Sunday, March 15, 2009

Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part V - North of Birmingham (excluding Bankhead NF & DeSoto SP/LRC Area)

Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part V - North of Birmingham (excluding Bankhead NF & DeSoto SP/LRC Area)

Noccalula Falls: Beautiful and easy to access, Noccalula Falls is another must see if you find youself along I-59. Less than ten minutes from the highway and requiring no hiking, this falls comes complete with a park containing a police memorial and a covered bridges. See the official website for more information. Photos at:

Nectar Falls: This cascade can be found right off of Alabama Rt. 160. Private Property? Photos and directions at:

Ragsdale Falls: The USGS lists a waterfall outside of Arab. Private property?

Gulf Creek Falls: This waterfall is located on Nature Conservancy property on Chandler Mountain, and is closed to the public unless prior arrangements are made with the Nature Conservancy. Photo at:

Thompson Falls: The USGS lists a waterfall near Arab on private property. A user from Alatrails sent me a link to some photos:

Ghost Creek Falls: Scenic North Alabama (Robert Schuffert) covers this private waterfall that exists in concert with a natural bridge outside of Grant. I was contacted by family of the owners, and the owners sent me photos later on.

The 227: Made famous by BamaWester of the Alabama Waterfalls Flickr group, this small roadside falls can be found off of AL-227 outside of Guntersville. Photos at:

The 68: I think I saw a seasonal waterfall off AL-68 near Guntersville.

High Falls (DeKalb): This massive waterfall also flows through a natural bridge. It is a park, and where an old covered bridge once crossed above the falls there is now a nice pedestrian bridge. Directions and photos at:

Waterfall Upstream of High Falls: I noticed a shallow but wide cascade upstream of High Falls where the highway crosses the river. There was a guy fishing from the edge on a crutch.

Escarpment Falls: A tip from a user of my website told me of a falls call Escarpment Falls on private property in Hartselle, around Harris and Elrond streets. I've lost the e-mail.

Cinderella Falls: A series of short cascades, rather scenic, located on property that is part of The Village at Blount Springs, a private gated community. Their website is, and maybe if you are really nice they might let you in. Consider stopping in at their sales office to ask, if you are in the area. Professional photographer Jeff Rease ( tipped me off to it and has some pictures of it on his website.

Piney Branch Falls: The USGS lists and hiker accounts confirm that there is a waterfall on private property on Piney Branch outside of Columbus City. The owners have a website including photos. See:

Creek House Falls: I have a source somewhere that indicates there is a waterfall by this name. I think it was on Honeycomb Creek, but I honestly don't know.

Mardis Mill Falls: Moderately wide, 15 foot drop on a creek feeding the Mulberry Fork. Very popular with photographers in the Huntsville area. Directions at: Photos at:

Butler Falls: The USGS reports a waterfall on Butler Falls Branch in Franklin County.

Ditto Falls: A user submission confirmed the existence of this USGS listed waterfall outside of Morgan City. The owner sent me pictures, and it is lovely, but on private property.

The Fall Off: The USGS lists a waterfall near Ne Smith off of AL-157. No confirmation, private property?

Griffin Falls: The USGS lists a waterfall southwest of Nicolson Gap (where AL-68 crosses Sand Mountain). Private property.

Swindell Falls: The USGS lists a waterfall futher southwest of Griffin Falls along Sand Mountain. Private property.

Foggy Bottom Falls: There is a a waterfall on the Foggy Bottom Farms property on Estill Fork. See:

Quarter Creek Falls: The USGS lists a waterfall on Quarter Creek near the Haleyville Country Club. Private property.

Seven Falls: The USGS lists a waterfall on Seven Falls Creek between Battleground and Lacon in Morgan County. Private property? Photos at:

Short Creek Falls: The USGS lists a waterfall on Short Creek north of Albertville and the Albertville Golf and Country Club. Private property.

The Falls: I have a record of a waterfall by this name, but cannot find it.

Welcome Falls: Vaguely similar to South Caney Creek Falls in appearance, this Morgan County waterfall is now closed to the public. Photos at:

Waterfall Creek Falls: One of several waterfalls at the Cane Creek Preserve outside of Tuscumbia.

Malone Branch Falls: One of several waterfalls at the Cane Creek Preserve outside of Tuscumbia.

Yellowwood Falls: One of several waterfalls at the Cane Creek Preserve outside of Tuscumbia.

Johnson Falls: One of several waterfalls at the Cane Creek Preserve outside of Tuscumbia.

Karen's Falls: One of several waterfalls at the Cane Creek Preserve outside of Tuscumbia.

Upper Pisgah Falls: One of two waterfalls at Civitan Park in Pisgah. Photos at:

Lower Pisgah Falls: One of two waterfalls at Civitan Park in Pisgah. Photos at:

Monte Sano Waterfalls: I've never been able to sort out the falls at Monte Sano, because they go by different names, and many appear to be seasonal. There are several. See: and

Neversink Falls: Waterfall that falls into the opening of Neversink Cave on the SCCI preserve property. Closed to the public. Photos at:

Rainbow Falls: The larger of the two waterfalls at Dismals Canyon, this falls is the first attraction as you enter the canyon. Photos at:

Lost Falls: The smaller of two waterfalls at at Dismals Canyon, this falls has collected a lot of debris. Photos at:

Longwood Falls: An artificial falls in Gardendale. Photos and directions:

280 Falls: There is a fake waterfall in the corporate park at the intersection of Grandview Parkway and US-280.

Walls of Jericho Falls #1: There is a sliding cascade in Walls of Jericho. See:

Walls of Jericho Falls #2: There is a waterfall nestled into a carved nook in Walls of Jericho. See:

Back: Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part IV - South of Birmingham

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part IV - South of Birmingham

Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part IV - South of Birmingham

Davis Falls: This USGS listed waterfall near Aldrich was once open to the public as a maintained picnic area. The current status is unknown, however local Henry Emfinger (owner Aldrich Coal Mine Museum) has been working on convincing Shelby County to aquire this property and turn it into a county park, due to the falls, the unique plantlife, and the local history. It is believed to be on logging company property, and is closed to visitation. More about the effort at: Photo at:

Upper Davis Falls: Henry Emfinger reported another waterfall above Davis Falls.

Upper Upper Davis Falls: Henry Emfinger reported another waterfall above the waterfall above Davis Falls.

Weaver Falls: There is a USGS listed waterfall on what is believed to be private property not far from Davis Falls, on the opposite side of CR-10.

