Wilderness and Happy Campers

Wilderness and Happy Campers


   The Thought for the Day column has been blank for a few days due to a little adventure my son and I took to the Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead Forest of Alabama. I am tired, sore and lacking of sleep; but spent real quality time with my son and made some memories. The Sipsey Wilderness lies within the Bankhead Forest’s 183,000 acres in Northwest Alabama. At nearly 25,000 acres, the Sipsey Wilderness is the second largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River.

   The forest was transitioning from winter to spring. It got cold at night but the warmth of the sun came in the afternoon. The wildflowers are beginning to bloom and the tree limbs are full of buds, waiting to burst out. Some of the more than 80 species of birds that live in the Bankhead Forest seem to know that the rebirth of spring is upon us as they sing their unique songs.

   The Bankhead Forest and the Sipsey Wilderness were reclaimed in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps after the Great Depression. The top lands were logged out, but the canyon bottoms weren’t and there are trees over 100 years old to see. But the fact that these pristine areas we see today were once tired, logged and abandoned land is fodder for hope that our planet and each of us too can be reclaimed into something beautiful.

   The cliffs, creeks, canyons and the wild and scenic Sipsey River are truly amazing. Walking for hours and barely seeing another human footprint recharges the soul. To sleep underneath the unpolluted sky and see the majesty of the stars and to hear the sounds of the water racing through the wilderness reminds us of God’s wonder and makes me know that He led us to that spot. The chance to spend 72 hours of uninterrupted time with my 14 year old son was truly a blessing and a reminder that very soon he will be gone and a grown man going about his own life.

      If you can’t go to the wilderness, go to a state park or into the woods. Just pull off the road and sit by a stream and listen to the water for a while. Make a campfire in the dark and share the warmth with a special friend. Take someone you love and spend some time getting to know them even better in nature.

   The wilderness made us happy campers, even if just for a handful of hours. It made the passage from the 23rd Psalm come to life… “He leadeth me beside the still water. He restoreth my soul.”