If you’re a camper, climber, hiker or any variety of outdoor lover – you need to make a trip to Horse Pens 40 in Steele, Alabama. This outdoor park and campground delivers everything that you seek when looking for a convenient, friendly, beautiful place to soak up some nature. I had a glorious weekend of climbing, exploring, picture-taking and campfire cooking. Plenty of stories and photos to come, but first, let me regal you with the tale of my adventure with Ian.
Saturday was loaded with hardcore climbing, and naturally, a lot of breaks for food and resting. During one break around midday, Ian and I decided to venture off into the woods on a mini-hike to snap some photos of the foliage and rock formations. As we approached lookout point, one of the silver bearded groundskeepers struck up a conversation with us. He offered to take us to an ancient Indian burial ground, and I readily accepted.
We trekked through the boulder fields, squeezing between cramped rock corridors until we entered a small enclosure with a ledge walkway and a pit of leaves. Our burly guide explained that this was once the home of an Indian chief, who resided in this rocky nook under the careful watch of two guardsmen. Upon death, the chief was ceremoniously laid to rest in this spot. Unfortunately, the previous landowners had unearthed his body and sold it for a small fortune. After sending these grave robbers behind bars for a decade, the Schultz family took over the property, and now dedicate their lives to preserving HP40 and the thousands of burial grounds that can be found on the grounds.
Our kind guide also entertained me with a tale relating to a giant knotted tree that I had spotted earlier while climbing. This enormous tree had a huge bulging growth in the middle of it’s trunk, an unmistakable landmark in a crowd of vegetation. The tree served as the territorial divide between the Creek and Cherokee Indians, who fought over land rights for centuries about 10,000 years ago. What an insightful, unexpected little adventure.
To accompany today’s story, I’ve decided to feature a few of Ian’s best photographs from the trip. I’ll be developing my roll sometime this week, which will include photos of my birthday pot luck, Chattanooga and Horse Pens 40. Enjoy!
A few more shots after the jump, so don’t hesitate to click! To check out more of Ian’s photography, head to his blog, Paradox Isotope.