Funny, the name “wilderness” was never mentioned during our planning sessions for our big “hike” through Sipsey State Park located somewhere in Alabama. But wilderness it was – untouched by man – and spectacular in its “rawness.”
Located in the heart of Bankhead National Forest, the Sipsey Wilderness is the #1 backpacking destination in the State of Alabama. It’s easy to see why. With nearly 26,000 acres of natural typography, it provides a beautiful backdrop for camping, hiking and day – tripping.
That’s pretty much what we did – tripped over vines, crawled under tree trunks and waded through streams – for a good hour before our guide decided we were ready for the good stuff. I think she allowed us to wander around lost for a bit to be sure we would keep up during the remainder of the hike.
Around every bend, we discovered all kinds of surprises: roaring waterfalls and caves which provided shelter for humans thousands of years ago. If Marie, Jill and I said “Awesome” once, we said it a hundred times during the day. Judy was less awed because she’s hiked it many times.
After the brief period of wandering around lost and leaving pieces of our clothing on thorny vines and undergrowth, we hit more established trails with jaw-dropping scenery. The hike was a good four hours, and we never faltered. Well, except that once, when I slipped crossing a creek and my foot got stuck in quick sand. I had to hike the last mile in slobbering boots.
“Fat Man’s Squeeze”caused a few moments of consternation for a claustrophobe like me, but the only way to get back to civilization was to hold your breath, shut your eyes, and plow full steam ahead. The opening grew so tiny, that you had to turn side ways to slither through. The lunch in my backpack got so smashed, I didn’t even have to chew it.
In my initial excitement, I somehow set my camera on “video” mode, so I missed some spectacular stills. Especially the one with our entire group posing in the rock shelter. I’m hoping our “hike photographer” will send me one.
What a great experience! I’d do it again in a heartbeat. We’re even thinking of coming back to camp over night when it warms up a bit.
Is this me talking? A former couch potato?
We were a pretty ragged bunch when we walked out of the woods. All the but the driver sort of passed out on the way home.
But we still had one more wilderness activity to perform. Judy took us to a remote restaurant somewhere in Monroe County where we chowed down on catfish and hushpuppies. I figure we consumed about half the calories we burned during the hike.
(Above: Jill crosses the Sipsey River the only way you can – WADE!)