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BryceB 10-19-2010 06:41 PM

8lbs of Bananas and 5lbs of Beef - a trip on the TetS
Last year I took a trip on the TAT from Atlanta to Jellico, TN, to Fort Smith, AR, and back. Since then, the ideas of long DS rides have been the subjects of my daydreams. After I got the Track files for the Trans Eastern Trail South, I knew I had to go.

I originally tried to organize a ride from Atlanta to the southern terminus of the TetS in Carrabelle, FL, by the quickest route and then back towards Atlanta riding the TetS north as far as we could in 2 days so we'd only need a 3 day weekend to do this. Others wanted to ride the TetS north as far as we could out of Atlanta and then turn around and slab it back on a 3 day weekend... the thought was the weather was still nice enough to go north, the leaves would be turning their fall colors and we could do the southern portion later when the weather wasn't as nice up north. So, North we'll go.

The plan was to meet at Highland Park Motorcycle Resort on Thursday, October 7, Camp there and head north on Friday. Friday and Saturday, we'd head to the Northern end of the TetS near Pearisburg, VA, and then Sunday we'd slab it home. For those that could not ride Friday, we'd meet them Friday evening somewhere on the route.

As is normally the case, a there was a good bit of interest at first... closer to the departure date, people fell off. In my experience, 1/2 the people that say they're interested never had any real intentions of going (wishful thinking), half of those left have something come up that keeps them from going (shit happens) and then you're left with about 25% that actually make the journey.
On this adventure, we had 6 brave souls: (Left to Right) Bryce (me), Bob, Cheryl, Benny, Sarah and Dan, and this is the story of this adventure to the best of my recollection...

BryceB 10-19-2010 07:03 PM

In preparation for this trip, I wanted to replace the chain and sprockets on my KLR and I probably should change the oil before we go. So I ordered up a new chain and sprocket set... I wasn't so sure it would show up in time.

I also wanted to keep all my stuff for this trip in my 3 Pelican 1520 cases and not have any junk strapped on. In order to do that, I'd need a new tent that packed smaller than my current tent and I'd have to use my daughters 3/4 length thermorest instead of my old full length... this was a great excuse to buy a new tent. I scored a 2 man Big Agnes Fairview 2 person tent that packs small enough to fit in my at REI the week before we left (its really a large 1 person as 2 people would be really cramped with anything other than people and sleeping bags in it). As I watched the extended forecast, it was soon apparent that I was going to freeze my ass of in my ulta-light weight 45deg LaFuma Extreme sleeping bag and was going to need to take a much larger packing cold weather bag for this trip... that along with warmer weather clothes and my jacket and pants liners just shot my plan to pace everything into 3 Pelican cases out the door.

So, off with the top pelican case and on with a larger Givi top box for more room. Now I had more room, but I quickly filled that up. I really wanted to bring my dSLR camera along, so where the 3/4 length thermorest once was stowed, the dSLR and its lenses now sat. Since I was going to end up strapping my thermorest to the seat, I might as well take the full size. So much for nothing strapped to the bike.

The chain and sprockets actually showed up earlier than tracking said it would, and that was a good thing. My front sprocket was shot and was probably what was causing the funky noise from the chain.

With the bike almost ready for the trip, I figured I'd have a smooth exit on Thursday afternoon. Leave work at 3pm, get home around 4pm, leave around 5 and meet the rest of the group at Highland Park before dark to set up camp.

BryceB 10-19-2010 07:27 PM

Thursday October 7

It almost seemed like everything was conspiring against me and trying to keep me from my trip that day. Things at work fell apart early on but we got them straightened out. Just before I was going to sneak out a bit early, my boss wanted to chat... not sure if he somehow knew what I was up to or if he was just in a talkative mood, but that set me back about 20 minutes. Traffic sucked as Atlanta traffic does getting me home even later. I still had some stuff left to pack up that I couldn't pack ahead of time and I ended up repacking everything to make things more organized. My daughter needed help with math homework and I couldn't turn her down...

Finally, I Kissed my wife, hugged the kids and headed west towards Cedartown, GA about an hour away... at 6:15. Only about 75 minutes behind schedule, but if I hustle, I can make it there before dark!
15923.3 on the KLR's odometer before I left.

