Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


To-day I went to a wonderful little valley north of Sandersville, MS {this is the precise location}, owned by the uncle of my friend Barry Bigham. Barry, several of the guys from church, our youth pastor, and myself, drove up there together. They camped, but as I have to travel a bit tommorow to my grandparents' house, I loaned out my equipment and drove back at dusk.

The land composises of about three hundred acres, mostly of steep slopes and ravines, and a couple flat hill tops, rather reminiscent of mesas. The ravines, which are terribly steep (probably the result of bad farming practises), are also heavily wooded in beech, elm, oak, sourwood, magnolia, and a few pines. The trees are at their height of fall colours now, so the slopes are filled with gold and reds, utterly lovely. Atop one of the hills- after climbing up the short, but steep, hillsides- is a nineteenth century "dogtrot" house, made of hand hewn logs, and filled with all sorts of cool stuff from hand-made furniture of the nineteenth century to a beer can left by a recent trespassing deer hunter. An early twentieth century billiard table sits on one side, though we were unable to play as most of the balls were missing. A really remarkable place, brimming with history, though rather decayed. Not far from it is an early twentieth century "peckerwood" saw mill, completely intact save the blades, which we saw in the old house. The log carriage can still be moved, and we slid it a short ways by means of manual turning. Also on the property is an old metal log carriage of the sort pulled by Holt tractors or mules, along with another old house, this one probably turn of the century, built in board and batten style.

Down in the bottom of the valley is a little lake, shallow, but clear and spring-fed, with the hills rising up from beside it. Above it beavers have filled the valley with marshes and little ponds, and made it open, giving some lovely views one isn't used to in this state. Barry, Ryan Langely, and myself decided to hike from the campsite (the center of the linked map above) around the lake and back- a simple affair. We climbed to a fien view of the lake above some deeply gouged ravines, then dropped down to the head of the lake, where the outflow of the beaver ponds gushes in. We sighted a dam up through an alder thicket, and set off over it, myself in the lead. The beavers had done a horrible job of construction... The dam began to disengrate in midstream, and dry passage became quite impossible. Now, low fifty degree weather isn't cold, unless one is sopping wet. Cold, wet shoes are terribly uncomfortable as well. Reasoning quickly that the only pair of dry shoes I possessed where forty miles away, I pulled my socks and shoes off while perched on a dry spot on the dam, rolled up my pants legs, and plunged ahead: into knee deep watery muck. My feet are fairly tough, so the alder stobs and sharp winter stubs of cordgrass didn't hurt too bad. Durn pond seemed to drag on though, as I had to keep pulling my pants legs up. At last we made it to the other side, after fording a knee-deep channel the durn beavers forgot to fix. Barry was soaking, but fortunately had a change of clothes. Ryan came out alright, as his boots were waterproof. My feet were just a bit muddy (arriving home: "Ahh! Look at your feet!"), but it wore off after walking unshod up the slope to a road. It was great fun though.

I suppose the lads are shivering now at camp as I type away in a warm room (current temp is forty, supposed to drop to twenty-seven, horribly cold for us Mississippi boys). Well, I expect a dose of cold camping in a couple weeks- Barry and I are planning a four day backpacking trip up to the Appalachian Trail above Smokemont, NC. Should be good and cold, perhaps even some snow to help encourage the frostbite...


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