Around and about the Natchez Trace

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by ejtv, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    A thread to post my RR on my short weekend rides in the south west Mississippi-Louisiana border-western Natchez Trace area. Hoping more people who live in the area or are riding though get off the main roads and explore this beautiful area of the south that doesn't get much attention.

    Enjoy!

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    Here are some older RR:

    Natchez State Park 3/10
    Homochitto 7/10
    Baton Rouge to Rocky Springs finding as much dirt as possible 1/11

    Here's the first of the new RR starting Fall 2011:

    Quick overnighter Baton Rouge to Rocky Springs and back to enjoy the fall weather and leaves, like the ones in this pic,...

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    and to test the new ultralight tarp set up.

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    One person tarp set up (made out of cuben fiber), titanium stakes, guy lines, carbon fiber pole and plastic floor weighs 9.3 oz and fits in a 5''x4" sack in my jacket's back pocket. 2 minutes to set up. Temp that night to just below freezing, no wind. Had a 40 degree sleeping bag, $6 mattress. Worked out OK.

    Left BR late Sat afternoon, arrived at campground around 10 PM. Camp was way too loud :kumbaya with Halloween and all, so I found better accommodations elsewhere. 6 am at 30 degrees, just before not having fun breaking up camp.

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    Fall colors were great in the early morning light; not bad for this far south.

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    On the way back to BR, getting :dg . This is "South of The Border", :jose, well, south of the MA-LA border on 61. Been riding by this place for 4 years. First time stopping.

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    Good stuff:

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    And probably one of the :yum best bread puddings I've ever had:

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    #1
  2. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    Now I'm hungry :D

    The Trace has some great stretches to enjoy and fantastic adjacent roads to make some fun loops. That camping set up is interesting. I have a 1 man backpacking set up and a larger 2-3 man size I choose depending on my trip. Any more details on this rig, pro/cons?

    Cheers
    #2
  3. motoxer

    motoxer "Ronin"

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    Do you think the ultralight tarp set up would withstand the south Texas winds?
    #3
  4. jakbrand

    jakbrand 93 octane

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    I'm digging the tarp-tent. Could substitute rocks for tent stakes to hold the corners while camping in the desert. Is the center pole adjustable? :ear
    #4
  5. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Cuben tarps and tarp-tent rigs (mine is the Hexamid Solo made by Z-Packs) are used by ultra-light long distance backpackers along with all sorts of other ultra light gear, for example, ultralight solid fuel stoves, dehydrated food, quilts (no sleeping bags), running shoes (no boots), day packs (no backpacks), etc. They generally carry with them adjustable walking poles which they use for the pitch. The substitute carbon pole pictured here is not adjustable, but the pitch of pole and of the tarp can be adjusted depending on how much ventilation you want from the back and side walls. Cuben is 100% waterproof, so you want cross ventilation to avoid condensation. In theory, you can pitch the back wall directly to the ground in case of more severe weather. With a tarp or tarp-tent you have to substitute their shortcomings with brain matter, selection of a protected site and pitching the back wall into the direction of the wind or rain being the two most critical aspects. I have yet to test mine in the rain, but the kid who owns Z-Packs has taken it through its paces in wind, rain and snow. My estimated guess from other tents I have owned, is that this shelter will withstand sustained winds of up to 20 MPH, gusts maybe a bit higher, 25-30 MPH. I assume violent downpours would be a problem, particularly if wind changes direction.

    Hope this helps.
    #5
  6. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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    Thanks for the link.

    Safe travels :freaky
    #6
  7. AviatorTroy

    AviatorTroy Long timer

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    My God man, 185$ for a tarp? I'll stick with my 20 year old Eureka.
    #7
  8. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Maybe there is no compelling reason to make a special motorcycle trip to this area of the country, but it is actually pretty good. Quite a hidden gem.

    560 mile weekend ride. I started in Baton Rouge. Here are the tracks of my weekend's meandering around the Natchez area:

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    Nestled east of the Mississippi River, north of Woodville and South of Natchez is the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge. I bumped into it by chance. The roads looked interesting in the topo maps I checked.

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    Unfortunately the ATV trails like the one above were out and back only. The managers have closed off the possibilities for loops.

    These are on the east side of the refuge, trying to find roads that in the maps lead back into it, but again, closed off:

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    From there I headed north to Natchez via back raods, beautiful hills, picked up a burger at DQ along with what I really wanted, one of those long red plastic spoons for my dinner later on.

