Camping at Enota

What the hell is an Enota? Actually the common spelling is Enotah and it is the Cherokee name of Brasstown Bald (Georgia’s highpoint) which is just over yonder. I like it, it was a good choice for naming the campground. I tried to find out what Enotah means in Cherokee, even found a Cherokee to English Dictionary but no luck.

Get ready, I’m going on a short rant here. So, this area is chock full of towns, mountains, rivers, lakes, etc with Native American (mostly Cherokee) names. But…….I don’t see any Cherokees just mostly white folks of European descent. Hmmmmmmmm, something must of happened to the Cherokees.

Hell yeah it did. A couple of hundred years ago the white man came up with this brilliant concept called the Treaty. These clowns somehow concluded that they were more deserving of the rights to the land than the people that lived here in the first place. So they coerce “tribal representatives” to sign treaties where the natives agree to give up their rights to beautiful, heavily forested, fertile hunting grounds in exchange for a nice piece of desert. This is a deal that any telemarketer, televangelist, flim flam artist, or con man would be jealous of.

According to the little bit of reading I’ve done, at least in the case of the Cherokees, the dudes that signed the treaty were not authorized to do so nor did they by any stretch represent the tribal conscience. No problem, the Cherokees were just forcibly lead out of town (one of our more well known presidents, Andrew Jackson, had a hand in the forceful “relocation”).

There is a lot more to this story but suffice it to say that the whole deal pisses me off. As we travel around this area (all of the east coast actually) I periodically start thinking about the natives that lived in harmony with nature until we showed up, took it from them, proceeded to cut down trees, bulldoze, build, pollute, and generally rape the land. I know, I know, this is somewhat hypocritical of me – I’m one of the white guys that lives here and takes advantage of all this stuff. But I can’t help but wonder if somehow we could have coexisted, come up with a better deal for all concerned – something to ponder.

Anyhow……we arrived at Enota Campground on Monday, April 2nd soon after summiting Brasstown Bald. Remember we are in the woods, there is nothing on the sides of road except trees and mountainside. The Enota sign just kinda blends in with the surroundings but since it is one of the only roads around we find it pretty easily. We proceed onto a dirt road that just seems to go into the forest – I’m thinking is there really anything here?

Ah, I spy a few tents, some travel trailers, a few RV’s, but not on top of each other. There are lots of trees, I see at least one stream, a pond and finally a log cabin lodge/registration area. At first glance this looks pretty cool, it’ll do just fine. Spanky is all eyes and ears, there are a couple of small doggies on the front porch of the lodge that get his attention, the boy is excited.

The lodge is really neat. There is nice big sitting area with couches and chairs in front of massive stone fireplace, looks real cozy. I get registered, which means they just give you a little map of the place and draw a circle around your camping spot. The guy that I made the reservation with over the phone comes out, he remembers talking to me. I start asking him all kinds of questions like a dumb yankee checking into a hotel, he politely listens and says, “Why don’t you just take your time, get set up, take a nice walk around the place, you’ll figure it all out.” He was right. Nice friendly people. Something tells me that this place is kind of hippyish, commune like, turns out I’m right about that. It’s actually a good thing.

We find our spot and it is wonderful! There is a stream right behind our designated area. The stream is surrounded by rhododendrons, the water is sparkling clear, and there are some ducks making their way up stream – you guessed it, the ducks immediately get Spanky’s undivided attention.

Spankster immediately introduces himself to the people camping just uphill of us. Their son and another little boy are running around in bathing suits and manage to get Spanky into the stream. Spanks is having a great time from the word go. Yep, this place will work out just fine.

Couldn’t have been more than five minutes after I got the trailer unhitched. A lady, Miriam, and her son, Bret, come walking by and Spanky catches their interest. It is immediately obvious that these are dog people. Miriam and Bret instantly befriend Spanky and as it turns out will spend a ton of time with Spanks over the next couple of days.

Miriam is a special ed teacher. She has two adopted sons. Bret is from Guatemala and he is eleven. Her older son is fifteen and is from Paraguay. She is a widow. Her husband was a cop that died of cancer. I think I got the story straight, if not apologies, but after her husband died she decided to adopt the boys. If Bret is any indication, she is doing a spectacular job. He is one of the most well behaved, polite, friendly kids I ever met.

