Life Verse:

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hiking Barton's Beach Nature Preserve - 12/18/2012

Hike:  Barton's Beach Nature Preserve, Tuesday, December 18, 2012, 10:00-14:30CST
Distance:  6 miles    Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty:  Easy to Moderate
Conditions:  Clear blue sky - gorgeous!  Unseasonably warm.  Calm.  Lots of rain over the previous weekend left some water standing in places but not overly muddy.  We did not have to divert from any trails.


Hiking with my brother.  (Do not get to do that nearly enough.)  Today was his first time in this location.  I think he had a blast.

Many birds (as usual).  Also observed squirrel & rabbit.  Saw a moderate sized mammal off the Fern Trail -- it looked a lot like a skunk with a bushy tail but was lighter colored (no smell detected).

Wonderful place to hike.  Really enjoyed Secret Lake.  The palmettos, cypress trees, and Spanish moss engenders thoughts of a primeval forest.  The Cahaba River was swift moving and high today - as high as I have ever seen it here.

One hundred foot birding tower was a treat (as always) and a workout for the legs.  Glenn swears it was 200' high!

Enjoyed the outdoors and spending time with my brother!  Thank YOU, LORD.

Gear List:
  • MountainSmith Lumbar pack (ASK & 1st Aid Kit) 1L water
  • KaBar Eskabar
  • SOG Fasthawk
  • RedHead Gortex hiking boots
  • dSLR
  • Hiking pants & LS Shirt
  • Orange head do-rag (it is hunting season in the South you know!)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Late Autumn Hike Swayback Bridge TOLA

Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends, Sat. 12/1/2012, 08:45-10:30CST
Distance: 4 miles  Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Bright, clear blue sky.  Calm.  Upper 60s.  Trails dry and in excellent shape.
Great hike.  A few mountain bikers and trail runners on the trails.  Enjoyed the passerines, gray squirrels, and chipmunks - several stopped and watched me watching them!

My steps were cushioned by a deep carpet of brown and gray leaves.  Most of the leaves are down now.  The view into the forest is much deeper than during the spring or summer.  I should have brought binoculars.

"Joyful, Joyful We Adore THEE, GOD of Glory LORD of Love"!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Friday Hike - Mtn Creek - 11/09/2012

Hike: Mountain Creek (Confederate Memorial Park), Fri., 11/09/2012, 10:00-12:00CST
Distance: 4 miles  Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Mostly sunny.  Moderate temps.  Wind calm.  Beautiful day for a hike (but then any day is a good day for a hike!).  No one else using the trails though there is construction in progress at the aquifer.

Flushed a large Whitetail deer (doe) as I entered the forest behind the old church.  Numerous gray squirrels were busy about their Fall gathering.  Did not notice the usual abundant passarines today.

Hardwoods are passed their color prime but the forest was beautiful nonetheless.  Smell of Autumn was in the air and the forest was peaceful.  The low humidity of late made for a crunchy carpet on some of the trails.  A few yellow and purple wildflowers still remain in secluded spots.

The words of Psalms 121 were on my mind this morning...

I will lift up my eyes to the hills-- From whence comes my help? 2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
Psalms 121:1-8 (NKJV)

Thank YOU, LORD, for YOUR love expressed to me in the pristine beauty and peace of YOUR Creation.

Gear List:
  • MountainSmith Lumbarpack (1 L water, ESK)
  • EsKabar
  • Gerber Gator Jr. (Used to clear some pesky briers from one of the small trails.)
  • Merrell Chameleon Trail Shoes
  • dSLR

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Autumn Hike at Cherokee Ridge

Hike: North and South Loop Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Kowliga, AL, Sat., 10/27/2012, 10:00-12:30
Distance: approx. 5 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Conditions: 58 DegF to hi of 69 today.  Wind: moderate to brisk with chop on the lake and waves slapping the shore-line.  Trails in good shape with a few blow-downs.
My kind of hike this morning -- hiking amidst the colorful tapestry of GOD's forest.  I was immersed in a world of color as brown, yellow, and red leaves cushioned my feet and enveloped me on all sides.  Autumn has always been my favorite time of year -- I just can't get enough of drinking in the depth of vibrant color that GOD has splashed throughout HIS Creation.  The firmament certainly shows forth HIS handiwork.

