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A short bio...



All my life I've been blessed with the joy of being outdoors and near nature. I grew up in Gadsden, AL, a suburban kid with a half-acre partially wooded lot that was my wonderland. We cut small trails to the pink dogwoods, and built hideouts behind the hedges. In Spring the wild daffodils and those dogwoods delighted, as did the purple wisteria climbing the 100 year old oaks. Summer brought sweet honeysuckle blossoms on the far fence. At nine I began writing poetry. A year later, I had a garden of my own. Across town, a ninety foot waterfall called Noccalula stood next to its namesake statue of a Cherokee princess. Through the mist grew a love for waterfalls and the deep wild canyons that tamed them, or were tamed by them.

The same curiosity of the unknown grew into a passion for weather in high school, where my nickname and trail name "Weatherman Sam", was born. College brought the Chief Ladiga Trail and nearby Talladega National Forest, which the trail runs partially through. Those old road beds held the secrets and intrigue of local history, forgotten places. I wet my feet with off trail exploring on the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail there, and later, "chasing" remnants of the old rail line through ruins in Tredegar. With the advent of digital cameras, I fashioned myself as the "biking weatherman", and documented it all in photos while producing my own meteorological newsletter on the side (that era still lives on as the Chief Ladiga Project here). It was there the earliest incarnation of what this website is now was born in the early 2000's, as a place to share those places I found with photos and stories. The Weather Page existed as far back at the late 90's.


I finished a degree in Geography (GIS), then moved to Mississippi to further those meteorological interests. There I found the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. In a part of Mississippi not known for its wild places, I found solace again in those rolling hills and swamps. I volunteered with the Mississippi Master Gardeners, helping create the native plant garden by the visitors center, also engaging with trail clean up days. I still longed for the wild canyons of Black Creek, where the Cherokee Princess leapt. My search for something similar brought me back to Alabama, not to Noccalula, but instead the Sipsey Wilderness. That first trip into the wild lands of Bankhead National Forest was an amazing experience, camped beneath the Eye of the Needle at Ship Rock, listening to the groans of an old hidden windmill across the Sipsey Fork creak to life as torrential rain hammered our tent.


A job would bring me back to Alabama to the Huntsville area. New found freedom gave me that opportunity to search Sipsey further, as did the discovery of Wild South, where I would become a hike leader and volunteer wilderness ranger in a joint effort for the Forest Service. I joined and finished the curriculum for the Alabama Master Gardeners program, spending much of my volunteer hours there at the Demonstration Vegetable Garden at Huntsville Botanical Gardens. While discovering some local gems in North Alabama, I joined Madison Greenways and Trails, Inc. organization, leading hikes and advocating for the protection of the small amount of greenspace remaining in the city of Madison. Late spring 2017 I married the love of my life, Robin. Now, new goals and adventures await...



Consider this website an invitation. It's a journey, but I won't call it a journal. Maybe, "Chronicles of a Mad Hiker", mad in that joyful, rambunctious, discovering way. The purpose of this website remains: be an AD-FREE-no-gimmicks-allowed collection of photography, adventures and poems that I can share freely and easily with family, friends, anyone who wants to come along...