Nov 8, 2009

Playing Hiking in the mountains

Desoto State Park

Sunday 11/8/2009 - We woke up to another sunny Sunday (Isn’t it repeating - Sunny Sun Day?) and started to get ready to go to the state park that was close by. When we choose our campgrounds, we try to choose one that are close to some nature attractions, National Park, State Park or similar, so no wonder that around us there are so many state parks.

We started with a visit to the Alabama Parks website, went to Desoto Park page to see what was out there, and tried to choose the trails we are going to take, and even printed a map.
To feel even more like a ‘professional hiker’ we took a backpack with some sandwiches, water and even a compass and of course our travel camera bag. We decided to take Moe (our Boxer) with us this time, since we were planning to stay outdoors the whole time. To complete the atmosphere, I took my favorite hat and we were on the way to the park, 8 miles away.

DeSoto State Park, AL Before we could say constantinaploytanchikovlinchka, we were there! Moe, being so happy from his freedom had a personality conflict and he started to jump like a goat. We got out of the car, not before I grabbed my Lowrance Marine handheld GPS, just in case we get lost in the wilds.

We stopped at the ranger station to take extra maps, brochures and to get some advice. DeSoto State Park, ALWe were all ready to go, excited about our first hiking trip. Our planned route was about 5-7 miles and went through some water falls along creeks and through some nice rock formations. We saw other families on the way, and it is amazing how different and friendly people are in nature. Almost like the pastoral ambience forces its rules of peace. Everybody says hello and smile, they even petted Moe, who was as happy as can be.
We followed our trails, the pained dots on the trees and the GPS, stopped for lunch in the nature and had a wonderful time. As we approached the end of the trail, the marks had disappeared. We were left in the wild nature, in the middle of a campground, without a path to get back to the starting point. And here came our help the great ingenious invention – the GPS. We followed a shortcut in the woods and found out that we were just 5 minutes away. WOW – what would we have done without it!
DeSoto State Park, AL Just before we returned to the car, we went to a rock garden just outside the ranger station to take some pictures. I climbed a big rock and on the way scratched the surface of the GPS that was tied to my belt.

DeSoto Falls

Our next stop was DeSoto Falls. I think it is still part of the park, except it is 12 miles down the road, and more of an attraction by its own.
We got to the place who looks more organized and reminded me of those places where you go to take a wedding picture in the nature. Truth is that this waterfall was very nice – it was a combination of several chain falls linked together to one ensemble of water and rocks in a huge dramatic display. We went around, took some pictures (did I mention I love taking pictures) and started to head back to the campground.
DeSoto Falls, AL

Lost GPS

The GPS helps you find your way if you get lost, but how about finding the GPS when it gets lost?

After arriving to the RV, I decided to download some topographic software to my handheld GPS. I went to Lowrance site and found that my GPS is actually designed for both marine and land, and is capable of holding topographic maps. They even allow you to select the area you want online, and download it to your device, Awesome! You just need to register your device by connecting it to the USB.
No problem! I go to the car to grab the GPS, come back to the RV and say “Patti – do you know where did I put my GPS?” Nope, she says. Not a clue, where did you use it last?
DeSoto Falls, ALA long search in the bags, car, RV, garbage. Nothing! We found a picture from DeSoto Falls where I am holding the GPS, so we knew at least it lost was there. It was too late and too dark to go there, and I decided to wait til sun rise.
I put an alarm and woke up in the middle of the night, at 6:00AM. This is the time I usually turn over and go back to sleep, but not today. I jumped in the truck and drove to the falls again. Nothing! No GPS. I left a message in the ranger office just in case, but basically knew I had lost it.
In the next few days I did a lot of research on handheld GPS units and tracked tens of auctions on eBay. I just felt bad for not having the GPS anymore.
The thing is, that if I wouldn’t have used the GPS that day it probably would have never bothered me so much, but once I put myself in a state of mind, it is hard to let go. When I get to the point where I already picture myself with this unit hiking, and having fun, I already own it in my mind. True – It is not a necessity, and I could do just fine without it. I ended up buying a unit. Took 3 days but I got the same unit, at a good deal. Used, but just like new.

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