Sipsey Wilderness
Trails 202 and 201

Date: Saturday, December 16, 2006
Location: Sipsey Wilderness, Bankhead National Forest, Alabama
Trails: 202 and 201 with cross country and a section of 209 in between 
Members: Gary “Whiteman” White, Mimi “Scout” Barkey, Larry Barkey, Foster “Pilgrim” Parsons

The morning fog was thick but, illuminated by the rising sun, looked beautiful – even the trees near Jack’s, where we were joined by Gary, seemed ethereal. Larry, Gary and I arrived at the Randolph trailhead twenty minutes early and we spotted Foster’s “Gators” tag right away. The plan was to meet Foster somewhere along the river, where he had camped out overnight. We left the trailhead promptly at 8 AM and took trail 202 east towards the river. Along the way we spotted flocks of Juncos, their little pink bills busy foraging. A sure sign that winter has arrived. An Eastern Towhee perched uncharacteristically close enough for all of us to admire his coloration. We toured the old Johnson cemetery with its graves dating back into the 1800’s.

The trail was in good shape and we made it to the river by 9:30 AM. We remarked at the marriage of two old growth trees, one beech and a gum, which were joined at the earth and yet grew independently of each other high into the canopy. The river was low and we could have crossed over easily enough to the official 209 trail; however we all agreed to keep to the original plan and go cross country following the river – and keeping a lookout for Foster. The hiking was tough and we all scrambled over downed trees, through briars, traversed the ridges along the river with several creek crossings, but the beauty of the Sipsey and the day (we had sun and 70 degree temperatures) kept us going. We encountered one other group on the opposite side of the river – but still no Foster.

We had lunch overlooking the river where trails 209 and 201 meet. We hiked up a green mossy trickle of a waterfall and shortly thereafter arrived at trail 201. The breeze picked up and the sun prompted us to remove a layer of clothing. The trail was well-cleared and we found ourselves back at the Randolph trailhead and parking lot without further incident. Foster’s vehicle was gone so all was apparently well with our virtual hiking companion. Alas, we did not have a camera to record the beauty of our wilderness on this day but there’s always next year! Come join us.

Submitted 17 December 2006 by Mimi Barkey

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