Monday, August 10, 2015
Over the course of the last couple years, my cousin Jonathan and I have become much closer. In many ways he is like a little brother to me. In mid July we went out to explore the forest and test out some new equipment.
While I am still a Jeep guy, and this blog's URL is jeepcamping.blogspot.com, my Jeep was proving increasingly more impractical for my style of adventuring. As time went on, my Jeep was used less and less offroad and more and more to drive down the highway from home to school.
Further, as I grow stronger in my faith I began to have a bit of cognitive dissonance for the affection I had for that machine. If I separated my emotions from the vehicle, and looked at it as just a tool, I realized that it was the wrong tool for the job.
So I figured that I needed a vehicle that was reliable, had good cargo capacity, seating more more than two, still reasonably capable off-road, and still fun to tinker with. For reliability, it's hard to beat Toyota. So I looked for a while at Tacomas and 4Runners, but I just couldn't make myself fall for them. Then I saw a 60 series Land Cruiser in my price range. It would have required more work than I was willing to put in it, but I really liked the way the Cruisers were set up. I began researching and realized that the 80 Series Land Cruisers were exactly what I was looking for. After a while of searching I found this clean, well maintained '92 Cruiser. So far I have been liking it much better. These are the go-to truck of people who need reliable transportation to remote locations.
The day after I bought it is when Jonathan and I decided to cruise the land down the national forest from Oxford to Sylacauga, some 70 miles of dirt roads.
We stopped at Salt Creek falls near Talladega for the night.
As it is the dry season, the fall was more of a long trickle, but it was still a very pretty place. The trail down was hazardous, requiring a rope in some places to continue. Jonathan and I both were a little bruised afterwards. I wouldn't recommend this location for children. I would recommend it for adventure and for natural beauty though.
At the trailhead here there is a nice campsite, which Jonathan and I took full advantage of. The site is on private property, and there used to be a pay-box. The structure that the paybox was in was destroyed, but in the rubble I still found the paybox, so I dropped the $5 in there. The site was very clean and well maintained.
We used the roof rack to hang our hammocks, which proved to not be that strong. Something to upgrade in the future.
The sun soon began to set over the gorge below us.
We lit a fire for cooking and bug protection. The campsite had a nice fire-ring already. I made my usual Hobo Dinners, which Jonathan seemed to enjoy. I have yet to have any complaints about these meals.
The sun soon set, and we retired to shelter.
During the night, two coyotes visited our campsite, but the sound of me attempting to acquire my camera frightened them off. The nocturnal creatures were louder than usual, screech owl's trilling and Whippoorwills singing.
The following morning we rose before the sun and made breakfast.
The Land Cruiser's tailgate made an excellent kitchen. We made cheese grits and then departed the camp as the sun rose to our left. The mountains were shrouded in mist as the morning sun's rays swept across their forested slopes.
About halfway through the day's journey, we diverted off the main road and crawled for a good while through the forest, until we arrived at Horse Creek cemetery.
The tombstones dates were in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
We eventually came to the end of the forest and turned back by pavement towards home. We stopped for some poser pictures at the scenic overlook.
This summer has been long, hot, and very fun. My cousins, Becca and Jonathan, stayed with us over the course of the summer. We went on many outdoor adventures, but here I will only chronicle the best.
In June, Jeff, Becca, and Cortney wished to go camping. I recall Pine Glen as being a very nice campground, and so that is where I guided us to. We loaded up the truck and headed into the forest stopping at an overlook on the way.
The Horseblock Mountain Fire Tower loomed over the overlook, reminding us of a time before aircraft and other technology when rangers had to keep a constant vigil in these towers against the ever-present threat of wildfires.
Pine Glen is a regular on this blog, a pleasant little campground in a bend on Shoal Creek.
We swam in the creek after pitching our tents in the campground.
While swimming we were joined by one of the locals.
He appears to be an Eastern Kingsnake, a fairly well regarded reptile even by the most Herpetophobic of people, as they eat other snakes. They are immune to pit viper venom, and so can eat Copperheads and even Rattlesnakes.
After swimming, we returned to our warm and dry campsite and began fixing dinner.
The air was hot, and the mosquitoes were aggressive, but it was still nice to be outside. The smoky, crackling flames helped to drive back the bloodsucking onslaught.
The next morning the sun caught the treetops in the wee hours of the morning. The days are much longer this time of year, and I arose at first light.
We packed up and headed out immediately after breakfast.
It was a good campout, very calm and peaceful.