Sipsey Wilderness
Trail 224

Date: Saturday, December 15, 2007
Location: Sipsey Wilderness, Bankhead National Forest, Alabama
Trails: 224 - Bunyan Hill  
Members: Larry, Mimi

For the past three days, the probability of rain for Saturday had risen from 70% to 100% with thunderstorms likely after noon, this being due to a cold front moving towards Alabama. Some of us detected that the front seemed to have slowed, those showers being pushed more toward late afternoon/evening. That perception plus the fact that we forgot to unset the alarm for 5:45 led Mimi and I to try it anyway.

No other hikers at Jack's. Business was actually a little slow. No other club members at the trailhead. This was supposed to be a cross-country hike to Clifty Creek Falls. Unfortunately, neither of us knew how to get there. So we opted to just hike 224 figuring we could turn around and scurry back when the alleged rain arrived.

The gray skies, withered Magnolia leaves littering the ground, and general gloom kind of put California Dreaming into your head and it wouldn't go way. Not that we'd rather have been in California but the only greenery came from the pines, ever encroaching over the path. We felt like little toy Nutcracker soldiers marching under a Christmas tree.

We hiked the entire trail in both directions with only one downed tree blocking our way. The greatest danger was claustrophobia from the pines.

When we set out at 8 AM, the temperature had risen to barely 50 F. In addition to the rain, the forecast called for highs only in the mid 50's plus 15 mph winds. At 11 AM, the sun came out, the temperature hit 65 F, and we would have welcomed a breeze. Al Gore did not return our phone calls.

The hike was totally uneventful other than perhaps not encountering any other hikers. A few birds: Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Northern Flicker (Yellowhammer, the state bird), House Finches, Cardinals, Chickadees, Hermit Thrush; a Pileated Woodpecker laughed at us every now and then.

Before retrieving the truck we wandered a short distance down the west side of Borden Creek. The creek could not have been a foot deep anywhere, lowest we've ever seen.

We enjoyed this walk. Very peaceful.

Submitted 15 December 2007
Text: Larry Barkey

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