March 25, 2017 (by Jimmy)
The week we were at Riverside, AL, the weather was not in the co-operating mood. First, we had rain, then the temperature dropped, then more rain, etc. We hoped that we would be able to visit a State Park before we had to move on, and it looked like Friday would be that day. Angela and I woke up to an overcast sky but no rain. We looked for a State Park that had trails to walk and came across Cheaha State Park that was about an hour’s drive away.
Angela, Chewie, and I climbed into the car and off we went. It was a little cool but not too bad (jacket weather). After the rain, everything looked really green. Our route to Cheaha State Park took us through the Talladega National Forest.
We passed by a small village that had what appeared to be a summer camp. It was next to a lake and seemed to have a number of swimming and boating activities.
Along the way we noticed that a number of trees were scorched at the base and up to about ten to fifteen feet above the ground. At first Angela thought it was a forest fire, but I mentioned that it couldn’t be because the entire tree would be burnt, though one section did look more scorched than the rest. We came across a group of hunters (turkey hunters) and asked them about the trees. They said that the Forest Service performs a controlled burn once a year. The theory is that by burning the underbrush it provides the sapling pine trees the ability to take root better and grow into mature trees. They didn’t like it though because it makes it filthy to walk through hunting, and the trees should be left to grow naturally. The men also said there was a small section that had actually experienced a forest fire. At least our mystery was solved.
The three of us finally got to Cheaha State Park and saw a road that went up a hill. We went up the hill and found a small RV Park. It was a nice park. There was one fifth wheel, a couple of pull behind’s, and a few tent campers there. There was a swimming and picnic area near the park with a playground.
We then headed up higher towards the hiking paths, restaurant, and overlooks. As we climbed, we started getting into fog. Angela said we were in the clouds sitting on the mountain. At 2,407 feet above sea level, Cheaha Resort State Park is located on top of Cheaha Mountain. This is the highest point in Alabama. The Creek Indians’ word “Chaha,” meaning high place, is the name they gave to this place. Angela and I didn’t expect the overcast to become fog/cloud; visibility was almost nothing. The three of us did make it to the top and walked the trail to Bald Rock, but at the overlook, we couldn’t see anything but the closest trees and white. Here are some pictures of the men of the mist and the view that wasn’t.
Angela and I didn’t spend much time at the top. It was wet, cool, and we couldn’t see anything, so we headed down the mountain. We drove down to Lake Chinnabee Recreation Area, which is in the Talladega National Forest. There was a small lake there that was fed by a stream where swimming and boating were allowed. It was a nice place.
As we were leaving, Angela asked if we could go back to the top of the mountain at Cheaha State Park. I asked why, and she said she thought she saw the top of the mountain as we came to the bottom. She said if we can see it from the bottom, it must have cleared out, so all of us headed back up to the top of the mountain. Sure enough, an hour after we couldn’t see anything, the sun had come out. Here are the Woman of the Sun pictures and the view that was better (not as good if it had been a truly clear day).
This would have been a fun day had we not gone back to the top of the mountain, but it made it extra special when we gave Cheaha State Park a second chance to shine.