Rod and the Girls to Sweetwater Park

April 29, 2011

Darla's trip for the conference gave us a visit with the girls. After all the storms had passed through, we had a beautiful cool morning and Rod was finished with the term. So he and the girls headed for Sweetwater Park.

They head down the trail toward Manchester Mill and soon get to Sweetwater Creek.

Their first discovery was a colorful inchworm, then a frog in a shallow side creek. The mountain laurel was in bloom, so the woods were beautiful.

After watching a duck cruise by on the current, they ran down to a rock outcropping and climbed to the top, about 10 feet up.

Jordan liked the fact that the mountain laurel buds would pop open if you squeezed them.

We followed the main trail past the first set of wide shoals and then branched off where the narrow millrace separates from the main stream.

Jordan and Elyse were interested in the shallow millrace stream when they realized that with their crocs on they could wade in it. The waded all the way down to the mill end of it. There were places where part of its old rock walls were still present.

Ashleigh was staying out of the water because she had her tennis shoes on, but with the beautiful side stream, she couldn't stand it any longer and pulled off her shoes to wade in the stream.

Jordan and Ashleigh enjoyed wading in the shallow shoals area.

We made it to the old factory, Manchester Mill. The ruins of this Civil War era factory are now surrounded by trees. We caught part of a guided tour where the guide was telling them that the factory was manned by women and children at the time of the raid by Sherman's troops. The workers were put on a train up through Tennessee to Kentucky. He noted that another such mill at Roswell was rebuilt and formed the nucleus for the present town of Roswell, GA.

He described how cotton was processed through stages to finally make cloth here in this water-powered mill.

We continued on downstream from the factory where there was lots of rushing water over the shallow rock shoals.

The shoals were beautiful, and Ashleigh remembered walking out on the rocks on a previous trip. The water was higher now, so it was more of an adventure.

Ashleigh makes it to a big log out in the middle of the shoal. Because of the major storm we had earlier this year, and the great flood of September 2009, there were lots of major logs and stumps which had been washed down to this shallow area.

Jordan also ventured out into the wild water. They had to pick their way carefully because there were deep spots.

The beautiful stream was a great place to explore. We just took our time, and there were lots of interesting places for the girls to explore.

Sometimes their explorations out on the rocks in the middle got them to places where they had to figure out how to get back to the near shore. They had to find places which were shallow enough and calm enough to wade across.

Sometimes their exploration of the rocks and the creek reminded me of a little pack of raccoons!

As we continued on downstream, the separate streams converged and the rapids became more violent. We had to stick to the shore trail, and in places it was pretty rocky and steep.

We probably traveled nearly two miles down the stream, to the second cascade. This is close to the place where we turned back.

The girls were ever alert for all kinds of critturs. They found this lizard on a tree trunk, and this colorful beetle on a rock. It was a good thing they were not at the same place, or the beetle would probably have been lunch.

Headed upstream now, we reveled in the beautiful day we had been blessed with. Grandma Brenda had called and had lunch ready for us, so our pace picked up as we went back north.

We did have to stop and observe this clump of swallowtail butterflies on the creek bank. Our understanding is that they gather like this to take in some particular minerals from the sand.

This one posed nicely for me on a leaf.

We say goodbye to the shoals of Sweetwater Creek and the Sweetwater Creek State Park and look forward to our next visit.

Visit with Darla and the girls
Off to Arizona and Saguaro National Park

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