that is just two hours drive from our place felt like the right kind of place to start our travels. And it was beautiful even with the soaring temperatures with the exception of some cool breeze here and there.
Our drive to the state park started at 7:45 am which was a little late by my standards. Since we went with our dear friends, in all honesty it was a miracle that not only were we able to start at 7:45 but reached there by 10 am without any hassle at all. No traffic, smooth ride, sunny day -perfect day to go for a hike. It was Labor day weekend so we expected the park to be crowded but it was still a lot less crowded than how a labor day weekend would look. We were ready with our masks, wipes and hand sanitizers.
Since we started empty stomachs, we decided to eat a little something before we start our hiking. We were snack ready, water ready, lemonade ready, Starbucks doubleshot espresso ready, coconut water ready and lots more(benefits of having a good circle of friends). Took one public restroom trip with our masks on where people were maintaining social distance. I would call it a wise decision to hit the restroom even during this pandemic as there are no restrooms on the hike trail and we had a seven year old so it made all the more sense to avoid any toilet drama during the hike.
Providence Canyon has two hiking trails. Canyon loop trail is the shorter one, 2.5 miles and the Backcountry trail is the longer one, 7 mile loop. We went for the shorter one. It took us around two and a half hours to finish our canyon loop trail hike and we covered canyons 1-5. One can also cover canyon 6-9 on their canyon loop trail. We couldn’t because it had started getting really hot. The best time to go for this hike and like most other hikes would be to start early from home so one is there at the park around 8am(the time park opens) to avoid the hot Georgian sun during summertime or one can also wait till late October, early November to hike in these canyons when the temperatures have simmered down and fall colours are in their true glory.
We had taken just few steps and were welcome by a venomous reptile – Copperhead snake. My son couldn’t believe the hike started on a reptile note. It slithered its way through the leaves and sticks on the ground, stopped for a micro second, probably wondering what was the commotion about. For us mortals, it was nothing less than a celebrity. If I was a mind-reader, I would say that the snake was thinking this “It was nice to stroll freely in my habitat even if it was for few months. Now that the social animal is back with some of them having half of their faces covered (I wonder why!), I better hustle and get back to my hole.”
Copperhead and us both moved on. We first hiked towards Canyon 4 and 5. We had already started seeing different shades of soil. Providence canyon is known as one of the “Seven natural wonders of Georgia” but in reality it is the result of man’s poor farming practices during the 1800s. What we see today is the outcome of sedimentation and soil erosion. To read more about this beautiful place one can visit https://gastateparks.org/ProvidenceCanyon.
Fortunately for us, we were welcomed by a cool breeze and a calmer sun on that given day. It had only started to get a little hot still bearable when we were hiking canyon 1 through 3. We were able to finish our hiking in 3 hours with quite a few pictures in between and taking small breaks in between. Canyons didn’t disappoint us a bit and the play of colours was very evident at every nook and corner. There are also some crevices or gullies that once we managed to enter acted as a natural air conditioning system. We also noticed a thin layer of water along the trail and that is an indication of the water table below our feet which is very close due to continuous soil erosion happening at the Providence Canyon. One would also find lots of molten lava look-alike soil on certain places that is most probably iron ore deposits.
I will have to say this when we were inside the canyon it was a photographer’s paradise but the magic continued even after we stepped out and went to the overlook point. One could actually enjoy the sheer magnificence of the canyons from this point and indulge in photography. We also had the most fun having lunch on one of the picnic benches under the shade of a tree and it was a day well spent. It was a good first getaway after seven long months of staying at home and it wouldn’t be long before I go back to this beauty to see some spring colours. If you are excited to learn more about this gorgeous place go watch my video right here —-> https://youtu.be/S3qiAQEBaSk