Oakey Mountain and Chief Ladiga Trail

Date: Friday - Sunday, May 11 - 13, 2012
Location: Chief Ladiga Trail Campground, Clebourne County, Alabama
Trails: Pinhoti (section 1)
Members: Larry, Mimi
Guests: Ronnie (a/k/a Copperhead)

We arrived at noon and set up camp after greeting Ronnie who had brought his TREK "pickup" bicycle. Larry and I had ordered a bike rack for our Honda but it did not arrive in time. Our 10 x 14 tent and other camping gear pretty much filled the rear of the CR-V. So Ronnie biked the Chief Ladiga Trail while Larry and I opted for a hike along it. We all met back at camp around 5 PM. Our campground host Terry, stopped by to enjoy the campfire with us at 10 PM.

We arose to the sound of the tumbling waters of Terrapin Creek at 6 AM but Ronnie's tent had been folded he was already gone!

After breakfast we cleaned up and were ready for hiking by 8 AM. The original plan had been to drive to the FS Road 500 trailhead on the Pinhoti, spot a vehicle at the Burns trailhead some eight or nine trail miles to the southeast, and walk the section in between.

Unfortunately, by 8:15 we had only the two of us with just one car and we needed to come up with an alternate plan. So we took a hike up Oakey Mountain, the third highest peak in Alabama and conveniently located right next to our campground.
Terrapin Creek
Pinhoti Trail
Larry had "previewed" this bit of the Pinhoti trail (blue blazes) up Oakey when we had researched this club outing last month but he only climbed the first mile or so.

We began walking and found there were delicious low bushes (commonly known as huckleberries) loaded with blueberries - YUM!

Gossamer webs were pretty crossing the trail in the morning light and bird song was prevalent. The Scarlet Tanager made an appearance and we also observed the Worm-eating Warbler then and later. As we approached the Oakey Mountain shelter we flushed two Wild Turkeys that judging by their agitated behaviors most likely had a nest close by.

The shelter was clean and inviting. We signed the log book and perused the Horn Mountain Trail Club's good information on section 1 of the Pinhoti.

Along with the many varieties of oak were Longleaf Pines, Paw Paw, Sassafras, hickories and surprisingly few Cowcumbers (big leaf magnolias).

We hiked three hours on the Pinhoti before turning back. There were some challenging hills though we made good time, arriving back at camp by 3 PM with several birding stops along the way.
sign at Oakey Mountain Shelter
lunch spot
Up on the ridges the breezes blew off our sweat and made us a little chilly - then we'd descend and the bugs and heat were back with us. Good bugs were Red Spotted Purple, Mourning Cloak and Diana Fritillary butterflies!

We also enjoyed a cool cascade and small waterfall along which I noticed some especially glossy leaved ginger plants congregating.

Back at Terrapin Creek the sky was beginning to cloud over but the resident pair of Canada Geese was still there right next to our campsite to welcome us home.

The predicted rain held out until 9 PM and then continued all night. We jumped on a brief interlude in the morning which allowed us sufficient time to prepare breakfast and pack up yet another soggy tent. The rain started up again and we experienced intermittent showers all the way back to Winston County.

The Chief Ladiga Trail Campground offers basically primitive camping but with a very nice bathhouse. The hot showers alone are worth it. RVs are welcome but there are no hookups. The price was $20 a night which seemed a little high. But if you want the Chief Ladiga Trail and/or the Pinhoti (and/or Terrapin Creek for that matter), you cannot pick a more convenient location.
Mourning Cloak

For these and other photos, please see our Picasa Web Album Oakey Mountain, May 2012.

Submitted 08 June 2012
Text and Photos: Mimi

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