|06-08-2012, 12:24 PM||#1|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
Escape to Witch... er... The Smoky Mountains! May 19-26, 2012
If you spend a little time with Google, or some other wonderful search engine, you can learn a lot about the region of our country referred to as The Smoky Mountains. No, they don't have the literally breath taking vistas of the Rockies. Yes, there is a ton of information about the geological history and cultural history of the area that is actually quite interesting. Did you know the region averages 50-80 inches of rain per year? That is well into the low end of the spectrum for areas classified as tropical rain forests. You can also find a ton of fascinating information about all kinds of plants, animals, and slimy creatures that slither and wiggle in the region. All that stuff is really interesting and I could go on and on about it... But I won't.
Lots of other places on the planet have all kinds of really interesting things about them too. What really sets The Smoky Mountain region apart from so many others is the roads... Yes, you read that right, the roads. No, they are not paved with gold. That would be a disaster because traction would be horrid! Those that are paved are done with a wonderful aggregate that yields prodigious traction, which is a good thing considering the intense twistiness of the roads in the region. Those that are not paved wind through landscapes that bring to mind fairy tales, monsters, and things rarely seen. Yes, I have some great pictures that I will be sharing with you. No, they won't even come close to conveying the blissful reality they attempt to capture. Yes, you really will have to make the pilgrimage to the holy land of riding some day to experience it for yourself!
Back in the early part of the 2000's, I managed to get out to the Smoky Mountains almost five years in a row. The last trip was in 2005 as Hurricane Rita came ripping through East Texas, forcing our group to suffer through an extra day of riding while waiting for the storm to pass. Yes, it was excruciating, but we do what we have to do I've done trips to other places since then, but once you've been to riding heaven, all those other earthly riding areas just seem to pale in comparison and your thoughts will often turn heavenward.
For reasons unknown, perhaps having something to do with lunar eclipses or other planetary phenomena, circumstances in my life worked out such that I got the last week of May off to do a motorcycle trip. There was no real debating of the issue. I've had this horridly intense desire to get back out to the Smoky Mountains for some time now and it had been building to a feverish pitch! The last trip was a "tour" that I led consisting mostly of TWT members and included six wonderful days of riding. So naturally I thought I might do something similar this time, but as a rally instead of as a tour (tours usually having a limit on attendance). I posted up the info with some teaser pics here on TWT, but the response was minimal. As usual, it seemed people were so wrapped up in their daily earthly business they had no time for thoughts of heaven
But there were a few people with their minds on heaven. John "Johh Dirt", Roger "Rsquared", and Albie "Hood Ornament" were immediately on board for the trip. There were a few maybes. I sent out a few feelers to folks with whom I've done previous trips. The response was lacking... So it was decided to forgo the open invitation rally and just do a private trip with a small group. Since the group was small, John suggested that we might stay at his Father's place, in Balsam Grove, a small "town" on NC 215 just a few miles South of the Blue Ridge Parkway, right smack in the middle of a whole mess of incredible riding! This would save us the cost of seven nights in a hotel and make for a more intimate setting. So the plan was set in motion and all that was left to do was order bike stuff, prep the bikes, and wait...
Albie and Todd "Tapntxs", Todd being a last day addition to the group, had to make a last minute cancellation. They were going to ride out together and meet us there, so their absence at the last moment did not mess up travel plans. When the electrons all settled, there were four of us: John, Roger, Steve "Desmo" and myself. The four of us would meet at my home and we'd trailer out together.
The great day finally arrives! John, Steve and Roger all meet at my home on Friday around 3:00pm. My bikes are already on the trailer. Yes, I said bikes Early on it was decided that we would be doing a mix of street and dirt riding. For me, this meant taking my 05 R1200 GS and my 2010 KTM 530 EXC. For Roger, it meant taking his 2012 KTM 990 Adventure and his KTM 450 EXC. For John, it mean taking his DRZ 400, thinking he was going to take his Versys 650, but in reality buying a nicely outfitted KLR 650 just a few days prior to our departure. For Steve, being the last guy to get on board with going, it meant just taking his KTM 690 Enduro. If you were counting, that is seven bikes on one trailer. Back in April, Steve and Roger came up to my place so we could make sure that seven bikes would indeed fit on the trailer and that there would be places for all the tie downs needed to keep them from banging into each other on the long drive.
It works like this. My GS goes in the front middle facing forward. The KTM 530 and 450 go on either side facing backward so their bars don't hit the GS bars. Then the 990 goes behind the GS, also facing forward. The KTM 690 and KLR 650 go on either side and face backward. The DRZ goes sideways on the back. The loading goes smoothly and by 5:00pm, we are ready to roll.
Steve, Roger, John and Daniel (who can't go with us but REALLY wants to!)
John's new KLR and Roger's 450 EXC
The whole rig loaded and ready to roll. That is my Dad's Dodge MEGA Cab diesel truck. I am fortunate that he lets me borrow it for trips like this because it is REALLY comfy and nice!
Sarah, always as excited about the trips as I am
The whole crew, Daniel (5-1/2), Rachel (3-1/2) and Sarah (7-1/2), and yes, that 1/2 matters to them!!
And so... with hugs and kisses for all... my kids and wife, not the guys... the guys and I hit the road, right on time! The first miles of a trip are always filled with anticipation, excitement, and energy. This is not my first trip with Steve or Roger, but it is the first trip with John. So we have a new guy to get to know and LOTS of time to do it... The drive is expected to take about 17-18 hours if we haul straight through with fuel stops only. This should put us in Balsam Grove early afternoon and give us an evening to leisurely unpack and settle in before we get down to the serious business of riding in paradise.
We run up through East Texas toward Shreveport, Louisiana. Here we pick up I-20 for the long drone to Atlanta. Somewhere around 3:00am we stop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This place is HAPPENING! The Waffle House is jumping. The Gas station is incredibly busy. All manner of vehicles are cruising around. What the...!? I stroll over and speak with a few of the local ladies, obviously primped up for a night out, and ask what all the hubbub is about? "It's because of the school." "Oh... What school?" I ask innocently. The blank stares inform me that I am obviously from another planet... "The CRIMSON TIDE!!" they inform me in a chorus of amazed and slightly indignant voices. "Oh... right... yeah... I knew that..." Well, I did know it was in Alabama Anyway, they ask where we are heading and ask about the bikes, then wish us well and we get back on the road. Roger takes over the driving duties because this is about my normal bed time and only an hour before his normal wake up time
We hit a bit of construction here and there on the interstate, but overall we are making excellent time. The sun starts peeking over the horizon after we pass through Birmingham and soon we are driving through Atlanta. We pick up I-85 and run Northeast just across the state line into South Carolina where we turn North on SC 11. Eventually this hits SC 281, also known as Whitewater Falls Rd. As we head North the rolling plains give way to foothills and the road soon begins to twist and wind, climbing into the beginnings of the Smoky Mountains. The going slows. Anticipation and excitement displaces stiffness and grogginess. The closer we get, the slower it gets until we are doing well to maintain a 45mph average. We finally reach US 64 and the turn for NC 215 North. We've already been passed by a few groups of motorcycles enjoying the twisty morning.
NC 215 is a real challenge with the truck and trailer. It is NARROW. The lanes are barely eight feet across and there is NO shoulder. It is only about 9 miles up NC 215 to get to John's Dad's place, but the pace is now down to about 25-30 mph at the most. The curves are very tight and the rock wall of the mountain very close. The trailer reaches from center stripe to side stripe. About midway up, a Goldwing comes flying around the corner, his head well into our lane. He lifts and misses, as does the next one. I am slowing as the third one comes around and is in our lane All four of us issue some form of excited utterance at the thought of an imminent impact. I've no where to go and cannot swerve. Mentally, I am already waiting for that sickening crunch sound that must be forthcoming... Miraculously, he lifts the bike and it misses the corner of the truck and then lifts his head to jusssttt miss the protruding driver's side mirror of the truck. About the time we reach our destination, my adrenalin finally comes back down...
We turn into a NARROW gravel driveway lined with BIG bushes. The truck barely fits through and we have to fold in the big mirrors. John's Dad, Paul, is waiting to greet us. It's tight quarters for the long truck and trailer so there is some discussion of where to park and unload. I am leery of getting much off the gravel for fear of sinking into soft ground and getting stuck. However, we manage to unload then stick the trailer out of the way.
Here's a look from the side porch back to the beginning of the driveway
Here's the lean to garage which actually holds all seven bikes nicely.
Around the front of the house there is a beautiful lawn and a bridge over a nice stream to the back of the property
Looking back toward the front of the house, the bridge is to the left and driveway to the right
Clear running water... a rarity here in East Texas where all water is brown... on a good day...
The stream comes in through the middle of the back of the property and then snakes around the outside of the front of the property. There are trout in it.
I spot some small fish up under here and under the roots in the background
View from the front porch, drive to the left, bridge to my right, stream runs all the way around the distant edge of the lawn flowing right to left.
Steve's lodging for the week, his own cabin!! Sometimes it pays to be the tall guy. The cabin has the only queen bed
We will be spending a good bit of time out here after the rides enjoying a cool brew
After getting everything unloaded there is some discussion about going for a ride. It is about noon. I decline. After being up for close to 24 hours, my internal equilibrium is whacked. The last thing I want to do is engage in an activity that require fine motor skills and balance. Roger, John and Steve decide to head out for a short exploration trip to nearby Pilot Mountain. There are endless miles of trails out here, but most are NOT for motorized use. In fact, the only off road riding is in private parks or a few OHV areas. The good thing is that there are still some "roads" that are not much more than a two track trail, and this is one of them according to John. So they gear up and head out, while I contemplate a nap.
Roger and John read for action... and capturing it on video
The guys zoom off up the hill and out of sight. I start settling in and visiting with Paul. It is not long though before we hear the sound of approaching bikes, far sooner than we had expected. Sure enough, the guys are back. It would seem that John's DRZ is having unknown electrical issues.
The bike has been subjected to a bit of "creative" wiring The zip ties are the icing on the cake for me
John's Dad was a technician for Land Rover for years and pitches in to help
John endures a little good natured ribbing
The problem is eventually traced to a bad connection and is soon rectified
Electrical problems solved, the guys head out again. I hang out with Paul for a bit and then we get in his truck so he can give me the tour of town, which includes many of his favorite fishing spots. All are peaceful and I can see why he would enjoy fishing so much! The stream running through his yard is Shoal Creek. Not far away it dumps into the North Fork of the French Broad River, a very scenic spot!
Shoal Creek ends as a waterfall where it meets the main river
These two falls are actually the main river
Here's the whole spot, really a nice place to just sit and listen to the water
The structure on the right is some kind of water powered mill, or at least it was at one time. A pipe from above the Shoal Creek falls ran water to a turbine box. That had a big pulley on it and there used to be a big belt running up through the floor into the building. The upper level looks like it has an electrical generator in it that was originally powered by the water turbine. It's all broken down, rusted, and neglected now.
Across from the main falls, you really have to LIKE the sound of running water to live there!
The guys eventually return from their short ride. I'll leave it to one of them to tell you about it. With dinner on the mind, we decide to head into the nearest "major" town, Brevard. This is actually a very nice town and a decent size. There are MANY beautiful homes here. I can easily see myself living here... if I could find a job, which seems to be a recurring issue in many places with great riding where I'd be happy living...
The MEGE Chinese Buffet place where we have dinner... and a pretty good one at that.
After dinner we head to the local grocery store to stock up on snacks for the rides and stuff to make dinner for the rest of the week, with the exception of Tuesday. John also has an Aunt that lives here in Brevard and she has invited us all over for a home cooked dinner. He assures us it will be worth the trip. Loaded down, we head back to the house. I spend the rest of the evening going over the routes and deciding where we'll be riding tomorrow. Then it is finally off to the land of Nod where I dream of things to come...
Tourmeister screwed with this post 07-20-2012 at 01:02 PM
|06-08-2012, 12:52 PM||#2|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
Sunday, May 20th:
Morning comes soon and I wake in eager anticipation of a great day of riding. I find the others going about getting breakfast and getting ready to ride. I don't do breakfast (in the mornings), but I do do Pop Tarts, especially the apple cinnamon ones Now I know there are riders that like to have 100 miles behind them before the sun comes up... I am not one of those freaks of nature. This is supposed to be vacation. The riding starts no earlier than 9:00am. Besides, in this area, there is often heavy fog laying in the low valleys and trying to ride much earlier than that means riding in heavy fog, not a favorite past time of mine.