About half way there, I realized I forgot to bring a cell phone charger! Decision time, do without it and risk not having my phone or stop and pick one up? I figured if I saw a convenient place, I'd stop and get one otherwise I'll check in gas stations as we stop along the trip for one. As luck would have it, I passed a Wal-mart in Rockmart, so I swung in to get a charger. Add 20 more minutes to my ETA... I was going to be setting up in the dark.
After another quick stop to get some gas and something other than water to drink with dinner, I headed the last stretch to Highland Park in the dark. A bit nerve-wracking since HP is way out in the boonies and there's lots of wildlife to get tangled with on the remote roads after dark.

By the time I got to HP, it was real good and dark... so dark that I blew right past everyone else camping. I turned back around and was greeted by Dan, Sarah and Benny. I set up camp, cooked some dinner and got ready for bed. Since it was so dark, I thought it would be a great time to take some long exposure shots with the dSLR. These two shots are 60 second exposures with some lighting from a single white LED headlamp (shining on the bike for 10 seconds and hung in the tent for the entire 60 seconds).
October 7 Map - 62.6 miles - Home, Acworth, GA, to Highland Park, Cedartown, GA

Coming Next - Maybe we underestimated the length of this route

eddie98 10-20-2010 04:47 AM

Keep it coming Bryce

BlueLghtning 10-20-2010 07:39 AM

This was a great trip. I'll add my pics as you go along Bryce!

ke4yyq 10-20-2010 08:03 AM

Not sure if my pics would help or hurt to story. I do need to get another camera. :D

BryceB 10-20-2010 12:39 PM

Friday October 8

West Georgia is home to all sorts of Woodland critters... This lead to a few times getting woken up. Once I heard something fall out of a tree... 'possum maybe? Another time, something was in the trash... Raccoons probably. Something else wandered through the campsite... dog or something else like a hog or a bear? These didn't really bother me, it just woke me up. The one that really got to me was about 2AM that something was getting killed... Probably coyotes and it sounded like they were killing a dog... now this one kinds of spooked me!

About 6:00 am, i crawled out of the tent. It was a bit cool and a bit damp. After packing up the big stuff (tent, sleeping bag, etc.), I cooked some breakfast and then took advantage of the nice bath house that Highland Park has by taking a nice hot shower. Our planned departure time was 7:30 and we only missed it by about 15 minutes.

At 7:45, we were off and headed to connect with the TetS. Dan leading with his V-Strom 650, Benny piloting his R1200GSA, Sarah following on her F650GS single and me bringing up the rear on my KLR. Our first stop was to top off with gas. This little filling station has a wide variety of Beer and cheap wines... I guess there's not much else to do around these parts!

North West Georgia was a mix of a lot of paved country roads with some nice gravel/dirt thrown in for variety. At one point, the tracks had us turn left off of The Narrows Picnic Road onto a road with a nice new "Dead End" sign... uh oh, did we make a wrong turn, did the road ahead get closed? We decided to check it out for ourselves. Well... a bit farther and the pavement ends and another sign pops up... Private Drive. Hmmm... End of the line? Not for us. We continued on figuring it would either end up at someone’s house and we'd turn around or it was a clever diversion by the locals to keep people out and it still actually went through. Turns out it was a diversion and we had our first long stretch of unpaved road. Lots of gravel and some spread deep.

This is where we'd have our first spill of the trip. Sarah washed out in some gravel in a turn and lightly set it down in front of me. Me - "You OK?" Sarah - "Yes" "Need help picking it up?" "Yes" "Need a picture of it?" "Yes"

Lunch time was nearing and we were heading towards Dalton, GA. This would be our best bet for food for a while. We stopped in at the Miller Brothers Rib Shack for some Bar-B-Que. At first it looked like they may not be open... only one car in the parking lot. I guess we just beat the lunch crowd as it got busier as we ate. It was some good BBQ... I guess a cross between Georgia and Carolina style as it was a bit more vinegar based than Georgia ‘que, but not quite as watery as Carolina style.

