Hike 12, the not naked but still afraid edition. This is it, finally, the real deal. I’ve been able to get away for a three day backpack trip into the wild instead of a state park campground. I must confess, it gets seriously dark in the misty wood. I was waiting for Bigfoot to stumble through my camp both nights.
I’ve been looking forward to this since I decided to take up hiking. The Nubbin Creek Trail in the Talladega National Forest would be my first trip into the wild. This trail was recently recommended by a hiking peer and was also included in my “Hiking Alabama” book.
The Nubbin Creek Trailhead was a little out of the way but not terribly difficult to locate due to signage. I have decided you can hike as far as you wish in the Talledega National Forest. They have trails of varying distances that all connect and circle back on each other. The main backbone is the Pinhoti Trail. The Pinhoti Trail connects Flag Mountain Alabama to the Appalachian Trail, so with a little doing, you could technically walk all the way to Maine. The Nubbin Creek Trail is listed as 4 miles or 8 miles out and back. The hike listed in the book “Hiking Alabama” is the first two miles. That is the part I attempted this weekend.
From the trailhead, you enter a pine forest to the right side of the parking area (facing from the road). If you don’t immediately see trail signs, you have gone the wrong way. I was surprised to see bear warning signs at the trailhead. We don’t have many bears in Alabama, but we do have a few.
The first half mile or so is fairly flat and gentle. You work your way into the forest and around the side of the first mountain ridge. From this point the challenge began. The next mile is a steady, unrelenting climb up and over the next mountain ridge. I expect this would not be terribly difficult if simply hiking, but my pack did really wear me down. Maybe I didn’t have fresh legs from my morning at Cheaha State Park? Once over the ridge, you walk through an interesting tunnel of Mountain Laurels. As I approached the downside valley, I reached a spectacular waterfall. The waterfall and associated creek were swollen from recent rains. The water really made the falls lovely, but the creek was hopelessly impassable if wearing a heavy pack. Since there was a relatively flat spot here, I decided to make this my home for the weekend.
I was able to cross the stream once my pack was dropped and campsite established. The trial continues up the next equal size if not larger ridge offering some nice views of the surrounding mountains. As I said earlier, you can continue on this trail to the Pinhoti and other trails to walk as far as you would like. I could not imagine a better place than my waterfall and stayed.
It was a very cold weekend with temperatures dropping to freezing during both nights. I was both thankful and comfortable with the equipment that I carried. I was able to stay completely warm and comfortable the entire weekend.
My gear choice of the hike was my MSR mini works water filter system. Not being able to carry enough water for an entire weekend made the use of the stream necessary on this trip. I’ve not built the level of trust I need with this filter although it was easy to use. I decided to save my drinking water from home for drinking and both filter and boil the stream water for cooking and hot drinks. I covered the end of my filter intake with a coffee filter to preserve the ceramic element inside. This was a tip I picked up in my studies. I put the filtered water into a separate container so as to not confuse it with my water from home. The water was perfectly normal once boiled with zero difference from my home water. I’ll let you know in 9-15 days if it worked.
My side trip today was actually back in my hometown of Opelika. I was caught by a Facebook friend during my first visit to the O Town Ice Cream Parlor. They were making fresh waffle cones inside that you could smell from the sidewalk. Both the ice cream and cone were delicious. I would give them a try if downtown Opelika instead of the strip mall chains.
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