Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 2: Morris Hill Campground to Laurel Fork Campground

 Day 2 finally dawned...sort of,  it started to get light and I rolled out of bed to eat my giant cherry danish and drink some coffee.   Between sips, chewing etc, I spent time tearing down my campsite and packing up.  Then all that was left was to finish my coffee.  If I stick around for coffee and breakfast, it takes me 45 minutes to an hour to pack up.  I had an idea to try something different the following morning.

I dropped down the mountain from the campsite, a deer here and there but no bears.  Bacova Junction came and went, and next up was Mountain Grove where there was supposed to be a store.  I was hoping for  a biscuit.
 As I was cruising along the rolling hills through some beautiful valley farm land,  Coles Mountain on the left and Little Mountain on my right,  I saw the couple below standing in the field beside the road.  She was working on painting the pine tree, so I took a picture of her painting the picture.  A few words of chit chat and I was gone  again. 
 Hanging a left on Richardson Gorge Rd, and onto some gravel beside the river, I was able to make pretty good time for the next couple of miles.  Early morning sun coming through the trees, the sound of the river, birds chirping, things were good. 
 Coming out on the other side of the gorge, I was greeted with some amazing views of Lake Moomaw.  With so much rain this year, everything was deep green and lush.  The temps were still cool and I was thankful for that.  I made sure that I was sipping water and eating something every half hour.  Winding around the lake, I made a quick stop at Bolar Flat Marina.  They have a freezer full of frozen foods, and some drinks in the cooler.  They lady told me to get the sausage and egg white biscuit if I wanted something low fat.  I told her that I needed all the fat I could get and she recommended the Jimmy Dean sausage, egg and cheese croissant.  I microwaved it, paid for it and an OJ and hit the road while I ate. 
 10 miles later, I made it to Mountain Grove.  A few houses and a darkened little gas station grill.  I walked into the all but deserted store and ordered a bacon and cheese biscuit and a bottle of Coke.  I carried a 16oz water bottle with me the entire time, that I filled with assorted drinks: Coke, Nuun, OJ, Gatorade etc.  Just for some more than water drink.  I stuck the biscuit and drink in my jersey pocket and headed up the road.

 At this point the route divides with the option of the Ridge Alternate.  Giving a person the option of a 19 mile gravel road up along the ridge.  I considered taking that route, but knowing that I had only 4 days to complete the 400 miles, I opted to play it safe and stick to the pavement in the valley.
 Continuing up the valley between the ridges, the valley rising and the ridges coming closer together, I definitely got the feeling that I was gaining altitude.  The air temps were still cool and the light mountain breeze felt great.  Wild flowers were in abundance. 
 I was in need of water, and stopped to glance at the map.  I could see  a church just up the road off route and was about to go see if they had an outdoor spigot so that I could fill up, when Valerie pulled up in her van and asked if I needed anything.  I told her that I knew where I was going, but wondered if the church had a water spigot.  She said she thought they did, but also said I should ride 3 miles up to her house, and she would get me some water.   
 When I pulled up, she was waiting outside with a jug full of water.  The water was from a spring behind her house.  She also gave me a big white peach which didn't last long.  Then she told me that her husband was 1 mile up the road at their Sugar Camp,   boxing up maple sugar candy.  She told me that if I had time I should stop there and he would give me some.  I was pretty excited.   I pulled out on the road, and enjoyed the peach while pedaling and watching for the Sugar Camp.   Somehow I missed the sign and never saw any candy.  After getting home I did some searching and found it:  I'm so bummed that I missed out. Next time I might just stay at the cabin as they have a hot tub...
 Continuing up what is now a gravel road, amazed at the scenery and lack of people.  It felt good to be alone.  I love to be with people,  meet new people, but I like to be alone as well.  I wasn't really struggling with anything, trying to figure anything out,  trying to solve problems etc.  I was simply enjoying being.  That felt good. 
 Towards the end of gravel road 600, I took a left on Hwy 250.  This climb reminded me a lot of Hwy 215 out of Rosman.  Steep and seemingly never ending.  But it did finally end,  I have no idea how much later.  Then I had to make the choice of taking the Bartow cutoff and eliminating 45 miles of the route, or continuing to Glady.  I had been pondering the choice for a while, and since I was feeling good, and making good time, and not knowing if or when I would be back in the area,  I decided to go for it.   So a right turn on Hwy 28 and a left of FR 14 had me climbing up a steep gravel road. 
 24 miles to Glady, WV.  I had heard a rumor ( that turned out to be true) of a shelter at a church there that would be good for camping.  I decided that since it was only about 3pm, I should be able to get there fairly easily.   And then things got weird and a pattern was set for the rest of the trip.  I was doing fine but then got hot on the climb.  I stopped to splash this ice cold spring water on my head and kept riding at a very mellow pace.
 I continued riding, watching the map and counting down the miles.  I rode past several landmarks that I could see on the map.  Up another mile long climb and suddenly came to a cross roads that was not on the map and had no posted road signs.  I circled around, looked at the map,  tried to compare to the map on the kiosk.  I could not figure out where I was on the road.  I knew I was on the right road, but not sure if I had gone too far or not far enough.  I decided to turn left, hoping that this was the left turn to Glady.  I got hungry, at a little,  got to the top of the ridge and dropped down to a gate.  I turned to ride the mile up and back down to the cross roads.  Then I got the nauseous, dehydrated, hungry, bonky feeling.  Not good.  I was out there all alone and needed to get somewhere.  I reminded myself that I could always pull into the woods and camp if I needed to.  I decided to back track,  dropping the 2 miles back into the last valley, just in case I had missed the turn.  I went back to the last road that I remembered crossing.  I was convinced I had missed the turn that would leave me about 6 miles out from Glady.  When I got down,  I saw the sign that told me this was FR 17,  leaving with close to 20 miles still to Glady.  I was pretty mad at myself for making that mistake, but kept eating and drinking.  I popped a nuun tab into my water bottle and sipped on it.  I'm pretty sure that today, NUUN saved my life.  I'm not sure what would have happened otherwise.  
 The only thing to do was to keep riding, and so I did.  At a very slow crawl,  up and down,  doing my best to enjoy the scenery.  It was difficult.   And then I came to a point on route where I could drop down into the valley on the right to a campground, or continue .3 miles up the road, to drop down into Glady.  I again got confused, and thought that dropping down to the right would somehow take me to Glady.  I figured that if I did not find Glady,  I could always stay at the campground.  So I bombed down the 1.5 miles mistakingly convinced that I would see the town any minute.  I didn't,  I saw the campground, which turned out to be really nice.  I decided to stay there for the night and leave the fight for the next day.
An overlook

I took this picture, in case I didn't make it.  Figured it would be good for people to know that I was having a good time trying not to die!

The inside of my hotel room.

I set up camp, and was offered breakfast by one of my neighbors.  It wasn't ready at 6:30am when I headed out though so I missed out.  And was offered hot dogs and fried squash and potatoes by another family, which I readily accepted.

I took a dip in the creek and filled up my water bladder from the cold spring that was rushing out of the side of the mountain.  In bed by 8:30pm,  I spent the night again sleeping little,  thinking about getting up and riding some more, but also focused on relaxing.

I was down in a valley and it got pretty chilly.  I set up my tarp so that I could close it off and retain some heat.  I also layered up, wearing my rain pants over my knee warmers and camp shorts in an effort to stay warm.  It worked pretty well.

I planned to get up and going in the morning without making hot coffee.  I was curious to see what the day held

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