So the routes I have planned are of two types, the "small" bike routes and the "big" bike routes. The idea being that the small bike routes will hopefully include more of the technical unpaved stuff and the big bike routes will be predominantly paved with some less technical unpaved stuff. Of course I am also hoping to cover some new ground, so you just never know... Today is going to be a longish small bike route... maybe 225 miles. The whining starts before we even leave the driveway
We pull out around 9:45am and head to the local gas station, cash only. I think there is a post office here as well, but that is about it other than people's homes. Topped off, we head North on NC 215 a short bit. Other than the short straight section in town, NC 215 is pretty much non stop curves from start to finish, but it is not our goal for today. Today we are going to head West along the base of the Blue Ridge mountains. The last time I was out here in 2005, a lot of the roads in the are were unpaved. I had read on AdvRider.com that NC has been paving roads like crazy. Now we find out.
We soon reach the start of Charlie's Creek Rd., also labeled as NC 1756. North Carolina generally uses three digits for state highways and four digits for minor roads. A road may have several local names as well. So when navigating, it helps to have looked at several maps, or have a working GPS... Speaking of working GPSs... My newish Garmin Montana is not making me real happy. When I load the route and it starts to do its calculation thing, it rudely informs me that a route can only have 50 waypoints and proceeds to truncate everything after the 50th waypoint!! I do manage to get around this by just having the GPS display the route, but the screen does not update as we move, forcing me to keep scrolling the map. My "old" 276C has better functionality than this new modern marvel
So I was talking about roads. NC 1756 is paved. At first I am a bit disappointed... like for the first curve or two... and then it is GAME ON!! The curves come fast and furious. The pavement is not perfect, but it is good. There are damp spots, but nothing that cannot be dealt with. Many curves are of the kind where I plunge down into the corner, hit the apex at max g, then point and shoot as I climb out to crest a negative g corner. Roller coasters are fun, but they can't touch this!
About now, you are probably wondering why I have no pictures. Well... What can I say!? The riding is that good and stopping just seems so... well... boring However, we eventually reach NC 281, also now paved where it was not before, and head North toward Cullowhee. So here are some pics
Pretty flowers! And you were probably thinking I'd post pics of the curves
But take a good look at that pavement, it is pretty much what is found everywhere around here, a smooth crushed granite aggregate with crazy traction!
I like bugs...
I am starting to worry that finding any unpaved riding may prove difficult We reach Cullowhee and turn West on Little Savannah Rd. This is a typical urban road but soon gives way to a great twisting little paved road that climbs up on to a winding ridge, crosses NC 116 and eventually drops us out at the Tuckasegee River on the West side of Sylva. We stop for a break and to shed some layers. Now the teasing has stopped and several of us are asking John if he has room in his Blitz Box to carry our sweat shirts. Being the good natured guy he is, he obliges us
The river and more flowers
The sun us up and it is getting warm down in the lower elevations. We hop on New US 19, head West a short distance and find the start of Dick's Creek Rd. (NC 1388). I learned of this road from a fellow member on AdvRider.com, Whitebread117. He lives in Brevard and rides all over this area. The maps don't all show it going through to Old US 19, but he assures me that it does. It starts out heading North and is a narrow paved road, much like Charlie's Creek Rd., which we ran this morning. But soon...
Dick's Creek Rd., does not disappoint! It climbs up the side of a ridge, rising from around 2000 ft to 4200 ft in the space of just a few miles. The road ranges from smooth to rough washboard. The trees almost completely cover it, forming a darkened green tunnel and keeping the hot sunlight off us. As we climb I can feel the air getting cooler with the rising elevation. It amazes me how much it cools in just a few thousand feet.
Near the crest of the ridge, the maps no longer show the road. I can see the road we will eventually connect with on the downside of the ridge, but I have to figure out how to get to it. That might not be a problem except that we encounter a few intersections with options... Well... Nothing to do but explore
This road is not on the map but looks very well maintained
The road drops into a big cleared corner and there is some logging equipment sitting around, the trees obviously thinned out in the area. You can see the road continuing to the left in the following shot, but looking at the GPS, it is now clear that this is taking us away from where we want to be. The urge to explore is strong, but time is pressing and we still have a LOT of miles left if we are to even come close to completing our route. I make a mental note for future rides...
We take a break and then double back to the previous intersection. You can just see it going down and to the right behind those two big trees in the center of the following shot. From that point the road climbs coming at me and reaches the high point on the ridge.
John Steve and Roger
Hmmm, the road in the shot below looks interesting, washed out and rutted, but there is also one directly in front of the bike just out of the shot and it goes down, which means it is probably the one we want. But just to make sure, I run up the fun looking one a ways. Don't want to get the guys lost you know
It IS fun, rutted, steep, and lots of off camber surfaces. However, it doesn't go real far and sure enough, it is not the right one. So I coast back down to the intersection and head down the other road. Fortunately, I don't get real far before I want to take a picture. This is when I realize that I don't have my camera in my pocket and must have dropped it back on the top of the ridge. While the guys wait I make a fun run back to the top and find it on the ground right where I was parked. I guess I did not quite get it slipped into my pocket I head back down to where the guys are waiting and get my shot.
These little road side water falls are EVERYWHERE!
The road on the Northern downside of the ridge is Washington Creek Rd. You might have noticed that most roads have "Creek" in the name. Well, that is because most every road follows a creek as it flows down out of the higher elevations and there are TONS of creeks here! Anyway, as we crest the ridge and start down the North side, we cross over into the Cherokee Indian Reservation. If you want more history on this, do a web search on Trail of Tears. It's definitely not a pretty part of our glorious national history and was a flagrant "look the other way" violation of the principles on which our country was supposedly founded, all men created equal and all that stuff... The reservation was eventually created for those Indians that refused to leave and hid in the mountains in the area. It is their descendants that live here now and they make their living on tourism to the area.
The road down is fun - Roger on his KTM 450 EXC
But it soon gives way to pavement
No worries though. We head East on Old US 19 a mile or so and find the start of Bia 409, known locally as Jenkin's Creek Rd. Now I am pretty sure that I did this road with Bill "Wasabi" and John "TxRider" back in 2005. I was on my R1150GS, Bill his Vstrom 1K, and John on some kind of grey import KTM 640 Enduro. It started out easy enough...
... but somewhere along the way, we hung a right onto Bia 434 or Upper River Rd., and then we turned South on Hyatt Cover Rd. Both roads were great fun, but they were also a LOT of work on the big GS!! Today we bypass them in search of some roads I've not yet ridden, The Heintooga Loop. But first we have to find it...
Jenkin's Creek Rd., climbs from about 2500 ft to 4500 ft, where it passes under the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just because a road looks like it intersects the BRP on a map, this does not mean you can actually access the BRP from that road! Nor is it always clear which way you need to go to find a road that does give access to the BRP. Anyway, as the climbing starts getting steeper, we get behind a Dad and two sons riding ATVs up the road. We hang behind them for a bit and the Dad finally notices us, pulling over and waving us by. Not much longer after that we reach the BRP and find a tunnel going under it.
Steve wondering where we go next and trusting me to get him there...
Must be a popular hangout for the local kids
On the far side of the tunnel, we come to a choice, left or right...? Right is the way I want to go, but the map is unclear if either way leads to access to the BRP, which is also where I want to go, because I think that is the way we get to the start of the Heintooga loop. So right we go... and go... on Bia 407, which looks like it has a short spur connecting to the BRP on my GPS map, but which doesn't exist on the ground And so we go...
We're riding the same ridge that the BRP runs along, but we are up above it, able to look down through the woods to where we want to be. The mountainside is STEEP and there is no way I am going to attempt the short run down to the BRP. So we simply run along above it for a while and enjoy the views. We soon reach the Mile High Campground, which sits right smack on the top of the ridge at about 5300 ft in elevation. The views both directions are great! This would be a nice place to spend a weekend!
We came up the road on the right. There are little campsite scattered all about on each side of the road.
Bia 407 eventually gets us where we want to be, but now John is getting concerned about gas for his DRZ. Not being sure how much further we will be going before we can find fuel, we decide to hop on the BRP and make a run into Maggie Valley for lunch and gas.
Of course we make a few stops along the way into town...
And some history...
At Old US 19, there is an exit ramp off the BRP and we head into town to fill up the bikes. As we head in, I spy what looks to be a good place to stop for lunch and drop a way point so I can be sure to find it when we come back this way.
Can't recall the name, but the food and view was good. The service was good also.
Bikes and bellies full, we head back West to the BRP... and stop at another overlook, of which there are MANY!!
The anal retentive nerd in me can't help but wonder how many people go away from here thinking there are 5250 feet in a mile
You can see the weather is AWESOME!
We find our way back to Bia 407 and start heading North on what soon becomes Heintooga Round Bottom Road. I've no idea how it got its name. Maybe it was named after some chief's wife? Anyway, it is fantastic.
Some of this...
Would it be a bona fide dual sport ride report without one of these shots...?
Now I have been on a LOT of dual sport rides, with little groups, big groups, and everything in between. One thing that has always amazed me is how frequently so many guys have to go!! I mean some of them go every time we stop. I drink a lot when riding, but I guess I just sweat it out It makes me think of those commercials where all the cars are driving around towing little trailers with port-a-potties on them and they are advertising for some drug to help with having to tinkle all the time. If I was any good at Photo Chopping, I'd be trying to stick one of those trailers behind the bikes of all the guys (I'm probably gonna pay for that shot )
More of the road
Wait... which way are we supposed to be going again...?
Oh, well this looks good...
Waiting while John tinkles... I mean tinkers with his GoPro...
A nice shot giving an idea of how steep the mountainsides can be. You don't wanna be blowing corners around here...
Something's still not right...
Typical of so many of the dirt roads in the area, hard pack covered with loose gravel.
As we head pretty much due North, the road runs along the side of a ridge, staying around 4800-5200 feet much of the time. This makes for very comfy riding conditions! At the Northernmost point where it turns back South, the elevation begins to drop gradually and we start seeing numerous creeks.
And cool bridges
Looking to where the road disappears back into the woods. It gives a good idea of how dark it can get down in the woods even in the middle of the day.
Unclear on how to use a bridge, Roger and John contemplate the best path for crossing the creek...
"No really, I think we can slip between those two big rocks and..."
And soon the road just follows what I think is Straight Fork Creek... Don't ask me... seems kind of like calling something "Government Intelligence"...
The sight of my first get off... my boot hooked on the tail bag as I dismounted to the right and the bike came right over with me... Fortunately, I landed on my tush and the bike missed me. Grace in action...
Eventually the road become Bia 405 and cuts back to the SouthEast toward the BRP. It gradually climbs from 2500 feet to about 3100 feet, then gets real steep the last bit, climbing up to about 4300 feet. This makes for some tight and technical switchbacks.
The road to the left is quite a ways down!
And what do you know...? Bia 405 goes right to the Parkway, and just to one side is the intersection where we sat earlier wondering which way to go No matter, had we gone left earlier and come this way to get on the BRP, we would have missed the cool road leading to the camp ground. So now we head back over the tunnel, cross under the BRP, and take a different road down the South side of the ridge, Bia 413 or Dodgson Ridge Rd. I know, you are shocked that it wasn't Dodgson Creek Rd., so was I! Anyway, this is a fun gravel road that wanders down the mountain until it reaches Wright Creek and wait for it... wait... becomes Wright Creek Rd. This part is paved and is great fun as it runs down out of the mountains through some beautiful farming areas.
Saw this and had to pull over... got some funny looks from the neighbors across the road though.
How long has it been since you bought a Coke out of one of these!!?
Across the field there is a big hardwood tree of some sort with a really cool tree house in it. Had Daniel been here he would have already been hopping the fence and running across the field to check it out... and I might have been right behind him Before buying a new house last fall, we spent several years shopping. My agent thought I was nuts because one of the first things I would do when checking out a prospective house was see if any of the trees were worthy of a decent tree house There's nothing quite like a good tree house when you are a kid!
And the road becomes this... horrid and boring for miles...
Eventually the horror ends and we drop out on Old US 19 again, Head East a bit to NC 1427 and cut back to the Southwest to reach US 441. We run that South to New US 19, cut back East to a spot where we can cross the Tuckasegee River, hop on NC 1397 and run back Northwest along some railroad tracks until we reach the start of NC 1177 and turn South. These are typical of the little paved secondary roads around here, smooth pavement and they flow with the countryside. Great fun!
