quite honestly, i have not spent much time (or interest) in alabama, although i have passed through this state a few times en route between texas and florida. most of these trips have been through the night which has even more so limited my visual exploration where i didn’t have time to make a proper stop.
this trip, i decided to make a point to spend a couple nights in alabama, specifically enjoying a small college town called auburn and couchsurfing with a guy named chad who enjoys archeology, his cats, philosophical conversations and exploring the outdoors. chad agreed to take me on a hike, of which i was super stoked to find that i could do here and curious to see what the hiking and outdoors of alabama would entail.
i found my short stay here to be one worth while, not only for the beautiful natural scenery or discovery of the unexpected outdoor escapes, but for the quietness that filled the air and the contentment that was showcased in the way people lived life.
i arrived to auburn in the evening before sunset and found it to be quite a bit of a surprise from what i would have imagined, with the center of town being revolved around the college (even so much so that there was a few streets shut off while i was there so that they could paint on the sidewalk in honor of the university and the school pride). there were quite a few hip and trendy mom and pop style establishments that i was able to observe on the way to my home for the next couple nights. chad and i shared some tacos and ”get to know you” chats that night, with my excitement for tomorrow’s hike in mind.
i woke early the next morning and headed back to the square to grab a coffee and put in some time on the computer at wake up coffee company until chad rose and was ready to get rolling for the day. once inside the shop, you felt a bit tucked away as there was only one window showing through to the street which was blocked off for construction, but the chick behind the counter was friendly, greeting me with a “hey girl” and the coffee was tasty. i spent the next couple hours here, working on some things i needed t0 get covered before heading off to my next destination, listening to the coffee shops indie mix and the girl behind the counter entertain locals who hadn’t taken off for the summer break.
i met chad back at the house, where we geared up and headed about 20 minutes off to chewacla state park for some day exploration and an easy hike. he said this would be an easy hike and a nice one with a few waterfalls and rivers running through and this was not only a surprise, but a sight worth viewing. we leisurely walked in the midday heat, chatting on things we saw and chad sharing his knowledge of nature, this park in particular and telling me stories of his time in archeology. intrigued, i quizzed him on things that came to mind and how he knew where we were going or which direction was the correct one.
we spent time stopping along the stream, enjoying the waterfall and dipping our feet into the water to cool off for a few. chad pointed out different vegetation, insects and holes telling me what they were and whatever he knew about it all. we headed back as we both became a little exhausted from the heat and ready to call it a day for the hikes sake.
the discovery of wooded paths that lead to rivers and waterfalls was a treat unexpected from a place that i had preconceived perceptions of. my hiking guide was the perfect one to set my pace and share the path with, educating me on the local wildlife, taking breaks as i wanted to scope things out a bit more and leading me back to the starting point with a bit of alabama that one can hope to explore settling in my memory and a desire to return to explore more that this underrated state has to offer.