….in which I find an excellent hiking partner in an old friend, Whiskey eats deer poop, we do not get shot, I get a little political, and we fearfully trespass….
So let me tell you about my Sunday, in which all of these things and *more* happen.
First, I pick up Tammy for her first ever hiking experience with me. And let me just say I have caused perfectly normal and healthy looking people to throw up and have heat stroke and more from hiking/outdoor experiences with me. Needless to say after causing inadvertently so much harm to people I genuinely care for, I’m a little gun shy to picking up a new hiking partner. What will happen this time? Will she make it out alive? Will I have to call an ambulance? Oh dear.
But Tammy excels on all fronts. She was dressed well for the weather (layered) with water and snacks and a back pack full of necessities. She had proper clothing and shoes on and I didn’t have to worry about her at all! In other words- she was perfect. She also is good with dogs so she didn’t seem to mind my dog trying to “clothes hang” her by darting across and tripping her with his leash. She was very aware of the dog and took great care to pay attention to him so as not to kick, step on, or otherwise injure my dog. I cannot tell you how awesome this is. It’s no fault of anyone’s when they are oblivious to hiking with a dog in training who is learning how to “behave” out there on the trail. But it is definitely her right to be praised for being such an awesome dog hiking partner because she was.
Now enough about Tammy and on to what you really want to know about. Did Whiskey really eat deer poop? That’s what you’re thinking right? Right? Yes and here’s the proof.
Okay now I just have to say that this looks nothing like the tight shiny pellets I’m used to for deer (apparently it has to do with diet- fiber vs. non fiber). But Tammy found on her smart phone some pictures (yes, right out in the woods) that supported that deer poo can clump in large sections. Also, I found some sites at home to back up this “larger” poo phenomenon. But wow there was a lot of it everywhere we went. And Whiskey was one happy sniffer. I just wish he hadn’t been so intent on eating it. So back to the identifying- apparently there’s a lot of myth going around that this kind of poop comes from old male deers but a lot of sites say this is a myth. Who knew that I’d need a scat identifier book to know what kind of poo I run across out in the wild, but I think I need one. If anyone offers a contradiction or confirmation to Tammy’s diagnosis of the poo be sure to post it here.
We saw three of the white tail deer flee the area right as we came up and Whiskey was crazy to get after them. Thank God for leashes or I’d never see our dog again. We also saw several when we were leaving…4 or 5 as we drove out and tried to get a picture but the deer just completely blends in.
So this week I’ll be doing a few posts on the Lake Purdy area. There are enough trails and lake front to hike around to keep me busy for several weekends.
But first let me tell you about our adventure. Lucky for me Tammy is the perfect type of partner for what I call “sploring.” “Sploring” is where you have no agenda except to park at a rural place, get out and hike it. This isn’t good for everyone. It’s panicky at times (am I tresspassing? Am I going to get shot? Why are their big dogs out here!?) and leads to unpredictable experiences (frankly it might suck, seeing no good trails, lots of trash and scary people). But sometimes with the right people and the right places, magic happens…
Today was such a day. We met around 10 and departed the woods at 2:47! We explored part of the lake bed that was dried out and then after being followed by a large young looking dog (which Whiskey spotted immediately) I chose to push our way away from him, hoping he wouldn’t follow (he didn’t!) we emerged out of the woods onto a paved road and traveled it for a while.
It looked like no one had driven it in a long time but it was very well maintained. It was a nice beautiful crisp day and I just kept thinking “What the heck is this place?” because I knew the road was gated and locked at the place where we parked. Was it someone’s house? Hunting club? Property? Were we going to stumble across a pair of trained attack dogs that would kill us and take our money? Would we get to the end and get escorted back by a police car? Would some one come home from church and find us trespassing on their 2 mile long paved private drive to their mansion? Would someone shoot at us?!
