Escape to Musterground Mountain
It was a damp, cool December morning, the breakfast at Chic-Fil-A was served friendly and hot. 4 guys gather and begin to plan the day's ride. We do not know each other. Our conversation is about our bikes, equipment and what we ARE going to encounter. The other conversations in the restaurant are about the past or dreams of the future. There is nothing better than living in the moment and enjoying it.
We roll out of the parking lot and it starts to rain. A quick stop under a gas station awning allows Jed time to pull on a pair of rain pants over his jeans and sneakers. The borrowed Ducati Hypermotard he is riding seems more suited for ripping through streets and mountain twisties than semi-technical gravel and steep grades. I have a feeling Jed can handle it.
A few pavement miles later and some minor traffic, we stop at the gas station at Highways 11 and 178 to top off fuel. The start of our gravel destination road is off of Highway 130 at the Bad Creek Access area.
Entrance to Musterground Mountain by Ridingmanone, on Flickr
Upstate SC ADV Riders at entrance to Musterground Mountain.
We hit the double track gravel, hard packed and dusty from the lack of rain during the past month. The trail begins.
No adjustments were made to tire pressure or suspension, so either we had it right or there was a lesson or two to be learned. Jed takes off, spinning wheels and kicking up gravel with Ricardo in pursuit. Robert grooves his way into it on the trusty KLR - smooth and calm. I am the sweeper for the first section. My big 1150GS lumbers along smoothly.
The first big test comes in a section of 20% uphilll. It is short and the 4 wheel users have churned up the gravel, cutting some ruts and washboard into the trail. I stand on the pegs to establish the perfect center of balance, gear down and begin the climb. Then the washboards take over. The supension it too stiff and the tire pressure is too high to keep me on the ground and I start to bounce, loose traction and fall. Robert is right behind me and immediately stops. We heave the 600lb black beast upright and I get her going again to finish the climb.
Thompson River @ Pipebridge 5 by Ridingmanone, on Flickr
All smiles at the Thompson River Crossing
Thompson River @ Pipebridge 3 by Ridingmanone, on Flickr
After a quick break at the pipebridge over the Thompson River we continue up an ominous loose and steep section towards Musterground Mountain (pictured) and encounter more technical loose surface, steep sections mixed with pleasent, smooth double track. The easy sections blend well with the more challenging sections.
Musterground Mountain road junction 1 by Ridingmanone, on Flickr
Musterground Mountain road junction 2 by Ridingmanone, on Flickr
We arrive at Musterground Mountain Gap and are faced with decisions about which way to go. There are three roads to choose from. Maps come out, the GPS is consulted and we decide to explore all of the them. Robert plays with the KLR on a short run-up section.
We have not encountered anyone else yet.
Road option 1 is a short dead end.
Road option 2 is smooth and has berms that Ricardo demonstrates can be jumped on the V-Strom. I take them standing up and, with flexible knees, roll the big 1150GS over them, sticking to the ground. Road 3 ends and we turn around and trace our way back to Musterground Mountain gap. Robert is up front and when he returns to the short run-up section he hits it hard, launcing the KLR into a Rhododendron patch. We fish her out, dust her off and she starts up with a little extra cranking to move fuel back to the carbuerators.
Road 3 starts out sandy and Ricardo dumps the V-Strom. We quickly get her back up and going again and find out that road 3 is another short dead end.
We had explored all the roads on the maps and decide to head back out.
When we return to the parking lot entrance, we stop for a group photo and then begin our paved trip back towards Highway 11 and 178.
Lessons learned and skills improved = too many to count
Permanent damage = none
Friendships formed and experiences enjoyed = priceless
For more information about Jocassee gorges and the Jim Timmerman Wilderness area, go to http://www.dnr.sc.gov/managed/wild/jocassee/index.htm
This area is opened seasonally and frequented by hunters.
Thompson River @ Pipebridge 1 by Ridingmanone, on Flickr
I want to go!
Still new to adventure riding, i am local to the upstate also. I will now need to try this ride soon.
how did ya'll get up???
i live just up the road from there,, heard of cashiers??... is nice easy rideing in there,, most are 4 wheeler's that travel in there== yes they are hunting.. mustergrounds only open during hunting season!!!!!:huh
sunday is the best,, ah, oh, ya the safest time to ride.. as you don't want to run off game, from a hunter with a loaded gun.... you may not see anyone,,, BUT you almost ,never know where their, tree stand is !!
don't get me wrong i've never had a problem ,,just some not so happy looks, as you ride by the hunting camps...
there is a great ride up to highlands Nc ,an then take 28 down thro part of Ga , back down into Sc = fun twistys with some gravel !! -aka- th 3 state tour,,can be done in about three hours too!!!
please get in touch if around and or want to ride more around that/this area.. !!!???..
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