Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cove Creek

 I finally had the opportunity to head out into the woods for an over nighter.  I headed out around 2pm.  With temps in the 60's and a forecast low in the 30's, I packed my heavier sleeping bag and decided to give my E-bivy a try.

My destination was Cove Creek campground where Pisgah Productions was holding the race formerly known as "The Most Horrible Thing Ever".

I headed south on the Parkway taking my time and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.  I had been in a funk lately, and I needed a break.  I climbed up the pavement and turned onto Wash Creek rd. where the forest service gate was closed.  Stopping to chat with a guy on a cx bike who had just climbed up from N Mills River.  With the logging project going on, I was not sure if the road was open all the way through so I asked him.  He told me that it was closed to motor vehicles (obviously) but open to bike.  Well, I was on a bike so that worked out well.

 I stopped at N Mills River Campground to refill my water, but half of the campground was closed and the water was not working.  I found out the next day on the way back that there is a new spigot hidden farther back.  Good to know. 

I was pleased to find that the gate for Yellow Gap Rd/ FS1206 was also closed.  No motor vehicles.  I passed a couple of hikers and cyclists, but after a couple of miles, it was just me.  Hardly anything stirring, the warm sun heading towards the horizon,  the bare trees standing tall.  Creeks singing out, and the slight whisper of a breeze in the tree tops.
 About 2.5 hrs into the ride, I realized that this would be the longest ride I have done this year.  After only being back on the bike for just over a month, I started wondering if I had taken on too big of a challenge too soon.  I ate and drank, and kept pedaling.  Not really worried about getting there,  knowing that a slow steady pace would be the ticket.

I was thinking about taking South Mills River and heading up to Buckhorn Gap then down Clawhammer, but after realizing where I was physically, I started thinking about riding down Cove Creek trail instead.

I made my way to the end of 1206, down 276 then onto the gravel again.   When I got to the right turn at the road that would take me to Cove Creek Trailhead, it was gated with a big "Road Closed: Unsafe Travel"  sign.  Unsure about conditions, and not wanting to be bushwhacking through fallen trees late at night, I continued on winding around Looking Glass and down to the Fish Hatchery.

Darkness fell as I rolled down Davidson River Trail.  I was tired and happy to be near my destination.
I pedaled into camp to be greeted by Erinna and Eric.  It was around 7:30pm.  I changed, made some dinner and then spent the next hours until midnite, chatting around the fire and greeting racers as they came and went.  
I crawled into my sleeping bag and slept well.  Waking up occasionally to the sounds of a racer warming up by the fire,  gazing at the stars, slightly cold. 

I laid there, changed the time on my watch and got up, packed and rolling by 7:30am.   I decided to head back the exact way that I had come.  The first hour, I was miserable.  At one point, I had to stop, take my gloves off and rub them together,  my fingertips were hurting bad enough I was concerned about frost nip. 

I made it to 276 and ran into this guy,  training for a cross country ride.  It was one of those "right place, right time" meeting that had to be more than chance.  We chatted for a bit, and I rolled on,  smiling.
The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful,  never quite warming up,  but the sun was out so I was happy.  1 mile from home with one minor climb left,  although it felt major,  I bonked.  I had been eating lots, but it was around noon and my body wanted something more solid.  I quickly ate a granola bar, drank some water and made it up and over the hill. 

Turning into my neighborhood, felt great.

I greeted the family, took a shower, ate some food and hit the couch for a cat nap. 

Another trip in the bag!!

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