The peace I feel while hiking here is palatable.  Very much needed and appreciated.

Gear List:
  • Gerber Prodigy
  • MountainSmith Lumbar pack (w/ Emerg & 1st Aid Kit)
  • 1 L water
  • Merrell Chameleon trail shoes
  • dSLR
  • Hiking stick
  • SPoT

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wonderful Hike @ Swayback - 10/9/2012

Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends, Tuesday, 10/9/2012, 09:00-12:20CDT
Distance: 7 miles  Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Moderate due to distance
Conditions: Just about perfect!  Glorious blue sky with a smattering of puffy white clouds.  Temps starting in low 60s working up to low 70s at hike's end.  Light, variable breeze.  Trails dry & in good shape.  Encountered one blow-down.
Exactly what I needed!  The parking lot was empty when I arrived at the trail head and I only encountered one mountain biker at the end of the hike.  Except for the occasional sound of a passing car on the road and the whistle from Jordan Dam I was surrounded by the sounds of the forest.  My companions were the ubiquitous gray squirrel and his cousin the chipmunk along with some colorful passerines. The peace and beauty of the forest were palatable.  I stopped several times to just "Be Still and Know..."

6 Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. 12 "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the Lord for a name, For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."
Isaiah 55:6-13 (NKJV)

Monday, October 08, 2012

Dream Walking - 10/8/2012

10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”
11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
        -- Psalms 46:10-11 (NLT)

The cool and crispness of an early Dixie Autumn evening beckoned me outside.  I should have gone hiking this afternoon, but I finished up a little yard work instead -- finding free time in the midst of a Total Mill Outage is a challenge!

Lately I have felt the "squeeze" of time-demands on my life.  I seriously need to get outside, to "get away" from the noise and 'busy-ness' of our culture, and to spend some quality time with GOD in the midst of HIS Creation.  An early evening "urban hike" (that is a walk through the neighborhood) was good to get me focused, but it really just whetted my appetite.

I had my eyes on the heavens hoping to see a few Draconids and my heart/mind on GOD seeking a deeper fellowship.  The evening traffic and street lights conspired to hinder any views of meteors as well as distracting my concentration.  The clarion call "Be still, and know that I am GOD!" (Ps. 46:10) kept ringing through my mind.  How many of us are so "distracted" by the noise and speed of our daily lives that we are never still nor considering GOD?

Tonight would have been a perfect night to lie under the tall, Long-leaf Pines of the Conecuh National Forest and contemplate the CREATOR of the heavens.  The contrails of any flaming Draconids would have been jeweled streaks on a black velvet canvas -- declaring the glory of GOD.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quick Sunday Afternoon Hike - Mountain Creek

Hike: Mountain Creek, Sunday, 9/9/2012, 14:30-16:30
Distance: approx. 4 miles    Rating: 5/5    
Difficulty:  Easy
Conditions: Bright blue, clear afternoon sky.  Light breeze.  Moderating temperature, although it is still "very warm".  Lower humidity.  Trails in excellent shape.  A few "blow downs" in the forest from recent storms but nothing to impede travel.


Enjoyed a peaceful, although energizing, Sunday afternoon hike.  Sunday afternoon hikes are a rare event for me.  I usually do not have time between services, meetings, and responsibilities to enjoy such a treat, but today was different!  With almost three hours of "free-time", I hastily packed and pointed CHI-J north on US31 to Mountain Creek.

The trails were dry, recently mowed, and free of blow-downs.  Quite a few people were utilizing the pavilions of the park for gatherings but the trails were free of the human "hustle-bustle".

I enjoyed the company of many woodpeckers, passarines, and butterflies.  I startled at least one chipmunk in the pine upland forest.  The purple of the American Beauty Bush was as beautiful as always.  A few Goldenrods were starting early on their annual bloom.  One small tree (unfortunately I am not certain on it's ID) was in vivid Fall red (see the pic above). 

The lower humidity, forest smells, red foliage, and early Goldenrods made me crave Autumn even more!

