Our followers know that Trailheads are a rugged group. Tough, resilient, tempered by nature, and schooled by the rules of the wild. So, it was somewhat shocking when a couple of our members took a powder and sat out on our most recent adventure.
George had a pretty good excuse. He was in Bend, Oregon, and driving the 2,483 miles back would have been time-consuming. Especially those long stretches on I-80, snaking his way through the trucks and avoiding the watchful eye and radar of Johnny Law. George gets a pass.
But Brad and Steve, well, they were afraid of the wet conditions from the rain. Yes, it rained Noah-style the night before the hike and early that morning, but the ground was dry and thirsty and could be heard burping after the downfall. But Steve had experienced some flooding at home a couple of days earlier, and he feared his Merrell Moab 2s would get drenched again. Come on, Steve. That's a perfect opportunity to grab some of the new Merrell Moab 3s! Upgrade.
Brad lobbied for calling the hike off the previous night. He proposed gathering for a Trailheads sushi lunch, which is not exactly "on brand" for us. Roy supported Brad's idea and was pulling for a rainout. He loves him some Yellowtail Jalapeno Sashimi, lightly sauced with a Yuzu, Soy concoction. Mmmmm. Patrick likes his fish deep-fried with malt vinegar.
But Trail Master Guy would not relinquish. We would hike the East Palisades Trail and Bamboo Forest, dammit, which we had done before (read about it here). We had honorary Trailhead guests from Colorado (sporting our logo caps) joining us on the journey. There probably aren't any good hiking trails in The Rocky Mountain state–– just secluded spots where John Denver toked his jazz cigarettes and sang dewy-eyed songs. We wanted to put on a good show for the Coloradans.
Early on hiking morning, Brad decided he had too much work to do for Trailhead's silliness. Elvis thinks his human works way too hard as his decision affects the dog's enjoyment, and the poor pup would have to learn to drive (you try gripping a steering wheel with paws!), so he wasn't dependent on a workaholic. Elvis is working with Ford engineers to adapt the self-driving software on the electric Mustang to obey dog commands.
So be it–– we would hike with just three Trailheads-- Guy, Roy, and Patrick, plus our special guests Janet and Chris. And of course Fio! Who could possibly forget Fio? We assembled the troops and began our descent on the slick trail to the banks of the Chattahoochee River. The path was treacherous, with spidery exposed roots ready to send unsuspecting hikers down for the count.
Fall had begun, and a slippery carpet of leaves covered the trail. Roy took a tumble (with his nickname "Roy Tumbles," it was on-brand). He was fine, but his designer REI hiking pants had dirt on the seat. He got a good scrape on his elbow and begged us for a Purple Heart. No dice. As you know, a hike is just a walk until you draw blood.
Patrick carefully poked his walking stick before his feet, testing the ground to ensure it would not swallow him whole. Trail Master Guy walked along as his mate Fio ran back and forth and shepherded her herd.
Janet and Chris hiked expertly––perhaps they had read up on the activity, or maybe Colorado does have a few hiking trails. We did notice that while we were decked out in Gore-Tex footwear to combat the wet conditions, they were hiking in AllBirds you'd wear to the grocery store. Denver folks don't need silly hiking shoes in Georgia!
We met a few people along the way and exchanged stories and dog tales. Mostly it was chatterbox Guy. He will talk to trees, and sometimes they answer, he says. We enjoyed the Autumn colors putting on a spectacular show––Mother Nature can be such a show-off. Patrick said, "There is beauty in death" (creepy, right?). The other hikers kept their distance from him.
We came to the Bamboo Forest, one of the great wonders of Atlanta. While there are no panda bears, it is a magical place. Roy kept asking if anyone brought a machete so he could cut down one of the huge stalks and drink its sweet water, like Tarzan, Jane and Cheetah do. After Patrick's death comment, all eyes snapped to him to see how he would answer that. He smiled. Creepy, right?
We had hiked for over two hours, and decided it was time to ascend our way back to our cars and head to Heirloom Market BBQ for lunch. Steve was joining us. Better late than never. And by achieving four Trailheads in attendance, we were now an official TH event.
Heirloom is one of our favorite barbecue joints (read about it here). Like the Bamboo Forest, it has an Asian flair. Heirloom BBQ is the only Korean barbecue we've encountered in our travels, and it is centrally located to many terrific Chattahoochee trails. We ordered ahead of time, got beverages at the little store next door, picked up our grub, and headed to a picnic table down the road by the river.
Colorado guest Janet is a vegetarian. We had heard about such people but had never encountered one. Trailheads were curious to see her order. We were concerned as barbecue joints often add a little pork or pork fat to just about any dish on the menu (it can make a banana pudding). She had the creamy Roux-based mac n' cheese with the Sweet and Spicy Tofu that's flash-fried with sweet and spicy kimchi sauce and toasted sesame seeds.
We had never heard of this "tofu" and wondered if it was beef, pork, or chicken. Janet said it was none of those. Google told us it's some of a vegetable concoction. She raved about the deliciousness of her meal. We assume it must have been turkey-based.
Those who got the Gochujung-rubbed smoked pork dressed it with the sauce of their choice––Heirloom has six styles to thrill any palate. For the sandwich crowd, the buns here are toasted, we love that. The bready pillows come fresh-baked from The General Muir Bakery. The sandwiches are quality through and through, babes.
Some folks dressed their sammies with kimchi slaw for extra flavor, and Roy got the Southern Sandwich special––a sandwich piled high with tender, tasty, smoky chopped chicken and topped with roasted red peppers. It comes with a side of Alabama White Sauce. To make it authentically Southern, he topped it with cole slaw. That's some good eatin'.
The Brunswick Stew here is a must––dig into corn, brisket, chicken, and pork swimming in a tomato-based stew chock-full of flavor. Steve got two bowls.
The brisket is excellent, as are the ribs, even though no one got them this time. You really can't go wrong with anything at Heirloom. We believe it is one of Atlanta's best barbecue joints, a true original. Southern-style barbecue with a Korean spin.
We encourage all adventurous souls to see the Bamboo Forest and grab some Korean barbecue. Our Colorado guests were impressed. So what's next for the Trailheads? Sampling Colorado barbecue in Korea? Maybe. We probably won't do the tofu, though. It's not "on-brand."
Rating: Four Ribs*
Heirloom Market BBQ
2243 Akers Mill RD
Atlanta GA 30339
*About Our Barbecue Rating System
Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palettes. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they're dishing.
Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy.
Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four ribs rating. The answer is easy: our group has acclaimed designers, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.
Who are we to argue? Enjoy.