Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hike Saturday #2 - Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail

Hike: C.O.M.E. Hike Saturday #2, Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Lake Martin, Sat. 2/27/2010, 09:30-12:30
Distance: 4.7 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Moderate
Conditions: Cloudy to Partly sunny.  Cool (low 40's).  Light to moderate winds.  Trails in good condition.  Met a few other hikers (even some with dogs too!) on the trail.
Had a great time of fellowship and enjoyment of GOD's Creation on this wonderful trail that winds from ridge-top to lakeside and back up.  The area truly does have an alpine feel.  Large boulders are scattered about the ridges and even down into the lake in places.  The forest is largely a mixed pine-hardwood type though one observes sections of pure pine and pure hardwood throughout the hike.

Observed large red-tailed hawk going in to the trail head.  Several Canadian Geese, a few ducks, and various other water birds were observed.  A small patch of woodland violets were blooming near the water's edge on one of the many "fingers" we hiked around.

It's is always a joy to spend time with people I care about and a hike such as this just multiplies it!

Shared thoughts from Matt. 24 and about the Santiago 8.8 earthquake around the picnic tables at the conclusion of the hike.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Expedition #17 - Mount Cheaha

Hike: Rock Garden Trail, Cheaha State Park, AL, Sat. 2/20/2010, 10:30-12:30
Distance: 2 miles  Rating: 5+/5
Difficulty: Strenuous for the Rock Garden Trail - Easy for Bald Rock Trail
Conditions: GORGEOUS!  Sunny. Mild (temps in lower 60's). Calm.  Trails were dry and open.
Expedition #17 Assault on Cheaha.  Twenty-six people participated in at least some aspect of this expedition.  This is the most people ever participating in a single expedition!  I am excited, thankful, and humbled.  It is my great pleasure to spend these special times with the people I love so much.  Thank you all for sharing this place and time with me.

Seventeen people opted for the strenuous Rock Garden Trail climb!  The views were astounding.  Before us stood the cliffs and boulders of Cheaha Mountain behind us stretched Cheaha Lake and the Cheaha Valley ringed by the ridge line of the Piedmonts.  We could not have ordered more perfect weather nor better fellowship.  We were cocooned in the beauty and magnificence of GOD as revealed in HIS Creation.  After joining the rest of the group at Bald Rock Trailhead we traveled to the Rock Tower for a picnic lunch and devotional time.  Devotional thoughts were from Psalm 50:  It's all GOD's.  We are privileged to know HIM personally.  Take time out daily to walk with HIM.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hike - Barton's Beach Nature Preserve

Hike: Barton's Beach Nature Preserve near Marion, AL, Sat., 02/13/2010, 11:00-13:35
Distance: 5 miles Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Mostly sunny. Wind Calm. Mid 30's to Low 40's. Trails wet, muddy in low places from recent rains. No evidence of snow in this area. Water levels lower than previously observed in Round Lake. Some rerouting of water flow from Cottonmouth Creek may have been made. No other reason I can imagine for the water level to be down in this oxbow lake.
Hiking with Diane and Robert today! Was wonderful to be able to share this special place and time with them. I have really enjoyed Diane's interest in "getting out" with me these last several weeks.

Barton's Beach is one of those little known jewels. When you spend time hiking and taking it all in, you just have to say "GOD, YOU have created such a special place here." From the white sand beach on the banks of the aquamarine Cahaba River to the quiet Cypress swamps of Round, Middle, and Secret Lakes, one is surrounded by the splendor of GOD's Creation. So many different birds were busy about life today. A small yellow-green sparrow-sized bird I was not familiar with along with several different woodpeckers. Turkey Vultures, hawks, all types of passerines readily observed, and we even heard an owl! The 100' birding tower is always a hit - I saved it until near the end of our hike as a surprise! The views of the oxbow lakes and cypress swamps are phenomenal from this vantage point.