Great opportunity today to fellowship with my CREATOR in the midst of HIS forest.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hot & Humid @ Swayback

Hike: Black Trail, Swayback Bridge, Saturday, 07/14/2012, 09:00-13:00
Distance: 8 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Moderate due to distance and Heat/Humidity
Conditions: PCloudy. Lite & variable wind.  Hot & Humid (hey it's Alabama in July).  Trails in good shape.

To lighten my load in the summer heat/humidity, I left the dSLR at home for this hike.  All of the pictures are in my mind!  (The reader will just have to "read my mind"!)

Encountered two trail runners with their black lab (who seemed to be enjoying the trail) but otherwise I enjoyed quiet during my late morning hike.  It was a time of worship, communion, and refreshing!  My kind of hike.

It was easy to hear the rustle of the light & variable wind in the forest canopy.  The shade and breeze were a treasured blessing -- warding the wilting rays of the sun off.  Quite a few passerines kept me company & cheered me with their choral melodies.  Dragonflies were hovering and darting about -- always a special treat for me.  (I don't know exactly why I like dragonflies so much, but I do.)  I disturbed several lizards and chipmunks, sending them scurrying across the leaf-littered floor to cover.  The Big Leaf Magnolias still make me pause and gaze.  These small trees with their huge, broad leaves are one of my favorites.  There is a stand of these prehistoric-looking trees along the Black Trail at the lake-shore, surrounding an ancient, fallen forest giant (probably a yellow poplar).

Great hike!  Thank YOU, LORD, for loving me.

Gear List for today's hike:
Columbia hikers
MountainSmith lumbar pack (1st Aid Kit & ESK; 2 KleenKanteens of water)
Do-rag (I relied on the forest cover to protect me from the sun)
Deep-Woods OFF (works great to keep the "critters" at bay)
Wooden Hiking Staff

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Summer Hike - Swayback Bridge

Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends - Red Trail, Thu, 07/05/2012, 09:15-12:30
Distance: 6.5 miles  Rating: 4/5
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (due to heat & humidity)
Conditions: PCloudy.  80F at start and temp rising.  Hot & muggy by hike's end.  Wind calm.  Trails dry and in good condition.
By myself today, though never alone!  Morning sunshine created a gray-dappled effect on the forest floor.  I was very thankful for the high forest canopy of hardwoods keeping me in the shade throughout most of the hike.  The big leaf magnolia and white oaks grabbed my attention throughout the hike.  The white oak is towering and majestic -- easily discernible among the other forest trees.  The big leaf magnolia is an understory tree -- perhaps not as majestic as the white oak but even more mysterious.  The huge broad leaves always conjure up thoughts of prehistoric forests for me!  Thankfully there were no tyranosaurs on the trail today...

Observed many gray squirrels and chipmunks.  The warmth on the forest floor also had lizards and small snakes moving about.  Was pleased to see several different color dragonflies hovering around the forest.  (My favorite insect!)

Thank YOU, LORD, for the peace and beauty of YOUR forest.  Help me always be ready to teach others to see YOUR truths, YOUR handiwork in Creation.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Quote of the Day from SurvivalBlog

"We, in our rush toward God knows what, acquire, or spend our earthly span trying to acquire wealth, culture, fame, luxury, scientific efficiency—and more wealth. We surround ourselves with telephones, tickers, jazz, orchestras, subways, bootleg gin, dress clothes, taxicabs, motor parkways, science, glittering hotels, psychoanalysis, alarm clocks, forty thousand brands of phony religion, squawking movie palaces, nickel-in-the-slot divorce. We call it civilization. But we know darn well there’s something wrong with it."
- Charles F. Chapman, Editor of Motor Boating, magazine, excerpt from his commentary of March 1931, as quoted in the book The Legend of Chris-Craft by Jeffrey L. Rodengen

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hiking Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends - 5/5/2012

Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends, Sat., 5/5/2012, 09:30-12:45
Distance: 7 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy

Conditions: Partly cloudy. Very warm. Wind calm. Trails mostly dry.  No one else on the trails (hikers or bikers)!