After Lunch, We took off heading north of Fort Mountain and south of the Cohutta Wilderness. We'd get our first opportunity to either take a "Big Bike Bypass" or a Challenging Route. We all opted for the Challenging Route. At one mud hole we passed, Benny saw a hook and broken winch cable on the ground and decided that he'd hang way to the left and go around it. Dan Followed. Sarah and I looked at each other and both thought the same thing, "This doesn't look so bad". Sarah decided to walk out into the "mud Hole" and found it was just barely up to the toes on her boots and relatively hard packed on the bottom. Sarah and I blasted through it. With the dry weather we were having, we all made it with ease... if it were wet, that may have been another story especially since I had the most aggressive tires on and even those were only a 50/50 tire (Shinko 244s).

We stopped in Ellijay about 3PM for fuel and to plan out the rest of the day. A quick check of my GPS showed that even though we'd been riding for almost 6 1/2 hours, I was actually closer to my house than when we left that morning. It now became really obvious that we would not make it to Cheryl's Creek House in Clayton, GA, if we continued to follow the TetS. If we followed the TetS, we would probably end up in Suches, GA, and camp at T.W.O. Motorcycle Resort, if we stuck to a more direct path, we'd be able to make it to Clayton by night fall. We had really underestimated the time it would take to complete the TetS. We also all realized that there was no way we'd make Pearlsburg, VA, on Saturday night.

The decision was made to make a beeline to Cheryl's Creek House and stay with Cheryl and Bob there for the night. We'd have to abandon the rest to the GA section of the TetS for now. Luckily, we're all local and had mostly ridden the roads in the North Georgia section at one time or another, just maybe not in the order that the TetS takes you. We'd have to come back another day.

Our new Rout to Clayton would be Hwy 52 to Hwy 19 to Helton Creek Falls (Dirt) to Richard B. Russel to Hwy 17 to Hwy 76 into Clayton and then down War Woman to Cheryl's Place. We all needed air, but didn't want to bother with getting our pumps out. The gas station we were at didn't have air, so we decided to stop at the next opportunity and air up. After almost an hour, we finally stopped to air up.

Since I'm usually hanging around in the back and put along, I'll just sort of stop for pictures and won't get noticed that I'm missing right away. I had to stop at a look out on top of the Ricky Russell Racetrack and snap a few shots. At the bottom, everyone was probably wondering where I was and wanting to get moving!

At about 6:30pm and after covering 297 miles, we pulled into Cheryl's Creek House. Cheryl and Bob were waiting on us to go out to dinner, but the rest of us were done and didn't want to get back on our bikes. We decided to hang out at the Creek House while Cheryl and Bob ran into town and got dinner and some supplies for the next 2 days of the trip. I gave them a few bucks to grab some Bananas... then Benny threw in some more towards the banana fund. I figured they'd grab some and keep the change and I had no idea of how much bananas were going to cost.

Cheryl and Bob returned and handed me a huge bag of Bananas and said he wasn't sure how he was going to get them all back to us... I guess between Benny and I, we had given them $4 and bananas were $0.49/lbs... we ended up with 8lbs of bananas! Hope everyone was hungry and liked bananas! after having a banana, I was off to bed.
October 8 Map - 297 miles - Highland Park, Cedar Town, GA to Cheryl's Creek House, Clayton, GA

Coming Next - Maybe we should go around Cherokee

BryceB 10-20-2010 04:35 PM

Saturday October 9

Off to a bit later start than the day before... We headed for North Carolina and the TetS. Today and the rest of the trip, we would be joined by Cheryl on her Super Sherpa and Bob on his V-Strom 650. The day started off a bit foggy and with a little bit of drizzle, but once we got off the main roads and back on the TetS, the weather cleared up and we had a gorgous fall day, perfect for dual sporting in the Smokie Mountians.

We ran down Wayah Road and turned off onto FS711. FS711 is an odd road that was paved at one point, but afterwards left the wild to reclaim it. The road winds arounf Wayah Bald and over looks Nantahala Lake. At one time, it was 2 lanes with a painted devider and sceinie overlook pull offs. Today, the forest is reclaiming this road and it's more like a single lane road with potholes everywhere and the old asphalt breaking up like gravel on pavement. I guess this is a "Dual Sport" road... 50/50 paved dirt. Amazing views and a ride that really keeps you on your toes in its decayed state.

