Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Final Hike

For the three years that my brother has lived in Alabama, all I've had was a street address that was quite ordinary. So it was with surprise that in the last few hundred yards of my directions to his place, I had to turn into a country club. My brother lived in a country club? He did indeed however, it wasn't like any country club I have ever been too.

First, there were not lots of nice houses set back from nicely paved streets and surrounded by lush lawns. Instead there were only a few very widely spaced houses that were for the most part, just ordinary houses ranging from your modern ranch to a log cabin to a small shanty. The houses were mostly in small clearings cut from the pines and hardwoods surrounding them and the lawns were mostly pine needles and rocks with a few clumps of grass sticking up here and there. The community had a few feeder roads that were roughly paved and hard to push a stroller on with smaller two-track gravel roads with weeds growing in the center leading to most of the houses. Yes, there were even lots of cars up on blocks and junkyard dogs roaming this country club. The only conclusion I can draw from this is that country clubs of the south are a lot different than those of the north. You can whip a rebel in a war but you can't refine them.

The first morning we were there, we spent much of it cleaning puke out of the van, off car seats and doing laundry. Not a pleasant task. So when the opportunity came later when my parents asked if I wanted to go for a walk, I jumped at the chance. I was standing there ready in tennis shoes when they finally asked if I was going to get ready. Sensing I had erred in my belief that we were going for a walk down relatively flat trails, I found out that we were going for one of our more normal hikes. Properly attired in leather hiking boots and with a couple bottles of water, we set out for Horn Mountain in the Talladega National forest.

My brother has done a lot of work there to establish habitat for an almost extinct woodpecker that prefers old growth forest. So as we hiked along, we got to inspect some of his handy work. He has been credited with finding one of the oldest stands of long leaf pine in the state and we walked by the stand. I have a picture of it but haven't had the time to process it yet but will hopefully post it on my blog later. We hiked for several hours enjoying the beautiful weather. It would be the last hike I would go on over the next six days.

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