Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dismals Canyon - Phil Campbell, Alabama - June 30, 2011

After leaving Natural Bridge we drove 25 miles north to the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama where, just two months ago, an EF-5 tornado destroyed much of the town. Driving through the heart of the town the boys were able to see just how devastating a storm of this magnitude can be.
Just outside of Phil Campbell is Dismals Canyon, a virtually unspoiled oasis like no other in Alabama. Some think the name "Dismals" came from the Scottish-Irish settlers who named it after a ruggedly beautiful spot in Scotland. Others think the superstitious pioneers named it because of its jagged rocks and mystical atmosphere.
Rainbow Falls, named for the rainbows that can be seen as the sunlight hits them, used to power a mill that was destroyed by a flood in the 1950s. Area church congregations used to hold baptisims in the pool just above the falls.
The old mill's grinding wheel is still on the canyon floor several feet from the base of the falls.
 The canyon floor is strewn with moss-covered rocks, fallen trees, and loosely packed sand that makes for an interesting mile-and-a-half hike. Several bridges, boardwalks, and stone pathways help not-so-avid hikers as they make their way through the canyon.

Many years ago, earthquakes caused giant sandstone boulders to break away from the canyon walls to form natural bridges and mossy habitats for hundreds of critters that call the canyon home.

It is a little hard to see, but there is a rather large spider web in the foreground of this picture.

Crossing the stream using this pathway was not an easy task.
A couple of fallen trees made the perfect support for this bridge.
 The boys had a great time finding "secret paths" that led to hidden treasures.
 Some paths were easily traversed while others were a tight squeeze.
 When we reached this bridge we knew we were almost to the end of our canyon journey. 
The Witches' Cavern, home to the largest colony of Dismalites in the canyon, was just around the bend. We were unable to take the night tour to see these glowworm-like creatures because we were there on the wrong day. The night tours are on Fridays and Saturdays. That's okay, because now we have to go back to see the Dismalites!!
 Before we made our ascent out of the canyon we took one last look at beautiful Rainbow Falls.
When you visit Dismals Canyon be sure to bring along extra shoes and a change of clothes because you will get dirty - VERY dirty! We were so dirty that we decided to get a fast food dinner and head straight to our room at the Holiday Inn Express in Florence, Alabama.

It looks like #2 can't wait to get started on tomorrow's adventure!

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