Since my first hike at Ruffner Mt. Nature Center was so enjoyable, I decided to go on another one, but this time (picture, left to right) Corey Clayton, me (Jon McGinnis), Cobi Boykin, and Emily Shackleton wanted to come along. This time we parked at the southern most parking spot (almost directly across the park from the Nature Center) since we wanted to hike around the quarry.
I had recently bought a 15” Red Head Machete (found here http://www.basspro.com/RedHead-Expedition-15-25-Machete/product/1301071038/), and I keep it in my trunk because I had picked up odd jobs clearing brush. When my friends found out that I had it, of course the guys wanted to cut some walking sticks. I had not tested it out yet, so I was interested how it would perform. It did wonderfully! It truly felt like an extension of my arm!
After we cut some walking sticks, we headed northeast on the Ridge and Valley Trail, toward the quarry. It was awesome! The weather was perfect, not too hot with a nice breeze. The elevation was not very bad at all and we were taking our time.
We then followed onto Overlook Trail. The overlook was great! I have never seen such a view of Birmingham in my entire life! You could even faintly make out Vulcan to the left. This was the day before the Fourth of July, and I wanted to come back, set up my hammock and watch the fireworks. But it did not work out. We took some pictures then backtracked to Opossum Loop.
Opossum Loop encircles the quarry, so we hiked it, following a clockwise motion. Because it was a quarry, the terrain was pretty rocky, but not too tough. We found a cave while following the loop, and because we were a group of three guys and a girl; we did some “exploring”. Unfortunately our exploration took us through a massive ant bed.
On the last part of Opossum Loop, I was leading, and I saw a two foot long snake in the middle of the path. I immediately froze, and everyone almost ran into me. They could not see it until I pointed it out to them. It then slithered off into the brush and we continued on our merry way. (Later I learned that it was a King Snake.)
We then hiked the Quarry Trail north, until the first bench. We took a break at the bench and Corey decided to climb a tree. At that point, my fellow trekkers had had enough adventure for one day, so we took the Silent Journey trail back to the Ridge and Valley Trail, then back to the car. The entire group was hot and tired, so went to Chick-fil-A for snacks and milkshakes. This hike took around five hours.
The weather was beautiful, and there were not many bugs either. So we had a great time! I used my Bass Pro Shops XPS 2L Hydration Pack (http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-XPS-2L-Hydration-Pack-Burnt-Orange/product/10231378/) again, but this time I did not carry any food, just water. And, as always, it performed wonderfully.