Welcomed canopy of hardwood leaves sheltered me from the rays of the sun as I hiked the Red Trail at Swayback Bridge.  There were no other human companions sharing the trails today, but I was not alone.  I always enjoy the fellowship of my SAVIOR and today I also had plenty of animals keeping me company.  It must have been "National Squirrel Day" -- the gray squirrels were around every bend in the trail, overhead, and bustling across the forest floor.  One young squirrel even posed on a small trunk for his picture!  Birds were singing and enjoying the day.  A couple of tufted titmouse were arguing about something (probably who was the best looking guy!).  Although the humidity was high, the temperature was not too hot.  The welcoming shade of the hardwoods was most appreciated today.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kayakaing Hatchett Creek - Coosa County

(Kayak) Hike: Hatchett Creek from Coosa County 29 to Shoals and then downstream a few miles toward Lake Mitchell.  Sat. 04/21/2012, 14:30-17:00CDT
Distance: 5 miles  Rating: 5.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Overcast. Variable wind. Mild temps. Water temp cool. Level of Hatchett Creek is high - appears to be at full pool. Small county-owned landing/park was mowed and creek access was gravel and dirt launch. Rain over the last few days made some of the area muddy/soggy.
Enjoyed this Kayak Hike immensely!  This may be the most picturesque and peaceful spot we have found yet.  Not many boaters or much traffic noise in the area to distract. 

My brother and I launched from the landing on County 29 and paddled upstream a mile to the shoals.  We were escorted by small herons, kingfishers, and other "water birds".  A couple of water snakes were also noted as we meandered upstream.  Wild azaleas and honeysuckle were blooming on both sides of the creek.  The perfume was wonderful.  At times we were serenaded by a chorus of frogs.

The shoals were a treasure.  The roar of the water signaled our arrival at the shoals before we could actually see any of it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a blooming stand of the rare "Cahaba Lily".  (I should have brought my camera...)  After playing around downstream of the shoals we turned our yaks downstream toward Lake Mitchell.

The creek bluffs seemed to be steeper and higher downstream of the landing.  The wild azaleas seemed to cascade from the top of the bluffs all the way to water's edge, an amazing sight.  The honeysuckle and sweet shrub combined to make a wonderful sweet perfume. 

One of the joys of travel by yak is discovery of unique, "secret" coves and backwaters.  There were two such places on this stretch of the creek.  The first was small but seemed almost magical.  The narrow cove was flanked by a rising bluff on one side and a lowland (swampy area) on the other.  Some type of white-blooming shrub lined the banks.  The high bluff protected the cove from wind and so the light, white blooms of the shrubs would gently float to the water's surface like snow.  It was so still and quite in this cove.  With the slow drift of the white blooms, the soft sounds of the yak paddles, and the stillness of the forest all around, time seemed to move in slow motion.  I could have stayed in this cove much longer. 

The other discovery was a large slough hidden by trees and entered only by a small opening along the creek-bank.  We were surprised at the size of the slough.  This looked like a good spot for a secret cabin -- guess someone else must have thought so... we found a canoe stashed along the banks!

A wonderful day and an exploration long overdue.

Thank YOU, LORD, for such a wondrous place and for sharing YOUR treasures with us.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hiking Swayback Bridge Trail - 02/18/2012

Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail, Sat., 2/18/2012, 09:00-11:30
Distance: 5 miles  Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Easy  Conditions: Partly cloudy to cloudy.  Sprinkling rain by end of hike.  Trials wet from recent rains.  Quite a few mountain bikers on the trails today.  Hiked with Glenn.
Great hike though cut a little short by impending rain.  Enjoyed the hike with my brother.  We don't get to do this often enough.  Temperatures were nice (mid 50s) with no wind.

Frogs were vociferous today!  Woodland violets were blooming and birds were singing -- the promise of Spring!

Future Hike: East Texas’ Big Thicket National Preserve - Scouting magazine

Perhaps a hiking/backpacking trip to East Texas is in order in the near future:

Travel to East Texas’ Big Thicket National Preserve - Scouting magazine

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Beautiful Hike - Barton's Beach - 02/04/2012

Hike: Barton's Beach Nature Preserve, Perry Co.; Sat., 02/04/2012, 10:00-12:30CST
Distance: 5 miles  Rating: 4.5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Very mild temps (low 70s). Light wind. Mostly cloudy. Chance of afternoon thunderstorms.
Did not take my dSLR camera today because I feared rain.  Turns out I could have used it since rain held off until the end of the hike.  "Hindsight is 20/20"...