Falling Rock Falls: This gorgeous waterfall is located in the Cahaba WMA. Certainly the highest known falls in Shelby County. Photos and directions at:

Falls on Corn Creek: Photographic evidence indicates there is a waterfall on Corn Creek near Wetumpka. Photos at:

Wetumpka Falls: Historical evidence indicates there may have been a falls at 32.54639, -86.19917 near Wetumpka. Demolished?

Satan's Garden/Great Falls: There is a waterfall at around 32.508, -85.184, in Little Ulchee. Photographic evidence at:

Hidden Falls: This well visited waterfall near Haleburg is on preserved property, but at last check with the organization it is closed to the public due to access issues. Photos at:

River Falls: This waterfall is located outside of River Falls and Andalusia, near or on the Conecuh River. Photos at:

Chewlacca Falls: This is an artificial falls at the dam on the Chewlacca State Park property. Photos at:

Peavine Falls: The popular waterfall at Oak Mountain State Park. Photo and direction at:

Cedar Creek Falls: The USGS reports a waterfall at 31.056, -88.074 outside of Movico. I can find no evidence.

High Shoals Falls: The USGS reports a waterfall at 33.237, -85.332 near Taylors Crossroads. Aerial photos confirm, but it is clearly on private property.

Rock Falls: The USGS reports a falls at 31.23417, -85.10083, but since this location is under water, I'm assuming it is historical.

University Falls: There was a falls in Tuscaloosa County at 33.219, -87.551.

Village Falls: USGS reports a falls at 33.556, -86.970, but I can find no evidence.

Mill Falls: According to the Shelby County Reporter, there is a waterfall on Savage Creek in the Cahaba WMA.

Goggins Falls: According to the Shelby County Report, there is a waterfall on Jessee Creek in the Cahaba WMA.

Catoma Creek Falls: There is a waterfall outside of Montgomery on Catoma Creek.

Gullet's Bluff Waterfall #1: The local Army Corps of Engineers office sent me photos of a waterfall at Gullets Bluff off of Lake Claiborne.

Gullet's Bluff Waterfall #2: The local Army Corps of Egineers office sent ment photos of a second waterfall at Gullets Bluff off of Lake Claiborne.

Silver Creek Falls: There is a waterfall on private property on Silver Creek near Lake Claiborne. It is closed to the public due to garbage issues.

Moon Falls: There is a waterfall near Fairfax, Alabama on the Moon property. Private.

Harmon Falls: There are falls near Five Points on Harmon's Trucking Property. Private.

Next: Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part V - North of Birmingham
Back: Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part III - DeSoto State Park and Little River Canyon

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part III - DeSoto State Park and Little River Canyon

Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part III - DeSoto State Park and Little River Canyon

DeSoto State Park

DeSoto Falls: Dramatic and swift at 104ft, DeSoto falls is located right off of Interstate 59, and is worth a stop anytime you are travelling through Alabama and have a few extra minutes. It is no more than a 1000ft walk from the parking lot. The area comes complete with a lake, a historically significant dam (early hydroelectric use), and the falls itself. Just a few miles upstream of Little River Falls and Canyon. Google Map Link: map. Photos at: and See my website for directions.

Azalea Cascades: Possibly the most anti-climactic waterfall in Alabama. It is at the end of the boardwalk in DeSoto State Park. Great wildflower destination. See my website for directions. Photo at:

Laurel Falls: A small double falls surrounded by lush vegation and green moss. It is located upstream from Azalea cascades. See my website for directions. Photos at:

Lost Falls: A 6-10ft waterfall upstream from Laurel Falls. The rock color around and upstream from the falls is interesting. See my website for directions. Photos at:

Indian Falls: A nice, tall, 20-25ft waterfall downstream from Azalea Cascades. Interesting colors are all around the falls. Unfortunately, there is a sewage treatment plant for the park upstream. Ick. See my website for directions. Photos at:

Lodge Falls: The name is fairly obvious on this one, as it is located behind the lodge at DeSoto State Park. The flow isn't usually spectacular, but the pits in the rock under the overhang are interesting. See my website for directions. Photos at:

Little River Canyon

Little River Falls: At the head of Little River Canyon, this falls has pretty fantastic flow on a good day. The canyon is widely considered the deepest east of the Mississippi, and combined with the falls is a must see when in Alabama. A free area with good parking, it can be crowded in the summer or on weekends, as the area above and below the falls is a popular swimming hole, contrary to common sense. The porta-potties are of the composting type, and stink. It is located directly downstream from the AL-35 bridge. Map. Photos:

Grace's High Falls: Probably the highest falls in Alabama at 133ft, Grace's High Falls plumments into Little River Canyon after a heavy rain. It is a seasonal falls, but is worth seeing when it is flowing. Driving south from Little River Falls along the Little River Canyon Parkway (just prior to the bridge accross Little River when coming from Fort Payne) the falls overlook is located about 7 miles down the canyon rim road from Little River Falls. Photos at:

Johnnies Creek Falls: Johnnies Creek Falls is located on private property where AL-275 crosses Johnnies Creek. Photos:

Gregg's Two Falls: There is a trace that runs to this double drop falls, but it is hard to follow even in the fall. The character of this gorgeous falls changes heavily with the water levels, running the gamut from a gentle falls that disappears into the gravel beheath it, to a ranging torrent. It is located near where Wolf Creek, AL 176, and CR 255 meet on the fringes of Little River Canyon. Photo at:

In the area...

Yellow Creek Falls: This fairly impressive waterfall is on private property and is only legally visible from across Lake Weiss, or via boat. Photo at:

Little Falls: I know next to nothing about this USGS listed waterfall, beyond that it is at the end of the DeSoto Scout Trail near Camp Corner Lake on Seymour Creek. Private property?

Back to Alabama Waterfall Report - Part II - Talladega National Forest and Environs

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part II - Talladega National Forest and Environs

Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part II -Talladega National Forest and Environs

Devil's Den Falls: This series of waterfalls, consisting of a total of about 100' elevation drop, is located on Cheaha Creek upstream from Chinnabee Lake on Cheaha Creek, and is accessed via the popular Chinnabee Silent Trail. It is a popular destination, and heavy coverage is not required. Although often mislabeled as being in Cheaha State Park, it is actually in Talladega National Forest. Directions at: Photos at:

Cheaha Falls: This waterfall is located on Cheaha Creek along the popular Chinnabee Silent Trail. It is upstream of Devil's Den Falls. It is somewhere in the vacinity of 30' tall. Directions at: Photos at:

