Monday, June 23, 2014

Pulaski Va to Asheville NC Day 1

 It dawned on my about 30 minutes before I got dropped off, that I would be riding the trail upriver.

I have wanted to ride The New River Trail State Park for a long time.  I first heard about it about 16 yrs ago, when the wife and I stopped at the Shot Tower.  I have followed the trail's progress ever since.  I finally had the opportunity to ride it, then get on the parkway and head home.

After driving through thunderstorms, my awesome  family dropped me off under mostly sunny skies.  It was 5:15pm by the time I go rolling.  With roughly 3.5 hrs of daylight left I was itching to get rolling. 

The New River Trail is a rail to trail conversion.   It goes from Pulaski VA to Galax VA with short side spur to Fries VA.  I saddled up and got into a rythym, anxious to see how far I could make it tonight.  I did not think that Galax was within reach but I was pleasantly surprised at my pace and became hopeful as the miles ticked by.

A gentle grade, barely discernible took me mostly along the New River.  The forest walls were dense on both sides and limited view, but the trail was clear and smooth.  Horses are allowed to use the trail and I passed a couple of rodeo arenas.  I imagine that at times the area could get pretty crowded with horses.  Somewhere in the middle of the distance, I came upon a group of about 8 horseback riders were had ridden out and back.  The trail was now pockmarked with hoofprints,  not deep, just enough to rattle me to the bone.  I was really wising I had a carbon bar instead of the aluminum one, but such is life. 
 I maintained a steady pace but stopped to take pictures fairly often.  I was not worried about the impending dark.  I was prepared with lights, one on the handle bar and one on my helmet.  And a blinky light on the rear.  Actually,  I was hoping that I would get caught out in the dark so that I could practice that. 
 I rode past numerous old train depots.  There is a campground at Foster Falls that I did not stop to check out.  I was aiming for the campground at Cliffview, about 5 miles outside of Galax. 
 The trail crosses the river several times with these wooden trestles. 

 As I climbed gently, the river became narrower and more scenic.  There were multiple places that I wanted to stop, but being unsure of the night's "lodgings", I decided to keep rolling.

I arrived at Cliffview Campground with about 15 minutes of light left.  I looked around.  The campsites were nice and clean, but empty.  There were several families in the area picnicking.  Hmm.  I really wanted to camp in this pristine spot by the river, but prefer not to camp alone.  I've seen some crazy things and feel safer with other people around.

After talking to a local who was very helpful,  I decided to try my luck in Galax,  upgrading from campground to motel. 

I got into Galax around 9:30pm, after dark and began the search for somewhere to sleep.  I considered my free options: church, city park etc.  But, then I found the Rhodeway Inn and for $50 had a chance at sleeping well,  so I took it.   After checking in,  I headed 3 blocks down to Macado's for some grub and was in bed by 10:30pm.

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