Another great adventure.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Playing in the Snow at Overlook Park

Though we did not get the 4 to 6 inches of snow the weatherman was talking about we did get a good 2 inches in the Overlook area. Di, Robert, and I walked up to Overlook Park and Kathy joined us there for some walking in the snow, taking pictures, watching the Robins, Bluebirds, and Sparrows, and having a good snow-ball fight.

Frog-toggs worked well in the snow-fall along with my Redhead Goretex hikers. I stayed dry and warm throughout the afternoon!

eTrailGuide #020 20100212

Crestview Outdoor Ministry Expeditions

Adventures of Worship in GOD's Outdoors

YOU will show me the path of life;
-- Psalm 16:11 NKJV

eTrailGuide #020

February 12, 2010

01. Real Treasure

02. Outdoor Ministry Calendar

03. Expedition #17 – Are You Ready?

04. Expedition #18 – Campout Conecuh National Forest!

05. Open Your Eyes

06. Campfire Cuisine

07. Gear Review


01. Real Treasure

19 'They will throw their silver into the streets, And their gold will be like refuse; Their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them In the day of the wrath of the Lord; They will not satisfy their souls, Nor fill their stomachs, Because it became their stumbling block of iniquity. Ezek 7:19 (NKJV)

This passage is part of the prophetical warning that GOD gave to Israel through Ezekiel. It should also serve as a warning to us – the pursuit and accumulation of earthly “treasure” will ultimately do mankind no good. The desire for earthly riches became a stumbling block to the Israelites and has become so for many men today. JESUS reminds us to seek HIM first and foremost. I pray we will heed HIS words. If we do, then our treasure will not be corruptible gold and silver but will indeed last eternally!

What do you desire with all your heart?


02. Outdoor Ministry Calendar

February 20, 2010 – 7:30am – Expedition #17 Hike to Cheaha Mtn.

February 27, 2010 – 8:00am – Hike Saturday – Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail

March 20, 2010 – 8:00am – Hike Saturday – Hike Ft. Toulouse NHP Wetumpka

March 26-27, 2010 – 7:30am – Expedition #18 – Conecuh Nat Forest Campout!


03. Expedition #17 – Are You Ready?

Option #1:

Join us for a challenging hike of the Rock Garden Trail at Cheaha State Park on Sat. 2/20/2010. This hike will assault Alabama’s Highest Point – Cheaha Mountain! This is also the trail with the most magnificent views in the park, perhaps in the state. One has to pay for these views – and that payment is in work. The Rock Garden Trail may be the most difficult hike in the state.

Before you decide you can’t do this hike, consider Option #2 for this Expedition. Option #2 will be walking/hiking the Bald Rock Trail which is an easy hike along a boardwalk already at the summit of Mt. Cheaha.

Those in the group that opt for Option #2 will take the van to the summit parking area and walk the boardwalk (and wait for those that will be hiking up the Rock Garden Trail!).

Those hiking the Rock Garden Trail will depart from the trailhead and assault Mt. Cheaha from below.

Gear List:

· Hiking Shoes or boots for Option #1. Any comfortable shoe for Option #2.

· Pack your own picnic lunch, snacks, water.

· Wear comfortable and layered clothing. Plan for the weather. Don’t forget your head and hands!

· Bible / Journal / Pen or Pencil

Everyone will gather together at/near the summit for a picnic lunch, fellowship, and devotional thoughts. Please see the C.O.M.E. Bulletin Board for specific trail info.


04. Expedition #18 – Campout Conecuh National Forest!

C.O.M.E. #18 will be an over-night campout at the Open Pond Recreation Area of Conecuh National Forest. There are several options available within this Expedition.

· Expedition Type: Camping at developed campground with Hiking, Biking, Fishing, Kayaking options. This area is known for its nighttime darkness (low light pollution) be prepared for some great star-gazing!

· Dates/Times: Friday (3/26/2010) 9:00am through Saturday (3/27/2010) late afternoon.

