On writing

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.

– Joan Didion

52 Hikes: #5 Trail 200, Sipsey Wilderness

6:00 AM – My day starts early as the trail-head is about 2 hours from my front door. I wonder to myself if maybe it’s a little ridiculous to drive so far just to walk a few miles alone in the woods. It probably is. But I’m not ready to hike into the Sipsey Wilderness and spend the night alone. Which, now that I think about it, sounds silly since I walked onto the AT to spend several days and nights walking and sleeping alone.

The drive to Sipsey Recreation Area is all loveliness to me: quiet, cool daybreak streaming through the tall trees lining the county highway, verdant, dewy.

Clusters of hikers – families, hiking clubs, a few individuals – prepare to disappear into the wilderness. Several empty cars indicating hikers who had already set out before my arrival dot the parking lot. I grab my daypack, making sure I have my water bottles, gps, other hiking necessities, and trekking poles. After dropping my offering in the box, I step onto the trail.

At first sight of the sign, I am all kinds of excited about what new experiences and natural treasures await.

At the halfway point, I stop to rest and enjoy the snacks packed for the day.

The trees and plants grow on, around, and through rock obstacles. Life finds a way. I continue my hike and reach my own obstacle: the “fat man’s squeeze.”

Not too sure about going through here, but the trail ended. I have a choice to make: climb over (no trail), walk around the boulders via the river, or end my hike before the end of the trail and go back to the parking lot. The water level being high, I do not want to swim around the rocks to the other side. Trying to climb over the rocks looks more dangerous than I would like to attempt without a buddy with me. The only way is through.

I remove my pack and pull it behind me as I inch my way in the pitch blackness, the openings at either end being only windows of light. Each step a step of faith that the ground is level beneath my feet. I can feel the cold, damp rocks against my cheek and scraping against my back. At the end of the squeeze there is a small waterfall making the ground muddy. I trudge through to solid ground making my way to the end of the trail. Finally, I turn around and do it all again to return to my starting point.

52 Hikes: #4 Rust Bucket Trail, Cahaba River Park

Before the days of COVID-19 and #stayhomestaysafe, I was attempting to hike a new trail at least once per week. What follows are photos and a little info about my experience on the Rust Bucket Trail in Cahaba River Park.

Karl and I headed for this park, primarily, to do some geocaching. He loves to geocache, and I love to walk in the woods, so we are both most happy when we can find a nice trail with a geocache hidden every .10 of a mile.

The photos in this post are all of the Cahaba River. I wish I had taken more pictures as we walked along the trail.

To be honest, there weren’t any views and there weren’t very many picturesque areas. Lots of trees, mostly pines, and not many open areas. We did find the spot on the trail that gave it its name: at the top of a hill along the trail lies the remnants of an old car –> Rust Bucket Trail.

There was one intersection on this trail that provided some elevation change and a small stream to cross, but, other than that, there weren’t many interesting features.

When we finished the trail, we walked down to the picnic and parking area near the river. We walked along a trail that followed the river and explored a little bit before deciding we needed to head back to the car before dark.

It’s a very nice park. I really appreciate the city for creating more access points and trails along the river for us to enjoy. If you decide to go, understand that the trails in this park were designed with mountain biking in mind; it isn’t only a footpath. Some people bring their horses out, too.

We plan to return to walk some of the other trails (and find more geocaches).

Health & Wellness update #1

  • Weight: 212 lbs
  • Chest inches: 43
  • Waist inches: 43
  • Hips inches: 46
  • Thigh inches: 24
  • Calf inches: 16
  • Upper arm: 14.5

I’m so fat. I had gotten down to 205 lbs before spring break (March 13). I’ve gained almost 10 pounds in a month. That’s insane. I’m more likely to die of a coronary event not coronavirus!

Since the #stayhomestaysafe quarantine started, I haven’t been hiking or anything! Abbey and I have tried to stay consistent with exercise. As a cross-country runner, fitness is important to her. Not that it isn’t important to me, too, it’s just so much easier to be still all day long.

Abbey likes to run, and she likes for me to run with her. I prefer to walk or ride my bike, and she’s been very sweet to give me equal time when I run with her. Today, we ran. She told me that we’d do 1 mile, but she was feeling so great after her first mile she decided she wanted to run 2 miles. After my first mile, I decided to hop on my bike. It’s much easier to keep up with her when I’m cycling. Plus, it’s just easier.

Then, get this, after the running/cycling, we did an interval strength-training workout which was REALLY tough. Then we did 25 minutes of yoga!

My favorite part was the yoga. All the exercise and working out is worth the 30 minutes of yoga that I give myself as a reward.

My face during exercise:

That last pic is my face after Yoga with Adrienne.

Oh, I’ve decided that I’m going to try making videos and maybe start a YouTube channel. I like creating things – videos, images, blog posts. Why not use all aspects of technology and the internet at my disposal?

Take Cover Now

“TAKE COVER NOW” is a trending topic on Twitter right now. As I sit in a tornado shelter in Tuscaloosa, many others are in the middle of a terrifying situation.

For two days, we’ve been warned about the coming severe weather: level 3 on the severity scale. Level 3 means that there will be tornadoes, but no one can say with any certainty where they will occur. Our house is surrounded by very tall trees that could be blown into our house. So, with neither of us being fans of fear, anxiety and worry, my youngest daughter and I decided to ride out today’s storms in one of the many shelters on UA’s campus made available for faculty, staff, and students.

We packed snacks, chairs, drinks, books, games, our phones and chargers, and pillows. And, thanks to Coronavirus, we have hand sanitizer, 2 masks, Clorox wipes, and gloves.

There aren’t very many people here at the moment. The first band of storms passed; after which, several people exited. This room is so huge, we have been able to honor the 6ft apart guidelines. There are restrooms, a water fountain, and a screen that updates watches and warnings.

As with most areas on this campus, it is very nice. Best of all, Abbey and I feel safer here than we would at home.

The most severe band is still an hour away. From what I’ve gathered from Twitter, it could be stronger than what we experienced April 27, 2011. We will stay put.

52 Hikes: #3 Camp O’Rear

My third hike for 2020 was with my scouts at a BSA camp in Jasper, AL, called Camp O’Rear. It’s a nice little camp along Blackwater Creek. We hiked along both sides of the creek as far as we could go, then up to the rock house and arrowhead point. The scouts had a great time exploring the rock house and the massive cliff overhang. The hike was about 3 miles in length.

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