I’m headed back to Guntersville State Park this morning. It’s only hike number 5 and I’m returning to a previous location, but I do plan to hike a different trail. Several friends had expressed interest in coming along this week so I modified my plans to hike a closer location. Guess what? I’m in the car by myself. My Grand Canyon wannabe partner in crime, Carver, is still undergoing physical therapy for an ill-fated CrossFit injury, the others slowly backed out one by one. So solo it is. That makes five out of five.
With over 36 miles of hiking trails available,
it’s easy to not repeat a trail at Guntersville State Park. Pulling into the campground I purchase a trail map for a buck and park the car. Deciding on what looks like a 5ish mile loop I head off through the campground to find the start of the blue-blazed Seales Trail.
This proves to be easier said than done. At least for me. I spend close to an hour looking for it. Since it’s January there are not a lot of people around to ask. There are a lot of deer, so at least it’s time well spent. I wonder if it could start across the large marshy area I’ve come to. Sure that that can’t be it, I make the decision to hike my loop in the other direction. I hadn’t wanted to do this since I know from camping here year’s ago that that will involve climbing a really big hill. Super big, or at least what I perceive to be big at the time. But seriously, if I’m internally whining about this, how will I ever make it out of the Grand Canyon?
Up, up, and away I go,
on the orange-blazed Lickskillet Trail until I summit Bailey Ridge, arriving at the intersection of the Meredith Trail where I head to the left. Making my way down the trail towards Town Creek, I’m struck but the damage and destruction remaining from the EF2 tornado that hit the park on April 27, 2011. Five years later it looks like giants roamed the forest breaking trees in half and casually tossing them aside like matchsticks.
The trail is clear, thanks to the efforts of park employees and hundreds of volunteers, but it will take years before the forest fully recovers. On a positive note, the views of Hurricane Creek and Stubblefield Mountain open up quickly. Hawks circle lazily above the creek as I make my way to the intersection of the Seales Trail and the blue-blazes I searched for earlier.
The Seales Trail follows along
the water with beautiful views of Town Creek and Lake Guntersville. Happily, this trail seems unaffected by the tornado and the trees remain intact. There’s a fisherman in his boat casting along the banks of a small cove. Such a peaceful, serene scene. Until something large jumps across the trail right in front of me, that is. I let out a shriek that can probably be heard back at the campground. The angler nearly falls off his boat while I catch a glimpse of a white flash out of the corner of my eye.
It was a buck. I spooked him when I rounded the corner. The man in the boat doesn’t look amused, but I can’t help but giggle. Waving to him, I head down the trail watching the deer leap his way through the barren woods until he’s out of sight. Nature is incredible!
The trail goes to the left and follows along the rocky bank of Lake Guntersville until it opens up into a wide marshy area. Yup. The same one I saw when the hike number 5 adventure began. Picking my way across the muck I make my way back to the car.
According to my Fitbit,
which is notoriously unreliable, this 5ish mile hike turned out to be close to 9 miles long. After wandering around for an hour before even getting started, paired with a couple of wrong turns and some backtracking (which I did not go into detail about today….don’t worry it happens almost every time!), I’ve managed to nearly double the intended mileage.
All that aside, I hop into the car and head home. I’m a little tired, and my feet are sore. Still, I can’t stop thinking that I just may make myself a wilderness badass before it’s all over.
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