High Falls (Talladega): A lovely little series of falls located in Talladega National Forest. The top segment consists of a 10-15ft straight drop topped by a small cascade. The middle segment is a 10-15ft cascade, and the bottom is a long, narrow cascading stream. The top segment is accessed via a narrow rickity metal staircase. Get directions from this Google map, for follow these: From Talladega, proceed south on Alabama Rt. 77 towards Ashland. After passing the shooting range and the Porter's Gap trailhead, you will come to a an intersection with a sign for the falls, but you will probably speed right past it, as the speed limit is 55 and it is hard to see. The road name might be Horns Lake, but if you miss the sign, you will meet a few dozen miles of nothing, so you'll know you missed it. A few miles down the marked road or AL-77 you will encounter Clairmont Springs Road, which is also labelled for the falls. Follow the road for a long while, passed over railroad tracks and a an intersection to nowhere, and when you have just passed Blue Ridge Road, pay attention for a dirt road to your left. The sign for the trailhead is on the left side of the road, unfortunately it is parallel to the road and difficult to see. If you pass it, you'll again be nowhere, so you'll know. Drive down the small dirt road (frequently with wet potholes) until you reach a wide parking area. If you stand with your back to the road you just drove down, the trail to the falls will be at your 2 O'clock, and you will know you are in the right stop if after a few hundred feet you encounter an informational Kiosk with names on it. Follow the stream uphill, and you'll find the falls. (Copied from my website, Photos at:

Salt Creek Falls: Salt Creek Falls is probably the best cascade type waterfall in Alabama, and for that, it gets to be one of the most dangerous. Located in Talladega National Forest, it is a popular swimming area for local youths despite its deadly reputation. The cliffs on either side of the falls are very high. The falls themselves are at an angle that makes sliding down them enticing, but deadly. This falls is not for those who are afraid of high places, or who are very out of shape should it be a hot day. The trail is short, but leaving the falls is very uphill, almost as bad as the ascent out of the ampitheatre of Upper Caney Creek Falls, almost. Speaking of the ampitheatre, Salt Creek Falls has managed to create one heck of one. This is a very dangerous area, fast moving water and high rocks, be very careful.Directions (From Talladega) via Google Maps** Note, the place you want to park is by the power lines, NOT the closed Forest Service road a few hundred feet up the hill. That gated road is long and leads to a really unpleasantly steep series of trails. You are looking for a gravel parking area, unmarked, with a jeep stopping mound that has been pierced by a trail. Take that trail over the hill, and you'll be set. Photo at:

"Shinbone Falls": This waterfall was "discovered" by Jay Hudson and myself last year. It is in the vacinity of Old Oxford Road, and is believed to be on Talladega National Forest property, but do your homework before visiting. Acting on a hunch based on the name of the creek, we put together an expedition and visited the area. After dealing with the tangled mess of old logging roads, we found a 20-30ft cascading waterfall, which is absolutely gorgeous. The name is derived from the local valley. Plant life in the area included Galax and Trailing Arbutus. Photos and GPS track at, more photos at:, and

"Hopeful Falls" (aka "Camp Mac Falls"): This waterfall was shown to me by Jay Hudson. The waterfall is located on a feeder to upper Camp Mac lake. It can be accessed by parking at the 9-ton bridge on Bass Lane, and hiking the well-worn but unmarked trail up the stream to the waterfall. Three stream crossings are required. The waterfall is located at: 33.48276666666667, -85.90585 I believe the waterfall is located on National Forest Service property, but I cannot be absolutely sure, as it is right near the boundary. According to my reading of the map, and the property boundary marker near the bridge, it is federal property, but again, always exercise your own judgement unless it is absolutely certain. I am calling it Hopeful Falls because I don't know the local name for the falls, and there does not appear to be an official name for the waterfall. Hopeful is the closest "town" on the map.It is 25-35ft tall. There are some small rapids and micro-cascades below the falls. Photos at: and

"Nimblewill's Twin Falls" (aka "Little Hillabee Falls"): This waterfall is located off the Pinhoti. Directions and a photo at:

Rendalia Water Falls: According to the USGS there is a waterfall near the Talladega National Forest property boundary at 33.301389 N, 86.171389 W, on the Winterboro quad. I can find no evidence it actually exists. I've asked around, I've looking from all legal viewpoints, I've looked at aerial photos, and all I see is fields and woods. No waterfall.

Great Falls: The USGS also lists a waterfall at 33.250556 N, 86.018333 W. I cannot confirm the existance of this waterfall, which is apparently "mis-coordinated" and on private property.

Back: Alabama Waterfalls Report - Part I - The Undiscovered County

* Note: Unofficial names in quotes.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

DeLorme Topo USA 7.0 Review Part II


Screenshots: Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Netlink is the name of DeLorme's map data delivery system. It is used to get map data from DeLorme. DeLorme currently offers an annual map data subscription that is a much better deal than the former pay-per-download system which was fairly expensive. Netlink is on half of what makes Topo USA 7.0 such a powerful tool for the bushwhacker. Netlink's operation is fairly simple. After clicking on the Netlink Tab, a connecting message will display during a short delay, and then you will be connected to the system. There is a central icon system, which I ignore. On the far left there are four buttons, Home, Map Library, Downloads,and Support. Concern yourself with Map Library and Support.

Clicking the Map Library button brings you to DeLorme's Map Library. Simple enough, right? You select the type of map data you would like to download via a drop-down menu. The options are currently USGS 24k topo quads, color and black and white DOQQ aerial images, Sat-10 low-res color aerial images, USGS Hi-Res 133 City aerial images, and NOAA nautical charts. At zoom level 11 or greater you can press the select button, and then select map squares to add to an order. Your selection will be pink. There are limits to how large your selections can be. The software will alert you when you've made to large a selection. This is somewhat tedious. Once you've made a selection, you add it to an order list via the "add to list" button. You will be asked to name your selection. Pick a unique name, as they cannot repeat. Number multiple sections so they don't repeat but have similar names. Then click view list to checkout. There is a checkout button, which when pressed brings up an "are you sure" type dialog. You say yes, then your order is submitted, and you get a confirmation. You order will be processed, and generally within a few minutes your order will be ready to download. Depending on server conditions and the type of data downloaded, there are sometimes delays. This whole process is fairly simple, and easy to carry out. My only complaint is that some of the extra checks on accidental ordering aren't really needed with the annual subscription, since you aren't spending money on each order.

To download your map data, you click on the downloads button we discussed earlier. You map data is under the tab "Your Data", and the number of ready downloads is shown on the tab. You click the arrow device, and the tab expands, and lists your pending downloads. If they are not grayed out, you can select them and download them.

Downloading maps is really easy, but selecting them and waiting for the downloads can be time-consuming. I'd like to see a little quicker method of selecting large areas, the ability to do other things while data is downloaded, and automatic downloads.

