Valdosta Daily Times

State News

February 23, 2014

High-wire walker sets sights on Georgia gorge

ATLANTA — Daredevil tightrope walker Nik Wallenda is setting his sights on a new goal: the nearly 1,000-foot (305-meter) deep Tallulah Gorge in the northeast Georgia mountains.

The Georgia gorge holds special meaning for Wallenda, since his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda crossed it on a high wire on July 18, 1970.

“To be able to walk literally in his footsteps is what my life’s about,” said Nik Wallenda, who discussed the idea in an interview hours after he crossed a 100-foot(30 1/2-meter)-high tightrope inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Feb. 8.

Karl Wallenda later plunged to his death while trying to walk a cable between two buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1978.

Nik Wallenda says he’s already visited the gorge near the Georgia town of Tallulah Falls, and he’s considering attempting the feat within the next three years.

“Hopefully we can make it happen,” Wallenda told the AP.

The Georgia gorge walk would add to accomplishments that include his televised crossing of Niagara Falls in June 2012 that gained international attention. Last year, he crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge in the Grand Canyon area of Arizona.

In northeast Georgia, local leaders say a high-wire walk across the Tallulah Gorge has the potential of drawing thousands of tourists to the area and increasing its visibility globally.

“It would put the Tallulah Gorge and Tallulah Gorge State Park back on the map,” said Teka Earnhardt, the administrator at the Rabun County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It would be huge for us.”

Karl Wallenda’s walk across the gorge drew an estimated 30,000 spectators to the north Georgia mountains. Hikers can still see remnants of the 1970 stunt, such as a large metal platform used to support the cable that was used.

The area, particularly the Chattooga River, is still known as the site of filming for the 1972 film “Deliverance.” The nearby Tallulah Falls Opry, a weekly gathering of bluegrass musicians in the nearby town, also draws some tourists to the area.

“We’re very interested in working with Nik Wallenda,” Earnhardt said. “It is something that we are already trying to work on.”

 

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