Life Verse:

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

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Late Afternoon Hike - Mtn Creek

Hike: Mountain Creek, Saturday, 3/27/2010, 15:45-17:45
Distance: 4 miles  Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Mid 70's. Mostly sunny.  Steady, light breeze.  Elevation: 540-630 feet (by Timex WS4)

Felt need to come here this afternoon.  Needed some quiet time.  Thank YOU for this place and for meeting me here, LORD.  Help me be the man YOU are calling me to be.  Help me to hear YOU clearly and to obey. 

Was great to hear the owl hooting by the fence line at the SW perimeter.  Some large bushy-tailed rodent scurried off as I descended from the Pine Upland.  He did not seek shelter in the trees so I don't think it was a Fox Squirrel.  Maybe a weasel?  Red maples are colorful as well as tulip trees and camillias.  Azaleas and wisteria are not in bloom yet.

Hike Saturday - Fort Toulouse National Historic Site

Hike: C.O.M.E. Hike Saturday 3/27/2010 to Ft. Toulouse National Historic Site, Wetumpka, AL 08:45-11:30
Distance: 4 miles (approx.)  Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Sunny. Mild up to low 70's. Slight breeze. A few muddy spots on some of trails.  Bridge across ditch in bottom land has been moved (washed by flood waters?).
Glenn, Jon, Amber, Barry, Pam, Jake, Peanut together on this Hike Saturday to Ft. Toulouse Historic Park.  Had a great time enjoying GOD's Creation and the wonderful fellowship.  Day was just about perfect.  Lot's of passarines (as usual).  One red headed woodpecker.  Tallapoosa River was a little muddy from recent rains though not too high.  Quite a few "purple flowering small trees" in bloom.  Many wildflowers in bloom.  Have not identified them yet.  Thoughts from Psalm 16 at end of hike.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Conecuh Trail North Loop Trailhead to Mossy Pond

Hike: Conecuh Trail North Loop Trailhead to Mossy Pond, Sat., 03/20/2010, 08:00-12:40
Distance: 8.6 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Moderate (due to distance)
Elevation at T/H: 275' by GPS   Moving Avg Velocity: 2.8 mph
Conditions: Gorgeous sunrise over Open Pond preceded my hike.  Enjoyed my quite time with GOD by the lakeshore and then drove to the Trailhead off AL-137.  Mild temps warming up to the low 70's by afternoon.  Copious sunshine.  Calm wind becoming steady but light by late morning.  Trail flooded in some spots, deeply in one spot.  Had to divert to Forest Service Road to circumvent one flooded area. Was VERY GLAD I wore my Gore-tex hiking boots today!
Absolutely wonderful morning hike.  Thank YOU, LORD, for this place and this time.  The mist shrouded Longleaf Pine Forest was almost surreal as I hiked from the trail head toward my goal of Mossy Pond.  (Note: The US Forest Service sign says 3 miles to Mossy Pond - don't you believe it!)  Along the way I was treated to birdsong from numerous passarines, secret displays by woodland wildflowers, the whispers of the wind in the longleaf pine tops, the occassional slap of a turtle entering the water, vocalizations from a disturbed duck or woodpecker, and the peace and grandeur of the south Alabama Longleaf Pine Forest and Gulf Coastal Lowlands.

If I had to sum up this hike in one word it would be: Peaceful.  Throughout the time on trail I had an overriding sense of peace and tranquility.  There was nothing here spectacular such as you would find at Sequoia National Park.  There were no deep gorges exposing ancient history and color.  No majestic mountains to climb.  No cascading waterfalls or frolicking rapids.  Here there was the mist shrouded Longleaf pines with their straight towering trunks and familiar needled-crowns, open and welcoming.  This is a special place and I felt at home here.

Arriving at Mossy Pond (finally after having to divert onto a FS Road for a bit to get around a flooded area) at 10:44, I had the sense of "oh yeah, this is the place".  I would call it a secret refuge, but since the trail comes by and the Forest Service has built a nice sheltered picnic table by the water's edge, I guess at least a few other people know about it!  But I did have complete solitude during my visit today.  I took time to sit down, eat my lunch, meditate, journal, and drink in the beauty and tranquility of this gem.  I am so glad I did not give up on this goal when the trail became flooded.  This prize was worth the extra effort of finding another way in!  What a wonderful place.  Thank YOU for sharing it with me LORD.