Once your maps have downloaded they become accessible in Topo USA 7.0. This makes Topo a powerful planning tool, because you have all the different map types right there, no juggling around. More on this later.

Handheld Export

The Handheld Export Tab allows you to export map data to your PN-series handheld GPS.
You select an area where you own specific map data, and it turns pink. This process is basically identical to what you do to select data for download, and there are size limits here, too. Once you have an area selected, the options tab lets you select what type of data you want, and at what zoom levels you want it to be visible on your PN-series device. You then name your selection (and again, unique names please), and click save. The file will be converted, or "cut", for use on your PN-series handheld.

The Real Benefits to Bushwhackers and Some Talk of Criticism

You occasionally hear people complain about the complexity of DeLorme's Topo USA software. While the software is nowhere near as complicated as say Photoshop, it is more complicated that a lot of software people use everyday. I would rate it as about as complicated as most word processing software, maybe a little less complicated. Pretty much anyone can use it, but you need to be willing to invest at least a half-hour to learning how it works, or you will be frustrated. Part of this frustration comes from the fact that the interface is different from what people are used to. The general rule with software is that as it becomes more powerful it becomes more complex and less intuitive to use. Topo USA is no exception, but it really isn't that hard to use. It is slightly harder to use than most other mapping software, but it does a little more, so it balances out.

Topo USA 7.0, if used properly, can be a boon to the bushwhack or photo-hiker like me.
First of all, the ability to download, manage, and view all sorts of different map data is basically unparalleled. If you want vecter topo data, you've got it. If you want USGS 24k topos for their greater level of terrain detail and for the notes and objects drawn on them that often make them so useful, if you download them, there they are. If you've downloaded them, you can switch to black and white aerial images to see land usage, or color images to see foliage type. If you are planning a boat trip, you've got nautical charts. Second, you can load those maps easily onto your handheld GPS!

We bushwhackers love our paper topos, so here's the kicker... You can get the lay of the land through all these data types combined with 2-D and 3-D views. You can study the area in greater detail than paper topo maps, Google Earth, or other online mapping systems, because you have so many options for data. You can mark all over your map without destroying it, unlike a paper topo. Unlike a paper topo, you have the quad next door seemlessly attached if you've downloaded it. Unlike a paper topo, you've got the ability to get fairly precise elevation data, without math in your head, for a specific spot, not just back calculating from a marked line. Listen, they'll never pry my paper maps from me, but Topo comes the closest to replacing them for me. Oh, and did I mention you can print maps yourself? Maps that you've drawn things on? Need a paper map for a hike, got one. Need a paper map to share with a friend, got one. Most mapping software does some gyration of this, but DeLorme's Topo USA 7.0 does it all in one package with multiple map types.

Highly recommended.

Back to DeLorme Topo USA 7.0 Review Part I

DeLorme Topo USA 7.0 Review Part I


Screenshots: Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

DeLorme's Topo USA software has been around for a while. It predates the PN-series handheld GPS units, and is somewhat similar to Garmin's Mapsource, Google Earth, and other mapping software. The current version, DeLorme Topo USA 7.0, was released in 2007. I am certain that it was reviewed at that time, however I feel a review from the bushwhacker's perspective post PN-40 is a good idea, so here we are. Some parts of the review drifted more into a how-to, but I think that describing the process shows how simple most tasks really are.

The software is available separately, but it comes included with the DeLorme PN-series handheld GPS units. Separately it can be purchased as either an East or West regional version, or as a national version. The national version is included with the PN-40 handheld GPS unit.
This review will focus solely on the national version, as it is the version included with the PN-40. The national version comes on a single DVD. The DVD contains the 100k vector topographical maps, which are derived from USGS mapping data, and DeLorme's extensive POI database.

Basic Use

Installation is quick and simple.

The interface is a little different from what you are used to, as it lacks the traditional Windows/Mac menu system. Instead, there is a row of icons for various functions at the top where the menu would be, a series of directional and zoom controls on the right, and various function tabs on the bottom of the screen. Another oddity is that by default the software has a split map screen. This allows you to do thinks like look at the map at two different zoom levels, or to view vector topo data on one side, and aerial photography on the other side. I personally find it a little distracting, and stick to a single map pane, but others love this functionality.
Directional movement is accomplished either via the directional arrows on the top left corner, by using the directional arrows on your keyboard, or by moving the mouse cursor near the edge of the map pane, and clicking and dragging when the white hand appears. The map will center on a location that you click.

Zooming is accomplished either by clicking the pane's zoom buttons, by using the zoom tabs directly above the directional arrows, or by clicking on the map and moving the mouse diagonally to manipulated the zoom device that appears.
You can rotate the map using a control in the center of the directional arrow pad on the upper left.

You select the type of map data via a drop-down box in the upper right corner. Nearby controls also allow you to select a 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional view, and whether you want the 100k vecter topographical data overlaid on your raster map data (called a hybrid map by DeLorme).

All of this is covered in greater detail in the included help system.

The Tabs

The Map Files Tab allows you to manage the maps and data you own, and chose which ones you make availible for display. It is very straightfoward.

The Find Tab allows you to find a location. Easy enough, right?

The Print Tab facilitates the printing of maps. Easy, quick, and darned useful. One of my favorite features.

The Draw Tab is of particular usefulness for the bushwhacker. Using this tab you can draw all sorts of things onto your map, and then either print it, or upload it onto your PN-40. You can add a routable road, a waypoint, some sort of polygon (useful for property boundaries), a line, or a symbol. You'd expect most of this from mapping software, and none of it is really revolutionary. It is all simple to use.

The GPS Tab allows you to get GPS data from a GPS unit. Via the small exchange box on the left you can download tracks you create on your handheld GPS unit. Pretty standard stuff.
The Route Tab allows you to create a route. Some trails are routable via this tab, but most trails aren't even on the map, so your mileage may vary, literally.

The Profile Tab shows elevation profile for a recorded track or object. Very useful for planning a bushwhack, because you can draw a line or object via the Draw Tab and then view the elevation profile for the line you created, so you know what you are facing. You can also get the elevation profile for any road, rail, trail, or object that is visible on the vector topo data. Can also be used for reviewing your trip's elevation profile.

The 3-D Tab controls the 3-dimensional view, if enabled. The 3-dimensional view is useful in planning a trip, because it helps you visualize the terrain. Since the data it uses is only 100k, it isn't all that accurate, but it is still useful if the elevation changes are signficant.
The Info Tab gives you information about a selection. Pretty self-explanatory.

The Netlink and Handheld Export Tabs are discussed in greater detail next.

