Saturday, December 3, 2011

Long over due…

The hiking trip that almost wasn’t…let me start off by saying have you ever wondered what it would be like to go on vacation drive 250 miles only to find out that the place you were going is closed? Sounds like a great movie to me…maybe the video below will enlighten you on our story. Ha-ha.

Ok I kind of got off my story, a few weeks ago 5 buddies and myself decided to head out on a great hiking adventure at the Sipsey Trail in Alabama. About 10 miles before the trail head the roadway turns from asphalt, to gravel and then to dirt, giant leaves covering the road.

Once at the trail head, everyone unloaded their packs from the cars, then it was discovered we had a new king of the giant pack…yep my buddy Chad the old king,

brought his young son Hayden along on the hike…make way for the new king!!!

Hayden, quickly realizing what his father had done to him, started handing off stuff from his pack to the nearest SUCKER…Meet Matt “the sucker” Roland. Ha-ha.

Then we took our trail head photo from left to right. Tim, Chad, Matt, Donnie with Hayden up front.

Then we took a second photo to make sure we all got in. left to right, Tim, Big Al, Matt, and Donnie. I also posted this photo because if you look real close between the shoulder of Matt and Donnie (the two guys on the right) Well this small piece of paper flapping in the wind has great meaning, more on that later in the story.

Then we were off

Made it to the first creek crossing…Hmmm it was DRY.

Hmmm, first sign we might be in for a workout to get to the first camp site.

Hayden, found sucker number two…His dad Chad! Now carrying two packs…

After many, many trees across the trail, tree crossing we took our first break…my buddy Tim in the running for the giant pack.

Chad starts setting up camp while the two new guys Donnie and Tim fetch some water. (Sucks being the new guys. Ha-ha)

Then Matt calls out to Donnie????

Everyone had sweated down, so a short break was in order before we set up camp.

Hmmm, seems even little Hayden wondered why Matt and Donnie put their tents so near each other.

Then came the point in time were Tim realized…I got to get a bigger tent!!! (As his leg stick out of the tent)

Once camp was set up, the weenie cooking began…eighteen dogs and five and a half guys…only two dogs left after the feast.

Oh Hayden may have only half our size, but I sure he ate more than all of us put together.

Time for a FIRE!!!

LOOK CLOSE… (To the left of the fire) and you will see the starting of the glow stick dance by Hayden.

Ghost stories around the fire…You can’t get much better than that.

Morning can only mean one thing…Matt’s breakfast pancakes!!!!

My hammock

Chad and Hayden tent

Tim’s tent on the point

Then…Well, Matt’s and Donnie’s tents…Might as well just brought one, six inches apart…Really guys?

Well after breakfast, it was decided to call the trip a bust and hike back out due to all the trees down on the trail. Matt and the guys decided to leave their packs and do a quick hike to the water falls and the Big Tree. Me being the old man on the trip, started to make my way back to the car as I had seen both many times before.

Along the way I took a lot of photos along the trail to show everyone how bad the trees were across the trail, here are some…

It’s like a hiking nightmare, climbing over and under trees along the way. Look at the root ball behind me, remember I’m 6’5” and it towers over me.

Well I made it back to the trail head, and took the time to read the sign I was talking about at the begin of this story…Trail Closed!!! The funny part is we all would have bet that someone had just put the sign up that day…only once I looked at the photo; we knew the sign had been there the whole time.

I got to the car changed into some clean pants and shirt, snapped a few photos around the trail head and the headed back to the trail to wait for the others.

To my surprise the first to appear was Chad and his son Hayden

Soon followed by the rest of the guys…soaked to the bone with sweat, I might add.

Then a quick trip to the A & W for our victory meal.

Then the long ride home, laughing at Donnie as leg cramps set in, very funny stuff watching a 6’5” guy trying to straighten out his legs while in a car…I only laughed as I had them the night before in a hammock while hanging over a cliff.

All in all, as bad as the trail was, we all had a great time and better stories to tell…ha-ha.

Till next time
Big Al

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saturday October 22, 2011 (part 2)

Well as I said before the sky was blue, the temperature was in the mid 60’s and the ride was going great only around 50 miles left to my destination. I was cruising along this long and lonely Hwy. 425 when all of a sudden the Arkansas state line sign was upon me.

 Being the blogger that I am, I made the quick decision to pull over in a church parking lot to get a photo. This proved to be a costly mistake; here is why. Well what looked like an asphalt parking lot from the road turned out to be a gravel parking lot with very loose gravel.

