Again, we were hiking in the Sipsey Wilderness area and the Randolph Trail (#202) is 3.4 miles in length one way. Randolph starts on the ridge, drops down into the gorge, and ends at the Sipsey River. We were trying to beat the rain so we didn’t dilly dally.
Randolph and Rippey Trails run together for the first quarter mile or so. At the junction, the Rippey trail branches off north and the Randolph continues east following the old road. This road is the gated, gravel road just west of the parking lot. We took the woods trail to the junction, but one could take the road if so inclined. I think the distance is about the same.
After about a mile we came to the Johnson Cemetery. Actually, there are two cemeteries; one east of the road and one on the west side. These cemeteries are very old with graves dating back to the mid 1800s, but they are still well maintained. There were even plastic flowers on many of the graves. There were very few granite grave markers, most were just field stones.
Beyond the cemeteries, the trail continued to follow the old road bed, but was much more narrow. Besides the cemeteries, there was a lot of evidence that this area had once been a small community. We noticed small patches of yucca plants, metal culverts under the old road, and the occasional rusted car part or farm implement.
From a distance we noticed a huge tree with branches spread out in every direction. Gene commented that he thought the tree had been there long before the forest grew up around it, otherwise the branches wouldn’t have been so wide spread. Sure enough, when we got to the tree, there was a wide, flat area perfect for a small cabin and the rusted remains of an old vehicle, obviously a homestead at one time. We passed on by, but later this became our lunch spot for the day.
The trail, as it made its way along the ridge, had very gentle ups and downs making for a very pleasant woods walk. As we headed into the gorge, naturally the trail became steeper, but not too bad. We got those fine views of the limestone bluffs again and another trickle of water falling into a small feeder stream. There were several blowdowns, but most had either been cleared or were easy to step over. There were two that were a tangled mess, but previous hikers had made a path to bypass the worst of the hazard.
|The sandy river bottom|
We would have normally made the river our lunch spot since it was the halfway mark and turning around point in our hike. However, we got there way too early to have lunch so we took a short break then headed back.
On our way back, Gene got his legs and feet tangled up on his trekking poles as he was crawling over one of the fallen logs. He ended up falling down without injury to himself, but his trekking pole suffered a bad bend. Gonna have to have that fixed.
|Past its prime, but still pretty|
We stopped for our lunch at the big tree. While we were enjoying our PB&J, the wind picked up considerably and the sky was getting darker. We didn’t linger. We got our packs on, kicked in the afterburners, and sped on down the trail. We got back to the car just as the first raindrops began to fall. It was only a teaser, though. The real rain didn’t start for another couple hours.
The forecast calls for rain all day tomorrow. Guess we’ll be staying home relaxing. Nothing wrong with that. It actually sounds pretty good to me right now.
That’s it for today. Thanks for tagging along.