Date: Saturday, October 14, 2006
Location: Sipsey Wilderness
Trails: 203, 207
Members: Larry Barkey, Mimi Barkey, Joy Corsbie, Danny Millwood, Gary White
A perfect autumn day for hiking – moderate temperatures, plenty of sunshine, clear blue sky backgrounding the mostly green-leaved trees. The coolest overnight of the season kept the bugs to a minimum and everyone stayed reasonably comfortable, even with the rising mid-afternoon temperature.
Trails 203 and 207 are not as well-traveled as some in the Wilderness. But both are well-designed, with numerous twists and turns and ups and downs through a variety of landscapes ranging from creekside beaches to shallow caves just under the bluff. As Gary points out, trail 203 is the only one in the Wilderness where you can see outcrops of both sandstone and limestone.
We started out just before 8 AM, following 203 more or less southward on level ground through the forest. The trail is flagged just north of Borden Creek but the faded pink ribbons can be difficult to spot. But with everyone looking, we had no trouble. No problem fording the half inch deep creek, either.
After crossing Borden Creek, the trail begins a series of zigzags – up a hollow, down another. Since last year when we reported to the Forest Service that the trail was in danger of being lost, they have flagged the more obscure sections with orange tape.Again, it took everyone to watch for the trail and/or flags but we proceeded just like we knew what we were doing. (This should not be taken as a precedent, however.)
We made it to the Borden Creek trailhead just before 11 AM where we had lunch. Danny had other commitments and bid us farewell at this point.
Trail 207 recrosses Borden Creek but thanks to some stepping stones, we didn’t even get our feet wet. After following Borden for a short distance, the trail turns more or less north, following Braziel Creek. The sunlight shining through the trees along Braziel Creek is one of the highlights of this trail and we stopped often to appreciate it.
About half way, the trail veers more easterly, following the bluffs back around to the Northwest Road (trail 208). This section required the only serious effort of the day, with a couple of moderately steep inclines and the gradual but always uphill stretch at the end.
With only a few of us hiking, we made excellent time (not that we were in any hurry). We finished 203 in just about three hours; the slightly longer 207 required only three hours and fifteen minutes.In conclusion, let me say that it was really del ightful to hike these trails with the leaves on the trees.Several of us had only experienced them before during the winter. Some might argue that the best features are the scenic bluffs and the views one gets from the higher spots. But everyone remarked on how beautiful the trees looked with the light shining through them from the various angles. These trails certainly proved their worth on this day, and throwing in their geography and geological attractions, they have interest both with leaves and without them.