Sipsey Wilderness
Trail 203

Date: Saturday, February 18, 2012
Location: Sipsey Wilderness, Bankhead National Forest, Alabama
Trail: 203 - Lookout
Members: Bart, Charlie, Gary, Larry, Mimi
Guests: Copperhead, Steve, Webster (dog)

Our intention had been to hike trail 203 south to near the Borden Creek trailhead and then loop back up trail 207 (and briefly 208) to the Gum Pond trailhead. Mimi and I (Larry) were on board for the Saturday day hike and some of the guys were talking about backpacking and camping overnight on Friday as well. These trails work rather well for such an arrangement ...

... unless the weather does not cooperate. It was one of those weeks when Saturday's probability of precipitation rose steadily from zero to 20, 50, 80, 100 per cent. But it looked like we might make it until noon on Saturday before all those little red semi-circles caught up with us.

By midday Friday, the backpackers were still game for trying it but we all decided to scale the hike back to just trail 203 and not further tempt fate. As it turned out, we did not have enough vehicles to do what we would have wanted anyway.

SWHC 18 Feb 2012
Moss on rocks From all reports, the camping was fine with plenty of bonfire-quality firewood – and food, including steaks, potatoes, cheesecake, and popcorn. No one appeared underfed the next morning.

Mimi and I passed Gary's truck at the Flannagin Trailhead on our way to check out the Gum Pond trailhead before returning. (We needed to make sure that no one was waiting for us at the web-published meeting point for the day's activities.)

It had been somewhat of a relief to have seen Gary's truck at the northern end of 203 since that implied that the backpackers were actually out there somewhere. The difficulty with two groups of people trying to hook up together in the Sipsey is that cellphone service is unreliable at best – the usual level of service is No Service.

The first part of the trail posed no difficulties nor did the fording of the upper reaches of Borden Creek. Steve, who ho had arrived a trifle late, managed to catch up with us shortly thereafter. Day hikers, backpackers, and dog were all together twenty minutes later.

Initially the sun made an effort to shine but the blue in the sky gradually faded to gray. The rain (justifying our decision to cut the hike short) held out until early afternoon – but we were all home by then.

The trail was in excellent shape. Wild South volunteers have kept on top of this one and the trail maintenance really pays dividends. Trail 203, while wonderfully scenic, has been rather difficult to follow. But it appears the route is now getting enough traffic to make the path easier to track. Club members admit to have gotten lost a number of times on 203 (and we theoretically know what we're doing – HA!).

Bluff and hemlock
Borden Creek
So today, we could all enjoy the splendid views and tall trees without worrying that we would never find our vehicles again and wishing we'd rembembered to pack that flashlight.

With no one in any hurry, we arrived at the Borden trailhead in three hours. Had we really wanted to do 207, crossing the lower stretches of Borden Creek would have presented more of a challenge than at the upper end but nothing impossible.

For these and other photos, please see our Picasa Web Album Sipsey Hike February 2012.

Submitted 19 Feb 2012
Text: Larry
Photos: Mimi

Trip Reports