Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The No-Longer-Camping Consolation Trip: Scottsboro/Mentone

     The original plan for our camping trip at Cane Creek Canyon had called for two nights under the stars but when the first night turned into “sleeping under the frost” we cut the trip short. So, instead of waking up in a tent and hiking out on Monday we crawled out of our beds at home and drove to Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro. I didn’t take any pictures in Unclaimed Baggage because I didn’t want to be Creepy Guy with Scruffy Face Taking Pictures in the Store. If you’ve ever been there, I can tell you that it’s basically the same as it always has been but with a fresher coat of paint and Wi-Fi at the coffee shop. Also- the perpetually stinky toilets that assaulted you at the main entrance have been taken out and replaced with more modern accommodations in the up-stairs area. Esther made several successful purchases for herself and That Girl One; new stuff sacks (for camping) and various clothes. I DID NOT get to buy the $80 Tama snare drum, the $150 Really Cool Sword, the $50 Garmin GPS that isn’t exactly what I want, or the straw pimp hat. Pimp hat. Made of straw.

     Esther also scored at the thrift store down the way with several items that still had their tags on them. I managed to grab three neat-o hats for a $1 each, one with its $20 price sticker still on it and another an official Disney hat that probably sold for closer to $30. Again, no pictures because I didn’t want to be Creepy Guy with Camera.

      On to Mentone, one of our all-time favorite places to be in Alabama if not the country. First stop was a trail that Esther and I visited the first time she ever took me to Mentone back in the summer of ’92. That trip was one of the very first things that she and I did together and the trail brought back memories of wandering the dark without a flashlight right next to a sheer cliff. Good times.

     If you pay attention while on the trail you’ll see a spur trail that leads you off the side of the cliff and along a narrow path to a series of natural shelters and small caves. 

It was in these caves that we camped many years ago. There’s a room that can only be accessed one of two ways- by getting on your belly and crawling under or via a few scant inches of rocky ledge that jut out above a hundred-foot drop to your death below. I did the more dangerous of the two when I was eighteen and I’ve done the muddy/dusty safer path since then but I wasn’t dressed for the mud and didn’t care to dangle my ass over the ledge.

The main trail leads to a scenic view across the Little River Canyon of DeSoto Falls (top to bottom) that you can only get from this location.

We wrapped up the trip by driving around to DeSoto Falls itself to view it from the dam at the top and the overlook slightly below that. I climbed around the railing and sat in the concrete “U” to snag a picture of Chan-a-poo.

      Okay, there was some geocaching too… DeSoto Falls is the location of an Earthcache and I also snagged a couple of nearby physical caches too. Esther took this great picture of me making a find.

I’ll leave the exact cache locations a mystery out of fear for the local geocaching Mafioso. Again, if you don’t know what geocaching is then you either don’t know me or have never engaged me in conversation. For those of you too embarrassed to admit they haven’t retained a single word I’ve uttered in the last few years, you only need visit to learn more.

All the pictures from our quick trip can be viewed here.

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