Next: DeLorme Topo USA 7.0 Review Part II

Josh's Rules for Waterfalls

Josh's Rules for Waterfalls

1) Use Common Sense.
2) Remember that rocks are hard, and water is strong. Waterfalls are made of water, and rock. They are made my water out of rock. You are soft, and carried easily by water. You squish on rock.
3) Never cross upstream of a waterfall. If you have no choice, cross as far upstream as possible, and never cross a stream that is deep or fast. Getting washed over the falls, or slipping over the edge due to wet rocks, could be fatal.
4) Never stand, play, photograph, or otherwise be around the top of a waterfall. At least once a year I hear about somebody dying from a waterfall-related fall, and many people are seriously hurt. This is most important around tall waterfalls, but I've landed in a stickerbush as punishment for breaking this rule at a small waterfall, so it should always be followed. ;)
5) Never swim in or around the plunge pool of a waterfall. Never jump or dive off of or around a waterfall. Rocks are hard. Don't think that because you are standing under the falls, you are safe. Ever notice how rocks are distributed by streamflow? Well, want one distributed onto your head?
6) Never consume alcohol around a waterfall. You tend to break the other rules.
7) Never trespass.
8) Follow Leave No Trace guidelines. Never litter, deface, vandalize, grafitti, or otherwise destroy the waterfall area for everyone else.
9) Never use the waterfall as a toilet. Especially upstream. Ick.
10) Never throw/push anything over the falls. Rocks are hard.
11) Don't camp around the waterfall. Never make a fire ring there.
12) Watch your footing. Waterfalls are slippery. Rocks are hard.
13) Watch your children. Rocks are hard, you are soft, your children very much so.
14) No bare feet. Glass is everywhere.
15) Take pictures.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Alabama Waterfall Report - Part I - The Undiscovered Country


If you've followed my waterfall website ( for the past few years, you have probably noticed I haven't posted an update in a really, really long time. Let's face it, whenever you turn fun into a project, you destroy the fun. I got tired of the website, because getting material for it was ruining the fun of waterfall chasing. I worked on a redesign, and got all the design work done, but quit before I got any of the content put up. Since I originally put up the current website, I've amassed a huge amout of information about Alabama's waterfalls. Unfortunately, a lot of that is in my head, so I need to get it out before I lose it. Keep in mind that also means some of it is probably inaccurate. Over the next few posts, I'll be providing what I know about Alabama's waterfalls. Today's post will cover the areas where I do not have good information. As in, the areas where I think a waterfall hunter could have some fun. I'm not promosing there is a waterfall at any of these locations, nor am I suggesting that if there is one, it is on public property. I've made educated guesses on the probability in some cases, but keep in mind I'm just relying on instict, and I may be WAYYY off, or totally wrong. Research carefully to determine how difficult a search would be, who owns the property, and if visitation is allowed. You are responsible for your own safety and for ensuring that you are not trespassing.

A note on my terminology... I consider a waterfall to be any cascade, drop, or fall of water more than a few feet tall to be a waterfall. This is highly subjective. I consider a waterfall which is not published in on any internet source, or in any book, to be "undiscovered" for my purposes. The truth is, locals have been visiting these falls for generations, so chances are good you won't actually be discovering anything new. ;)

I will not be covering Bankhead National Forest, Sipsey Wilderness in this post. I've already discussed areas which I feel merit a good search on here.

This is a work in progress.

Talladega National Forest (copied from one of my Alatrails posts)

Talladega National Forest has surprised me a few times, with Shinbone Falls and Hopeful Falls, and I'm sure it will bring more surprises.

The source of Salt Creek. (~ 33.502934,-85.798888) The stream has good flow most of the year, and the elevation drop is pretty good. However, not knowing the exact topography/geology, I wouldn't give this more than a 25% chance of harboring a waterfall more than 3'.

These creeks near Lanie Gap in the very far northern part of the forest (33.942933,-85.490327; 33.945638,-85.503674; 33.950231, -85.496593; 33.955215,-85.516334) all look suspicious. However, not knowing the detailed topography and the geology of the area, I wouldn't give more than a 25% chance that one waterfall is in this area of the forest.

These three creeks on Hurricane Mountain (33.869453,-85.667524; 33.863467, -85.675807; 33.863467, -85.675807) which are similar to some areas in the forest with waterfalls. I'd say 25% chance.

The two creeks on either side of this rise by Choccolocco Mtn. (33.816950, -85.714431). 10% chance?

I'm whinging it on these, as usual. I have a pretty good success rate, but I have trouble reading Talladega National Forest. For instance, I never would have guessed that there was a waterfall where Hopefull Falls is, near Camp Mac Lake. I was shocked by that one until I saw the location. The topos don't seem as useful for TNF for some reason. I think it is because there are large changes in altitude without a change in geology. I'd do serious research before considering any of these locations. I don't even know the property ownership, they may not be accessible.

The Fertile Triangle/Former Carter Properties (Walls of Jericho)

There is an area running roughly from Guntersville in the south, to New Market in the north-west, to Bridgeport in the north-east (depicted here), that remains heavily forested. There are numerous waterfalls on the fringes of this area, and I strongly suspect that there are a decent number still hiding here. It doesn't hurt that this is Cumberland Plateau associated geology, which is always good for waterfalls in Alabama and Tennesee. A good chunk of this land has been preserved as part of the Walls of Jericho preserve (12,510 acres in Alabama, 8,943 acres in Tennesee), but little information exists online to confirm the outline of the preserve, and how much of this land is open to the public. As the lands were closed for so many years, information is somewhat sketchy about the less visited areas, so waterfalls are likely to remain "undiscovered" for the waterfall chaser. Some will undoubtedly be found on public property, but some are also most certainly on private property, so careful research will be required.

Shelby County Waterfall Zone

There is an area with several waterfalls in close association to each other near and in the Cahaba WMA. This is not to be confused with the Cahaba River NWA, home of the Cahaba Lilies. There is a cluster of waterfalls that includes Davis Falls, several falls upstream from Davis Falls, Weaver Falls, all outside the WMA on private propety, plus Falling Rock Falls, Mills Falls on Savage Creek and Goggins Falls on Jessee Creek, in the WMA itself. And you thought Peavine was the only waterfall in Shelby County! Since those waterfalls in the WMA (besides Falling Rock Falls) came as a total surprise to me, I investigated further, and I strongly suspect that there may be at least one or two waterfalls in the area. I haven't done careful research on the geology of the area, so looking at the topographical maps, I only feel confortable saying that the likely search area should be in a chunk running from Aldrich in the east, down diagonally to the confluence of the Little Cahaba and Cahaba Rivers, west to West Blocton, north to Sand Mountain just south of Tannehill State Park, back east to Marlene, and back south to Aldrich. I know this is a huge area, but without better data, that is the best I can do. The area is interesting geologically, with coal and oil deposits. The Aldrich Coal Mine Museum is in the area, the proprietor of which is a big expert on Davis Falls.

