Sipsey River Paddle/Hike/Hang - June 12-14
This weekend was the scheduled June Sipsey Hangout. The original plan was to camp-out at Brushy Lake Campground and take day trips, but due to scheduling conflicts only 3 of us got to make it. So, we made the most of having a small group and changed our plans to a weekend backcountry paddling/hiking/hang. It was fantastic.. Ihangnbankhead, Hetairoi, and myself all had a great time.
Friday - Ihangnbankhead and I met early and grabbed some last minute supplies before heading into the National Forest. We weren't sure of the water levels on the stream we wanted to paddle, so we made the drive and took a good look. The water was questionably low, but no worries, we had other paddling options. There was also plenty of rain in the forecast, and the chosen stream would have been fine..but we didn't take any chances and moved our trip to a section of the Sipsey River. We called Hetairoi (who was on his way) to tell him the change of plans, we staged my truck at the take-out-point, and drove to the meet up spot. Once Hetairoi arrived, we all loaded up our boats and hit the river. It was a beautiful, colorful, and overcast late afternoon start. As the light of the afternoon faded, the storm clouds quickly blew in and we found ourselves paddling in what can only be described as a deluge. We knew the approximate location of a great bluff-shelter camping spot, though, so we paddled on and enjoyed the more robust weather we found ourselves presented with. We made it to the site just as the last rays of light faded away, and got our camp set up. Soon we enjoyed a roaring campfire, fired up a grill for dinner (hot dogs, grilled corn), and enjoyed talking late into the night while watching the storm blow from the protection of the bluff-overhang before retiring to our hammocks for the evening.
Saturday - We woke pretty late, but there was no rush and no plan. Ihangnbankhead cooked us a wonderful breakfast (bacon and eggs), while we talked and decided to spend the day hiking and exploring. The area we were camped in was surrounded by several narrow rocky canyons that we couldn't resist prospecting for views. Plus, we knew that the waterfalls would be in full force after the storm (the river was up over 3 feet). So, after breakfast, we headed out and enjoyed the canyons. The views of the bluffs, waterfalls, foliage, and ledges didn't disappoint. We returned to camp mid-afternoon just in time to light the grill, have a cool shower in a nearby waterfall, have lunch (bratwurst) and a nap. Life was good! A little more exploring took place after the nap, and we returned to the bluff-shelter as dark approached. Ihangnbankhead again prepared a wonderful dinner (grilled chicken with white-sauce, fresh corn-on-cob, fried potatoes with bacon and cheese, and peach tea), and we again enjoyed the campfire chat late into the evening.
Sunday - We woke and took our time having breakfast and loading the boats. Since we didn't paddle any the day before, we had plenty of miles to make on-river. Away we went, enjoying the views.. After about an hour, though, yet another howling storm overtook us. We found shelter under a rock-outcropping that hung over the water about 20ft, and lounged in our boats while the wind, rain, and lightning raged. It was an amazing view from that little shelter. As the worst blew over, we continued on...of course stopping to explore the views of a couple of spectacular waterfalls, more overhangs, a scenic tributary creek, and an amazing whirlpool. Another fantastic day on the water.. We even topped it off by having an early dinner at a nearby restaurant before hitting the road. Hetairoi wouldn't try the Frog's Legs from the menu, though!
So, this planned car-camping event turned into a full-on Sipsey adventure. A great time was had by all, and the memories will be cherished...
Enough rambling, though...some pics!!