NC 1177 runs roughly South along the banks of Connelly Creek. Yeah, I was shocked that it isn't called Connelly Creek Rd. The start is at about 2000 feet and we soon run up to Wesser Gap, which is at about 4300 feet, rising about 1000 feet just in the last 1/4 mile!
The right side of this shot leads to the left side of the next shot
Now I have been on quite a few trips with Roger and despite his road side urinary adventures, I have never really known him to be an exhibitionist. Well... as they say, you learn something new every day!
Something zapped him!
The bike waits patiently... biding its time...
Steve heads for the bushes...
It is starting to get later in the day and tushies are getting tender. When I respond to the inquiries about how much further I am frequently met with looks of apprehension... While I don't like to start real early in the day, I do like to SQUEEZE every last bit out of the rest of the day to get in as many miles as I can, hehe. Not being familiar with the roads we're going to be riding certainly helps in that regard. Roger gets his wardrobe issues sorted and we get back to riding, crossing through numerous gaps and over creek after creek. Soon we are running down Huckleberry Creek Rd., hit Leatherman Gap Rd., and finally Ned Hill Rd., (NC 1345). We drop out on Ruby Mine Rd., (NC 1343) and try to pick up Upper Dalton Creek Rd., so we can run Southeast over to US 23 and bypass Franklin. Dalton Creek Rd., is nice, but after several dead ends at REALLY fancy entrance gates it becomes obvious the roads have gone private and behind the gates are very exclusive neighborhoods, something actually quite common in this area. So we back track to Ruby Mine Rd., and head West to Hwy 28, where we drop South in to Franklin and stop for gas.
"How much further...?"
Again with the funny looks...
This is ADVENTURE riding! No one ever really knows where they are going, how long it will take, and how far it will be!
Although... my tush is getting pretty tender...
"Let's see... this road, that road, a squiggle here, a wiggle there..."
Dang, we still have some miles to cover!
We gas up and head around the new bypass that runs from North Franklin over to US 23. We pick up US 64 South and I try to get back on some back roads just outside of town... and end up in a grocery store parking lot... Uh right... so we back track and try another road... and end up in an exclusive neighborhood with locked gates... so we back track... and head South on US 64 for roads that I know.
In 2005, I discovered Ellijay Road. This is a real gem that runs from US 64 South of Franklin all the way back up through the mountains to Cullowhee on Hwy 107. It ROCKS!! But the plan is to only be on it a little while and then cut over on Little Ellijay road for a more direct route back toward Balsam Grove and softer seats... Ellijay is also shown as NC 1001 on many maps. It is paved and seriously twisty, so game on!
We only go a few miles though before we come to the turn off at the Ellijay Church. We head East on NC 1528, the start of Little Ellijay road and it soon becomes gravel. I start having fun roosting out of corners and enjoying myself, anything to take my attention off the misery that is my bum! I do slow up a bit and wave at the locals when we pass them by. No point annoying folks needlessly. Then I zoom off into the darkening woods and start climbing the mountain. About the time I am thinking this is a great road, I happen to glance down at the GPS... and we are going away from where we are supposed to be... I thought I knew this road
We turn around, something the guys are getting used to now, and head back down the mountain. It would appear that in my exuberance I may have missed a turn off somewhere, but I don't recall seeing anything to indicate that we had changed roads Back down at the bottom of the mountain I see where we are supposed to be, but not how to get there. Never one afraid to ask for directions, I pull into the driveway of the locals and they come over to see us.
"We thought you might be lost when we saw you go by..."
There are dogs wailing and moaning because they are only feet away and cannot get to me to give me a good sniffing. One, not caged, gets some quality ear scratching. Moments later a FAT cat comes leaping and bounding all the way across the yard to rub his hair all over my black riding suit... What the heck, he gets some good ear scratching too.
"I'm trying to find Little Ellijay Road... Do you know where it is?"
"Oh sure, it's up there!"
And they point up on the side of the mountain behind me. Sure enough, I can see the ledge of a road running along the side of the mountain through the woods.
"Oh... How do I get up there?"
"Go back across that creek there, hang a right, go to the stop sign, hang another right."
And with that I cross the creek, hang a right, get to the stop sign, hang another right, and there nailed to a tree is a sign for Little Ellijay Road. Well no wonder I missed it. It just looks like someone's driveway So off we go and we are soon racing up the ledge and waving back down at the ladies below
The road starts out kind of narrow, but soon gets real wide. It is freshly covered with gravel. It looks like paving may not be in the too distant future. the gravel is of the big chunky tire kicking variety and it makes the run up the hill through the curves lots of fun. I round a corner and there are maybe 8-10 FAT turkeys having a social in the middle of the road. As I come around the corner on the gas and spitting gravel, they scatter in every direction. Some run off the road, some straight up the road, and some fly into the woods. The one's running up the road, the not so bright ones, finally catch a clue and fly off into the trees. We soon reach the junction of Walnut Creek Rd., (NC 1533) and Pine Creek Rd., (NC 1163) at Walnut Gap and are back on pavement. These roads I know.
[Gottta stop, work calls... ]
|06-11-2012, 01:56 PM||#3|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
So where was I...?
Ellijay... Little Ellijay... Walnut Creek and Pine Creek... Oh yes, now I know where I am again! We head East on Pine Creek Rd., paved and great fun like so many in the area. Pine Creek runs around the North side of the Thorpe Reservoir and drops us out onto Hwy 107. It is starting to get late in the day. The sun is slowly sinking behind the trees and the shadows are getting long. It is by no means dark, but it won't be too much longer before the tinted visors become as big an issue as tender and sore rumps.
Now, if you take a look at a map and draw a line straight East from where Pine Creek Rd., drops out on 107, you will see a series of roads that roughly track due East but that appear as if they had been laid out by a stumbling drunkard. Every map I have shows this as Big Ridge Rd. My plan is to run Big Ridge, North Robinson Creek, Forest Dale, Great Falls, Ryemountain, Great Falls again, some unamed and probably not open road over to Rock Bridge, and then run Hwy 281 to Silverstein Road and basically run that all the way back over to Macedonia Church Road and finally NC 215. Did you find all that...? Look at it! Tell me that doesn't look like it would be a real hoot...
Well... it might be... if we could find the !#$% start of the road!
We head South on Hwy 107 a short way to Bee Tree Creek Rd., and turn left. Now, according to my maps, immediately after turning, we should see another left that is the start of Big Ridge. I see trees and dense undergrowth... So we carry on and run down Bee Tree Creek Rd. It's a fun road... with lots of great curves and fast elevation changes... but... and I am not talking about sore nether regions of the body... but... it is not going where I want to go... In fact, we are just making a big loop back toward Hwy 107. I stop at Cedar Creek Rd., to look over the map and ponder our options. With the sun going down, it is starting to get a tad chilly and we all decide to add some layers. There is talk of just running on down Hwy 107 to US 64 and "slabbing" it back to 215, as if you could really think of 64 in the normal sense of of boring highway However, they guys agree to run back up 107 so we can take a closer look for the start of Big Ridge.
I run up to where the map shows it starting... trees and weeds. I run up 107 a little bit looking for ANY road that cuts over to the East. Nothing. Well... there are times when prudence is the best course of action. With our light fading, we probably don't need to be getting out in the middle of nowhere on roads of unknown condition or that might not even be there, and have it get dark. Heaven forbid someone gets a flat or has a more serious problem. So we make a committee decision to head for Cashiers and pick up US 64.
We quickly reach Cashiers and turn East on US 64. 64 really is a very nice road and has some great twisty sections that demand our full attention. The only real down side is that it is the only semi major artery running East/West in this area and so it tends to have a lot of traffic on it. Sunday evening appears not to be a heavy traffic time so it is actually quite nice. The other interesting thing about it is that it is lined on both sides with all these massive developments. They all have lakes and golf courses. I am not sure if they are actually home developments, resorts of some kind, or both. Regardless, there are a LOT nicely landscaped entrances with locked gates to keep out the riff-raff. I don't know who comes here? Movie stars, bankers, lawyers, doctors, government employees? Whatever...
The stock headlight on a KTM 530 has a bulb and it does light up, but that is about all you can say about it. You can see it in the dark, but it is pretty much worthless for actually seeing in the dark. The first time I tried riding this bike in the dark, it scared me to death and that was in a residential neighborhood. So I bought an aftermarket light for the bike. Well... it is not much better. The low beam is aimed way too low and can't be adjusted any higher and it seems my high beam is burned out My adventures always seem to involve riding in the dark so I am going to have to get this sorted.
Meanwhile, we finally reach NC 215 and the tight 15-25mph corners are coming one after the other. My eyes are straining to see as far as I can, which given the short sight lines of these corners isn't really all that far. We finally reach the house, a little tense but none the worse for the wear. Technically... it is not dark yet. But the last light soon fades from the sky as we park the bikes and look for a cold beer. Yeah... we are all walking kind of funny, but I think its the clunky dirt boots causing the wobbles and creaking
We have a nice BBQ sandwich dinner and talk about our plans for tomorrow. Steve says something about a shorter route... The boob tube is going on about some tropical storm off the coast of North Carolina! Looks like rain may be in our near future. So we decide to make tomorrow a "Big Bike" day and head for Deal's Gap. This route should be mostly pavement. So if it does rain, things won't get too messy. Our plans settled, we call it a day.
|06-11-2012, 02:08 PM||#4|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
Monday, May 21:
Morning arrives. I roll out about 8:00am and am the last one up... as usual. Everyone is in the kitchen hovering around the TV to see what the weather is going to do. Scattered thunderstorms are predicted. I mull this over as I savor my apple cinnamon Pop Tarts and notice a BIG bag of powdered donuts sitting on the counter next to me... Roger has a thing for them. We both eat pretty healthy on a daily basis. But when we go on trips, we also engage in a kind of dietary vacation I do Pop Tarts and beer... not at the same time... Roger does powdered donuts. I gave them up years and years ago. There was a time when I ate a pack a day, with a coke. Seeing them triggers a bit of drooling but I refrain.
I notice that we are all moving a bit slower than yesterday morning. By the time we are all geared up and ready to pull out, it is almost 10:00am, slightly later than yesterday. But like yesterday, the morning air is damp and cool. With the mesh riding jacket/pants, some under layers are a necessity. I'm riding my 1200GS, Roger his 990 Adventure, John his new to him KLR 650 and Steve is riding his "big bike"... his KTM 690 The plan is to head for Deal's Gap and also ride the Cherohala Skyway, maybe doing some mild dirt roads here and there along the way and back. I've got TKC 80s mounted on the GS (knobbies). They really help with the manners of the GS on the unpaved stuff but they still rock on the pavement. So I don't have to worry about giving up any fun because of the tires. We head for the gas station to top of the bikes and then get serious about the day's ride.
We start by heading West on Tanasee Gap Rd. This used to be dirt, but like so many roads in the area, it is now paved. The only saving grace is that when the dirt roads get paved, they don't usually cut, fill, and grade them into boring roads. They still twist and wind with the sides of the mountains. At first, the GS feels all wrong. After spending all day yesterday flogging my bantam weight KTM around and rocketing out of corners, the GS feels like a big awkward pig. I slow down, focus on reorienting my brain, and soon start to find my groove. The GS is not about banging through the gears. It is all about use of the prodigious torque made by the big boxer motor. Most times, shifting is optional
We make quick work of Tanasee Gap and soon reach Hwy 281, where we turn North toward Tuckasegee. This is where we came out yesterday and went North. Today we turn South down Hwy 107 to look for the first of the dirt roads I want to explore, Cullowhee Forest Rd. The idea is to cut to the West, pick up White Rock Rd., and Mountain Grove Rd., and then come out near Franklin. As we head down 107, I get to having so much fun I don't realize we are coming up on our turn off for Cullowhee Forest and I blow right by it. I catch it out of the corner of my eye and so pull off just beyond.
The road we want is right back there where that little wooden fence runs behind the bushes to the left.
Now you can see why it is easy to miss!
We turn around and head down Cullowhee Forest Rd. It starts out really steep and winding, down into a little ravine, then climbs back out the other side. I get a bit of a pucker factor as I find out that I have no back brakes to speak of!! What the!? The GS is heavy and wants to pick up some serious speed going down into those tight switchbacks. I am not wild about getting on the front brakes, but with no choice I ease them on and use as much engine braking as I can. Going up hill is no big deal. When we reach the top of the climb on the far side, we come to a locked gate... While we are turning around and I am looking for a detour route, a few vehicles come out the gate. They give us friendly waves and don't stop to see what we might be up to...