    These pics below are on the Natchez Trace proper, riding east, waiting for night to fall and then riding up and down so I could find a nice spot to spend the night without a trace.

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    Testing my new Caldera Keg. Works pretty good if you are obsessive about weight yet want to retain a semblance of convenience. I use JetBoil a lot but wanted a lighter option for single track dirt bike trips where weight and bulk reduction are a must if you want to retain the handling characteristics of the dirt bike. Caldera Keg can boil 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water per solid fuel cracker, depending on temperature, enough for rehydrating a meal plus hot chocolate or coffee.

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    Long DQ spoon needed to eat out of the Mountain House dehydrated food. I left my titanium spoon at home...

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    Hot oatmeal and coffee. You can see the white fuel cracker under the aluminum cone:

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    The system consists of a large Foster's beer can, the caldera cone/windscreen, a lid, solid fuel cracker, titanium holder, drip pan and plastic container, stuff sack, insulating sleeve and two thick rubber bands for lip protection and handling of the hot pot. The entire system fits inside the beer can, weighs about 4.5 oz with fuel to heat up about 6 to 7 cups of water. Each additional fuel cracker weighs about .5 oz. Made by Trail Designs.

    Sleeping arrangements worked well again. This time temps were in the low 50's. Still a little apprehensive about sleeping under a tarp rather than in a tent/screen...with critters, night sounds and all, but I'm getting used to it. No rain testing yet...I'm sure It'll come in due time...

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    Next morning, hiking around a sunken portion of the Old Trace:

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    The thought of walking where tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of men walked, natives and Europeans, connecting the Natchez area to the Nashville area for over 2,000 years, and along with them for maybe longer bison, deer and large game, gives me the chills everytime I visit....

    Around 9 am I got off the Trace just south of Pierre Bayou and headed north east exploring several back roads until hitting Interstate 20 between Vicksburg and Jackson:

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    From I-20 I tried to find a way to cross the Big Black River without luck, so I got back on I 20 for a couple of miles to cross the river. Plan was to hit Oak Ridge Road, which looked interesting on the topo maps. Oakridge did not disappoint:

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    Then headed back south via pavement on the flats, west side of the hills and looped back to the paved portion of Oakridge heading toward Vicksburg...

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    ...for real southern cooking: pork chops, fried chicken, mash potatoes, gravy, corn pudding, steamed veggies, rolls and sweet tea...hard to get up for the rest of the day.

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    Plan was then to head back toward the Trace via other back roads...

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    ...then hook back up to the Trace at Bayou Pierre...here I am after crossing it on the way south...

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    still had time to explore one last side road leaving the Trace...this was a gem, obviuosly hand't been ridden in a while:

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    Parting shot:

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    The S10 performed nicely on the dirt roads and easy ATV trails. Not as easy to handle as a dirt bike because of the weight, tricky on sand, but better than my F650GS. And riding on the pavement connecting the dirt roads was a joy, very smooth, lots and lots of power, plenty of speed (for me), great on the twisties, no vibration (compared to thumpers), ABS worked surprisingly well on the dirt, I was really surprised, you can slam your breaks and come to a controlled stop, even while turning, and the traction control also worked well, except on sand, where I simply turned off.

    If you are ever on this part of the country, SW MS and LA north of Baton Rouge, don't write it off. Bring your motorcycle!
    #8
  9. jakbrand

    jakbrand 93 octane

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    I'm liking the S10 set up. Would you feel confident exploring more rugged routes with knobby tires?

    That sandbar looks like a great place to camp. :kumbaya

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    #9
  10. ducnek

    ducnek Satisfied customer

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    Great report. I like the light weight and simple set up.

    I have just started exploring the side roads off of the Natchez Trace in SW TN.

    :ricky
    #10
  11. Kayakkawakid

    Kayakkawakid USPS

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    edgardo, you're way ahead of me, i was in big bend some days ago on my KLR and the most experimenting i did was try out a air mattress in the hotel room for the first time, it seemed like a great idea for my 4 yr old whenever we go on vacation but a tarp with no floor, you do rough it. The pixs are great, really enjoyed them.:freaky
    #11
  12. jrou111

    jrou111 Stair Climber

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    Awesome post! This Thanksgiving, I'm planning on heading down to visit my family in Mobile and then riding to Baton Rouge and up the Natchez, then across central MS back home. Your report gives me an idea of what to expect.

