Went Sunday to do a quick 2-mile hike with Matt at Bankhead. He had band practice and it was around 11 before we actually got going. So we parked on one of the many blocked off dirt roads south of the Sipsey boundary and started walking toward what I thought was a set a falls, according to a blog from 5 years ago that I stumbled across several months back and could not find again.
The PERFECT setup for a 'missing persons' case. hahaha
The road became a trail within 50 yards and not long after that, became very clogged with downed trees and blackberry canes before opening back up again. We followed that about a mile and it ran into another road. We followed that and soon decided the falls I was looking for were not going to appear. Then Matt decided we could look for a geocache instead, so we took off down another blocked-off road to hunt for the cache.
|I will admit that when I get home, I look at these pics of the trees to see if I missed a Sasquatch.|
We reached the top of a canyon, I guessed it was 70 feet, but it's probably closer to 50.
If it were warmer, the bathtub at the top would be fun to sit in! It has a bench seat and Jacuzzi jets! Well, one anyway.
Peeping over the edge
We decided to go down there, which in Bankhead means lots of walking around clifftops to get to a place where the land slopes.
And LOADS of getting through downed trees!
At the base of the cliffs.
And there's the river!
My hair is fading, it looks like glass corn now when I braid it!
This was meant to be a shot with the waterfall behind me, but I can't aim.
Also, there is a twig in my hair from all of the stuff we pushed through. No trail means loads of getting through brushy patches.
I set up my hammock chair while Matt poked around the cliff base.
Those Oboz. UGH. I thought I was just walking a couple of miles and they are fine for that distance.
At some point, band practice was canceled so we no longer had a set time to be back.
So our 2 miles went to well over 10.
My toes were KILLING me.
|In my hammock chair.|
If you want one, hit up this guy.
He calls it a gear loft.
This may be my favorite part of Bankhead. Those jagged, mossy cliffs.
we walked between river and cliff for a long time.
Many, many narrow and deep creeks joining the river, making tiny canyons about 20 feet deep that required sliding off into on one side and crawling out of on the other.
I love old log roads. The ones in our own woods are still the easiest way to get through.
We veered away from the river at this point. It was getting closer and closer to full-on dark and while the river would take us to the road we were parked off of, the constant navigating fallen trees and getting across the many small creek canyons was eating up our time.
We went up and up and UP a hill, followed the boundary markers until we hit a road and followed that back to the gravel road and followed THAT back to the trail that we were parked on the other end of. Whew.
It got darker...
And finally, pitch black. We did not have good lights, thinking we would be back home hours before the sun was going to set. That's been remedied. It will be a long time before we head out without flashlights AND headlamps! It was extra dark because of heavy cloud cover. We had been able to get enough signal to let the kids know not to send for help-we were just running late! That made me feel MUCH better.
We got off the trail several times, it was not fun. There was so much brush and the trail closer to where we parked was really overgrown and there were more than a few mud patches, briar patches, and small ankle-cracking holes. We finally got out my phone to follow the line on my hiking tracker app! It worked and we made it to where the path opened up again just a few minutes from our parking spot and walked the rest of the way with no drama, mostly just talking about how many Taco Bell based items we were going to consume as soon as we got to Moulton!
Turns out, one each. But we talked a good game.
And we had the fries, so I guess that makes two each. But not the ten 'powerbowl steak burritos' Matt planned on. Or the entire 'mostly just cheese' pizza I envisioned (and that Taco Bell does not even sell). I crave butter when I hike. So cheesy bread slathered in garlic butter features heavily in my fantasies.
In all, a great day. Wish we had planned a bit better though and had good lights, or just headed back toward the car 20 minutes sooner. Though I spent at least that long stopping and messing with my shoe, trying to make it more bearable. So, I wish I had worn my Chacos too.
What we got right: map, compass, GPS, phones, first aid, rain gear, fire stuff, extra food, emergency tarp tent, extra warm layer each, a way to treat water, small hammocks-if we had to spend the night, we would have been fairly comfortable (temp wise anyway). Being able to stay off the ground with the hammocks, put a layer of loose leaves under us to keep down drafts and the tarp over us to keep us dry...bundled up, fed and hydrated, a little fire going...we'd be better off than many people who get caught out after dark in the forest.
What we got wrong: underestimating the time it would take to navigate 4 miles of wilderness and not having adequate light. Also, not keeping ourselves as hydrated as we should have. I think stopping to drink and have a good snack once it got dark and we had to slow way down to navigate would have upped our morale. We were hungry and thirsty once we got to the car and we had the means to fix that.
So, lessons learned. It's all an experience. At no point were we 'lost', we had a map and compass as well as the car's location waypointed on the GPS and I had a track log of the entire hike running on my phone. It was really that last bit when we were so close but were getting slowed by the lack of trail and the prolific sawbriars that was so crappy.
Matt said afterward that he really enjoyed the hike, but needed marked trails for the next little while. hahaha!
Fine with me!
Fine with me!