While stopped, I turn off my bike and then restart it, hoping this might fix the brake issue. What on Earth could this change you ask...?! I'll tell you. BMW decided that these bikes needed power assist brakes, their EVO brake system, which work in conjunction with the ABS system (anti-lock). I have no idea why they thought these bikes needed power brakes!? I mean, sure... they are kind of heavy, but they are not THAT heavy! Anyway, the problem is that if you lose the power assist, you lose a LOT of your braking power and you have to REALLY mash the levers to get things slowed down! Not exactly my idea of a great system and I think they did away with the EVO stuff in later year models. When the bike is started, the braking system goes through all its checks. My thought is that something might have been goobered in this process and restarting might clear the issue. Fortunately, it does and the ride back out to 107 is much less stressful.
But where to go now...? Hmmm....
We could run back up to Tuckasegee and head to Cullowhee, then cut back SW on Ellijay road to get back on track, but that takes us pretty far out of the way and hits roads I want to run later in the day when we are on the return leg of the ride. I like to try to minimize road duplication where possible so I look for something else. There is Pine Creek and Walnut Creek roads. They are good fun and will drop us out just South of Franklin on US 64, not far from where we want to be. So off we go...
The run up Pine Creek is fast and fun. We climb to almost 4100 feet at Walnut Gap, where Pine Creek ends and Walnut Gap Rd., starts. It makes a tight quick initial descent of about 1200 feet in the space of a 1/4 mile or so and then opens up a bit for the run following Walnut Creek out to US 64. Nothing but pavement between here and Deal's Gap, but not just any pavement...
I remember the first time I came out to this area. Deal's Gap was the road that EVERYONE was all hyped up about riding. So of course we had to check it out. BUT... After riding it, we kept exploring and found two other spectacular roads, Hwy 28 North of Franklin, between Oak Grove and US 19, and Wayah Bald Road which comes from US 19 over where US 129 meets it, and eventually brings you in on the West side of Franklin. I have since done both roads many times and absolutely love them.
The best way I can describe the sensation of riding this section of Hwy 28 is to think of the feeling of doing a fast ski slalom. There is no time spent going straight. The curves are banked and tight, leading one to another. I settle into 2nd gear and just run as smooth as I can. The wide bars of the GS make flicking it from one extreme lean to another almost effortless and the bike holds its line through the corners with ease. Up until now, we haven't really seen many other bikes, yesterday or today. Now it changes. All manner of bikes come at us from the other direction, no doubt many having already been to Deal's Gap, which attracts bikes like moths to a flame. They stay in their lane. I stay in mine. I keep expecting the sounds of my pegs scraping the pavement but never hear it. Last time out here when I was on the 1150 GS, that was heard in almost every corner. The rhythm of the road soon takes me and I slip into that zone where there is nothing but the road, the bike, and me, all in blissful harmony. I'm not thinking about our route. I'm not checking the GPS. I'm just totally focused on the next corner.
And all too soon we reach Hwy 19. I am half tempted to turn around and run down to Oak Grove and back. I doubt the guys would protest. But as we pull into the parking lot of the little gas station at the intersection, I notice I am a bit warmer now than I was earlier and think to myself...
"I bet they have ice cream in there..."
Ice cream is a real weakness of mine. I try to confine it to special occasions, like each new day that life throws at me. But seriously, I don't keep Blue Bell in the house any more... or the garage freezer either. So now it is kind of like the Pop Tarts and beer, savored on the bike trips. I head inside and sure enough, they have those little waffle cone ice creams with the chocolate and nuts on the top. You know the ones... You're probably craving one right now... I am I snag one and head back outside to join the guys. Everyone is pretty stoked about the last few miles of riding and there are some serious ear to ear grins on every face.
After a nice break and shedding some layers, we head West on Hwy 19 and then pick up Hwy 28 to the North. In recent years, the Southern half of the section of 28 between Deal's Gap (US 129) and Hwy 19 has been WIDENED, made multi lane, and straightened. It was never an incredible ride, but now it is kind of lame and has a ridiculous speed limit of 55mph Fortunately, by the time we get to Johnson Gap, where NC 143 intersects 28, the road starts to get fun again. Unfortunately, the traffic also gets heavier. I come up behind a couple riding two up on a cruiser of some sort and he is taking the corners soooo sloooowww that he is having trouble keeping the bike balanced! He weeble wobbles his way through each one while I hang behind them, wincing at every bobble. I figure they are probably on their own adventure and drop off so as not to make them feel hurried or annoyed. There will be plenty of opportunities for me to ignore the scenery later
By the time we reach Fontana Dam, I have managed to get around the couple without any drama. Once across the dam, the road follows the edge of Lake Cheoah. There aren't any serious elevation changes, but there are a lot of fun corners. Near the end of the road, it suddenly climbs about 500 feet and the last corner just kind of pops me out right into the parking lot of the Deal's Gap resort, which used to be known as The Crossroads of Time, but I don't know if that has been dropped or not. There are bikes everywhere, but it is not the most crowded I have seen it. This is a Monday. I have been here on Saturdays where it was hard to even get in and out of the parking lot!
The place has REALLY changed! See that dude standing on the left in the above image? Everything beyond him used to be a grass camping area. The shed thing on the right is covered and lighted working areas so you can work on your bike. It is newish. Same for the loading ramp thing in the lower left corner (I think it was there in 2004, but was not when I first came out in 2000).
The covered tables on the right are new, as is the BBQ smoker pit behind the tables
Everything on this side of the covered gas pumps is relatively new (built since 2000). It used to just be a small gas station/store with a mobile home next to it for the two guys that worked there.
This shot was taken in August of 2000 from the opposite side of the gas pumps
This was taken in May of 02, I think after ownership changed hands. Notice the deck in front of the store.
and here it is in Aug of 04, with the new restaurant added on to the original building
Anyway, whoever owns it now has REALLY worked hard to modernize the place. I have mixed feelings about it. I kind of enjoyed the "quaint" feeling of it before all the upgrades. It had kind of an old timey Route 66 cheap motel feel to it. Sure, it was popular with riders and car enthusiasts even then, but it just didn't have that commercialized feeling. On the other hand, I certainly do not begrudge the current owners their commercial success and I admire what they have been able to do. Even the nearby town of Robbinsville has gotten in on it, having built many new hotels and restaurants since my first trip out here. Motorcycle tourism brings in a LOT of money in this area!!
We take some time to just wander around, check out bikes, visit with folks and soak in the energy. Bikes are coming and going constantly. The variety of bikes is amazing. There are also quite a few really nice sports cars, even some serious high dollar ones.
Steve posing with the Tree of Shame, where you hang a bike part if you crash on the Tail of The Dragon (the named given the stretch of road here at Deal's Gap).
The covered picnic/BBQ area, which smells REAL good about now...
The new fancy sign where everyone poses for the obligatory pictures...
Here's the old one (Aug 04)
The parking lot seems to be filling up quickly!
Another new sign, this one up on the loading dock where you can park the bike in front of the sign if you like
A Honda Ruckus? I watched it ride away to tackle the Dragon! That cable thing is a security cable. Apparently these are highly desired...
Can you pick out the fast bike...?
The smell of cooking food starts to get to me. I suggest to the guys that we ride the Dragon, come back here and eat, then continue our ride for the day. They agree so off we go. I think the last time I actually rode the Dragon was in 2004 on my 1150 GS, also wearing the TKC 80 knobbies. I recall being held up by some "fast" bikes. This time fast bikes are not an issue. I take off, following Steve. I keep him in sight but when I come around one curve, it is just in time to see him passing two ladies on cruisers on one of the few straight sections of the Dragon. I also see that I will NOT be passing them So I settle in behind them. They are going so slow that they are wobbling, just like the couple I got behind earlier. I am in first gear and coasting with the clutch pulled in. I should pull out and just let them go, but for some reason I just hang behind them and putt along. There are lots of places for them to pull out, but the lady in front of me has no rear view mirrors... Oh well...
I reach the overlook, typically thought of as the end of the Dragon, and find Steve waiting. Roger and John arrive shortly. They take a few pictures. I notice the two ladies getting ready to head back. I jump on the bike and take off so I can get ahead of them for the run back. The ride is MUCH more enjoyable this time. The two cars I get behind pull over and wave me around them. NICE! I'm not trying to go fast, I am just trying to be smooth. The Dragon has a lot of technical corners and the consequences of blowing any of them are not pretty... I enjoy the ride and soon reach the parking lot at the Crossroads. It is still packed. Time to eat
The grill selection at the restaurant is pretty good. I eat light when riding, so a small sandwich and a few fries for me. After lunch we are standing in the parking lot discussing the riding plans and the smell of rain is in the air... It is looking kind of dark and ominous to the South back down Hwy 28 but not so bad to the West, where I want to head. Steve has decided he's done for the day and wants to know the quickest way back to the house. I let him know that it is basically the same way we came. He's got his GPS with the track so he should be good. The rest of us decide to keep on with the original route and head for the Cherohala Skyway.
Steve heads back down Hwy 28 and we head down US 129 toward Robbinsville. This stretch of 129 runs right down the side of the mountain to the Lake Cheoah Dam. All these dams are on the Little Tennessee River and are remnants of the TVA which sought to bring electricity to the area back in the early 1900's.
I don't know what is going on, but there is some kind of work being done around the power house. There are contractor trucks all over the side of the highway and they are bringing in some heavy construction stuff. Maybe they are updating the facilities We get through it all and head down 129 toward Robbinsville. This section of 129 is relatively flat and runs along the banks of the Cheoah River. I have always enjoyed the sweeping curves and scenic valley on this section of 129. It is just a nice relaxing stretch of road, but you still have to keep your eyes open for those riders that want to use it like a race track and the LEOs out looking for them
We turn West on NC 1134 into the Joyce Kilmer Forest. It runs around the North side of Lake Santeetlah. It is a nice narrow but well paved road with the woods coming right up to the edge of the pavement. It is another of my local favorites.
The pavement is wet. It is not raining right now, but the skies look like they might open up at any time. We continue on toward NC 143, which becomes the Cherohala Skyway on the North Carolina side of the state line. We drop out right were NC 81 joins 143, which is the official start of the section of road designated as the skyway, at Santeetlah Gap.
Notice the fresh grass clippings in the road in the above shot? There was a LOT of that as we were coming through the woods. Grass clippings can be slick when dry, but when wet... Even picking my lines very carefully, I still hit a few small patches and felt the bike wiggling around under me. Not fun.
The first of MANY overlooks
Top of the sign
We see some other bikes coming from the direction we are heading. They are wearing rain gear. The clouds in the distance look menacing and low. Well, I have two great memories of riding this road, both on the same trip.
The first day of that trip we rode into this area via the Skyway from Tellico Plains on the Tennessee side. It was around 11:00pm, clear and COLD, especially once we got up to the 5000 ft elevation common along the Skyway. The road had newish pavement and still had reflectors on the center stripe. They could be seen reflecting as the road turned in and out from the sides of the mountains. The clouds had turned to fog and settled into the valleys below. The full moon was so bright that the stars were overpowered. The light from the moon hit the top of the low lying clouds and reflected back up the mountain sides. I had been on the bike for close to 12 hours and it had been a LONG day of riding. But in that moment, nothing else but the ride mattered. It was surreal, like riding through the heavens.
The last day of that trip, we were leaving the area via the Skyway. Beth's Triumph Legend was in the back of our new friend's pickup and heading to Dallas. She was riding in the truck. The bike and rider she displaced was riding with me on his Sprint ST. We stopped at the Black Knight Cafe in Robbinsville for a bite to eat before tackling the Skyway. The people inside looked out the windows at us as we got off the bikes and laughed as they saw me wringing the water out of my gloves. It was in the low 60s at the time. After lunch we took off for the Skyway and the skies opened up with a vengeance! The temperature dropped into the low 50s but it was not real windy, just a straight down pour. I was on my VFR 800 and fully loaded. For whatever reason, the other rider and I slipped into a shared groove and we had an absolute amazing ride despite the cold and wet. We stopped at a pull out next to the river on the low end of the Tennessee side for a high fiving session, and to warm up a bit. It had finally stopped raining.
My 98 VFR 800
His Sprint ST
As much fun as I had riding in the rain with my bud that time, I am not real wild about doing it this time. I was on much better tires then, not knobbies. And to really enjoy the Skyway, the speeds have to be a little higher than what I would want to do in the rain on the GS with knobbies. Still, we press on, if anything just so John and Roger can kind of get a feeling for the road. We get about 10 miles into the ride, right about to where the road first gets real close to the Tennessee border and starts to get really fun, and I am hearing the rumbling of thunder over the sounds of the bike and despite my ear plugs... The clouds are really getting dark now and I am getting some sprinkles on me. I pull into the next over look for a pow wow with the guys and we decide to turn tail, saving this for the next trip There is also a ton of good DS riding in this area, so that gives us a good reason to get back out here.