Time to Eat! All I had was 2 bananans for breakfast and I was getting hungry. Dan routed us to the Lakes End Diner located on Nantahala Lake. Looked like an interesting place and had signs out front, "Biker Freindly"... I don't consider us "Bikers", but whatever. The food smelled good. Lakes End is home of the Bigfoot Burger... a challenge a burger with a 2.5lbs patty, optioanl fries and a drink - $15.00 to try and if you eat it, you get a t-shirt. Really not a bad deal for a giant burger like that. If you want, you can get the Bigfoot Burger for $30 with fries and drinks and share it, but no t-shirt for finishing it that way! We opted for individual, normal sized meals!

After lunch, we started making our way towards Cherokee, North Carolina. Otter Creek Road was really cool.. Power lines running down the mountain with a road descending downwards with switchbacks on the sides. We saw lots of hunters around here and just about every truck we saw had dog pens in the back. We took a break at a little gas station near Cowee Creek and let Cheryl fill up her Sherpa with fuel, then made the last leg towards Cherokee. It looks like there's a new fancy bridge going in on Conley's Creek Road. There are Bridge Out signs, but the old bridge is still there, but you can get through.

As we entered Cherokee, we found traffic, lots of traffic. It was a Saturday, nice weather and leaf looking season. We decided to see if we could find a dirt route around Cherokee that could also get us out of the traffic jams. We'd miss the Blue Ridge Parkway and use unpaved roads that paralleled the BRP. We also needed to start looking for a place to camp for the evening.

We accidentally stumbled on Mile High Camp Ground. They had a few places left and looked to be filling up, but it was only about 5PM and we figured we had about another hour of light left and could get just a bit further. The only issue was that we may have to primitive camp if we don't find another campground. There was a sign at mile high showing to ways out... one way smooth and one way bumpy... looked like we came in the bumpy way (lots of little water bars to play on coming up!)

A little bit further and we found Balsam Mountain Campground. This was a National Forest Campground that was closing for the season after this weekend. No firewood for sale, but the ranger said we could pick up all the downed wood we found. We had a good collection of wood before long. Everyone set up their tents and cooked some dinner.
I took a few long exposure shots with the dSLR just as the last bit of sun went beyond the horizon. After that we sat around the fire and talked about our other adventures. The sky was clear and you could see so many stars in the sky. Breathtaking!
October 9 Map - 151 Miles - Cheryl's Creek House, Clayton, GA to Balsam Mountain Campground, Cherokee, NC

Tomorrow, we'd start the journey home.

Coming Next - I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

BryceB 10-20-2010 06:07 PM

Sunday October 10

Packing up the last day of a wonderful trip like this is a bittersweet time. We've had so much fun and seen so many wonderful things, but reality sets in and you have to go home so you can continue to do more of this.

This morning seemed to be a bit warmer than when we went to bed... and the air was really dry at 5300ft, so we could pack up everything dry. For some reason, I was unusually quick to pack up and not the last ready to hit the road for a change. We left camp and continued down Balsam Mountian Road towards Heintooga Round Bottom Road. Heintooga is a one was unpaved road that leads you to Cherokee 28 miles away.

We decided to steer clear of Cherokee and take back roads out of town and then find a place to Fuel Up and Air Up our Tires. Somewhere on Bunches Creek Road, we had our second "incident" of the trip. This road was full of a bunch of tight switchbacks with loose dirt, and Bob somehow managed to get a bit wide and take his V-Strom into the ditch.

After fueling up and airing up south of Cherokee, we headed down US74 which Parallels the Nantahala River... People were actually Rafting and Kayaking as cold as it was! We headed south to the Nantahala Put In at the junction of US74 and Wayah Road for some pictures.