Lakeshore Trail / Portion of Conecuh Trail South Loop

Hike: Conecuh Nat Forest Open Pond Lakeshore Trail + portion of South Loop, Fri., 3/19/2010, 15:00-17:30
Distance: 5 miles  Rating: 4/5
Difficulty: Moderate (due to negotiating around some flooded areas)
Conditions: Beautiful day. Mid to upper 60's maybe low 70's. Wind calm. Trail ok except near ponds - under water there!  Wore Merrill trail shoes but should have worn gore-tex hiking boots!  All pond levels high and surrounding areas wet to boggy.  Had to bushwhack around some of the deeper or more boggy areas.
Was to have been Expedition #18 but just Kathy & me.  Got a late start so hiked the Lakeshore Trail and out the South Conecuh Loop until had to turn around due to approaching darkness.  Many huge turtles warming themselves on logs in the numerous ponds.  Did not see any gators.  Numerous passarines.  Signs of armadillo everywhere.  Beautiful longleaf pine forest and Gulf Coastal Lowlands.  Thinking about "Life on Purpose" but found my mind wandering a lot (thus the 4/5 rating).  Guide my steps LORD.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mountain Creek - After Work - Hike

Hike: Mountain Creek, Tue. 3/16/2010, 16:30-17:38
Distance: 2 miles  Rating: 4/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Cloudy.  Low-mid 50's.  Calm.  Trails wet but clear.


Afternoon hike after work - needed to get out after being sick last week.  Trails have recently been cleared by tractor - very easy going today.  Some controlled burns in the pine upland area.  Red maples blooming - brings a smile to my face every time I see one.  Yellow Poplars are also budding out.  None of the other trees showing any signs yet.  Many small purple wildflowers (oxalis?) in bloom.  Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, Crow, Chipmunk, and Gray Squirrel observed.  One couple shared part of the Nature Trail with me.  I was surprised at how quick it clouded up after 1pm today - it had been sunny until then. 

Spring is coming and the winter faithful (those plants designed by GOD to stay green) will soon be joined by a chorus of bloom and leaf!  Guide my steps, LORD.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sipsey Wilderness Big Tree Hike

Hike: Sipsey Wilderness - Big Tree, Sat. 03/06/2010, 09:00-15:30
Distance: 11.0 miles  Rating: 5+/5  Difficulty: Strenuous
Conditions: Perfect!  Bright blue sky.  Calm.  Mid 40's to near 60 degrees.  All trails mostly dry.  Some blow downs on Trail #224 to crawl under or step over.  Several other hikers (and two hunters) on the trail but not crowded. 
Sipsey Wilderness Hike to the Big Tree.  Hiked with Diane, Robert, and Glenn.  Hiked Trails #224 & #204 from the Borden Creek Trailhead to the Big Tree.  A long hike for Glenn, Diane, and Robert since they're not used to this distance (it was a full day hike), but the views at the Borden Creek Trailhead and at the Big Tree were worth it!  Though I knew there was a waterfall near the Big Tree I was not prepared for the sweeping beauty and grandeur of the gorge that holds the Big Tree.  A waterfall leaps off the rim of the gorge and plunges 180' down to the rock and boulders of the canyon floor.  All around yellow poplars and other hardwoods stand silent guard over this pristine wilderness.  Nearby a smaller waterfall makes a similar plunge to the rock fall.  One must negotiate large boulders to scramble from the Big Tree to the waterfall.  A large amount of scree covers the slope behind the water fall but the huge overhanging rock formation beckons you to scamper up behind the fall to look out through the water.  Skeletons of icicles still littered the base of the waterfall.  LORD GOD, YOU astounded me once again with the magnificence of YOUR creation and YOUR display of YOUR love.  We were treated to a symphony of sound and sight at the very start of the hike at Borden Creek Trailhead.  Borden Creek tumbles and splashes its way under an old road bridge at the trailhead as it winds towards the Sispsey River.  The banks of the creek along this area are almost as white as the Gulf coast beaches.  This is was a full day in the widest extent of that word. 

This was a fantastic, full-day hike but it was much more than just a hike.  It was a pure joy to be able to share this experience with Diane, Robert, and Glenn.  (I hope they're not too sore tomorrow after this length of a day-hike!)  This area is spectacular and worthy of additional visits.  I understand why so many people talk about the Sipsey on the AlaTrails Forum now.  A three hour drive from Prattville is a long time, but it's not a bad drive and what awaits in the Sipsey Wilderness is certainly worth it.