As you drive into Vogel State Park it is as if you're transferred to a different state of mind. That old saying, "leave your troubles at the door," seems to come naturally as soon as you pass the entrance. It isn't hard to understand why, either. It is home to some of the prettiest scenery you'll find in a state park. If you're standing just above the falls gazing on the lake the view is stunning; the mountains standing behind almost look like a backdrop for a movie.
Vogel is a special place that will forever be woven into our hearts because that is where Jason and I had our second date. Really, it is where we both bonded over our mutual love for the outdoors. We hiked Trahlyta Lake Trail down to the waterfall to snap some photos and chatted along the way. Actually, the photo Jason took that day was given to me as a birthday present. Neither one of us realized it then, but that photo would hang on the wall in our bedroom we would share in the future. So in a way, Vogel was the beginning of this journey we're taking now.
I know for a fact that Jason and I aren't the only ones who have a special place in our hearts for Vogel. Many families, often times generation after generation, go to Vogel each year to take in the mountains and get away from the normal chaos of life. There's a great quote by John Muir that both Jason and I love and is fitting when thinking about how so many people like to escape to the mountains. He said, "Keep close to Nature's heart...and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." That is some great advice! I think our souls are drawn to nature and the mountains. It is therapy in its best form for many reasons. They inspire us! They inspire us to explore and as humans we are naturally curious. They challenge us. Climbing up a mountain to reach the top is both physically and mentally rewarding. There's not a soul out there who doesn't feel amazing when they have conquered something bigger than they are. Also, in a weird way, I am drawn to the mountains by their sheer mass and their reminder to me of how small I am, like a spiritual element. That may sound strange, but it is comforting. Lastly, they deliver so much peace. They give you everything that city and suburban life can't even begin to offer. They give you a rewarding time out; time to unplug and reflect and I think that is something we're missing in our lives in a big way. So when you're sitting by Lake Trahlyta or hiking some of the trails at Vogel, you're getting so much more than just that.
Vogel has a rich and interesting history. It was established in 1931 and is one of Georgia's oldest state parks. It came about thanks to August Vogel and Fred Vogel, Jr. who donated the land in 1927 to the state. Before it was donated they used to ship the bark from Hemlock and Oak trees located on the land up to Wisconsin where it was used for tanning leather. The two men were involved in the family business, Pfister & Vogel Leather Company, and found that Georgia had an abundance of resources they could use. After a synthetic method to tan leather was discovered, the men didn't have the use for the bark any longer and thankfully donated the land for the use of a state park. The Civilian Conservation Corps took over and built some of the cabins, picnic areas, camp grounds and dammed Wolf Creek to form Lake Trahlyta. The name of the lake was brought about by Cherokee legend. Trahlyta was said to have been a beautiful Cherokee woman who maintained her beauty by drinking out of a fountain of youth. She loved the mountains of North Georgia and their forests but was taken by Wahsega, a warrior who wanted to court her. He held her captive away from the mountains she loved and because of this she grew weak and finally died. Her dying wish was to be buried in her mountains and she promised that whoever would drop a stone on her grave would be blessed with happiness and youthfulness. Today, there is a pile of stones resting on Stonepile Gap near Dahlonega and the historical marker that marks her supposed grave invites those who wish for good fortune to drop a stone.
Most Georgians live within an hour of a state park so we all have no excuse not to get out and utilize these treasures that have been preserved for our use. Jason and I try to get out every single night rather than sit in front of a T.V. We get so much more from it. The beauty we see just from taking a drive or taking a walk through Vogel is invaluable. For a bit each evening we're not tied to normal every day life and the technology that surrounds and sometimes binds us. We just soak in the mountains with each other and become more and more "Souled in Appalachia."