It was a tulip poplar that had caught various climbers' attention in the past, but it had been ignored since it was only 50 yards or so from the 165 feet of climbing glory in Big Momma Pine. Given a choice, all new climbers to the Cornbread Creek climbing area in the north Georgia mountains would always pick Momma first.
But last weekend we -- me, Glenn (former Fat Boy Rogue) Fell, and Jim Corey -- took a second look at the tulip poplar and decided to give it a try. It turned out to be an awesome 120-foot ascent of a tree that we immediately named Momma's Boy. The beautiful fall leaf color added to our enjoyment.
Corey played lead climber, going up to about 70 feet on DRT and setting SRT ropes for Glenn and me. We fought our way up and through the tall rhododendron that surrounded the base of the tree and we tried to keep the tail ends of our ropes out of the gurgling creek. The reward was an awesome view of unspoiled wilderness nearly a half dozen miles from the nearest paved road or power line.
The weekend had started early Saturday, when Glenn and I headed north in his Jeep Cherokee in a light drizzle and 45-degree temps. About 90 minutes later we found a primative campsite near the top of Tray Mountain, in a clearing beside the dirt one-lane forest service road. The drizzle stopped and we set up camp, me in a sturdy and warm tent cot and Glenn in his hammock, and then we climbed a nearby white oak and another nearby northern red oak.
The wind blew 40 mph or more most of Saturday night and sleet thumped on our tarps, but I was snug and happy inside the tent cot (in fact it was wet inside the next morning from body heat, etc). Glenn said he stayed warm.
The sun came out and Corey showed up at breakfast Sunday, and we broke camp and drove north another five miles on the dirt forest service road to Cornbread Creek. There were a lot of old climbing friends there -- Big Momma, Marilyn, Martha White, the Elliot Tree, Tuning Fork -- but we decided to climb new trees.
After the ascent into Momma's Boy we headed uphill for a few hundred yards and found a pair of thick, 100-foot-tall white oaks about 30 feet apart. Corey went up the north tree while Glenn and I scaled the southern tree. Eventually they set up a traverse so Glenn and Jim could change places.
The sun was low on the horizon when we packed up and hiked back to the dirt road. Jim drove off in his Subaru and Glenn and I followed a few moments later. A damn good weekend had come to an end.