Wild Wilderness Weekend

water fall

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.” 

sipsey hike 009 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. Marie and Trip 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

“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!)

7 thoughts on “Wild Wilderness Weekend

  1. great article and i will definitely attend again but know not to listen to judy’s lies by ommission again!lol i also know not to pack any waters or a backpack since marie will haave enough ofr all in her light pack, and between emily and i we difinitely know how to eat correctly so look forward to the few calories we consume to burn off ratio…

  2. What a marvelous experience! I am still in awe over the natural beauty we saw in the Sipsey wilderness. I feel truly re-energized and ready for our next great adventure!!!!!!!

  3. My Poppaw had a “camp” there. He and the family went there many times. When I was a little girl, the house didn’t even have running water. We went out the back and down the hill to a spring to get water. My mother still owns a few acres of that “wilderness.” What memories you brought to mind! Who knows–you may have hiked right through my property!

  4. To Jenny – Our “guide” told us people homesteaded on that land for many years. Can’t imagine how they got to it! How lucky that you still have acreage in your family. – didn’t realize any of it was still privately owned. If I were you I’d be over there staking my claim. It’s got to be the most beautiful undeveloped place I’ve seen in the Southeast – not a single McDonalds or Walmart within 30 miles. I dreaded returning to our tacky commercialized civilization!


  5. This sounds so wonderful. I remember my Grandparents lived in the Sipsey Bottom. Does it run along the MS line. They lived in Greenwood Springs and we play in the the Sipsey river many times. I would love to go see where you were. Maybe that would be a good girls day trip when it warms up some. I am so proud of all of you.

  6. Carolyn,…You have got to be kidding…that makes two of my friends who have ties to the Sipsey Wilderness. There must be some reason why I was drawn to this beautiful place. Yes! We will make a pilgrimage – are you listening Jenny?
    We will go back and do the overnight “camping on the ground” thing if I can get my courage up. Ya’ll can tell us ghost stories. OOOOOh. That will be such fun. We will roast marshmallows and make S’mores!
    We spotted numerous camp sites where people have built firepits from the native stones. We even saw a few tents where people spent the night.
    I can’t wait. But we need to do it before the snakes and ticks come out.

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