2018 Dismals Canyon Tour

The Dismals Canyon and Dismalites

I love Alabama’s quaint places and this one is near the top of the list. Dismals Canyon is one of those few “undisturbed” natural wonders. Too steep to log, the trees and fauna are tremendously diverse. A stream flows through the canyon feeding several waterfalls. The canyon itself is a fairly easy hike of about 1½ miles total in and out. Its well worth the trip.

Can’t mention the Dismals Canyon without mentioning the Dismalites.  This is the local name given to the larvae of the Foxfire Fly, the only bio-luminescent insect native to North America. These larvae emit a bluish-green glow. Dismals Canyon is one of the few places on earth with the habitat required and harbors the largest population of these insects in North America. The guided night tour is awesome!

The history here is also interesting, dating back to the paleo times, later Chickasaw and Cherokee lived here. Cherokee were held here and guarded here  to begin the Trail of Tears. Aaron Burr hid out here two weeks after his duel with Alexander Hamilton.

Our numbers began at 12 and dwindled to 5 for this overnight jaunt in our British cars. Dan & Mignione – MGB, and Hank & Deborah – Jaguar XJS and myself – MGA.   The trip up was about 200 miles and the first test of Betsy after her MGB engine swap. Leaving Montgomery early, we arrived in Tuscaloosa mid morning. That’s when Betsy was renamed “Valdez”. There was a major oil leak at speed. This first stop required a quart and we were off.

Lunch was in Fayette at the Country Junction Restaurant. Here we watched Deborah attack one of the largest burgers I have ever seen!  Ladylike, she did well holding with both hands. Meanwhile, I “manned up”, having the same burger and cut mine in half. This was a great stop and the owner treated us to one of his specialties – Deep Fried Bacon. Yep – floured and deep fried. Delicious!

At the canyon, my sisters – Judy & Debbie – joined us. Kevin Cheek welcomed us as if he remember me from two years ago. I had heard someone mention his name so the banter began as we both acted like we remembered. Then my sisters wandered from the back of the store laughing. The canyon was great. The rock walls, colors, waterfalls, and streams are really a pretty sight. Signs lead the way to points of interest. Witch’s Canyon, Pulpit Rock, The Kitchen (area used by the Cherokee), Secret Falls, and Rainbow Falls. The Champion Tree is a highlight – stated to be the largest Eastern Hemlock in the world at 138 feet and 350 years old.

After our canyon hike and ice cream at the café, we checked into our hotel. Dinner was at 43 Grill, a really good reasonably priced steak house. Now its time for our night tour. The guide led us into the canyon by flashlight. She stopped at several locations and as the eyes adjusted the walls became twinkling star fields of their own. We saw a good number of the Dismalites, however there was a full moon which hampered the viewing. The guide said we would have seen 30 to 50% more on a New Moon night. The website stated there are millions here.

Sunday we headed home. I had tightened a few things and the MGA was leaking slightly less. On a few of the uphills a new issue arrived. Clutch slippage. Perhaps oil is finding its way there – its everywhere else!!  We returned through Oneonta and lunched at Charlie B’s, a quick and good buffet.

Everyone made it back. Dan’s MGB and Hank’s Jag had no problems. I made the trip OK, loved the B engine, but now have the oil & clutch to remedy.

If you’ve never been – go see the Dismals. And tell Keven David sent ya 😉