Other Areas of Interest in North Alabama

Beyond what I've already mentioned above, there are several areas that I consider fertile terrain for new waterfall "discoveries" in North Alabama.

Having visiting Cane Creek Preserve (PDF flier), which has several waterfalls, I am interested in the area surrounding that Colbert County Preserve. The area of interest forms a rectangle from Newburg north to Tuscumbia, west to the Mississippi border. Unfortunately, I don't know of any areas in this rectangle that the public can visit other than Cane Creek Preserve. I'd say there is a 75% probability that there is a waterfall in this area that I don't know about. Hey, Big Bob Gibson's BBQ is close enough to make it worth the trip if you can get permission, or find some public property in the area. ;)

Looking at topographical data, a suspect there are one or two waterfalls in the Good Springs-Salem-Elkmont area near the Elk River. Some feature names, along with the topography, suggest it is possible. I'd say there is a 50% chance for finding a waterfall in this region. I'm pretty sure this is all private property, so it will probably remain unknown.

I'd say there is about 10% chance of finding a waterfall here in this ridge.

South Alabama

South Alabama is the real undiscovered country. Other than the two waterfalls at Gullett's Bluff, and Hidden Falls, the waterfalls south of Shelby County are very underpublicized, or totally unpublished. I hear rumors of more than half a dozen other waterfalls in the Lake Claiborne area, and property ownership permitting, it might be a good idea to search within about 25mi of the lake. Most of the property here is very private, some Scotch Oil land, but a lot is just residential. If you can find public property (Army Corps of Engineers owns some land there, consider contacting them, the local office is very friendly), it certainly might be productive. Plus, I'm told there are some famous quilt-makers in the area, the Gees Bend Quilters.

There is a USGS record near Mobile, but I've never seen proof of any waterfall there.

There are known waterfalls in the Selma area and in the Mongomery area. I know little about this area.

General Advice

My biggest recommendation for the waterfall chaser is to devote some time to just driving around and looking at the terrain. Talk to people in local stores, at local museums, and other venues, and you'll find things no map could ever show you. Also, look at the names on topo maps. Anywhere the word falls is used in a place name, like falls hollow, chances are good there is a waterfall. The most important things are to be safe in what you do, don't trespass, and have fun!

Next: Alabama Waterfall Report - Part II - Talladega National Forest and Environs

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Alabama Waterfalls Temporary Checklist

Most people who know me know that I did a stupid amount of research tracking down waterfalls in Alabama. At some point, I put out a list, and now I've been asked to make that list into checklist.

I'm putting up a crude temporary checklist up on my website at:

The list contains all the waterfalls I am currently aware of (minus anything I forgot), but please keep in mind that I don't expect to see any checks on waterfalls that are on private property. I haven't checked which are and which are not carefully, so it is your responsibility to do so. The list was compiled from my own personal discoveries, from topographical maps, from word-of-mouth, from thoughtful submissions from my website (, and from thoughtful submissions from users on the forums.

Do with it as you will, so long as the use is non-commercial.

I'm still debating putting out a report on the waterfalls of Alabama, which would have all the information I have on each falls contained in it. If I were to do such a report, it would have GPS coordinates where available, and more information regarding what the individual waterfall looks like, how to hike to it, etc... Even if that doesn't happen, I hope to at least put out a neater checklist.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

DeLorme PN-40 - Conclusions

I apologize if this review rambles, and I'll be editing it where I feel necessary. However, I hope that I have conveyed the ultimate message I was trying to convey, which is that for the bushwhacker like me, I don't think there is a better handheld GPS unit on the market today. The accuracy is more than sufficient, the operation is simple and logical, the design is almost perfect for our needs, and the map support and TOPO7 software appear almost designed with the bushwhacker in mind. I highly recommend it.

Detailed specifications and more information about the DeLorme PN-40 are availible at:

But the specs that you absolutely need to know are:
Chipset: STM Cartesio 32-Channel, WAAS enabled.
Antenna: Internal, Patch-Type.
Storage: 1GB internal (8gb optional, 500mb taken up by basemap), up to 32GB SDHC card.
Screen: 2.2" color TFT, 220 x 176 pixels.
Battery: 2 x AA (Alkaline, NiMH, Lithium) or option Li-Ion rechargable pack. Battery life numbers at:
Compass/Altimeter: Internal 3-axis electronic compass and barometric altimeter.

Back: DeLorme PN-40 Review - TOPO7


* I am in no way affiliated with DeLorme, Garmin, Magellan or any other GPS manufacturer.

DeLorme PN-40 Review - TOPO7

You may have read that TOPO7 has a steep learning curve. While this is somewhat true, it is important to keep two things in mind: first, that TOPO7 is not required to load vector map data onto the PN-40, as the included pre-cut map DVD's can be loaded onto the PN-40 with nothing more than the included USB cable and the DVD; second, TOPO7 is extremely powerful, and all powerful software tends to be more complicated than less powerful software.

TOPO7 is certainly not as complicated as say, Photoshop or Matlab, but it is no MS-Paint or Calculator, for that matter. There is a learning curve, and it is steeper than many less computer-savy users would probably prefer. But... If you can figure out Word, you can figure out TOPO7.

While some people complain about the complexity of the TOPO7 software. I don't, and here is why... I often spend 4 to 5 times as much time planning a trip as I do actually taking the trip, and TOPO7 is the ideal method to research an area. Right from the TOPO7 DVD you have access to 100k vector topo coverage the entire United States. You also have access to all of the map files you have downloaded from Netlink, like USGS topo quads and aerial photography. Having all of this information in one place, plus the powerful tools that TOPO7 has, makes TOPO7 ideal for trip planning.

TOPO7 is integrated with DeLorme's map download system, Netlink. Via the Netlink tab in TOPO7, you can download, cut the maps for the PN-40 (select areas and convert them for use on the PN-40), and transfer them to the PN-40. Copying the files directly to the SDHC card via a card reader greatly speeds up the copying process, and I highly recommend transferring maps this way. The Netlink software is pretty easy to figure out, and I'll spare you the details of exactly how it works. The strengths and weaknesses of Netlink have been heavily discussed on the DeLorme Forums, and I won't bore you with them.

For the bushwhacker, I think the TOPO7 package is the icing that makes the PN-40 totally worth it.

