Cragies and Snackies

What do you know about Alabama?


Alabama doesn’t get a lot of national recognition.  I’ve heard that the state constitutes a “sweet home” where the skies are so blue.  But that could be said about pretty much anywhere with visual access to the sky.  Gulf Shores has ocean access.  Montgomery had an elite Flea Market.  A popular food is boiled peanuts.  And Alabama can boast of some pretty prominent people, most notably Helen Keller and Joe Louis.  Alabama has a few more notable facts to claim as well.  Alabama has more snails than any other US state, it’s where windshield wipers were invented, it was the first US state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday, the first 911 call was made there, and strangely enough, Chicago style pizza originated in Alabama.

Alabama is a place you know so little about that unless you’re from there, it would be almost impossible for you to guess which one of those notable ‘facts’ were made up.  Even if you do live there the chance that you can spot the lie is questionable.  

Climbers however know something very significant about Alabama, specifically that it is home to one of the best bouldering destinations in the world. Horse Pens 40!

HP 40 is home to over 350 boulders, with dozens of 4-star routes, and grades for all levels.  And, although there are routes in all styles of climbing, HP 40 vibrantly shines when it comes to sloper’s.  Literally one of the best places for climbing sloper’s in the world.

The boulder field can be accessed through the main camp office and climbers have the option of a day pass (which includes night climbing) or camping/cabining which includes a climbing pass.  With so many boulders, camping is the way to go.  Climb early, pump out, rest up, and repeat.  Fall is the ideal time to climb at HP 40, so if you are wondering how to fill your Thanksgiving week, why not head to Alabama, sweet home of the most snails and the greatest sloper’s in the entire US.

While all the amenities you could imagine are available at the campground, including food, showers, and bathrooms, sometimes it’s nice to go out for a bite while roughing it in nature.

Just 15 minutes from HP 40 you’ll find Chef Corinne whipping up the classics in the Blacktop Bistro food truck.  The classics include gourmet burgers, dogs, grilled cheese, and quesadillas.  There is also a kid’s menu, cool drinks, cheesecake on a stick, and daily specials.

Chef Corinne pulls out all the stops with menu items like a Reuben hot dog, a ½ pound Bloody Mary burger, and the Apple Orchard grilled cheese.  I think the Apple Orchard is the way to go with warm cinnamon apples and melted sharp cheddar drizzled with caramel.  But with specials like honey suckle French toast, and bread pudding, it might be best to order something to eat on location and something to take back for some energy during a midnight climb.

HP 40 is the Cragie, and Backyard Bistro is the Snackie.  And, now we all know something valuable about The Salt and Sand State (just kidding it’s the Yellowhammer State).  The Yellowhammer also known as the Northern Flicker is the state bird…and now we all know something valuable about Alabama!

Location: Steele, Alabama “Audemus jura nostra defendere (We defend our rights)”

Crag: Horse Pens 40

Restaurant: Blacktop Bistro

Distance: 9.4 Miles

Cover Image – Mountain Project

18 Replies to “Cragies and Snackies”

      1. Haha…there would be no way to guess that…it took me so long to actually come up with something that sounded plausible, and fit with the other tidbits. For all I know someone from Alabama really did invent Chicago style pizza???


  1. Sounds like a perfect place to spend some time enjoying the scenery and the Blacktop Bistro’s food – even for those of use who aren’t boulderers or climbers. Our son and his family live in Birmingham, so maybe we can check it out sometime. Thanks for the heads up!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow! I can’t believe that all those years I lived in the valley below HP 40 that it had that reputation. I thought it was just where the Cherokee had their yearly festivals. Damn! There I was ,at daddy’s farm, wishing there were decent places to climb! So you’ve even taught this Alabamian a thing or two. You know there is another place north of there where Mathew McConaughey did a climbing scene in Failure to Launch. I think the previous comment said something about Blacktop and I’m thinking Blacktop mountain is where it was. I happened to be visiting at the time when the film crew was just setting up. Unfortunately, I don’t recall where it was for sure as I found it accidentally. As for the snails… Alabama has the biggest variety of snails than any other state, but it’s NOT crawling with snails. I think I see more snails here in California than I recall seeing there. lol. Loved your article though. However tbh, the lie is not apparent to me. I would say Chicago style pizza?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You nailed it…it’s the pizza! I have a friend who would go find that mountain just because McConaughey was there, she is fan of his for sure!

      Funny you mentioned that about the snails, I was imagining them just everywhere you step! Good to know that’s not the case!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The friends I made in Alabama made sure I knew how Matthew Mc Conaughey rattled the little town of Gadsden for riding his motorcycle, bare chested through the center of town which is one main street and a few blocks long. Your friend might have liked that? I had an Alabama friend in Colorado who informed me it was offensive to see a man shirtless. Who knew? It was all I could do to not laugh because I could tell they were serious. lol

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It was in Leesburg, Alabama at the Cherokee Rock Village – I had to look it up. Thank goodness you can google just about anything these days. lol

    Liked by 1 person

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