We scoot back down the Skyway and run 143 all the way into Robbinsville, which is still a really fun ride. We hit US 129 and turn South toward Hwy 19. Traffic can get bad on this stretch of road but it is light today. The road surface is damp, but it is not raining. We turn East on 19. My plan is to introduce the guys to the Winding Stairs Rd. As the name implies, this is a very twisty road. It is unpaved and goes right up the side of the mountain via some tight switchbacks and places where the road is just a ledge cut into the rock face. Once it reaches the top of the mountain, there is a nice lake and cabin, then the road becomes paved. I rode it back in 2004 with Wasabi and Beemin.
This section of Hwy 19 is really scenic. It follows the Nantahala River. The woods are VERY dense and it almost feels like riding through a tunnel, especially because of the overcast skies. We reach the turn for Winding Stairs and cross the river to the base of the mountain.
The first of two bridges, there is an island in the middle of the river
The road on the far side
When I first pull up to park, I look down and there are these little purple/pink butterflies just flittering all over the place just above the ground. I am guessing there are maybe 50-60 of them. They part around the bike and then close in behind me. They do the same when I get off the bike. By the time I get the camera out and try to get a shot of them, most of them have already wandered off into the woods. We stop to take a break... you know... so Roger and John can attend to the call of nature, hehe.
Looking East down the river, a low fog hangs over the fast moving water...
The undergrowth is dense on this typical hillside
Made with Carnegie steel!
There is a hiking/biking path that runs along this side of the river. It doesn't look like much motorized traffic crosses these bridges, except maybe when people park cars here and go hiking. But there is a parking lot on the highway side of the bridges, so even that might not happen often. Excited about riding this road again, I give Roger and John a little bit of build up to get them stoked as well.
And then we go around the corner...
And there is a locked gate!
"Well, I promise it really is a cool road. I have no idea what would cause them to close it..."
So we turn around. We'll run Wayah Bald Rd., instead. It runs along the base of the mountains, the tops of which we would have been riding. The pavement is not as pristine as it was the last time I rode it, but it is still nice. There are numerous beautiful homes down in here, some of which even sit right on the creek, literally. With the dense woods, the flowing creek, and the nature of the style of homes, this spot has a real storybook feel to it. It seems far more likely that we'd encounter a dragon here than we would at Deal's Gap!
Itching to do some dirt still, I decide to forgo riding all of Wayah Bald and instead we head for Tellico Gap. The West side starts out paved but soon turns to a narrow dirt road that quickly climbs up to the gap.
Stopped at the top of Tellico Gap
The East side basically follows the big overhead power lines down out of the mountains.
My little point and shoot was having exposure issues, the overcast makes for a bright background against the dark foreground of the woods
This is a bit better
John on the KLR, Roger in the background
Roger on his 990 Adventure
A little darker than reality, but not much
Maybe a tad brighter than reality, the real deal being between this is and the previous shot. The woods really do block a lot of the sunlight. It is maybe 4:30-5:00 right now.
The road flattens out and runs on down along Tellico Creek to the Little Tennesee River. We turn off before that and head South on a road I've never done, but turns out to be fantastic...
|06-11-2012, 02:18 PM||#5|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
Day two continued...
So I left off with us turning South onto a great paved road. It is not a real long road, right at 7-1/2 miles, but it is a cracker! The pavement is absolutely perfect... and DRY!! It is the soft grey color with the texture of sandpaper. Traction is perfect. There is nary a ripple or crease to be seen. The curves just flow one into another. It runs along a small valley and eventually drops out near the airport on the West side of Franklin. the name is Lower Burningtown Rd. (NC 1364). Almost without effort I slip into the riding zone, totally in tune with the road. The smooth vibration and rumble of the big boxer courses through my body, giving me perfect feedback about what the bike is doing. No need to think about what gear I am in, how fast I am going, how many RPMs the engine is turning... I just scan for the vanishing point of the pavement as it bends into the woods at each curve. Motorcycle nerdvanna
And then a suicidal scooter shoots out from a side road without stopping or looking...
Now, I am wasn't really going nuts on this road and I have plenty of time to react. But man!! Talk about a buzz kill! After maybe a quarter mile or so the rider FINALLY checks his six and sees me in his mirrors. He puts the hammer down and takes off!!! ... Reaching an almost blinding 40 mph... Right... So anyway..., the road looks like the best is behind me and I just hang back and wait for the others to catch up with me. Then we cruise on in to town.
John's Dad mentioned something about Whiskey riders. It seems that if you lose your license out here because of excessive drinking, you can still ride a scooter, which does not require a license. Apparently, there are a lot of people with drinking issues in these parts that lose there licenses and become scooter riders. So now every time I see a scooter for the rest of the week I am going to be wondering if I have to deal with someone that is drunk off their rocker
We reach Hwy 28 on the North side of town and stop for gas. Once again, it is getting late in the day and tushies are getting tender. Questions of how much further and when we will be there start All agree that the last road was great! After a short break, we get back on the bikes and head to the East side of town. No messing around with grocery store parking lots and exclusive gated neighborhoods this time. I am on a mission!
Just off of Hwy 28, we head West on Cat Creek Rd. (NC 1513), which is paved and fun. It winds through some rural neighborhoods and eventually out of town, becoming Onion Mountain Rd., and then Mountain Grove Rd. (NC 1521). The road is not real rough and is a lot of fun on the GS. I came through here on two previous trips on the 1150 GS. The roads are damp again, the clouds are hanging low, but it doesn't feel like rain if you know what I mean. I reach the end of Mountain Grove and it drops me out at a familiar spot on Ellijay Road, just in time to scare a HUGE turkey off the road and up into the underbrush. I have been seeing a bunch of these things!
Just one of many such curves on Ellijay Road!!
We head Northeast on Ellijay Road and soon pass through Cullowhee Gap at about 3700 feet. Had the route gone as planned earlier, this is where we would have come out from White Rock and Cullowhee Forest roads. Remember the locked gate earlier in the day? I wish we had time to run it backward and see if there might be another way through. White Rock looks like it runs over and hits Cullowhee Mountain Rd. This road runs North and South, connecting Pine Creek Rd., to the North end of Ellijay Road just outside of Cullowhee. Looking at the map, it looks like it could be fun. I can't believe I missed this when working out the detour earlier this morning Oh well... I'll just have to remember it for the next trip
The pavement on Ellijay road has deteriorated since my last visit. It has become cracked, patched and rough in some places. It is still easily rideable for street bikes, like say a VFR 800, but it is more fun on a good DS that can more easily handle the imperfections of the pavement. There aren't many homes along the road and the trees come in real close, forming a dark green tunnel. It is so easy to forget about the rest of the world when riding roads like this...
We soon reach Hwy 107 in Cullowhee and head South for Tuckasgee.
Somewhere along 107 before we reach Tuckasegee
As sure as night follows day, mist and low clouds follow the rains in the Smoky Mountains
At Tuckasegee, we head back Southeast on Hwy 281. Along the way I decide to take Charlie's Creek Rd., back over to NC 215. It was such fun yesterday on the KTM that I figure it should be just as fun on the GS. It is, but the pace I run is far more subdued this time. The pavement is not wet like it is when it is raining, but it is quite damp and there are patches of running water crossing the road in several places. Being that it is nearing the end of the day and we are getting tired, I bring the pace down and run a nice relaxed rhythm, focusing on being real smooth and keeping all my inputs as non disruptive to the flow of the bike as possible. I brake a little earlier or roll off the gas a little earlier. I get on the gas a little softer. It is not about going fast. It is all about smooth... I find this kind of riding VERY rewarding! I slip into another riding coma and time slips from my mind as I just connect the dots through the curves.
We finally reach NC 215 and as a last little treat, we turn down Indian Creek Rd. This is unpaved and brings us in on the North side of where John's dad lives. It is not real twisty either so I kind of open up the GS and have some fun In short order we reach Shoal Creek Rd., and turn South for the last few miles to the house. We find Steve waiting. It seems that he got rained on pretty hard ALL THE WAY BACK... Bummer dude... We barely got a drop
It is turning into a nice evening now... and the fire flies are not out yet! I enjoy a cold beer and relax. We hang out and visit, I work on figuring out the route for tomorrow, and Steve tells us he is going to take tomorrow off... so his gear can dry out! I think it's really because the seat on his KTM is getting to him So anyway... let's see... small bike day! We'll head South and see what we can find and maybe work our way over to the Highlands area to hit some roads I've ridden on past trips.
My back has been hurting pretty good. I've had a chronic spot or two for years. When they get fired up, the one between the lower shoulder blades feels like it has a crowbar wedged between two vertebra and someone is just hanging off of it. It is very sharp and very localized, but it sends out waves of tingling into the surrounding muscles and can cause some spasms that feel like cramps. Usually stretching helps keep it in check. But the long days on the bike have it flaming pretty good. I take a mild pain killer and muscle relaxer and in short order I am off to bed. Roger is already peacefully snoring away. The man falls asleep within seconds of his head hitting the pillow and he sleeps like a rock, except when he talks... but we won't get into that here... I think I last maybe two minutes before I am out like a light!
|06-12-2012, 08:50 PM||#6|
North Georgia Dual Sportr
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Calhoun, GA. USA
Glad you guys enjoyed our East Coast
I love it here, but it's kinda disappointing after I was lucky
Enough to ride 650 Dirt miles of San Juan Mtns in
2008 KTM 690 ENDURO with 2009 suspension & 950 SUPER ENDURO
|06-13-2012, 07:29 AM||#7|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
|06-13-2012, 09:45 AM||#8|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
Day Three, Tuesday:
It is getting harder and harder for me to wake up each morning... Sure, I am going to be much earlier than my normal 2-3am, but my body doesn't change gears that fast and still thinks this is just a short term thing... I hit snooze... again... I just turn the !#$% thing off!
"Hmmm... it's getting kind of bright in here... I probably ought to see what time it is..."
Well, it's only a few minutes after 8:00am, so I'm still good.
"Wait... did I roll over...? Crap! What time is it now!!??"
Time has no meaning when you are asleep. What felt like hours has only been a few more minutes. I'd best be getting up and finding some Pop Tarts. The guys are in the kitchen watching the toob. Weather looks iffy again, scattered thunderstorms. I step out on the front porch. It's damp and cool again. Steve has decided to sit out today's riding... something about wet gear... We decide to make this a "short" day and ride the smaller bikes. We have to be back around 4:00ish because tonight we are having dinner at John's Aunt's house in Brevard. The general plan is to head Southwest to the area around Highlands/Cashiers, keeping close so that if time becomes an issue we can just hop on the main road and be back quickly. But first... off to the little gas station.
We start by heading North on NC 215 to Tanasee Gap Rd. I want to check out a little wiggly road that cuts back to the Southeast and comes back toward NC 215, but stays on this side of The French Broad River.
Start of NC 1325 - Still a bit wet from yesterday's rains
We make quick work of NC 1325. Like almost every road out here, it follows a little creek that eventually leads to a bigger creek or a river. In this case, it winds its way to the French Broad River and comes out right at one of John's Dad's favorite fishing spots where he can hide in a spot where the fish can't see him. We turn right on Old Wagon Rd. (NC 1379), and a shortly hit Macedonia Church Rd. (NC 1326). We cut back West here. My plan is to check out Silverstein and Diamond Creek roads.
Macedonia Church is a nice paved road, so I set a nice paved road pace But all to soon I spot "Road Closed Ahead" signs... Like any good dual sport rider, I continue on to see how serious the construction folks are about this road closed business. After all, sometimes it is real easy to get around construction and just carry on with the original route. And... sometimes... NOT. It seems these guys are really serious. They are replacing a small bridge over Lamance Creek. They have parked their large earth mover right on top of what could have been a very easily passable crossing. There is about six to eight inches on either side of the tracks of the machine, but one slight slip in the soft dirt at the edge and over you'd go... We look around to see if there is a way to just ride across the creek but come up with nothing.
So I check the GPS map, and in looking at it there appears to be a road back near the North end of NC 1325. Parker Road, and the South end of the road drops out on Macedonia on the other side of the crossing. So we'll just double back up to Tanasee Gap Rd., and come down the other road. Right!? Wrong!! We get all the way back to where the start of the road should be and there is nothing but a faint trail going off across someone's fenced property. So we backtrack again down to Old Wagon Rd., running NC 1325 for the third time this morning and hop on NC 215. This should get us down to where the original plan would have dropped us out and we can pick up the planned route there.