I've also done a review of DeLorme's Topo 7. Click here to read it.

Next: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Conclusions
Back: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Maps

PN-40 Review - Maps

If you are anything like me, you still feel the need to carry a paper topo map, when you can get one, for all bushwhacks. I've had two previous GPS units, and neither of them got used for actual navigation, just for marking locations. A bushwhacker needs to see the big picture to spot plan a new route, and that just isn't possible on most GPS units. Furthermore, many older GPS units lacked topo maps, and most newer ones have vector graphic topo maps are are less detailed than the USGS topo quads most bushwhacks know and love. While I don't think the PN-40 should replace paper maps completly, the map support on the PN-40 is the first GPS that I'm comfortable navigating with without the map in my hand. Sure, It'll be in my backpack, but...
DeLorme is first and foremost a mapping company, and it shows on the PN-40. The PN-40 can display raster images (photos, not lines) in addition to vector maps, which is a huge improvement in the handheld GPS world. DeLorme offers USGS 24k topo quads, sat 10 low-res color aerials, b&w as well as color 3DTQ aerials, high-resolution city aerials, and NOAA navigation charts for the PN-40. They sell them through an internet based extension to the TOPO7 software called Netlink, and offer a VERY affordable $29.95 yearly subscription plan to download whatever you want. The USGS topo quads are the primary reason I bought the PN-40, because I can only carry so many paper maps, but my PN-40 can carry a whole state on an SDHC card. The ability to have actual images of the actual USGS topo quads on the PN-40 is what, in my mind, makes the PN-40 the ideal bushwhacker GPS. The maps are high quality scans, and the integration of the different types of map data at differing zoom levels works very well. The aerial images are nice, but since most bushwacking areas have heavy foliage, so they just aren't as useful as the USGS topo quads.

Oh, and by the way... DeLorme includes 100k vector topo maps in the box with the PN-40! This is a big improvement over Garmin's system where you have to buy these maps separately, or pay extra for a unit preloaded with less detailed maps than what their software provides. The PN-40 comes with these vector maps in two formats: first, the TOPO7 DVD has the uncut source files, which provide vector maps for TOPO7, and can be cut for the PN-40; second, it comes with three pre-cut map DVDs that require nothing more than the USB cable, a computer, and the DVD. I don't use the vector topos much since I love USGS topos, but hey, they're included.

PN-40 Review - Signal

Your impression of the PN-40's accuracy and speed of signal aquisition will depend heavily on what GPS units you have used previously. If you are a few generations back, the PN-40 will probably impress you greatly. If you've owned a Garmin 60CSx or newer, then it will be about on par, maybe a little better, maybe a little worse, than what you are used to. My last GPS was a Magellan Meridian Gold, so the PN-40 represents a MAJOR improvement. As a note, all of my observations are based on the current DeLorme firmware, version 2.5 beta 3. Prior to that version there were some WAAS issues and some minor accuracy issues that made me hold off on this review, but the situation has improved dramatically.

Signal aquisition is pretty darned fast on the PN-40. Double digit seconds range for a cold start, and single digits if you've used the unit a few minutes previously. You are up and navigating with a 3-D lock fast enough that I usually don't have my shoes re-tied before it finished. If you turn the unit off when not navigating to conserve power, like I do, this fast signal aquisition is key.
Accuracy is frequently in the single digit feet range, and almost always in the low teens or better. I've tested the unit on flat terrain, on gently and steeply sloping terrain, and on terrain where large portions of the horizon are obscured by rocks or a whole mountain, and I'm more than satisfied with the accuracy of the unit, and its ability to hold a signal lock sufficient for navigation.
The WAAS implementation was a little squirrely prior to the beta firmware. DeLorme has indicated that the problem was with the Cartesio chipset's firmware from STM. Prior to the firmware, getting a WAAS lock with the PN-40 was downright difficult, and impossible for some users. I can now get a WAAS lock fairly quickly, and maintain WAAS correction data for most of a hike unless the terrain prevents a view to the south west. However, I don't really feel that WAAS is an essential feature for the bushwhacker anyway, since it only provides a small increase in accuracy (sometimes none), and most bushwhackers are trying to find objects that are somewhat easier to find than the film canister a geocacher might be seeking. ;)
As part of the beta firmware release, DeLorme added a new feature to the PN-40 called "Predictive Ephemeris" that provided a dramatic increase in signal aquisition speed. I won't go into the details, but basically the unit makes an educated guess as to the individual satellites locations, sacrificing accuracy for speed. Previously, the PN-40 had to wait for emphemeris data to download for each satellite it was tracking for that satellite was used to calclulation position. Now, while the PN-40 downloads new emphemeris data, it estimates what the data will be, and runs with the estimate until the new data arrives. Again, if you turn your unit off a lot while hiking, this is good for you.

Overall, I am very pleased with the accuracy of the DeLorme PN-40, and consider it more than capable of being used on a bushwhacking trip. I have not been able to test the unit under decidious foliage as it is winter, so keep that in mind, and I'll update when I can.

Next: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Maps
Back: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Field Operations

PN-40 Review - Field Operation

The DeLorme PN-40 operates pretty much like any other handheld GPS unit you've ever used. It has a system of pages, including one for satellite status, a map page, and various navigation and other pages. I've included images to show all the different pages, and I won't discuss each in depth because that information is more than availible elsewhere, and I'm not trying to write a manual. The device is easy to figure out if you've ever used a handheld GPS, and should be pretty easy even if you haven't. Basic navigation is easy, and all basic functions are well explained in the manual, and most are downright intuitive. In the field, the simplicity of design, like any handheld GPS, means that the operation is basically transparent, requiring little struggle. That transparency means I don't have much to say. ;) The addition of the second processor to handle screen redraws has made the PN-40 much more responsive than the PN-20, but hikers don't usually move fast enough for such things to matter, anyhow.

Next: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Signal
Back: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Design

DeLorme PN-40 Review - Design

The DeLorme PN-40 has the same physical dimensions and outward appearance as the PN-20, but the simarities are mostly skin-deep. The PN-40 has an elongated oval shape, with a bulge at the top, a flat face, and a chubby bottom to hold the batteries. It has 7 buttons, a rocker button, and a 4-way directional pad, and that is it. With Garmin now offering a touchscreen model, some have complained that the PN-40 is not a touchscreen device. DeLorme has stated that their design choice was heavily influenced by the degradation of screen image that a touchscreen causes, due to the extra material between you and the actual screen. I agree with their choice based on those grounds, but also because a touchscreen device would be clumsy if not impossible to use wearing gloves, would constantly have mud and grime rubbed all over it, and would probably result in a screen that was easier to break, since the screen would need to be closer to the face of the device. The buttons on the PN-40 are responsive, soft-textured, and big enough to operate wearing gloves or with ham-hands like mine. They are hard to accidently press, and I've only had that happen in the DeLorme supplied belt holder.

