Sitting in the living room of my home I broke the news to my wife that I was getting prepared to go out in the 2016 Polaris General to camp the next morning for a night by myself. Of course her response was to have fun, be safe, do not bring home any animals and call to let her know where I had made camp incase she needed to find me. It was then that I had to decide where I could camp on such short notice and a place that would not impede my use of the Polaris General as a mode of destination transportation. The General 1000 is a very well powered machine and with the winch as well as GBC Dirt Commander tires I had no worries about getting to a great spot through any type of terrain. Once I had settled it in my mind the search was on for that one place that I could set up a nice small camp and get to relax a bit for the next day or so.
In the mountains of Northern Georgia you have to be very leery of wildlife and know that the chance of you coming in contact with something ferocious is a grand possibility in the more remote locations. I phoned a friend who is more familiar with the private landowners in the mountains here and he set me up on a 550-acre spot just a short drive from me on the Tesnatee River. Gaining permission to be on private land can be valuable for any venture and is a must no matter what. Also, it is always nice to let the owner know that you will be traversing the property in an off road vehicle. My plan was to leave no trace of my visit and if I could I would most definitely leave it better than when I arrived.
Just like any other adventure you have to plan a little ahead of time so you do not forget anything but when it is a spur of the moment deal your in for a crunch time, vital necessities only, run to the truck. When you are taking a UTV along as the mode of transportation to the actual camp location the packing has to be tight and precisely what you need otherwise you will run out of room quickly. Gathering the gear I needed I quickly realized the tent that was in the storage bin was for 6 people and I knew it would squeeze out vital room in the cargo bed of the General. I took a quick trip to the local Academy Sporting goods store where I found the store branded Compass three tents for twenty-four dollars! It was not only cheap for a tent but it was really compact as well.
After returning from Academy I packed everything into the truck and loaded the Polaris General on the trailer. Arriving at the main gate of the vast property I unloaded the Polaris general and began tucking all of the gear into the cargo area. Since I did not have a passenger I used the front seat to haul my sleeping gear and some light tools for pruning off tinder for my fire. So I loaded up the General, locked the truck and drove off into the property in search of a great spot for the night. After about thirty minutes I spotted a beautiful location on top of one of the peaks in the land. This place was in the middle of a grass field overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains but I quickly figured out that although good for camping scenery, a fire here could create a bigger problem than I could control so off I rolled towards the river.
I took a little known trail off into the woods that I had been told would bring me in close to the river access. I knew it could be a long shot but once I had arrived I knew if I was camping there I had to cross that Tesnatee River to the other side. I spotted a big sand wash area tucked right into the trees and immediately I knew that’s where I would park myself for the night.
Prepping a camping site can be just a bit of a job but luckily the sand off the riverbank had a smooth and somewhat plush little location ready for me. I knew I wanted to build a fire soon as the temperatures were going to get down in the fifties at night. On the river there were many river rocks and stones close by so I started by sitting all of my gear out against the trees. I gathered many large rocks in the bed of my Polaris General and built a nice little fire pit in about an hour. The sandy soil allowed me to dig with a nice flat rock to carve the hole in the center of my pit. From this point on it was time to set up my tent along with the Camp Chef stove and table I had brought along to cook on. I know a fire pit could have provided a good cooking source but not being extremely talented in the culinary field I decided that keeping ash out of my food would be best.
Setting up my new Academy Compass 3 tent was a breeze and as I had just finished getting it together I was surprised by three visitors. These young boys had been canoeing down the river and had to get out above the dam and come down around where I had set camp. Although they stayed around a bit casting their crank baits into the falls they were reluctant to allow me a photograph of them fishing. I then had one other guest drop in who was not only willing to have his photo made but actually owned the property and was checking to make sure I was ok. He proceeded to warn me of the wildlife there and to be leery of any snakes that could find the underside of my tent a good warm place to hide once I had gotten in and settled down. I was thinking to myself “well there’ll be no sleeping now.”
With a good fire going and a nice meal in the belly I found myself looking to fall into the tent for the night. I laid there and thought to myself about the rivers “white noise” and how peaceful it was. It was about the time when I was having all good thoughts that a terrible smell came running through the tent. Having been around bear hunts before I knew that smell and no it was not me! The Black bear in Georgia are a very populated species and as the slight crunching sound of leaves slowly faded along with that terrible odor I knew I had just had a visitor of the furry and potentially ferocious kind. Thankfully it moved on.
As night fell on the camp the temperatures did as well and man by about three in the morning it had gotten into the forties. It was 44.5 according to the small thermometer I had brought with me and it was 85% humidity right next too the river. I was not cold until I stepped out of the tent at about 7:30 that morning. I had wrapped up nicely in my double sleeping bags with a fleece liner to keep me dry.
I put on my Irish Setter Rutmaster 2.0 boots and began cooking breakfast. I was so glad I had brought my Camp Chef Rainier stove to cook on and the Camp Chef Sherpa table and organizer held all of the essentials for the feast. I even had some tunes via Bluetooth connection on my rugged NYNE Rebel speaker system. Heck, it was such a sweet setup that I was thinking of staying another few days!
Once I had cooked breakfast and gathered some more firewood I started to figure out how I would spend the rest of my day. I found out that the dam on the Tesnatee river here is actually a hydro-dam and was used to power a water pump originally. Its estimated that it was built around 1935 by a former property owner named Graham Dugas who was trying to feed water to strip-mining equipment for gold in the hills there. This was so interesting and it just begged to be investigated. After a wading across the river and a slight climb up the steep wooded bank I found myself standing in a little bit of the states history. Water from the river used to be directed into the Hydro-dam wheel and spun a 300kw generator of some kind. I bet this thing could have powered a small city in its day. I would love to see it in action but unfortunately I think I was about 45 years too late.
Camping for me is filled with time to reflect on life and the simpler ways of living. While I do enjoy exploring the wild in my Polaris General I did find myself simply sitting on that riverbank thinking about how the next 30 years would affect not only the outdoors but everyone who enjoys them. I decided that I would take this Polaris General 1000 and dig around the rest of the property before I had to leave because I once again realized as the sun was setting that time waits for no one. Enjoy it while you can!