(This is not as absurd as it sounds as I have been shot at for trespassing once when I was a teen, in a rural area near Hayden by a crazy old codger.. we had to crawl on our hands and knees in the brush to avoid getting shot! We even had an eagle scout with us so it wasn’t like we were vandalizing scandalous teens. Just a bunch of outdoor enthusiasts looking for a place to camp who had wandered too far… but that really is a very interesting longer story for another day.)
So we make it to this large, 10 foot tall fence. What? What the? Really? In The Middle Of The Woods? This was when I began to panic. There were no signs saying “turn back! run! you’ve gone to far!” only my inner turmoil clock ticking down to doomsday. Oh and the fact that there were no signs. Not a no trespassing sign, no private property sign, no nothing. Only an old “No motorcycles beyond this point” sign? We checked and found ourselves to not be motorcycles so we trudged on.
After several more twists and turns it just got weirder and weirder. We finally came to an area where it dipped down and the break in the tree line ahead told me that there was something down there. Then about the time I started imagining that a house with this kind of estate surely has trained attack dogs Tammy saw a large grayish white dog in the woods and announced it to me. That was it, I turned and hustled back. “You feel free to go check it out!” I yelled over my shoulder, which she did. I cowered in some brush on a small hill where I found the remains of an old house and its drive- I kept imagining hearing cars. After several minutes I began to think how stupid I was- this was how horror movies always happened! The girl goes off on her own and then the other girl realizes “hey.. it’s like, you know been a long time and stuff.. I think I should go check it out” and she does even though she’s scared and they’ve got Tammy down there in that house with a bunch of masked inbred crazies with chainsaws and did I mention that no one even knows where we are! Then my phone rings. It’s Tammy and she says “this is so weird. It’s this old field with nothing in it and a decrepit old fence surrounding nothing.” I hightail it down and it is just as she says. But it’s mowed and they have trees for miles that are not Alabama forest trees. They are trees you plant on land you intend to use or farm. Domesticated not wild.
Unfortunately I took no pictures of this place but will when I go back next weekend and I’m going to blog more about this place then because turns out it has an interesting history all in itself.
After several minutes of ‘sploring and nervousness I admit to the fearless Tammy that it’s time to leave and we do. But then something strange happens at a split in the road that I just KNOW, know without a shadow of a doubt goes to a house. It’s well maintained, landscaped really, and looks like a personal drive. The strange thing is that I decide Tammy has been braver than me and I can’t be outdone. I begin to foolishly march up the hill like I own the place and then I see the fence, then the table, then I whisper to Tammy that there’s a table with stuff on it and we need to be quiet. I keep going like an idiot though.
And you won’t freaking believe what we found.
Pictures and post coming tomorrow!
Some links and where I get slightly political only by the fact that I post to some other blogs/articles regarding the closing of the bridge:
Bridgehunter’s historical info and ratings
February article about the forgotten bridge
They had a brilliant idea to make it into a toll bridge…
Most recent article I could find. They will not be building a toll bridge by the way. And a short synopsis is that the bridge is very old, saw close to 8,000 travelers a day, and has weight restrictions that were not being obeyed, and therefore was closed for safety issues. After a year of no crossing over I’m hoping it does get repaired for those citizens who used it frequently to get to 280 in a timely manner.
Directions: From 459 Northbound take the Grants Mill exit and turn right towards the BMW dealership. Follow this to a four way stop sign. Stay strait until you dead end at the closed bridge. There is pull off parking only along the sides of the road. Best to turn your car around and have it facing out as parking is so scarce and gets full on pretty days.
Pros and Cons:
This is an excellent hike for hikers who are prepared to spend several hours “exploring.” You can get out and go left or right along Lake Purdy all along and through the woods. If you are not good with off roading beyond the trail then this isn’t the best place for you. There is also no way to know for sure when you pass onto private land so if you are uncomfortable with this best to stick with Oak Mountain, Moss Rock, Ruffner etc. There can be a lot of glass, trash and debris in certain places as well as lots of underbrush so dress appropriately and safely. If you’d like to get near the water I suggest galoshes as the mud can get really deep.
Overall Score: 10 tail wags out of 10 (only if you like an unscripted rambling exploring adventure though!)