It was nearing lunch time again and we were close to the Lakes End Cafe, so we took Wayah Road to the Cafe. I originally was going to try the Chicken Fingers, but when I heard Bob say he was getting the Big Foot Burger, and the Waitress say "You Mean the Big one?". I changed my mind. Game on it would be 2 of us ordering the Giant Burgers! Each Bigfoot Burger was made from 2.5lbs of Beef - Bob and I were going to eat 5lbs of Beef! The waitress told us that we should probably move out to the deck. Her thought was that most people that finish the Bigfoot do it outside where it's cooler and you don't smell the other food cooking. I think she just didn't want us to Barf in the restaurant! With our Orders Placed, we moved outside and they started cooking!

Time to show those burgers who's boss!!!! We had 60 minutes to Eat our Burgers. We took the "No Fries Option", so we just had to put away the burger. Our waitress brought them out and set the timer... Chow Time!

10 minutes in - 50 minutes left

30 minutes in, I'm hating this burger at this moment. It went from being a really good burger to really disgusting 10 minutes ago

DONE!!!!!! total time 35 minutes.

Bob had to box up about 3/4lbs of the burger and take it with him.
I almost didn't fit into my riding pants after this and it was pure misery riding home. We took a dirt road that one of the locals at the Cafe suggested and I about lost the burger on that road.

We headed towards Blairsville, GA, to gas up the Sherpa and for a much needed bathroom break! From here it would be slab all the way home down Hwy 515. That was until we got to Ellijay... Apple Festival Traffic!!!! It was like sitting in I-285 in Atlanta on a Friday Afternoon. Benny and I broke off from the rest of the group around Jasper and took some back roads I knew into Canton. It probably didn't save any time, but we were moving and I'd rather go out of my way but move than sit in traffic.

Benny and I parted ways in Woodstock and headed to our homes. Not sure if the rest of the group was ahead or behind, but we all made it home.

Great Ride Everyone! We'll have to get the Southern section of the TetS this winter!
October 10 Map - 213 miles - Balsam Mountain Campground, Cherokee, NC to Home, Acworth, GA
October 7 to October 10 Map - 724 miles total

BlueLghtning 10-21-2010 06:10 AM

Nice report Bryce!

I'm looking forward to doing the southern section next! :evil :D

eddie98 10-21-2010 06:17 AM

Nice job finishing that burger.

How come none of the other guys tried the burger :lol3

BlueLghtning 10-21-2010 06:18 AM


Originally Posted by eddie98
Nice job finishing that burger.

How come none of the other guys tried the burger :lol3

We knew better that we'd have to get back on the bikes and ride home! :rofl Their normal burgers would good size and filled you up!

I think Bryce conveniently left out the part about stopping for gas and he hi-tailed it into the restroom! I think his intestines or colon were yelling at him by that point! :lol3

BryceB 10-21-2010 06:28 AM


Originally Posted by BlueLghtning
We knew better that we'd have to get back on the bikes and ride home! :rofl Their normal burgers would good size and filled you up!

I think Bryce conveniently left out the part about stopping for gas and he hi-tailed it into the restroom! I think his intestines or colon were yelling at him by that point! :lol3

The real reason why the trip report ended abruptly and there were no pictures after I ate the burger! I was hating life after eating that thing.

My son and I went to Big Pie in the Sky in Kennesaw (home of the Carnivore Challenge - 2 people get 1 hour to eat an 11lbs meat topping pizza) and some guys behind me were discussing their strategy on how they'd do it if they tried. I really wanted to tell them that there was no way they were going to do it. That would be more than 2 times what I ate and the last few bites of that burger were just torture...

eddie98 10-21-2010 06:59 AM


Originally Posted by BryceB
My son and I went to Big Pie in the Sky in Kennesaw (home of the Carnivore Challenge - 2 people get 1 hour to eat an 11lbs meat topping pizza) and some guys behind me were discussing their strategy on how they'd do it if they tried. I really wanted to tell them that there was no way they were going to do it. That would be more than 2 times what I ate and the last few bites of that burger were just torture...

I went there with family and even with 4 adults and 3 kids we still didn't finish that thing. I was only able to eat 2 slices and I was done.
Wish they would've had these food challenges when I was in my younger days and was able to put away some food.

intothenew 10-22-2010 03:26 AM

"Cool Hand Bryce", thanks for the report. :lol3

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