Expedition #24: Hiking/Camping Dismals Canyon and Natural Bridge Alabama
Hike (1): Afternoon (9/10/2010) hike of the Dismals Canyon
Distance: 3 miles Rating: 5/5 (How could it be any less?)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (Negotiation of many steep stairs and crevices)
Conditions: Sunny, warm, humid. Late afternoon hike. Wind calm. Almost no one else on trail.
Jon, Amber, and I on this expedition. Took advantage of our early arrival and explored the deep gorge and canyon of Dismals Canyon. I half-way expected to see T.Rex emerge from the mist shrouded canyon at any moment as we were surrounded by moss draped rocks and cliffs, numerous large ferns, and more Big Leaf Magnolia than I have ever seen in one place. Except for the roar of Rainbow Falls and the more gentle cascade of Secret Falls the canyon was mostly quiet. We explored more cracks and crevices than I can enumerate -- places such as Witch's Cauldron, Dance Palace, The Grotto, and Burr's Hideout. All around we were cocooned in the verdant green of a primeval forest. In certain places we would be amazed at the cool, refreshing air that swept over us out of some subterranean crack. You could not help buy wonder what some Native American hundreds or thousands of years ago would have been thinking as he walked through or lived in this resplendent canyon. I am reminded of Psalms 68:35 " O GOD, YOU are more awesome than YOUR holy places."
Hike (2): Night Hike in Dismals Canyon
Distance: 1 mile Rating: 4/5
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (Due to steep stairs and uneven terrain under night (flashlight) conditions.)
Conditions: Mid to upper 70's. Humid. Calm. Trail conditions steep and wet. Total of 8 people including the guide.
Guided hike from the Country Store down into Dismals Canyon into Burr's Hideout looking for Dismalites (bio luminescent larvae). The canyon takes on an ethereal feel after dark. Hiking amid the cracks and crevices of the lower canyon after dark is a unique experience. Your sense of hearing and touch becomes much more acute since you have limited sight. We were disappointed at the lower number of Dismalites. They were reduced by the drier than normal conditions according to the guide. Rather than hundreds or thousands of them, there were only scores. They were intriguing none-the-less. Standing in pitch black darkness you are inexplicably drawn to the soft blue glow of these larvae. They are truly an astounding creation of GOD.
Hike (3): Natural Bridge, Sat. 9/11/2010 Early afternoon
Distance: 3 miles Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (Due to varying terrain, slippery conditions, rocks)
Conditions: Sunny, very warm, humid. Trails damp to muddy in places. Lots of rain in area over last several weeks. A few other people on trails.
Another spot in Alabama that I had been wanting to see -- can mark it off my list now... I am so glad we stopped here on the way back. You can read about Natural Bridge or even see pictures of it, but none of them do it justice. They cannot adequately convey the sense of amazement and awe you witness as you hike around the corner and see this stone monolith surrounded by primeval forest and highlighted by shafts of early afternoon sunlight. Long, thin, spindly trees grow up from the cavernous floor through the gaps between the rock bridges. All around, the rocks weep large drops of water as cascading ferns and mosses soften the sheer rock faces of the ridge line. Here too I am reminded of "The Land That Time Forgot".
What a special place this is, GOD. How magnificent YOU are. YOUR creativity moves me to tears, to wonder, and to inspiration!