From NC 215, the plan is to Head toward Lake Jocassee, staying just inside the North Carolina state line on a forest road. We head Southwest on Frozen Creek Rd. (NC 1139), which I think used to be part of Old Hwy US 64. It is a nice two lane paved road that is really fun. According to the GPS, the forest road I want should be about 2-1/2 miles down this road, right at the point where there is a 90 bend back to the Southeast. It will be an out and back run and it looks like it should be really twisty and fun! But... I pass the corner and never see a road. When I look down at the GPS a few curves later and realize I've passed it, I pull over at a little park area to check the map. We've definitely passed it. John and Roger wait here while I run back up the road to take a closer look.... Nothing. Not even a hint of a road that used to exist. Dang. I was really looking forward to this one too Well... I head back to John and Roger and it is decided that we'll continue on with the route.
As we continue, the road starts to get twistier and more fun. There are a lot of little creeks in the area so the road rises and falls quickly as it passes over the little ridges between the creeks. We soon reach the turn off for Oscar Chapel Hill Rd., which heads South. Pavement gives way to loose gravel and we are soon sliding through corners. There are some homes clustered around the beginning of the road, some with a LOT of BIG dogs. One booming "WOOF!!" really surprises me and I look down into the eyes of a dog whose head is right about even with my knee... I roost away without any problem, hit the next corner... and... a locked gate!! This is not looking good for today's route. Now we have to turn around and go back through the dogs again
It would seem we are no longer interesting. I don't even see the dogs as I go back. At the paved road, we turn right and head North on what is now Old Toxaway Road. We reach US 178 and head up into the small town of Rosman. We stop so John can use the facilities and to rethink our route for the day. The original route would have had us going on South around Lake Jocasee. Given the time we have already wasted with detours and locked gates, if we continue with that route it will really push us further from the home base and make it harder to abort if necessary to get back in time to clean up for dinner. So we decide to just scrap the route and wing it. I love doing this, but the guys look at me with a wary eye or four...
The new plan is to head for the South end of Cathy's Creek Road. We'll run that back up into the National Forest area just South of the Blue ridge Parkway. Then if we hit bad weather or run out of time, it is a quick shot to get back to the house. Rather than just run up US 64 to the start of Cathy's Creek, I suggest we head back South on US 178 and run a few little back roads that bring us out by Cathy's Creek. John's bladder emptied and with a new plan, we strike out for points unknown...
Just South of town we head East on East Fork Road (NC 1107). It follows the East Fork of the French Broad River. Road naming in these parts seems to follow some simple rules. All roads must have "old", "creek", "fork", "mountain", "bald" or "knob" in the name. Interestingly, such adjectives give a good idea of how much fun the road will be! A road lacking any of the above is almost always just plain old bor... whoops... just a plain boring road. So, East Fork road turns out to be quite fun, smooth and twisty as it follows the river. We turn North on Walnut Hollow Rd. (NC 1103), and based on the above reasoning I am not expecting too much from it. It delivers. It is nice and scenic, but the curves more open and the elevation more constant. We turn up toward US 64 on Hanna Ford Rd., which is actually kind of fun, and then reach the main highway. A quick shot East on US 64 brings us to the start of Cathy's Creek Rd.
Cathy's creek starts out as dirt almost right away. It heads deep into thick woods. There are scattered primitive camping areas all along the creek, most empty as of right now. They will no doubt fill up fast as the Memorial Day weekend approaches. We settle into a nice rhythm as the road starts climbing. And then I spot a neat series of water falls.
A close up of just one part of the series
Looking on down from the first spot
John looks like an astronaut from some other planet observing our environment
Tried to get it all in one shot... meh...
Oh well... bike shots are always good
There are a LOT of these little one lane bridges. Gotta exercise caution on them as they can be slippery
The rest of the run of Cathy's creek is a lot of fun. It dead ends into Government Rd., which if you run Shoal Creek Rd., North from John's Dad's house becomes Government Rd., and bends back to the East. Shortly after getting on Government Rd., we pass some road maintenance crews. They are dumping gravel and grading the road. We get by them without any problem and then have some fun sliding the bikes around in the soft dirt The fun is short lived though as it does not take long to reach the point where the road becomes paved, which I think is near the Davidson River. The fun does not stop completely though because the paved section is a real hoot, smooth, twisty and like a roller coaster. Near the end, I am waiting for the others and ready to head North up an unamed Forest Rd., that goes right to the East of Looking Glass Rock peak. When john shows up, he wants us to follow him a little further down Government Road, to a fishery. Okay...
We see a lot of this over the course of the week
Those rocks are typical of many creek/river beds in the area
After checking out the fishery, we double back to the road running North. Our new plan is to run this up to where it hits NC 276, shoot up North a hair, pick up another Forest Rd., that runs down the East side of 276, then shoot all the way back up 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Northbound road is great. The Mountain Laurel is blooming EVERYWHERE. There are also all manner of wild flowers scattered about the road side. At times it almost feels like we are riding in a garden.
The just look faded in the pics, but are definitely brighter in person...
A straight section of the road
We stop at an overlook spot that gives a good view of Looking Glass Rock. Don't ask me, I don't name these things... I just take pictures of them
A close up of the Mountain Laurels
We make the rest of the run to 276, then head South on the other Forest Rd. No pictures. I was too busy having fun! It's a great road though, as if any of the roads out here aren't There are water falls and creeks all over the place. Speaking of such things... we stop on the way up 276 to check out Looking Glass Falls.
It is hard to judge scale from the pictures because there is no good reference. However, I would guess the drop to be about 75 feet maybe. There are some older couples here on a sight seeing trip. While the little old ladies are oohing and ahhing about the water fall, I spot the husbands looking behind them and checking out the bikes, hehe. Before we take off, I suggest to Roger that he reverse his GoPro and get footage of me following him up the mountain. He gets that set up and off we go.
Now Roger likes to claim that he rides slow on the street and has given up his squidly ways... don't let him fool you We get stuck behind a few cars but fortunately are able to clear them before we hit the fun stuff. When we hit the 20-30mph corners that come one after the other, it is GAME ON! The lightweight KTMs are getting tossed back and forth and screaming out of the corners. I hang on his back, trying to keep about 2-3 bike lengths between us so that I will show up in the video. There are a few damp spots on the pavement here and there but we snake our way between them and slow a bit where we can't. We settle into a great groove together and race to the top of the ridge! At the top we stop to wait for John. I think he got hung up with traffic. Who cares how the video came out, that was a blast!!
Not having had any lunch yet, I convince the guys to run up the Parkway to the Pisgah Inn for a quick bite to eat. But first a few pics at the nearby overlook.
Looking kind of gloomy...
Cold Mountain is hidden in those clouds
Roger on his 450
All kinds of great riding memories come flooding back to me as soon as we hit the first few corners. I did several trips out here on the VFR 800 and two others with the R1150GS. Each time we made a point to run a good section of the BRP. I've done it in beautiful weather and cold whipping sleet. It's all been good. I spent two trips staying at the Pisgah Inn for rallies and made a lot of good friends and had great rides with them. Beth also had her first (only) accident on the BRP not far from here. She was fine, the bike was dinged, but her confidence on the bike never reached the same level again. She still went on to ride another 30K miles in the next few years until we started having kids.
Another overlook, Frying Pan Lookout maybe?
One of many tunnels along the BRP, gotta watch for water in them though!
We finally reach the Pisgah Inn and I get us a table.
The view off the back deck of the restaurant
See that shower on the right side of above shot...? That is where we are heading next You can also see the BRP cutting around the mountain on the far right. We're hoping that while we eat, this storm will blow on through and we can get behind it.
A close up
Lunch is good. The soft chair is good. My joints are already setting up and getting stiff. It's always hard getting back on the bike after a nice lunch. I eat lite though to avoid the post lunch drowsies. It is raining outside. We have rain gear but agree to just sit for a while and see if it will pass. Time has been slipping away from us though as it is already nearly 3:30pm!! We have to get home! We CANNOT be late for dinner!
We decide to take the most direct route back. We'll backtrack to US 276, run it down to the West side forest road, hit Government Road and run that all the way back to the house. I take point and off we go. The pavement is damp, but has good grip. I take it easy and just focus on being smooth.
Still have time for another pic!
The first storm passed and we thought we'd be in the clear. But what do I spy directly above the bars of the bike in the shot above...? Yeah... right where we're heading
The run down 276 involves diving into some tight corners that descend pretty good as they turn. I have to really focus on braking early so I don't overload and wash out the front end. We quickly reach the start of the forest road and keep going. It's wet but not bad. There are puddles here and there, but not much all out mud. The tires bite into the gravel and hold well. It starts raining... It's light at first, then it starts getting progressively heavier, stinging my cheeks and nose. We reach Government Road and turn West.
When we reach the point where the pavement ends on Government Road, things get fun. Remember, this was just graded earlier in the day. Now it is raining pretty good and the road is muddy. I shift my weight back a little and get on the gas, trying keep a line near the center of the road and straightening the road as much as I can without going wide into the blind corners. It might be nasty out here and there might be less traffic as a result, but I still don't want to count on not meeting someone head on in a blind corner. The bike hooks up great and as my confidence grows, so does the fun! Soon I am roosting mud all over the place coming out of corners, the back end sliding and squirming under acceleration. The MT 21s are hooking up great, which is nice given the hard riding and miles they have endured. Anyway, the fun stops all too soon as we hit pavement again and soon find our way back to the house with time to spare
The riding gear and bike is covered with mud. Whatever... We all clean up and put on dry clothes. We even have time to head into town and stop by the store to pick up some flowers for John's aunt. We find her home and roll up right on time. It is in a really pretty part of town, but not actually IN town in the legal sense. I forget all the details, but basically they have the convenience of being in town without the taxes. There are a few minor drawbacks, like no road maintenance, but that is not an issue and the narrow little roads in their neighborhood are nicely paved. The truck just barely fits on them though!
There were several beautiful 100 year old Beech Trees in the front yard.
John's aunt, husband and a really sweet old dog!
Dinner is great. It is home cooked traditional Italian followed by ice cream with some kind of berry topping made from fresh berries. Dinner is followed by hanging out visiting and checking out all the artwork. Her husband does a LOT of pastel artwork. We head outside for a bit to see their private family cemetery, which is very nicely done. Just before dark, we say our good byes and head back out of town. John rides with his Dad and once we hit NC 215, he is GONE! It is obvious that he drives this road every day and REALLY knows it well. In the big truck I just cruise at about 25-30 mph, using the white line to see where the road is going because the headlights of another local behind me keep me from seeing out the side window and looking all the way through the corners. The speed limit is only 35mph, so it is not like I am really killing their travel time
We get back to the house and hangout for a bit before going to bed. Tomorrow will be another small bike day and Steve will be joining us. A highlight for the day will be Hurricane Creek Rd. John has wild memories of going there with his Dad on days with the Land Rover people where owners were taught how to really use their new vehicles. But there is a lot of pavement between here and there...
As I ponder tomorrow's ride, the muscle relaxer and pain killer kick in...
|06-19-2012, 11:58 AM||#13|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
Day Four, Wednesday:
So it seems that the tropical storm that had been brewing off the coast has gone AWOL. One day they are getting all breathless about it in the news and the next it is a non event. Well, cool! It is still pretty hazy and damp outside this morning. I'm getting low on Pop Tarts...
The plan for today is to head North. I want to explore a road that runs up the East side of the Smoky Mountain NP, just to the West of I-40. It means running a good bit of pavement to get there, so hopefully it will be worth it. The whole group is going today, all on the small bikes. A highlight for today should be Hurricane Creek Road. I've seen some pics and read reports from folks on AdvRider, so it looks to be fun! Everyone gears up and we leave just before 10:00am. It seems this has become our pattern for the week, which suits me fine!
We start the day heading North on NC 215. We'll run this up over the Blue Ridge Parkway and eventually get to I-40. The pavement is damp. The woods have that dark wet look. The leaves of the trees are shiny from the moisture in the air collecting on them. It kind of puts me in a bit of a subdued mood... but still... the road begins to bend and twist... the curves are banked and smooth... and the mental funk is soon left behind as I find my groove.
Almost to the top of the ridge at a scenic pull out
The clouds can get THICK up here in a hurry, visibility going from great to white out in seconds!
