“We climb up a steep slope to a huge rock overhang that looks more like a small cave ... it’s the biggest rock overhang in the recreation area and one of 180 archeological sites in the park ... prehistoric Indians used the overhangs for shelter, Jerry says.
“Nearby, in a spot on the river’s flat floodplain, Jerry asks us to imagine the prehistoric Indian town that occupied the site perhaps 500 years ago ... there would have been circular huts, garden plots and people engaged in various activities such as weaving baskets and using fire to hollow out tulip poplar trees for dugout canoes ...
“Even though it’s late November, lingering fall colors are still beautiful ... some asters are still in bloom ... and a surprise: we find some blue gentians still blooming along the river ...
“But fellow hiker Patti Locke makes the day’s best find -- a tiny, abandoned, lichen-covered ruby throated hummingbird nest ... we're amazed that she spied such a small, well-camouflaged object.”
In the sky: The moon, now in new phase, will be a thin crescent low in the west just after dark on Sunday, said David Dundee, astronomer with Tellus Science Museum. Venus is low in the west at dusk. Mars rises about four hours before dawn. Jupiter rises out of the east at about sunset. Saturn rises out of the east about two hours before sunrise.
East Palisades Unit, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
If You Go
The East Palisades unit features several miles of easy to moderately strenuous loop trails along the Chattahoochee and through a dense hardwood forest. A prominent overlook offers a spectacular view of the river.
Two entrances: Indian Trail and Whitewater Creek. On I-285, take exit 22 and go south on Northside Drive. Indian Trail entrance: travel 1.2 miles on Northside to Indian Trail and turn right. Continue on the paved portion of Indian Trail for 0.4 miles. The road becomes a gravel road and continues for .3 miles to parking lot. Whitewater Creek entrance: go 1.6 miles south on Northside Drive to Harris Trail. Turn right on Harris Trail and go .9 miles to Whitewater Creek Road. No restroom facilities. $3 parking fee.
National park visitors center is located at Island Ford Unit, 1978 Island Ford Parkway, Sandy Springs. 678-538-1200, www.nps.gov/chat /index.htm.