This weekend was the Halloween in the Sipsey hangout. We're all home and dried out now (I think ) after a wet but wonderful time!
Our original plan was to hike a different canyon area each day, and essentially we did...but some inclement weather and sickness necessitated a few changes to our route. Nevertheless we met the challenges and overcame them for a successful outing..
I would like to personally thank each and every attendee for their good humor and grit through what was a challenging but exhilarating hike. Great to spend time on the trail with you all...
I won't go into a tedious retelling of the whole event, but rather will give a 'general overview'. I hope all the attendees will fill in the details and stories in their own words..
Thursday - After meeting up at the Sipsey Rec area, we shuttled ourselves to the Caney Creek FS gate and hiked the trail to the spectacular Upper Caney Falls (double waterfall), and then on to the Lower Caney Falls (triple waterfall) to make camp for the night. The total hike was only about 2 miles, but they were *'Sipsey Miles'. We arrived in time to set camp just before dark. Skippy and MacEntyre joined us a couple of hours later, and we all enjoyed a brightly moonlit evening around a campfire perched under a scenic bluff shelter. Good times...
Friday - We awoke to a warm and clear morning. We had expected rain to overtake us in the night, but it never came and we were presented with a beautiful day's worth of weather for exploring. So, after a quick breakfast we all spent some time enjoying the nearby waterfalls before starting a 'creek walk' by wading down the canyon and enjoying the many many rocky bluffs, side cascades, etc. We all relished the creek walk and likened it to childhood days of exploring.. After the wonderful exploratory hike, we returned to camp and hiked back to the FS gate to shuttle to meet the ones joining us that day. Upon arriving at the meet up point, we were soon joined by BillyBob58, HikingShoes, and Bigbamaguy, and we all greeted each other and chatted as we lunched. Then, we proceeded to convoy towards the trailhead. We did stop along the way to take a side hike to the Kinlock Shelter (enormous historic bluff shelter with petroglyphs). The afternoon walking route we chose was just less than 5 Sipsey miles of absolutely gorgeous scenery which we hiked through with aplomb. The delayed rain caught up with us *just* as we finished the hike and got into camp...and it continued entirely unabated for the next 12 hours. Our compatriot IhangnBankhead hiked in during the rainy deluge, and camped only a few hundred yards from us but was unable to make the last stream crossing in the dark.
Saturday - We awoke to find the river's level up several feet, and all of the side creeks running in full force. While amazingly beautiful, it would be tough going on the trails. Sadly, though, our friend Skippy had fallen ill during the night with severe nausea and dry heaving which was already leading to dehydration. So, we all conversed and picked a hiking route that would lead us back to the trailhead so that he could get out to medical attention. Our route did take us through some remarkably scenic canyons, waterfalls, etc..so all was not lost. But, it was a very tough day's hike over some rough terrain. We made it through, though, and got Skippy out to safety by mid-afternoon. After the torrential rain, wet trail conditions, rough trerrain, and sickness...there was much enthusiasm for a change of plan. So, instead of continuing another canyon hike we decided to change our destination to scenic campground just outside of the wilderness for the evening...of course that allowed us to enjoy a wonderful and semi-famous local steakhouse on the way. And after a belly-filling meal of good camraderie, we retired to the campground for the evening to enjoy several hours of campfire chat, storytelling, visits by the local rednecks who DougTheElder scared away with his costume, and a remarkably sound night's sleep listening to the water flow over a nearby spillway dam.
Sunday - We awoke and enjoyed a morning of chatting and gear talk while having breakfast before the long-traveling attendees needed to depart. The usual suspects couldn't resist one last day hike, though...so we spent the greater portion of the day bushwhacking down Brushy Creek and visiting yet more scenic bluffs, spectacular waterfalls, winding streams, etc...
All in all it was a scenic, rugged, unexpectedly off-plan hangout...but one that we will have memories of for a long time.. Thanks to everyone that attended!
Pics courtesy of Hetairoi.
* Sipsey Mile = a unit of trail measurement equivalent in distance to one standard mile, but that includes no fewer than two boulder hops, four large blow-down traverses, and two (typically small) stream crossings, many of which are in conjunction with one another and often on sloping ground.