The large firs stand like gloomy sentinels guarding the road below...
We soon reach the ridge and start down the North side. This side of 215 is known locally as Lake Logan Rd. It roughly follows the Pigeon Forge River down out of the mountains. The top third of the road is quite twisty. In years past, the pavement was almost perfectly smooth. Now it is rough and patched in many places. Still... it is fun nonetheless! There are several cool places along the way down to stop and take in the scenery.
I love the natural stone and big arches... much nicer than concrete and steel
We cruise down the road a bit further and come to another bridge. I promise the guys this is the last stop for a while because we've barely gone even a few miles since the last stop.
A good section of the road. A lot of the patches are mid corner.
Looking back up the hill
John provides a sense of scale
I have seen people swimming down there before... the water is COLD
I saw a LOT of these when we lived up in New York when I was a kid.
The pipes would just come out of the side of mountain with spring water pouring out of them. We'd stop and fill up coolers for drinking water. I always wondered how they knew where to stick the pipes and how far back they went. I don't taste the water coming from this one, but it looks nice and clear.
Looking up stream
They were there a second ago...
John and Steve
The rest of the run down 215 is fun. We don't make any more stops because we really do need to get some miles behind us so we'll have time for the fun stuff later in the day. We cross US 276 and run NC 110 on into Canton. A stop light splits the group and we have a few minutes of minor confusion as we try to get everyone back together. Then we head out of town on I-40 West to Cove Creek. Here we stop to top off the bikes. I'm not real sure how far we'll have to go before the next available gas, so I want to make sure we can go as far as possible.
We head Northwest on Cove Creek Rd. (NC 1326 and 1395). It follows the right fork of Cove Creek up into the mountains and brings us to the entrance of the National Park.
Roger - He's always busting with enthusiasm... We're working on that
Just to the right of the entrance sign there are two "roads". They are both blocked with steel posts set in the ground, three each, the middle post being hinged so that it can be laid down to allow vehicles to pass. The middle posts are pad locked into the upright position. It looks like where the entrance is now used to be the center of a switch back on an older road. One fork of the road continues up and to the left around the side of the mountain, the other down and to the right. Checking my topo maps shows the lower section going back down to hit the road we just came up. The upper section appears to roughly follow the path of the newer road, but runs higher along the ridge. Neither look like they have seen motorized traffic in a while, but they are not over grown and there are two clearly visible tracks. I don't see any of the typical signs prohibiting motorized access, but we decide to just play it safe and stick to the new road. Still... looking along the upper path... oh... so... tempting... The new road is called Mount Sterling Rd., and on the topo maps is shown as NC 1397.
As we enter into the park, the road becomes like so many out there, following the side of the mountains... in... out... in... out... up... down... up... down... Sometimes it is almost enough to hypnotize me. So I play around with sliding the back end out of the corners to keep myself entertained and focused. We soon pass the turn for Ranger Station Rd. I had thought about running out and back on it, but it looks like it will take a good bit of time and there doesn't appear to be anything real special about it. I'll probably find out later that there is some kind of Ranger tower out there that is totally cool and regret passing up the chance to see it. Oh well...
We eventually drop down into a valley and the road crosses what I think is Catalooche Creek. I've never figured out how a flowing body of water gets the designation of creek, stream, or river. I've seen "rivers" that were barely a trickle or even dried, and I have seen creeks that were flowing well enough to traverse in a boat. This appears to be one of the latter...
A father passing on the joys of fly fishing to his son... kind of cool to watch them!
The steel/wood bridge over the creek
See those two steel rods coming down behind my bike?
One of those rods is severely pitted, almost all the way through the metal. The bridge hangs from the upper frame via these rods. If one were to let go... John is an Inspection Engineer. This is right up his alley so I show him. I know he's got some pics, but he's slow getting them posted
We continue on past the "creek" and climb up out of the valley to Mount Sterling Gap, at just below 4000 feet. Here on the ridge, the old road I mentioned before intersects the new road. This end looks like it is frequently traveled and it is not blocked. I decide to run up the road a ways just to explore. So all of us head up. It starts out some what steep, rutted, and slightly washed out. It's a good two track and I can see this being a LOT of fun, but it is taking us the opposite direction that we want to be heading. So I stop as it starts to level out.
Tell me you wouldn't want to find out where it goes...
Yeah, Steve is enjoying this road
Well... It would be nice if some local could give me the skinny on this road and let me know if riding it is okay or will get us in a heap of trouble. I make a mental note to keep it in mind for future trips. The frustration of trying to plan routes in this area is that my Topo maps show a TON of trails in the area as dashed lines on the map. Some are roads that can be ridden and some are not. There is no real way to know ahead of time. If I lived out here, I would certainly investigate all of them thoroughly. But since I can only visit and we are trying to maximize riding time, we kind of want to stick with what we know, or have a good idea of, as being roads that get us where we want to go. Which, in this case, is a road that eventually gets us to where we can cross under I-40 and head East.
We return to the intersection on the ridge and continue on the main road. I start to settle back into a nice groove and as I come around a corner I am greeted with a BIG set of surprised eyes!!
This dude is standing in the middle of the road!
For a few seconds, he runs down the center of the road away from me. Then he pauses... turns around... stares at me as I am frantically trying to get my camera out... and calmly walks to the edge of the road and drops down the steep incline into the woods below. I manage to get the shot you see above, but my little point and shoot just can't zoom that well.
He's got a nice rack
Once down in the woods, the Elk just kind of hangs out and starts nibbling some nearby leaves. He doesn't appear worried at all and after we all snap a few shots, we take our leave. We soon reach the edge of the park, where FR 288 meets Mount Sterling Road, and we turn East on FR 288. A bit down the road I spot a neat little camping area next to a stream and decide to pull in for a break and some pictures.
A tent pitched right next to this would make for some quality sleep time
Roger, John, Me, and Steve
While we are standing around goofing off, I hear the sound of a bike approaching. Sure enough, a bike comes around the corner and I motion for him to pull over for a visit.
Mark, of BigDogAdventures.com, on his tricked out and HEAVILY loaded WR250R... a pleasant surprise.
The hatch marks are bear sightings
Mark just retired about a week and a half ago. Now he's out just goofing off and roaming about. We pepper him with questions about his bike setup, his video recording setup, and all the other thoughtful little bits and pieces he's put into his bike to make it an adventure ready machine. I really like the marks on the gas tank to let him know how much gas he's got! Gonna have to get that done to my KTM. After a nice visit, we get back under way. We still have quite a few miles to go of unknown riding conditions.
The rest of the run over toward I-40 is great. It is just more of the hard packed forest road with loose gravel over the surface. There is a seemingly endless supply of sharp blind corners. As much as I like to zip along, I still slow wayyy down and hug the inside of these corners. Get hit head on by an ATV, have a CLOSE call with a truck or two, and even have a bike come at you on your side of the road and you get a bit paranoid about blind corners...
My plan is to stop at a place called Buzzard's Roost. I found out about it kind of at the last minute and didn't really get to research it enough to know exactly where it is. All I know that it is somewhere near I-40, is up real high, and gives a neat view looking down on I-40. However, we reach the end of the road and I never see anything that looks like it might be it. We stop at one point where there is a rough looking road that runs South, which on the map looks like it kind of follows I-40. I run up that a short way and it doesn't look right. It is fun though and is another that I make a note of for future exploration. Then I turn back to the main road. So we head on down the side of the mountain the last bit to the river below.
I think this is the Pigeon River
We pass a little camp ground area and I spot Mark on his WR, giving him a final wave, we ride on. We cross under I-40 and pick up the start of Cold Springs Creek Rd. It also shows as Harmon Den Rd., on some maps and on the Exit sign for I-40, which causes some confusion later in the day... Anyway, it starts out like so many other roads in the area and is a pleasant ride.
Eventually Cold Springs Creek Rd., or Harmon Den Rd., whichever you want to call it, runs Northeast and hits Max Patch Rd., at Robert Gap. Max Patch shows as NC 1182 on my maps. My original route idea was to head North here and then cut over into Tennessee and eventually run up to US 25, make a big loop around the North side of Hot Springs, come back down NC 209 and eventually wind up right back at this spot, THEN run Hurricane Creek Rd. Well... it is obvious we won't be doing that as we have already burned a good chunk of day light and it is getting on into the afternoon. So we decided to just lop off all of that and head South on Max Patch Rd., now and hit Hurricane Creek Rd.
Max Patch Rd., is more of the same, fun but not real technical. We head South a few miles and then pick up Wesley Creek Rd., which starts to get more fun...
Steve on his KTM 690
All day long the air has been heavy with the feeling of rain. We've not actually had to ride in any rain yet, but there have been a few short and light sprinkles here and there. It becomes obvious that this area has seen more than a few light sprinkles!
John on his DRZ
Lots of this...
Roger on his KTM 450
Followed by Steve
Tell me this doesn't make you want to get out and go riding!
Wesley Creek is not long and we are soon at the beginning of Hurricane Creek Rd. There is a light rain/mist. The leaves of the trees are dripping. The rocks are slick and water is running down the road. The air is still and thick... very thick... Up until now I have been fairly comfortable with the various layers I put on this morning. I should probably take some off now, but I figure once we get rolling it will be fine...
A nice smooth and not to steep section at the beginning of the road
Note which way the white KTM is facing... You'll understand in a moment...
Looking back the way we came
And the direction we are heading...
While we are eating some snacks and taking a break, Steve casually taunts Roger with, "I bet you can't get up that..." The "that" he is referring to is a steep climb up the side of the hill that cuts across a switchback, kind of like a lid on the letter U. It is slick, loose, rooted, and steep. Without so much as a triple dog dare, Roger shoots back, "Oh I can get up that with no problem!" The gear goes on without delay and soon cameras are aimed and ready!
Roger drops the bike into gear, hits the gas, and without even a good run up, launches up the hill. Everything is going pretty good until just before the top when the front drops over the little ledge and the rear hangs, spinning and roosting mud. With the front over the ledge and no real danger of sliding backward, Roger is able to feather the clutch, bounce the bike, and get the rear to hook up just enough to push the bike on over the rest of the way. He rolls down around the switch back acting all cool and casual. I know there is video of this. I even have some. But with my country bumpkin internet upload speeds, it would take me weeks to get it uploaded to YouTube! So we'll have to see if Steve or John can deliver...
With Roger's antics and our snacks out of the way, it is time to see what Hurricane Creek is all about, hype or hard core!? Knowing how I tend to run slower than Roger likes to run, I let him take point. Sure enough, he's off like a rabbit through the underbrush, hopping here and there, bouncing along with apparent ease. I am more like a mule... slow and steady... carefully picking my lines... wary of the wet rocks and roots.
Down the rabbit hole to wonderland...?
What you see above is actually one of the less technical sections. So the speed has really come down. That combined with the stagnant damp air has me sweating BIG TIME in a few minutes! We don't get very far before I decide it is time to pull over and shed layers!
Had to leave the bike in gear so it would not roll away
Seems John has the same idea in mind
Roger had gone head and came back... He's telling Steve how awesome it gets
Nothing to serious... just sticks and stones... wait... how does that rhyme go...?
A nice straight section coming up where the speed can come up enough to get air flowing through the mesh gear
I really am holding the camera straight and level... and it IS steeper than it looks
With layers shed and water consumed, we take off again, Roger in the lead. The first mile and a half or so of the road appears to have been the worst, but it's not really all that bad. I guess it is harder simply because it drops in elevation pretty quick, from 4000 feet down to about 3000 feet. After that, the descent is more gradual and less twisty, the road just following and occasionally crossing the creek.
Now, if you have read very many dual sport ride reports, you know they pretty much always involve water crossings. I noticed that from a very young age, basically as soon as he could crawl, my son seemed to have a built in mud/water radar that infallibly led him to messy places. It has only gotten worse as he has gotten older. He's five now. The first day he got to ride his CRF-50 with me on the back he got stuck in deep mud in the back of the yard in the only place with any mud at all and which I specifically told him to avoid... I know... What on earth was I thinking... Anyway, I know a LOT of adult men that don't seem to have outgrown this trait. Maybe it is one of those evolutionary back to the cradle genetic impusles... Salmon swim upstream to their spawning grounds, and if the evolutionary theory is to be believed, grown men gravitate back to the primordial slime and ooze infested puddles from whence they first crawled in some other form... Personally... I think it's just because stomping in mud and making big splashes is FUN!!
