Sipsey Wilderness
Gum Pond Cemetery to Thompson Creek Trailhead

Date: Saturday, 14 Feb 2015

Location: Sipsey Wilderness, Bankhead National Forest, Alabama

Trails: no formal trails, all bushwhacking

Members: Charlie, Gary, Mimi, Wayne

Guests: Dale, Jim

Jim, Dale, Gary, Mimi, Wayne

The four club members met for breakfast at Jack's in Double Springs. From there, Charlie drove solo while the rest of us rode with Gary to the Thompson Trailhead, where we connected with Dale and Jim.

We all piled into Charlie's truck and bumped along the Forest Service roads to Gum Pond Cemetery where we all posed for the first of a number of group photos.

We started the hike at 9 AM. Charlie was quite outdone that the Sipsey Wilderness sign proclaiming "No Bicycling, No Hand Gliders" had apparently disappeared.

It was a cold and clear morning as we made our way down the old logging roads which soon gave way to a brushy pathway next to Mattox Creek.

The Sign!

The cane (bamboo) provided the only green thing on the ground until we found the Dentaria (Toothwort).

Charlie and Wayne waded out into the creek and found some soft-textured stones. I was delighted with the leaves of the Crane Fly orchids emerging from the duff.

Suddenly, we came upon a limestone-riddled bank of Mattox Creek which stood out in clear contrast with the turquoise water. It was a lovely spot for photos; et voila, there was Charlie's missing sign!

Immediately afterwards, the bushwhacking got wicked and never let up until we reached the end of the trail. But the stream crossings consisted of just stepping over stones, the water being so low.

Although we had hiked this route a year ago, we had missed “Pig Rock”. We dubbed this outcrop ourselves because of its clear pointed snout on the rock as well as the clearly marked eye.

Pig Rock

We did a little exploration away from the creek to check out a large rock shelter. By this time we were in need of a rest and found a spot to relax under a similarly monikered “Rabbit Tree”. There were several old ironwoods clustered with their hard muscles rippling, a perfect little knoll to relax on.

We continued bushwhacking our way until we were relieved to see the old rope swing and knew we were approaching the Thompson Creek Bridge and near the end of our walk.

We arrived back at the trailhead around 3:30 PM. Since Charle had driven everybody up to the cemetery, knowing that he would have to back out early, we were all just able to drive home without the need to return to the starting point to recover a vehicle.

Click here for more photos.

Submitted 20 Feb 2015

Text: Mimi

Photos: Jim, Mimi