Miriam is waiting for her neighbors to show up. As luck would have it, her neighbors end up in the camping spot on the downhill side of me and Spanks. Over the next few days the neighbors, Wayne and Sharon and their kids, Zane, Zach, and Noel, and of course, Miriam and Bret, all would become part of Spanky’s extended family. Man did Spanky luck out (so did I). Spanks probably spent as much time at their camping spot as ours. He was fed burgers, snacks of all kinds, even got bacon and eggs for breakfast one day. Could not ask for a nicer bunch of folks.

Enota Campground is big! It consists of 60 acres of land that contains the camping area, the lodge, multiple mountain streams, several ponds, a working farm, quarters for workers, a playground (with trampolines) for the kids, lots and lots of trees, and it is surrounded by mountains rising in all directions.

It is actually a not for profit organization. As I understand it, Enota’s goal is to have a self sufficient, totally organic, ecologically correct working farm. The camping fees help fund working toward this goal. There are also a bunch of folks (seems to be mostly college age) working as volunteers in exchange for room and board. It really is kind of communal – see I told you the place had hippies! All kidding aside, I believe it’s a worthy goal. Sure beats the hell out of chasing the buck and dealing with the rat race every day of the week.

All this space provided Spanky with an almost unlimited playground. He ran for hours on the grassy fields adjacent to the farm (most excellent fetch the stick area), jumped in and out of the streams to chase ducks or just for the heck of it, took several hikes up the mountain, played with the kids in the playground (one day he had at least half a dozen kids chasing him while he played “run around in huge circles”), enjoyed taking walks through the camping area, and just generally had a blast.

When back at the trailer Spanky usually was being spoiled by the neighbors (alright – he was spoiled to begin with). I think every kid in the place new his name. They’d come by the trailer and ask if they could play with Spanky. Of course Spanky did his doggie duty and allowed all comers to pet him, scratch his stomach, etc (you know he was digging it).

At dinner time Spanky always managed to slink on over next door. Wayne and Sharon, Zane, Zach, Noel, and of course Miriam and Bret treated Spanky like gold. He scored some big time hand outs and lots of love from these folks. Thanks guys, for helping to make our stay a really great experience.

We only sampled it but judging by our experience there are some tremendous hiking opportunities directly out of the campground. Spanks and I took one day off from summiting just to check it out. We managed to hike/climb to two really beautiful waterfalls and we followed a trail several miles further up the mountain to the Appalachian Trail.

The Appalachian Trail is 2,174 miles long, extending from Springer Mountain, Georgia all the way to Mount Katahdin, Maine. The AT has shelters (about a day apart) all along its length. It is well marked and maintained. If that isn’t a spectacular hiking opportunity in your back yard!

Spanky is turning out to be quite the hiker. He knows to stay on the trail, usually stays pretty close in front or behind me, does a great job scrambling up steep, muddy, rocky stuff (although he did take a spill slipping on a moss covered boulder), has no problem fording streams, and never seems to wear out. Hmmmmmmm, a future adventure, the Appalachian Trail?

In conclusion, Spanky gives Enota the official Spanky seal of approval. I kinda liked it as well. If you are ever in this neck of the woods and want to have a great camping experience, check it out.

Our Neighbors and Spanky's Friends, Zack, Bret, Wayne, Miriam, and Noel

One of Many Fine Waterfalls

Spanks at the Playground with Bret, Zack, Noel, and Zane

I call this one "Spanky With Stick On The Farm"

The Stream Behind Our Trailer

The Lodge

Spanky's Duck Buddies

Another Waterfall Close to the Campgrpound


Ken said...

You guys really lucked out! That looks like a great base camp. And to top it all off, you had great neighbors. BTW- I don't know if you knew this but I'm part Cherokee, you know...I work for a company that makes the Cherokee airplanes. Enota means man and dog can find peace here. (I think)

Anonymous said...

Enota means... The land that nourishes.

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