Monday, June 13, 2011

The Pisgah Traverse

2 things culminated this weekend.  Both have been on my mind for a couple of years and I have been spending time and energy working towards both.  Many nights spent late on the internet doing research, sleeping behind the house in the yard, picking people's brains etc.

About 1 yr ago, I borrowed a BOB trailer to go on an overnight trip.  I pulled that trailer to work, and planned to ride out of work that evening and take my first self supported trip.  The trip never happened.  I also realized that the BOB was not the tool for the job,  if I planned to ride single track.  Over the course of the year, I was able to purchase bikepacking bags from Revelate Designs, and put together a suitable light weight kit.  Approximately two weeks ago, I was blessed to be able ( with lots of help from friends) copple together a full 29er.  I was ready to go.

It was about the same time, probably a little over 1 yr ago that I found out about the self supported bikepacking genre.  An exciting art form where one mixes backpacking, a former passion of mine, with mtn biking, a current passion.  I researched the Colorado Trail Race, the Trans North Georgia, was inspired by the San Jacinto Eduro and more.  Then I found out about the Great Divide Race, got ahold of Ride the Divide, watched it over and over.  I analyzed, scrutinized and was mesmerized.

I waited for the right window of time to open, and after months of pouring over maps, the time finally arrived and I rolled out.  Since the wife and kid were headed out of town, I was on my own and rode my bike the 20 miles to the start: Kitsuma.  4 days later, I have mapped out a course that I think will challenge the beginner through the elite, and will give anyone who attempts the route a taste of Pisgah in all of it's glory.

For the "single track only" snobs, this is not the route for you.   I wound up riding 250 miles in 4 days and mapped a 190 mile point to point route: starting at Kistuma and finishing at Ivestor Gap.   Yes, Ivestor Gap, in the middle of nowhere.... inspired by the Appalachian Trail's Mt Katadin.  At some point, I might chronicle my adventure here.  For now, here is the route:
Note: Old Toll Rd is closed from Oct 1st-Jan 1st for bear hunting season.  If attempted during this time you must take the alternate route, omitting the Point Lookout Trail through Heartbreak.  Please contact me for alternate directions.
Start- Kistuma Trail Head
Ride the trail to Old Fort Picnic area
Left on Point Lookout Trail (old US 70)
Rt on Hwy 70 west- through Black Mountain NC ( not through Ridgecrest)
Rt on Hwy 9 north (to Montreat)
Rt on Lookout Rd
Rt on Rainbow Rd
 to Old Toll Rd
Rt on Heartbreak
left on Lower HB
Left on Jarrets Creek Rd
Left on Curtis Creek Rd
cross Blue Ridge Parkway to FS 2074
left on FS 472
Rt on BRP
Follow Parkway through Asheville
If the Arboretum is open, there is a water fountain at the base of Hardtimes rd that can be used, if not, take the BRP to Hardtimes rd.
Left on Hardtimes (here Hardtimes Rd runs parallel to the Parkway for 1/4 mile.  there is a dirt pulloff on the right,  pull in there, cross the Mountains to Sea Trail and take a left on Hartimes rd,  if you turn right here, you will come to a 12 ft tall chain link fence/gate and you will know you went the wrong way)
left on South Ridge Rd
left on Bent Creek Gap Rd
over Bent Creek Gap, Rt on Wash Creek,Rt on Spencer Branch
left on Trace
through parking lot to lower Trace
veer right on unsigned "Fisherman's", cross river, follow dirt path/road to gate at 1206/ Yellow Gap Rd
at 1206, water and camping available to the left at N Mills River Campground
rt on 1206
Rt on Laurel Mtn just down hill from Yellow Gap
left on Pilot Rock
rt on 1206
left on FS 476
Left on FS 5018- Funneltop Mtn
rt on Horse Cove
rt on Squirrel Gap
left on Buckhorn Gap
straight on Clawhammer/ FS 5058
Left on Gravel rd at horse stables to Hwy 276
(to the left on 276 is Brevard for re-fueling and camping)
rt on 276
left on FS 475 towards Gloucester Gap
left on Davidson River Trail
left on FS 475
20 feet over Gloucester gap, rt on gated FS 5003
left on 140A
rt on 140
left on Sumney Cove
Rt on hwy 215
cross under Parkway
rt on Flat Laurel Creek
Through Parking lot to Ivestor Gap Trail
Finish at Ivestor Gap

Approximately 190 miles, I have no idea of elevation gain or any other data really.  I did it in 4 days (including riding to the trailhead and home from the finish, 3 days is more accurate).

It is a demanding course with single track, double track, gravel rd, pavement, remote....all of the above.

Who is up for it?


Emily said...

fantastic!! great work Stephen.

Shawn Sheppard said...

I'm in. I'm thinking in the fall.

David Muse said...

Oh man, yeah!

Rick said...

That's awesome Stephen. Nice job. Definitely not an easy route.

Ridingman said...

Stephen, Do you have a GPS track in GPX format?

My name is Stephen said...


Kris said...

Stephen, looking this over and noodling on some ideas. Just noticed this;

"rt on Bent Creek Gap Rd
Left on Sidehill Connector
left on Sidehill
rt on Bent Creek Gap Rd"

Shouldn't it say "left on Lower Sidehill" for the climb up and back to BC Gap Rd?

Kari L. said...

Oh, that looks like fun!