Red Mountain Is Calling And I Must Go

After this week’s wonderful online Kindred Spirits Book Club chat about Lassoing the Sun, a chat that included the author, Mark Woods, I was inspired to come up with  my own take on John Muir’s quote: Red Mountain is calling and I must go. And go I did, for a little hike on a beautiful Alabama  morning.

I headed towards the Smythe trail, labeled “difficult”, and  yes, I was breathing a bit heavy  on that portion of my hike. Then I hooked up to the north trail. I am a terrible map reader, so even with the map and signs, I ended up in a different spot, but mainly because a portion of the north trail was closed off. So, I only hiked 2.2 miles, but it always takes a while as I stop for photos along the way.

 

On my route I met with people running, biking, hiking, walking the dog, and segwaying.

 

 

Red Mountain has a lot of lovely pieces of the past, bits of buildings left from the mining days.

I also spotted a sort of cairn on a picnic table- I’m so proud I now know that word!

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This is Muir’s full quote, which appears in an 1873 letter from Muir to his sister: “The mountains are calling & I must go & I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.”

I didn’t like what I read about Muir’s view of Indians, so I decided to do a little research on the man. Here are a few things I learned:

  • Muir founded the Sierra Club
  • He often expressed the idea that humans had no more intrinsic value than any creature of nature; this is known as a bio-centric view.
  • “All in all, there seems to be in Muir some grudging respect for Indians, but it is often masked behind the institutionalized racism that underlies his writing.” –
  • John Muir could not see the Indians for the trees. – Roy Cook
  • Although Muir claimed to oppose the oppression of Native Americans, he fully supported the extraction of Miwoks from Yosemite, referring to them as “dirty,” “deadly,” and “lazy.”
  • Muir was more concerned with human perfidy toward bears (“Poor fellows, they have been poisoned, trapped, and shot at until they have lost confidence in brother man”) than with how Native Americans had been killed and driven from their homes.
  • .. in his writings, Muir said the squirrels he killed on his ranch in Martinez, Calif., were disgusting pests out to ruin the orchards. But he described the squirrels living in his beloved High Sierra as hard-working creatures like those later popularized in the Disney classic “Snow White.”

 

So, after reading around the internet a bit, I have come to the conclusion that Muir, like the rest of us, is flawed. Yes, he did some great things and he had some noble goals. As for his view of Indians, it seemed to changed over time and not for the better. My takeaway is this: Be aware of others. Love and protect God’s creation, but not at the expensive of man, God’s highest earthly creature.

Red Mountain Park

Grace's Gap Overlook

Grace’s Gap Overlook

Our first visit to Red Mountain this past Saturday was a success. By that I mean:

  • We didn’t get lost
  • We hiked 5 miles
  • We met friendly volunteers coming and going

We liked it enough to be headed back today.

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Besides being free to get in and having well-marked trails, Red Mountain also has some other plusses. There is a dog park which I hope to visit soon with Loretta. There are several activities (for a fee) for the more adventurous, such as The Zip Tour and the Adventure Tower, an 80-foot climbing tower for those with strong arm muscles.  Discounts for the activities are available for groups.

Adventure Tower

Adventure Tower

On Saturday we went from the entrance to Grace’s Gap Overlook where you can get a view of Downtown B’ham. There is a picnic table there at the top, which will be good to know for next time.  On our way back went out on the swinging bridge to the Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse.

Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse

Rushing Rendezvous Treehouse

Tips:

  • Bug spray is a good idea
  • Bring water
  • Bathrooms are porta-potties, so be warned
  • Go early to beat the crowd on a Saturday

Cahaba Lilly Park

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Cahaba Lilly Park in Shelby County has a lot to offer, from pavilions that can be rented to lovely walking/hiking trails that are even lighted to make them accessible at night. The park is located just north of Helena Intermediate School on County Road 52. There is plenty of parking, restrooms, playground equipment and swings, and a large grassy area for play. The four pavilions also have grills.

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The trails are easy to walk and pets are allowed on a leash. I went on a Monday morning with my dog, Loretta, and we had the place to ourselves. I plan to go again soon!

Address: 3200 Co Rd 52, Helena, AL 35080

Phone:(205) 620-2877

Adventures with a 17 year old in B’ham – Day 1

My brother-in-law and niece are here this week. He came for the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover; she tagged along to hang out with me.

Day 1

We headed out in the morning for a little hike at Moss Rock Preserve. We both had our cameras and were hoping for some good nature photos.

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We saw a few squirrels, a chipmunk, and a cardinal, but the coolest thing I saw was blooming cacti growing out of the limestone rock. It was an unexpected sight .

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Our adventure kicked in later, as we were on our way back and got totally turned around. After backtracking several times, I finally had to admit we were lost. I spotted a trashcan and shouted “Yay, civilization!” thinking we were at the other edge of the parking lot where we’d started. Turns out we were at a parking lot alright – at the back of what I figured out later is Simmons Middle School. So back into the woods we went. We finally popped out again at a Firehouse!! The kind firemen pointed us in the right direction – about a half mile further down the road and we finally got back to the car. You can check out our route HERE.

After a break at home for food and showers, we headed out for a book adventure; first stop – 2nd & Charles on Montgomery Highway. This unique bookstore buys and sells new and gently used and it has lots of non-book products, also. I got a book for myself and a gift, the niece left with an armload.

Second stop – the Hoover Library. After giving my niece a brief tour, including the Cone of Silence, we stopped at Coffee-ol-ogy where I got an iced coffee and she got a delicious chocolate milkshake.   She then scored three books she’d been wanting at the Friends Bookstore, all for under five dollars.

Hoover library

On the way home, we made two stops at Target and Kohl’s. I was glad to get back home and rest my aching knees!

Oak Mountain State Park

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School will be out soon and it will be a good time to hit the trail! This 9000+ acre park in Pelham, the largest state park in Alabama,  has so much to offer in addition to hiking. There is a beach and swimming area,  boat rentals, camping, biking, golf, nature programs, basketball courts, horseback riding –  and that’s just some of what you’ll find here – whew!

I went for the first time last week with my husband, son, and his family. We went for the hiking, so I have  lot more to check out! It was a great experience and I will definitely be going back.

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Once more, the backpack came in handy for the little one. There were some really steep spots, but we soldiered on and got to the more level areas. The trails are clearly marked – our five year old grandson was a great scout, keeping us on the white and yellow trails. Along the way there was a creek flowing through – a great spot for a break.

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I can’t wait to go again!

Tips:

  • Bug spray is helpful
  • Hiking shoes – it’s not about the looks, it’s about the ankle support
  • Buy a map at the park office and use it
  • Bring water
  • Don’t overdo it