Observed a huge amount of birds; mostly ducks, herons, and robins.  The robins were especially numerous along the trail just before Secret Lake.  Chipmunk, squirrel, and white tail deer were also among the wildlife observed.  The area is thick with a vast number of cypress, tupelo, yellow poplar, and black gum trees.  Noticed that the red maples were blooming!  Thankfully this area was spared wind damage from the previous months storms.  (Unlike the area around Maplesville, which had hundreds of trees blown down.)

Hiked several of the trails: Barton's Beach Trail, Secret Lake Trail, Eagle Trail, Yellow Poplar Trail, Devil's Walking Stick Trail, Hatchery Trail, Slough Trail, and Round Lake Trail.  I particularly enjoyed the "new" Secret Lake Trail.  The Judson Earth Team did a great job in laying out the trail and constructing the bridge.  Kudos to them.

Secret Lake has remained a secret because of the difficulty in getting there.  The new trail opens up an almost magical area.  The cypress-filled lake and huge fan-palms feels like Florida to me.  It is a tranquil and serene place.  Thank YOU, LORD, for this place and YOUR love.

Was glad I wore my Gortex hikers -- they kept my feet dry through several soggy areas.  I recommend that you always wear Gortex hiking boots while exploring this ox-bow/riparian area.

The Cahaba was up and a bit faster than normal due to the recent rains.  The white sand beach was still visually stunning.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lite Hike - Mountain Creek - 1/21/2012

Hike: Mountain Creek, Sat., 1/21/2012
Distance: 2.5 miles  Rating: 4/5
Difficulty: Easy 
Conditions: Mostly cloudy to cloudy.  On/off drizzles.  Blustery.  Low to mid 60's.  Trails wet.  Tstorms in the area - thunder in the distance.
Gear List: EDC (Gerber Hinderer, Exotac Nanostriker, Leatherman Squirt, button compass, Streamlight Nanolight, Zebra F301 Compact, Marine Whistle, bandana, Timex Expedition); Gerber Prodigy; cell phone,  Frogg Toggs cap; Merrell Chameleon trail shoes


Lite Hike today. Only gear I took was my EDC (which includes Gerber Hinderer, Leatherman Squirt, and fire-making options) and Gerber Prodigy knife.  This was hiking like I did as a teenager in the woods behind home.  I did pick up an already-cut tree branch along the trail to use as a hiking staff.  Think I will take it home and see if I can make a decent hiking stick out of it.  After investing some knife time and a little varnish, it should be nice. 

Wind, clouds, drizzle, & temps made for a very comfortable hike.  Observed Downy Woodpecker near the church and passarines throughout the hike.  Lots of trail clearing by tractor has been done on the equestrian trail.  Makes for easy trails! 

Cut hike short due to heavier rain starting.  Thank YOU, LORD, for this place and the love YOU shower upon me.  I surrender to YOU.  

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Deadening Alpine Trail - Sat. 1/7/2012

Hike: Deadening Alpine Trail, Lake Martin, Sat., 1/7/2012, 10:45-14:00
Distance: approx 4 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Difficult
Conditions: Light showers this morning delayed me until late morning.  Warm, 70degF.  Wind calm.  Mostly cloudy to mostly sunny by mid afternoon.  Trails damp from early morning rains.
This trail is certainly the most difficult in this part of the state, but it may also be the most scenic.  The views and experience are worth the scrambling up and down the lake cliffside trail.  No whitetail deer seen today but there were bunches of raucous crows.  Not sure what stirred them up (usually it is a hawk) but they were cawing the entire time.  The turkey vultures were still roosting near Lichen Bluff.  Rock outcroppings, overhands, and small caves are always fascinating along this trail.  Water was dripping off most of them.  One particular overhang about the 3 mile-mark would make a great camp-site (alas, camping is NOT allowed here).

Thought about the message for tomorrow, "Fall of America".  Grant me YOUR words to speak, LORD.  Guide me to be a man after YOUR own heart.  Thank YOU for sharing the treasures of YOUR Creation during these hikes.