Saturday, February 6, 2010

Looking Forward to a Day in the Woods

I've been spending far too much time at a desk lately, wrapping up the final revisions of my book, writing a couple of magazine articles, posting here, editing photos and doing online research. Today I'm breaking free to hike a few miles in the Homochitto National Forest, Mississippi's second largest tract of U.S. Forest Service land, at roughly 190,000 acres.

Below: The Homochitto National Forest covers a big chunk of southwest Mississippi between the Mississippi River (at the left of this image) and the town of Bude (at the right of this image along Hwy. 84).

The Homochitto contains a mix of pine and hardwoods, in a region of surprisingly rugged sandy hills and deep ravines, where countless clear streams wind their way to the river for which the forest is named. Though it contains no federally-designated wilderness areas, and is cut by forest service roads and areas of clear-cuts and new pine plantations, there are still many isolated hollows tucked away in this corner of southwest Mississippi. You can walk for miles in many areas and hear nothing but the sound of the wind in the pines, and that's exactly what I need about now. I'm meeting my friend and long-time camping buddy Ernest Herndon there today, to hike one of the mountain bike trails that loop through the forest in the Clear Springs Lake vicinity. Ernest lives closer to the Homochitto than I do - this big tract of federally land practically his backyard.

Below: A closer view of the Clear Springs Lake area.  This part of the national forest is full of deep ravines and the trails here are a favorite with mountain bikers because of the steep climbs and winding descents through thick forest.

This is a good time to go hiking there. It's been raining for two days, so there won't likely be any mountain bikers attempting the muddy trails, and deer season just closed with the end of January, so it's unlikely we'll see anyone. I'm taking my camera gear, so I'll post some photos of what it's like on the ground there sometime after I get back. The Homochitto National Forest is one of the bug-out locations described in my new book (in Chapter Five - The Gulf Coast Southeast Region), as it is rich with game, well-watered, and big enough to have some good hideouts, especially if you bushwhack off trail.  But regardless of its potential as a BOL, like most wild places it's a great place to go to restore one's sanity after too much time at the keyboard.

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