Another area of criticism has been the screen itself. The PN-40 has a clear, sharp, bright, but small screen. DeLorme has stated given good reasons why this particular small screen was selected, including that and was the clearest and best screen they could provide for outdoor use. It also has the benefit of saving some power, and most importantly, keeps the size of the unit quite small. If you have poor eyesight the screen might present some issues (DeLorme is working on bigger fonts), but I find the clarity of the screen far outweighs the size. It is also important to note that the screen is fairly high resolution for its size.

The device comes with a lanyard, and in the bulge above the main body there is a hole for its attachment. The device communicates with your computer via a smooth "metal dot" type connector on the top rear of the device. A cable is provided that allows a USB connection via this connector, and an optional cable provides both USB and power.

The battery compartment is held in place by two screws, operated by metal loops. It is easy to remove, and seems a nice departure from many of the more confusing battery compartment schemes of old. The device holds two AA sized batteries. The PN-40 can utilize standard alkalines, lithiums, and NiMH rechargables, as well as an optional DeLorme Li-ion rechargable battery pack. While the battery life is less than what most people are used to, I can get about a day and half out of a set of Duracell 2650 batteries with the compass, barometer, and WAAS turned on, more if I turn the unit off when I'm not using it. The unit has profiles for each most battery types, and the battery life indicator is pretty accurate.

Behind the battery is a flip-up SDHC slot, which feels flimsy, and I recommend being very gentle with it. The good news is that the handful of people who broke it on their PN-20 and PN-40 units have noted that the pressume from the battery is typically sufficient to lock the SDHC card in place. The device is rugged, and is waterproof to the IEC 529 IPX7 spec. The unit is a hideous orange color, which makes it virtually impossible to lose. Actually, it grows on you in about five minutes, and the visibility aspect makes it totally worth it.
The physical design is ideal for the bushwhacker in my opinion, small enough to fit almost anywhere, light enough to not weigh you down, and well molded to the hand. The physical design suggests DeLorme had the hiker strongly in mind, and may have a bushwhacker on staff. ;)

Next: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Field Operation
Back: DeLorme PN-40 Review - Introduction

More photos:

DeLorme PN-40 Review - Introduction

I have been promising a review of DeLorme's new PN-40 handheld GPSr for a while now. Due to some issues with the Cartesio GPS chipset in the unit, I held off until DeLorme could issue a firmware update containing a fix from STM, the manufacturer of the chipset. That update has been release as a beta test, so I finally feel like I can give the PN-40 a fair analysis.
My intention is to provide a review of the PN-40 from my perspective, that is, from the perspective of a hiking who does a lot of bushwhacking, off-trail hiking, and abrupt roadside/trailside photography. In terms of a GPSr, in my mind the needs of the bushwhacker fall somewhat between the needs of the geocacher and those of a trail hiker. The bushwhack hiker needs to have the ability to accurately navigate off-trail to a fixed point (like a waterfall) or a series of fixed waypoints, like a geocacher. The bushwhack hiker also needs the ability to record an accurate track, to allow for a return, like a trail hiker. Where the bushwhack hiker experience differs is that often, the bushwhacker needs the ability to make more fluid decisions, which is why so many bushwhackers have rejected the GPS as a navigation device, and have retained their topo maps. To bushwhack you need to be able to visualize the terrain ahead of you, since you often need to make decisions regarding potential routes suddenly, usually because your planned route didn't pan out.

DeLorme is a fairly new entrant into the handheld GPS market, as the PN-40 is only their second GPSr, succeding the outwardly similar PN-20. DeLorme has been making GPS products for a number of years, and they are primarily a map company, so it wasn't a huge leap for to enter the handheld GPS market. DeLorme's map company heritage means that unlike most handheld GPS units, the maps come first.

Phragmipedium besseae in bloom.

A few weeks back I took delivery of a Phragmipedium besseae. It was selected for me by Dean at Paphiness Orchids from the stock at Orchid Zone. It is my first Phragmipedium, and is also the very first non-Cypripedium slipper orchid I've ever seen in bloom. The plant arrived with one bloom in moderate bud, and another in a very early bud. A third bloom has already come and gone. The current bloom is the second bud.

Phrag. besseae is originally from Ecuador and Peru. It is normally a bright red color with yellow highlights. It has transparent windows in the sides of the pouch, which presumably aid in keeping insects in the pouch long enough to pollinate the flower.

You can read more about it at:

More photos:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The current plant situation...

As some people may know, I've become deeply interested in orchids ever since we stumbed on that small patch of Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens (Yellow Ladyslipper) in Sipsey Wilderness. It started with just the Cypripedium, but I'm branching my interests out, and that includes getting around to actually growing orchids.

My current Cypripedium list is in flux, but I just ordered several Cypripedium guttatum seedlings from Spangle Creek Labs. Those little plants, when they arrive this spring, will take part in an experiment that may very well result in their doom. I'm interested in seeing how northern climate Cypripedium species like guttatum, yatabeanum, passerineum, and arientinum fare in windowsill culture with refrigerator vernalization in winter. Since passerineum and arientinum are too expensive and aren't available as seedlings, and yatabeanum isn't terribly easy to get, these poor little guttatum ended up being subjects in my experiment. When they arrive, they'll be photographed, and potted for windowsill culture, and I'll photodocument their little lives from that point on, using this blog.

I've just taken delivery of a single Showy Orchis and a single Catesby's Trillium, which are de-vernalizing in the house right now. They are from a nursery in N. Carolina, so they are expecting a shorter winter than they would get here in New York. I'll also be chronicling their development, since I'll probably be self-pollinating the Showy Orchis for seed.

In the realm of tropical orchids, I currently have 2 Phals, a massive Phal. Malibu Real, and a smaller unknown hybrid. I also have a Paph delenatii and a Paph armenicum, as well as a Phrag. besseae that is currently in bloom. Photos to follow. I'm lusting for a Mexipedium right now.

So... That's where we stand on the plants. Plants were becoming a big interest of mine last time I was blogging, but now I have more to blog about with my interests growing.

Old Posts

For now, old posts from last year can be found at:

I'm back...

I'm moving back to using this blog again. The blog software package for my web host is tedious at best, and I'd like to get back to using the blog once and a while. Pending for the next few weeks is a review of the DeLorme PN-40 GPSr, some discussion of my orchid growing activities, etc...