Yeah... Roger is just a big kid like all the rest of us
John climbing up the hill out of the creek... this shot sort of gives a good idea of how steep it is
There are places along the "road" where the direction to take is not always so obvious. Sometimes there are side paths that are not really the road but they are used enough that they kind of look like they could be the road. Roger usually slows at each of these and waits for me to show up so we can compare GPS notes and make an educated guess. I am cruising along, feeling pretty good, and as I round a curve I am suddenly faced with a decision. There is a fork in the road and I can't slow in time to actually stop before having to commit to one path or the other. I an epic adventurer fail, I pick the path MORE traveled! I should have known better...
The path to the right is basically a big V carved out of the side of the hill by water rushing down. This should have been my first clue. After all, we are following the road DOWN out of the mountains to lower elevations, not UP. In the bottom of the V is big rocks, so I run up the far side as I try to make the turn. I get up on the top of the V and complete the turn, but there is a big branch right at head height. Not wanting to test my helmet's impact absorbing ability, I let off the throttle, lose all my momentum and...
They say that if there are no pics... it never happened...
So, if someone had happened to be standing there with a camera... He MIGHT have seen me eject from the bike and land in the weeds across the road... He MIGHT have seen the bike fall all the way over so it was pointing down into the bottom of the V... He MIGHT have seen me grab the bars and heft it back up before anyone with a camera DID show up... He MIGHT have seen me make a graceful remount and fast loop around to get back on the right trail as if nothing ever happened...
Fortunately, there was no one standing there with a camera... so... never happened... right?
I get on down the trail and find Roger waiting. I mumble something about "wrong turn", might have "fallen down", "No worries". We wait for the others to catch up and then take off again.
Roger waiting to make sure everyone clears the crossing without problems
We come to yet another water crossing, but this one looks a little more challenging than those we've already done. There are obviously rocks that have been piled up on the downstream side, perhaps to make the crossing itself smoother. Of course, that also means it is usually going to be deeper. But you just can't take for granted that all the big rocks have been moved. Roger plunges in and hangs close to the rocks, revving the motor and making it across without any problems. On the far side at the climb out point, there are a few good sized chunks of rock embedded in the ground. Since Roger made it look easy, I decide to follow in his tracks... almost...
About a third of the way across, I hit a good sized rock with the front wheel that Roger did not hit. I am in no danger of going down, but it deflects me upstream into the deeper water. Nothing to do now but look to the far side, shift my weight back and get on the GAS! The motor starts to chug and I see the front tire going deeper... deeper... uh.... deeper... All but the last inch or two of the top of the tire is now under water. I'm twisting the throttle for all its worth now! I can feel the back tire grinding on the rocks below... almost there... almost... there... And the front tire starts to climb back out of the water as I pick up some speed... just in time to hit the big embedded rocks and launch up the far bank to park behind Roger. It might not have been pretty... but I got the job done and didn't go for a swim Looking back there is a thick dark mud swirl in the creek where I had been churning up the bottom.
In the image above, Roger went to the right, coming at you. I went to the left of the shot and hit the big rocks in the left foreground. This was about a minute or so after I crossed and there is still churned up mud visible in the water. Steve shows up next and pauses on the far side, seeing the swirling mud from my crossing. Roger walks out a bit onto the rocky side and points to the correct line. Steve sees it and gets across without incident. John arrives and it takes a bit more convincing from Roger, but he too takes the right line and gets across without any problems. From here on out, the road levels and straightens a bit. The speed picks up and the air coming through the gear feels great. We soon reach the end of the road and it just drops out onto the shoulder of I-40 on the Northbound side.
|06-19-2012, 11:59 AM||#14|
What's that funny noise?
Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
Day Four, continued:
From here, we have to run back up the freeway to where we crossed under earlier, then loop under so we can get on the South bound side and start the ride back toward Balsam Grove. Seems simple enough... right?! I take off and hit cruise speed. There is a bit of traffic, so not all of us can get on at once. Just up the freeway, I reach the exit, check my mirror and see Steve coming. So I go ahead and ride on down to the bottom of the exit. Steve joins me a moment later. I look back to see if John is waiting at the top for Roger, but instead seem him blow right by the exit and across the overpass Fortunately, he happens to look down and sees me and Steve and waves to let us know. I never see Roger. A minute or two later, John comes down the on ramp on the other side of the road to join us. This is when we find out that Roger was in the fast lane and didn't make the exit, thinking instead that we were still ahead of him and that he had to catch up to us.
The next exit is about 10 miles up the road in Tennessee...
Hopefully, Roger will realize we are not ahead of him and will take that exit and loop back. But he has no idea what the route plan is, so he could miss us completely. I ride up the edge of the off ramp on the Southbound side so I can watch for his return. While stopped, I get out the cell and call his phone to leave him a message... just in case he thinks to check his phone. Then I kick back and wait a bit. I figure he'll be exiting in 5-10 minutes and maybe he'll call then. John and Steve stayed down under the overpass where it is cooler. So I run back down to tell them I left Roger a message, then run back up to resume my watch on the off ramp, positioned where Roger should be able to see me if he goes by me.
I eat some peanut butter crackers... some sunflower seeds... some granola bars... more peanut butter crackers...
No Roger... Dang... It's been almost 30 minutes!
My phone rings!! It's Roger!
"Where are you guys?"
"Where back in North Carolina at the same place where we crossed under I-40 earlier"
"I'm at the North Carolina Welcome Center."
"Oh great, then just head back South to Exit 7 for Cold Spring Creek Rd. and we'll be waiting there for you."
"Okay, I'll be there in a few minutes..."
I park the bike under a tree and wait for him to show up at the exit...
I eat another pack of granola bars...
Laying against the base of the tree, a slight breeze blowing, I start to get sleepy. A few 18 wheeler drivers give me a honk or three as they go by. I wave to let them know I am fine.
Ten minutes go by... twenty... thirty...
I am starting to wonder what has happened to Roger. By now, John and Steve have come up and joined me on the side of the freeway. They want an update. I let them know I talked with Roger and he should have been here by now. About that time the phone rings again.
"I'm at the overpass, where are you guys?!"
"WHAT!? How can you be there?! I never saw you go by or take this exit..."
"Well... I'm here!"
Totally confused, we head back down under the over pass and sure enough, there's Roger. After a quick discussion, we realize that when he told me he was as the NORTH CAROLINA visitor center, my brain was so convinced he was calling from Tennessee, I heard, "I'm at the Tennessee visitor center", hence my directions for him to come back SOUTH. Needless to say, that created a good bit of confusion on his end. It seems that in the few moments I went back under the over pass to talk with Steve and John, Roger had ALREADY come South and passed the exit, so I did not see him. Then he called and because I thought he was still North of us, I told him to come South. He did indeed go South for a while, but then came back when he noticed the exit numbers getting bigger. He eventually found the right exit because I told him the number. However, remember the name I mentioned earlier that was on the exit sign...? It is NOT Cold Springs Creek Rd., but is instead Harmon Den Rd.
Well, with that bit of brain farting out of the way and an hour or more blown (well not really, I enjoyed the eating and rest , while Roger packed on an extra 40 miles or so to today's ride ), we get back on I-40 and run South. For a freeway, this stretch of road is actually kind of fun, when I am not getting tossed around by the wind blast from 18 wheelers, of which there are many. It runs along a valley formed by the Pigeon River and the shores of Waterville Lake. Fun as it may be though, I want off. So we take the exit for Fines Creek Rd., and head East back into the mountains.
Fines Creek is a nicely paved country road that runs over to Max Patch Rd., the same one as before, but now at the South end where it is paved. We turn right and run a short ways to NC 209 and head South. If you have never ridden NC 209, put it on your bucket list. It's is great. I try to run it almost every time I come out here. Because we truncated the Northern most section of today's route, we missed riding the section just South of Hot Springs. No worries though, it is on the schedule for tomorrow's more street focused ride Anyway, we run it South for a few miles and find the start of Upper Crabtree Rd., another nice paved country road. A few miles later we cut back South and run Crabtree Mountain Rd., up over the mountains.
Crabtree Mountain road is a LOT of fun. It climbs about 1000 feet pretty quickly up to Crabtree Gap and then drops down the far side just as quickly. The pavement is mostly dry so we can have a little fun! The down side has a short series of tight switch backs.
Looking down hill to the next 15 mph curve
Can you see the grin?
John and Roger
As we near the base of the mountain, the houses are more frequent, which means more driveways, which means slowing down. And then I see this...
The other side
I really needed a third shot to get it all. It is pretty cool. There are a lot of other wood sculptures in the yard nearby. I don't know if they are for sale or just to take up space in the yard. So off we go... down the gently sloping road toward I40 at Canton. Just a bit further down the road I come to a stop sign, see Steve behind me, but not Roger and John. While stopped at the intersection, a car pulls up next to us with the window down and asks if there are two more with us...
"Well, I think one of them crashed back there a short way."
Steve and I get turned around and start to zoom back up the hill but quickly, and much to our relief, find John and Roger coming down to find us. A thumbs up indicates everything is fine. I don't see any obvious signs of problems, so I guess we are good to go We reach Canton and Roger indicates that we need gas. I let him know that I am planning to stop here in town. First, we pull over in a Subway parking lot because it is starting to get cool again and we need to layer up before we head back up and over the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is when John tells me that he fell over a while ago on the side of the road because he went to put a foot down and there was nothing there. It was one of those slo-mo oh-no moments where he couldn't stop it and just tipped right on over Been there... done that... The people in the car did not see the tip over, just the aftermath, hence their belief that he crashed.
We get back on the road and instead of heading through the center of town again, we take NC 215 down the West side of the Pigeon River back to US 276. It seemed like a good idea at the time. However, as we head out of town the traffic comes to a stop. There are emergency vehicles with lights flashing up ahead of us. It seems we are at the tail end of an accident clean up and they are almost done. So we wait a few minutes and then continue on our way. We make a quick stop for gas and discuss the remaining riding plans.
Earlier, John high sided, or so I was told. No one got it on video or got any pics. So... He and the bike were fine, but between that and his recent tip over, he's getting stiff and about ready to call it a day. I kind of still want to run up 276 to the parkway, a stretch we have not done yet and which is not on any of the remaining routes for the week. Like 215, it is twisty and fun! Roger is up for more. Steve decides he'll ride with John and take the "direct" route home, 215 right up over the parkway to Balsam Grove. Roger and I will take the less direct way home. We gas up the bikes and go our separate ways.
NC 276 follows the East Fork of the Pigeon River, which flows down from the Blue Ridge. There are a lot of homes along 276 as it doesn't really get twisty and fun until right at the base of the ridge. There it climbs fairly steeply up the side of the mountain. Like 215, the pavement is not as good as it has been in years past when I've been here, but it is still good fun. Roger and I zoom to the top of the ridge in short order and start down the South side of 276. My plan now is to pick up FR 475B (the road that starts down near the fish hatchery on Government Rd. The South side of 276 looks like it might have gotten some more rain since yesterday so I take it easy going into the tight corners. We soon reach the start of 475B and head into the woods.
We make quick work of 475B and soon reach Government Rd. We blow through the short stretch of pavement leading from 475B to the parking area at the start of the dirt part of Government Rd. As expected, the road is still pretty wet. There are puddles in the areas with the gravel. However, once we get to the part that had been graded the other day, it is still soft and muddy! Nothing to do but have some fun with it!! Roger hangs back a bit to avoid getting caked in the mud flinging from my rear tire. While I am roosting through the corners, I stop to think what it might be like right now if I were still on my trusty old KLR 650... I definitely do not think I would be having this much fun! My KLR has been a great bike, but it just never instilled the confidence in handling that the KTM does. I have seen people do amazing things on KLRs, so I know it is more a problem with the operator than the bike. There is just something about the KTM that tells my brain that there is no reason to panic... that things are not are not as bad as they might appear... that this is no problem. And so my brain releases the right wrist to have its way
Roger and I have our fun, and before we know it we are at the start of Shoal Creek Rd., and soon pulling into the driveway. Another day of solid riding under the buns! We find John and Steve relaxing and join them. Tonight we cook brauts :eat: My back is flaming, so I grab a pain killer and muscle relaxer early rather than late
Lotsa splattering from the mud
A day of playing in the water and mud with friends... I'd call that a quality day
|06-19-2012, 09:24 PM||#15|
Joined: May 2009
Location: DIRTY SOUTH
Looks like a great ride guys. Used to ride that area 5 or 6 times a year. I haven't been in a year or so. Bigdog had just left my house to come up there. Wish I had gone with him.
It takes a big pig to weigh a ton
What's good for me ain't necessarily good for the weak minded
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