Monday, March 19, 2018

Bankhead Walkabout

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!

Spring Forward to Spring!

I've been wanting to hike more, so I decided to set myself a mini goal of 12 miles each week this spring.  I started it on Sunday the 12th because that's close enough to spring for me.  I really just need the later sunlight to get me going.  Monday, Karen and I walked 12 miles on the Richard Martin Trail.  Done!  hahaha

We walked it fast-3 hours and 31 minutes.  I have done it in 3, but that's hard.  This time we were both REALLY worn out by the hike.  I came home with a knot in my calf and she had aching hips.  I told the kids I was skipping the rest of my 40's and going straight to 70.  They started calling me Memom and Mommaw.

Tuesday I tried walking off that sore calf while Ben was at music and put in nearly 3 miles on the bike trails at the lake.  They are surprisingly steep trails and it was a good workout on such a COLD day.

I tried a new thing with the bike trail hike.  I put earplugs between my toes.  And I wore shoes, not sandals. I was hoping that by keeping those bones away from one another, the nerve would not be pinched and my toes would not go numb.  It worked fairly well.  Even when it did start going numb, it wasn't AS numb and it actually faded within a couple of hours.  Not so lucky with that calf knot. I think I can modify the earplug idea and have it work, which would change EVERYTHING about my hikes.  The Oboz worked okay during off-trail hiking, but my toes were burning by the time I got to the car because of the flat road walk at the end the one time I tried them hiking.  The next time I put them on, my toes were numb before I left the house. :/

Wednesday, the calf was mostly back to normal and I ended up heading to swim after lunch with Matt and forgot my swimsuit, though I did bring two towels (one with a sock stuck to it), which is something I guess.  I went to the new library instead, then got drawing supplies.  I walked a couple miles on the greenway, but it was REALLY windy and I didn't enjoy it much.  My ears hate wind.

Thursday, I planned a big hike.  Ben and Chan were with friends and I had the whole day open.  It was warm and sunny and perfect.  Then I woke up hours later than I have slept in MONTHS.  I felt both really groggy and wonderfully rested.  Jake was up minutes later and chatty like a magpie.  He sat on my bed and talked for nearly 2 hours.  Hiking plans flew out the window as we talked and talked and talked.  He got a promotion at work and a very nice raise!  He told me about a friend who is homeless and we started looking for information to get him sorted and sent him all we found and offered a shower and laundry if he needed it.  Another friend, a VERY sweet kid who has been over here dozens of times, lost his Nana unexpectedly.  We talked about that a while, too.

After he left for work, I laid in outside the sun with bare legs (sun on my long bones!) until Matt came home and we walked 3 miles, so it wasn't a totally lazy day.  In between, I set up a desk with drawing stuff and worked on learning how to draw wildflowers.  I'm rubbish at drawing, but that just means there's room for improvement.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Borden Creek Minihike

A second surprise hike in a week!  Owen's soccer game was moved to Montgomery from New Orleans last minute after the whole family had planned off to go out of town and Amanda and Ben opted to skip class Friday to enjoy the weather and BAM, at 11 Thursday night, we had a chat and came up with a plan.  12 hours later, we were all at the trailhead! 

We hiked for 2 hours, stopping at every log, rock, and tree that looked even remotely interesting.  The kids climbed and played and ran around.  We eventually ended up at an open spot near a small creek, maybe a mile in. hahaha!  Everyone set up hammocks and we hung out and had lunch and chatted and the littles built a house by the water (or rather they found a couple logs and imagined a house around them.  There was no illegal construction in the national forest!  :D) 

We spent another couple of hours there and decided to head back about 4 to be sure to be out by dark, but the hike out was barely half an hour since even though we JUST had lunch, dinner was awaiting us and there was far less dallying to be done along the return.

We climbed that last, long, long hill to the parking area and headed off to get Mexican, the only food worthy of the hike.  hahaha!  It was SO good.  Los Charros in Moulton.

Everyone swapped out kids and headed home with their new, even if only temporary, configurations. 

The tunnel was SO freaking muddy!
My mudbuddy and I enjoyed it!  I have missed hiking with this booger.

This may be the ONLY photo I have ever taken that somewhat conveys how steep a section of trail is.

I remember this tree from decades ago.

Virginia bluebells

Above and below-same spot.  The kids all disappear and only one backpack, MINE, is left behind.

Ode to the Left Pack:
Oh, dusty and abused
Backpack, dropped on the trail
Which one of my children forlorned you?
Imma guess Chan.
She understands the concept of returning along the same route.
She don't waste time or energy.

Thank you, that was totes freeform on the fly.

Jukie might be the best dog ever.
I mean that wasn't MY own personal dog.
Who isn't on this hike because I fear wild pigs.

There are 30 trees to choose from, but only these two will do.

Spring beauty

I zapped a few bottles of creek water for the masses.

One of about 8 falls I totally did not see on the hike in.


I love Bankhead.  Every time I go, I am blown away by how lucky we are to have this huge sprawl of land to explore!  

I traversed the muddy tunnel alone on the return.
Buncha wimps, I say!

Your toes need mud to get hairy!  

Every green spout is a yet to bloom trout lily

About Me

Unschooling mama from the start with 2014, 2016 and 2018 graduation dates. I enjoy camping, reading, swimming, hiking and photography.