· Location: Open Pond Recreation Area, Conecuh National Forest (see following link for map info )

· Costs: Camping fees range from $6 - $12 per night depending on campsite selected. Entrance fee is $3.00 per vehicle.

· Hiking: Conecuh Trail (up to 20 mile loop trail from Open Pond largely level through Long Leaf Pine forests, swamp lands, and mixed forests), other shorter trails around Open Pond.

· Biking: Mountain bikes are allowed on trails. Roads around Open Pond and throughout area are accessible to bicycles. You will have to bring your own bike.

· Kayaking/Canoeing: Open Pond is accessible for non-motorized boats. No moving water – all water is sheltered. (Bring your own boat.)

· Fishing: Available at Open Pond and other lakes. Valid Alabama Fishing License required of all 16 years old and up. (Bring your own fishing gear.)

· Campsites: Four different campground loops providing everything from electric and water hookups to primitive, and group camping. Campsites provide location for tent (or camper trailer) and fire-ring. Campground bath-houses provide modern bathroom facilities including hot showers.

· Expedition Agenda:

o Depart Church in caravan at 9:00 am Friday, 3/26/2010

o Arrive / Set up Camp

o Short hiking excursion: Lake Trail

o Picnic Lunch (pack your own)

o Fishing for those interested

o Canoe/Kayak time for those interested

o Evening Meal around the campfire

o Evening Devotions

o Star Gazing!

o Into the Sleeping Bags

o Saturday:

o Camp Breakfast / Morning Devotional Thought

o Conecuh Trail Challenge (10+ miles on the trail!)

o Optional activities for those not hiking

§ Canoe / Kayaking / Cycling

§ Fishing

§ Relaxing / Fellowship around the campfire

o Break down camp

o Return to Prattville

This Expedition WILL REQUIRE pre-registration! See the C.O.M.E. Bulletin Board for registration information forms. We will have planning/preparation meeting prior to the expedition.


05. Open Your Eyes

Hiking Trails of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia

Hiking Trails into the Okefenokee NWR offer hiking trails through upland pine forests and across transitional wetlands. These trails offer visitors unique hikes through natural habitat; with opportunities to view deer, squirrels, gopher tortoises, box turtles, snakes, and a wide variety of birds.

East Entrance offers a variety of trails, most of which meander through the refuge’s upland habitat:

• Phernetton Trail is a 1.3 mile hiking trail loop near the East Entrance Road, off Highway 121. This trail offers a walk through a managed section of the refuge’s upland habitat.

• Longleaf Pine Interpretive Trail is a 4 mile trail that begins off East Entrance Road, approximately ¾ of a mile from its junction with Hwy. 121. This trail weaves through upland property belonging to both the refuge and International Paper. Exhibit panels discuss the Longleaf Pine Forest, Sustainable Forest Initiative, and the historic Suwannee Canal. This trail merges into the Canal Diggers Trail.

• Canal Diggers Trail is a .65 mile interpretive loop that begins and ends in a small parking area, about ¼ mile onto Swamp Island Drive. This short walking trail offers visitors a self-guided walk through a small riparian habitat, which has developed inside the old canal. Wildlife observation and photography opportunities exist for both upland and riparian-dependent species.

• Upland Discovery Trail is a short .2 mile loop walk, taking visitors through a naturally occurring red-cockaded woodpecker colony. Observation and photography opportunities exist for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and other upland dependent species.

• Ridley Island Trail is a 1.75 mile trail that takes visitors from Swamp Island Drive through a mosaic of upland and wetland habitats to Chesser Island. A diverse variety of wildlife and plant life can be found along this trail.

• Chesser Island Homestead Trail is a .7 mile loop around this historic property. Visitors can observe and photograph a variety of native and non-native plants. Many of the present plants and trees can trace their origins back to the property’s historic “Swamper” homestead period.

