I’ve seen the diverse Alabama countryside many different ways: hiking, of course, but also from the seat of a bicycle, speeding along the road in a car or truck, and even out the window of an airplane. My least favorite way to see things? That would be lying on the ground wondering how I got there!
The topography of Alabama is varied, and that’s an understatement. The northern part of the state, known as the Highland Rim, has rolling hills and plenty of relatively flat ground.
Moving toward the northeast corner of the state takes you into what’s known as the Cumberland Plateau, an area of low mountains that extends along the southern edge of the Highland Rim westward almost to Mississippi.
Moving south of the Cumberland Plateau takes you into two more-mountainous regions, the Valley and Ridge region and the Piedmont Upland region. These regions also extend about two-thirds of the way across the state toward the western border.
Alabama has a fifth region, the Coastal Plain, that covers the remainder of the state–well over half of the total land area. Relatively flat, its land was once under what we now know as the Gulf of Mexico (actually, the whole state was, but that was a lot earlier).
The other day, I was hiking on a trail at the transition between the Highland Rim and the Cumberland Plateau. The trail had the best of both regions: high, but well-worn limestone hills, and relatively level flats. I had spent the previous hour navigating a higher trail, carefully placing my foot with nearly every step.
It was the lower part of the trail that got me, though: an almost level stretch through a stand of trees mostly consisting of maple, oak, and hickories.
I was walking along, my mind a dozen other places, when–I promise this is true–a root just reached up and grabbed my foot! Falling is a peculiar sensation, especially when one is not used to doing so. I’d love to say that I was graceful, executing some sort of tuck-and-roll or something, but no…I just fell.
Quickly I was back on my feet, despite the fact that there was no one within site to give witness to my crash-and-burn. I’m old enough to feel the need to go through the checklist to see if anything hurt worse than my pride. With the exception of a small chunk of skin missing from my left ring finger, I was fine. Given the fact that I was by myself, I was happy to find all systems were a “go.”
Folks, enjoy the outdoors, but watch where you put your feet!