Friday, October 05, 2012

20 Hours, 60 Miles

When the small window of time opened, the one that left me with no immediate responsibility,  I took advantage and rolled out of the door into the sunset....literally. 

6PM Friday:  It took me 30 minutes to finish loading up and get changed,  I was on the road at 6 on the dot.  I figured I had about 1.5 hrs until complete darkness set in and with the thick cloud cover and chance of rain, it would be dark. 

My goal was N Mills River Campground, so I headed south on the parkway, through the Arboretum, up Bent Creek, past the lake, left on Bent Creek Gap Rd, and up the hill to the gap.  As I was riding up BC Gap Rd, the sunlight started to fade, and suddenly, as the setting sun reflected between the earth and clouds,  everything glowed brightly for about 15 minutes.  Out west and in Europe they call it Alpen glow, I call it Appen Glow (short for Appalachian ) .

And then it got dark,  very dark.  I stopped briefly in the gap to turn on my light and put on some arm warmers and a vest.  It did not take long before the last climb and the last bend before riding into the campground.   Half of the spaces were vacant so I picked one that I liked and proceeded to set up camp. 
After eating dinner, I settled in to my sleeping bag.  Staying in a campground has its ups and downs.  Tonight started fairly quietly, but when the guy a couple sites down started to get soused, and when from soused to being "lit up"  things got interesting and even funny.   He started off telling the entire valley,   yelling at the top of his lungs that"  THERE ARE ONLY TWO BEERS LEFT IN MY COOLER,  I WANT MY MONEY BACK".   As time went by, he starting whoooing very loudly.  Around 11pm, he started calling "YOOOGI BEEEAR", again at the top of his lungs.  As time went by, the dude started to fade, sounded like his batteries were dying, and eventually got quiet. Hilarious.  
I spent the rest of the darkness dozing off, waking up, listening to night sounds,  typical night in the woods.  When it started to get light, I got up, made oatmeal and coffee, and headed into the heart of Pisgah.  The goal for the day was to ride up Laurel Mtn, and ride up Frying Pan Gap Rd, up to the fire tower. 
Laurel is a remote, beautiful trail that winds up a ridgeline.  With awesome views in the late fall and winter, during this time of year, it resembles a green tunnel,  forcing me to take in the close up views of gnarled trees, rocks and roots.  It was really nice to take my time and smell the roses.  Usually I am racing or training up this trail.  I stopped in several spots just to listen and looks around. 
Monkey rides along

punk rock smiley face

The hike a bike,  much more difficult with a 50 lb load.

The Galax

Upper Laurel Mtn

The Ridge that I just climbed
I glanced at my watch when I reached the parkway and noticed that it had taken me 3.5 hrs to reach the top.  I had not been watching the time, so did not how fast or slow I was going and I did not care.  It could have taken 2 or 10 hrs and it would have been fine.  I was not bound by time today,  and only wanted to get home in time for dinner. 
I pedaled past Pisgah Inn and up the gravel road to the fire tower.  Snapped a pictured, had a snack and headed down the mountain.  By the time I got to Bent Creek Gap and down the gravel to the lake it was 1 pm.  I was hungry and tired of trail mix, honey buns and crackers, so I took a detour to Celebrity's Hot Dogs.  With my belly full, I pointed my steed towards the ranch and made my way home. 
This did not last long, but was definitely comforting.

With my wanderlust satisfied for a little while, I made a pact with myself to get out on this trip more often,  probably not every weekend but at least once a month.  There are a lot of options in Pisgah for doing some short overnight trips,.  

Can't wait till the next one!

1 comment:

clay said...

I always enjoy reading about your bike packing trips. Thanks for sharing.

Mark your calendar for the TNGA next year!