• Deer Stand Trail is a .5 mile trail connecting historic Chesser Homestead to Swamp Walk Boardwalk. This trail wanders through a mixed longleaf pine and oak forest.

• Cane Pole Trail is a .35 mile trail, which runs along the Suwannee Canal, leading to Mizell Prairie education and observation platform.

Bicycling is permitted on the paved roads only, and not on designated hiking trails. All hikes should be planned with the Refuge opening and closing times in mind. It is not recommend that you bring your pet to the refuge, but if you do, they must be restrained at all times. Pets are permitted on trails, however they must be restrained on a 6-foot or shorter leash.

A trail map is available in pdf format:


06. Campfire Cuisine

This recipe seems unusual but intrigues me. This is one I need to try. (from )

Mock Coconut Cream Pie


· sliced Italian bread

· sweetened condensed milk

· flake coconut.

Directions: Dip both sides of Italian bread in sweetened condensed milk. Then dip in coconut. Put on a roasting fork and roast over fire. Coconut will get fairly dark when done.


07. Gear Review

This is the forum to perhaps introduce you to a new “gadget” or reacquaint you with an “old standby”.

Gear Reviewed: Mountainsmith Tour (Lumbar Pack)

This 488 cubic inch, 1 ½ lbs. lumbar pack by Mountainsmith has been a staple of my hiking gear for about 4 years now. Rigged with the optional “strapettes” this little star becomes a versatile trail pack with enough space for the essentials of a day hike while remaining unobtrusive and lightweight. The Tour is constructed with adequate space in its two compartments for a first aid kit, emergency supplies, some trail snacks, a map, and a small journal and pocket Bible. Pouches on either side of the pack allow for carrying of two 32 oz. water bottles. A versatile elastic strap on the back easily accommodates a poncho or rain jacket. Compression straps allow for adjustment of the load for comfort and stability. The wide waste belt is tuck-away and evenly distributes the load across your hips.

I consider the strapettes (shoulder straps) a necessity for any serious hiking. Without these the Tour would tend to shift and “weigh low” as you hike the trail which constantly aggravated me. With the strapettes the pack is tucked nicely in the small of your back with the weight distributed evenly. It will not easily shift while crossing the roughest terrain.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my Tour while hiking many varied trails in Alabama as well as trails in the desert southwest. The Tour was especially enjoyable to me on the Lime Kiln Trail in Dead Horse Ranch AZ State Park as I was freed to enjoy the desert while adequately provisioned with water without the added weight of a larger backpack.

The Mountainsmith Tour is my most frequently used pack, being my normal choice for day hiking. Only when it is necessary to pack larger loads do I opt for my Mountainsmith Approach 3.0.

Hiking with HIM <+><


A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
~ Walt Whitman

By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.
~ Thomas Merton

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Hiking with Two of My Girls!

Hike: Mountain Creek, Sat. 02/06/2010, 08:00-10:00
Distance: ~ 4 miles Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Cloudy, windy, very cool and damp. Low 40's. Guess you could call it a typical Dixie Winter morning...
Diane and Gracie hiked with me! Certainly looked and felt like a winter day but many birds were "flitting" about and singing. No deer, coyotes, or foxes seen today. Quite a bit of water standing in low areas and creek flow was high, though not as high as you might guess. Forest floor mostly damp and soggy from recent rains. Diane's leg was hurting her (she pulled a muscle last week) some about halfway into the hike. Gracie enjoyed the sights, sounds, and smells immensely. I think she loves being outside with us. On a slightly unpleasant note, Gracie did pick up about 5 ticks. I was hoping it would have been too cool for them, but obviously not. Had to give her a flea/tick shampoo when we returned home.

Cut our hike a little short as I had to return to Prattville to conduct a funeral at 1pm. The lady was 97 years old. Her faithfulness, love, and service are models for us all. I believe she has heard, "Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of your LORD."

