Ruth and I took advantage of a beautiful early spring day to escape to Borden Creek in the Sipsey Wildnerness of the Bankhead National Forest. This is a devastatingly beautiful area, and we both needed to hike down the canyon trail along the creek. The specific trail we took is on the west side of the creek, which is more challenging than the east side trail. But it also leads to and over some fun sandstone formations.
The first shot is me standing on the beach near the trailhead where we've often set up a basecamp for fishing operations. Creek level was a lot lower today than when we were there three weeks ago to seine silverstripe shiners. And the water was pretty clear, too.
The next view is from the large cube of sandstone we climbed up to have a picnic. It's about 1.5 km down the trail from the trailhead. This rock is connected to the bank by a low hump of gravel and cobble that was dry today. The creek is forced to run around this rock through a narrow neck of water that's a fast-flowing run loaded with schools of shiners. We've hung out on this rock before, once observing a huge school of redhorse suckers engaged in some sort of spawning ritual. Today it was a perfect place to sit in the sun and wonder what the hell just happened.
This is a stretch of creek about halfway between the trail head and the sandstone cube. I was struck that it would be a good place to run another driftnet project, since it's reasonably shallow and runs over both rocks and sand to maximize the presence of macroinverts. Hopefully the Forest Service biologists would agree to sanction such a project.
And the last view is what the bank across the creek from the sandstone cube looks like. I was struck that the wave riffles on the sandy bottom continue up the steep sandy bank which was recently under water. At the top of this photo you can see evidence of recent high water way
up the bank in the form of streaks of leaves deposited by high water. These headwater creeks are dynamic places.
So I feel a lot better after spending the day along Borden Creek. Walking on the sandy trail, jumping across deep-cut narrow water gutters running out of sandstone crevices across the trail, seeing big schools of silverstripe shiners, and seeing a kingfisher go whipping by us just above the waterline were all some of what both Ruth and I needed. And I didn't even include any of Ruth's butterfly photos!