Saturday, July 25, 2009

A perfect day for Salt Creek

It would be hard to imagine a better day than Saturday for getting out, getting wet and having fun in the middle of nowhere.
People consider Salt Creek Falls to be near Munford Alabama, and technically I think that is the closest post office, as the crow flies. But I don't regard the place as being near there, or Talladega, or Oxford...those are just towns you'd find on the map in the same general area.
It's not but about half a mile walk through private-but-wooded property to get to the falls but it's a walk you have to be ready for, because it involves climbing, crawling, and the occasional controlled butt-slide.
The trail starts out pretty much level, then picks up a gentle slope, then you can see how the creek has done its work to the terrain over geologic time: the slope gets steep and there are deep hollows and overgrown cuts in the ground.
A few yards further and the trail becomes increasingly hard to distinguish from a washout, which it does every time it rains. There's a few spots where you have to crawl and work your way to the bottom...remember crab-walking? Thankfully there are well-worn laurel bush trunks to hold onto along the way.
Of course if you're a 7-year-old boy you think all that is just waaay cool and have to be told repeatedly to be careful and go slow. If you're a 4-year-old girl, all you have to do if ask your 6'3" daddy to use his long arms and legs to help you down, and he will.
Once you make it to the falls, you can choose the upper spot which this time of year features only a knee-deep pool that seems to disappear. The smallmouth bass, bream, and darters you can see in the crystal-clear water seem to know not to get too close to the edge of it.
The alternate last leg of the 'trail' will take you to the lower spot. From there, you can fully appreciate the 40-to-50 foot drop over ancient gneiss and granite that is ever-slimy and mossy from the water that imperceptibly is wearing it away.
Then there's the pool beneath the falls...that's what we were there for Saturday. At its edge the bottom has just enough silt and sand to allow your to stand steady as you contemplate jumping in. But venture more than a step of two and you're reminded how slippery rock can really to just on in before you end of taking a quite undignified and ungraceful dip.
We had gotten off easy when it came to July heat could not have been much more than 91 or 92 that clear water was cold and it was easy to remember that it comes out of mountain springs. Griffin told me at least 5 or 6 times that he could swim, but made a point to stay very close by. Carlie was not so confident and insisted in holding on to my shoulders while I swam around on my back...although she did say "I'll be the motor" and added paddling power using her legs.
We checked out each corner of the pool, and it was nice stretching out on the flat rocks and just soaking the place in...we had it to ourselves the whole time...with the occasional shout from Griffin to hear the echo off the canyon walls and gales of laughter from Carlie when her brother learned just what I meant when I told him those rocks were slippery.