As my bike front wheel exited from the highway there was a small lip from the roadway to the parking lot, this caused the front tire to pull quickly to the right, yep you guessed it right into the loose gravel (oh did I mention I was in the middle of hard breaking and still doing around 40 mph) well needless to say that was all she wrote…the bike and I went down with a great THUD!!!

Next thing I know as I’m laying on my back a big dully truck pulls up beside me with a high school kid driving it asking if I needed any help. Turned out to be a great kid, I told him I was alright as I picked my bike up and he went on down the road. I got to admit my first thought was as I hit the ground, am I dead, then I went through a body check,

the thick leather jacket I was wearing saved my upper body, my lower body took on most of the damage. My jeans were still intact but I could feel the blood running down my legs from my knees. All in all I walked away with very little damage, my left knee was scraped and my left elbow was hurting…oh who am I kidding my whole left side felt like someone had worked me over with a bat.

 Ha-ha. Then this thought hit me as I watched the dully truck tail light fade out of site. Would my bike crank? The answer you ask…yes it did after many, many tries. Well as my leather jacket saved me, the crash bars on my bike saved it, the bar on the left side of my bike was now covering my shifter,

so with a lot of kicking and screaming I was able to bend the bar far enough from my shifter that my foot could reach it again to shift gears, so down the hwy I went to the small town “Star City”.

I was the first to reach the Star City Inn;

Walter had not made it yet. I was the only car in the parking lot, not a bad place just no one there…it’s in the middle of nowhere.

About the time I walked back to unload my bike, my buddy Walter pulled up on his Honda.

I told him my sad story, he laugh and called me names…what are friends for, RIGHT?

After he checked in we cleaned up a little and decided to go and get some pizza at a local pizza shop "Mike's Pizza Pro". I think this was the only place in town open on a Saturday night and just like the Inn we were the only customers in the place. Truth is known I think we were the only people who had ever been inside; the employees looked at us like we were from outer space. We ended up ordering a large cheeseburger pizza and an order of bread sticks (pretty darn good)

and my buddy Walter picked up the tab, I think he was feeling sorry for me by now. Ha-ha.

We sat around and swapped war stories and the good time we had in the past for at least an hour and a half. We did a lot of catching up and I was telling him how I had had this bike for over a little over three years now and had never dropped it once until today…I feel a little more foreshadowing coming on.

Time to head back to the room, it was starting to get cold and neither one of us brought our jacket with up as the pizza place was only a couple of blocks down the road. Well my friends never say never; as we pulled back into the Inn (two cars there now) I pulled my bike into one of the numerous parking spots under a big light pole started turning it around so I could back it in to the spot…for some reason still unknown to me this day, in mid turn I grabbed the front break…

yep you guessed it, down to the ground I went, with a huge THUD!!!

This time on my right side, I have to admit I just laid there for a few seconds just wondering what the heck just happened, so once again in the same DAY mind you, I picked my bike up again.

After that it was bed time, I checked out my injures mainly just burses and scratches on both knees now. Funny thing is when I fell the second time (IN THE SAME DAY) I ended up hurting my right knee, it was getting hard to walk, go figure, crash at 40 mph and just walk away, crash at a near stop and injure my knee.

As I was sleeping I was awakened around 4:30am to a loud crashing sound…my first thought was it was someone loading my bike into the back of a pickup but my leg was hurting so I did not get out of bed to see…then seconds later I heard another crash, then I thought they got the second one! I could not take it anymore I hobbled to my feet and shuffled to the window only to find out it was thunder and it was now raining….

The next morning after what had to be the worse continental breakfast,

it was decided due to my knee pain, it would be best to cut the ride short and head home with my tail between my legs…we made a quick stop at McDonalds for lunch said our goodbyes and we were on our way home, me to Petal, MS and Walter to Huntsville, Alabama.

Just as I was around 15 miles from home still nursing a sore knee, I see this crazy man in front of me with his arm out the window of his truck telling me to come around him on the hwy. I got to admit this did not make me happy as I just wanted to get home and off my crippled bike. As I passed the truck who do Isee non-other than Matt (the hammer) Roland looking at me. We pulled over I told him the sad story… he laugh and called me names…what are friends for, RIGHT? Got to get better friends. Ha-ha.

Come to find out he was on his way home from a mountain bike race where he took second place; he even posed for a photo, trophy in hand. (Camera hog)

said our goodbyes and I was home my 5:00pm come to find out my buddy Walter did not get home till 9:00pm. OUCH!!!

GOOD NEWS; my knee has healed itself, except for the scrapes, I'm ready for my hiking trip next week…thank GOD its not in Arkansas.

Till next time

Big Al

States I’ve traveled to over the years

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