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Gear Review: Gerber LMF-II Survival Knife

Virtually every backpacker/hiker would agree that a sturdy, functional knife is one of the “must have” items in your pack before setting out into the wilderness. For ages man has relied on knives as vital tools in the struggle to survive. The knife continues to fulfill this need quite admirably.

Volumes of information have been written about selecting the “perfect” survival knife. Debate still rages about the “best knife” to pack. I am of the opinion that the “best knife” in a survival situation is the one you have and know how to use! That being said, I would like to review one knife I consider a fine addition to my outdoor gear – the Gerber LMF-II.

The LMF-II by Gerber Legendary Blades is a 10.59” (overall) fixed blade (drop point) knife made of 420HC stainless steel. The serrated blade measures 4.84” in length and is exceptionally thick at the spine. Handle construction is quite ergonomic and made of glass-filled nylon with TPV overmold. At 11.4 oz. the LMF-II has a nice heft yet is delicately balanced. It feels “just right” in the hand. The handle is finished with a butt-cap capable of hammering nails and punching through automotive glass or plexi-glass. The handle is insulated from the blade to protect from electric and physical shock. Its sheath is made of stiff ballistic nylon and comes with two wide web straps for various attachment configurations. Molle straps are attached to the back of the sheath to facilitate use on Molle vests, packs, and carriers. An integrated sharpening notch is ingeniously made into the sheath.

Gerber produces the LMF-II for the US military as the Aircrew Survival and Egress Knife (ASEK). This knife meets military specifications to cut through aircraft aluminum, shatter plexi-glass, baton-cut wood, insulate from electrical shock, hammer, and serve the downed aircrew until rescued.

Retail cost for the Gerber LMF-II is approximately $100.00 with some on-line purchases as low as $70.00. The knife is available in various color configurations as well as offered with or without the safety knife (a seat-belt cutting tool).

Hiking on Mars!

If you’re interested in hiking the Angry Red Planet someday, you might want to look at the Hiking Maps of Mars. ( No self-respecting hiker would be caught without updated topographical maps of the Martian surface before heading out on an expedition. After all, you wouldn’t want to be “Robinson Crusoe on Mars”.

Meeting Monsters in the Dark

Chupacabre, Nessy, Big Foot, Choccoloco Varmint, and the Fouke Monster are just a few of the many “monsters” we often see on TV or in written form. These fanciful entities tingle our appetites for the unknown and mysterious (as long as we’re curled up safely in our den). A real encounter with such a thing would not be something we would relish.

While I doubt you will have a “run-in” with Sasquatch, we can be certain of a very real monster that awaits all of us in our day to day life.

We are told in John 10:10a that “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. Satan goes about as a “roaring lion” seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8) and mankind is on his menu. His desire is to steal the joy of our salvation, to kill us eternally, and to completely destroy our life’s value. With years of studying the human soul and countless opportunities to practice, he is a monster of the most dangerous kind. That is, dangerous for those who are not protected!

I am certain few of us would venture into the forest or jungle without the proper equipment, knowledge, and skill, yet so many of us venture into the daily walk of life ill prepared to meet this diabolical monster. The results of an encounter with this ferocious beast, absent protection, are painful, horrid, and potentially long-lasting. The one who is prepared and protected however can rest assured they will emerge stronger and victorious.

We read “7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:7-8 NKJV).” This is not an “option” if we desire protection from satan.

If we desire the victory in an encounter with the devil there are some things we need to “pack along”:

· We must belong to JESUS CHRIST (have a personal relationship with HIM).

· Submit to GOD. (Surrender is a daily matter.)

· Resist the devil. (Don’t give him your thoughts, time, or energy.)

· What are you dining on? (Spend time in GOD’s Word.)

· Look around. (What are you feeding your mind? Trash in – trash out)

· Strength in numbers. (Christian friends to pray with and for you, accountability)

With these simple practices we need never fear satan as one of the “things that go bump in the night”!