    :clap
    #12
  13. MacG

    MacG Been here awhile

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    Nice report and pics. Liked the info on the camping set-up. I lived in Vicksburg as a kid.Would like to go back for a ride sometime and hit the backroads. Thanks :beer
    #13
  14. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Yep, knobbies would take the S10 to the next level dirt-wise. I feel confident on experienced hands the S10 can go to most double track...suspension is very good, but it is heavy....and it is not a dirt bike. Let me put it this way, I think it is better than both the F650GS and the BMW1200 on both dirt and pavement...but not as good as my WR250R or a KTM530 on dirt. Other bigger bikes to check out, the KTM 950, the BMW800, and the Triumph 1050.
    #14
  15. backwoodsKLR

    backwoodsKLR Ride more, Post Less.

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    Nice report, ejtv!!! SW MS is one of my favorite places to ride around here! That low water bridge looks familiar. We had an ADV rally in the area in late October. :clap (The guys in our group with S10's didn't want to follow me through here!) :lol3

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    Can't imagine why! :lol3
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    #15
  16. NinjaGirlATL

    NinjaGirlATL n00b

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    Beautiful. I am in Atlanta and have thought about taking a few days for this trip. Great pics!
    #16
  17. DC950

    DC950 Microadventurer

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    very nice report - keep it coming.

    For camping, all I've used for the last couple of years is the US Army Modular Sleeping System

    http://www.armysurplusworld.com/product.asp?productID=7252

    (I know nothing about this vendor BTW - I got ours from a private party who bought a ton surplus).

    I've used it 5 or 6 times, including in the rain, and I don't care if I ever use a tent again. My youngest son has used it twice on Cub Scout camp outs and he's a big fan too. Sleeping in the Goretex bivy sack is just like a tent but it's in front of your face. I keep my head out unless the mosquitos get bad or it rains. The black stuff sack really needs to go into a carrier if you're going to strap it onto on a bike. It has 6 straps and a rather weak push-and-slide thingy to hold it closed so it needs a cover, which are readily available.

    http://armedforcessupply.com/molleiisleepsystemcarriermodularsleepngbagpouch.aspx


    Unlike in the past, the Army really does have some good stuff nowadays
    #17
  18. Tsotsie

    Tsotsie Semi-reformed Tsotsi

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    Nice RR as usual! Thank you. Been looking to ride MS and LA more - gives me ideas for this WE!

    As an emergency shelter that seems fine - but for $9.88 you can get a waterproof 5X7 tarp from WallyMart as well as AL stakes for a little more that will pack into a pocket - a far cry from $185! A heavy driving rain or walking and crawling critters, I will stick with a lightweight tent.
    #18
  19. red bud

    red bud alky w/motorcycle problem

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    you've inspired me now that i'm that close i'm gonna try to do the parts of natchez trace i haven't done yet:clap
    #19
  20. ejtv

    ejtv Per ipsum

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    Leaving Baton Rouge late Friday; plan is to get to the Trace via pavement and camp somewhere along the way.

    I always try to do some testing on these short rides. Tonight I was going to test ultralight "off the bike" and "before sleeping" options around camp, a new ultra light sleeping system by Thermarest (more on that some other time) during a night that was going to dip into the lower 30's (this included bringing thick sleeping socks), "paleo" dehydrated food (with fewer carbs, so eliminating life long loves like like pasta, bread, pizza, sugary drinks, chips, desserts, etc.), instead of the traditional instant "latte", some fancy teas for dinner and breakfast, jerky rather than power bars, and a sensible way to carry red wine from home using a Platypus bottle; I'm sure our ancestors, millions of years ago, had figured out pretty quickly how to ferment whatever they had their hands on...

    And tomorrow I was testing what to bring for a morning trail run. I've pretty much had decided running shoes are probably the best compromise for light advriding/camping/hiking/running. I have eliminated the convertible shorts/pants and settled for running socks, running shorts and long underwear.

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    It was coooold, at least for us down south, but I was able to ride comfortably into the lower 40's and upper 30's with electric vest and gripwarmers and my first pair of "Fall" gloves...

    :photog Cheers! Platypus is a great way to bring a little wine along, almost as good as a Spanish "bota":

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    The layering of Merino wool and long sleeve MX shirt plus the down vest worked well, at least with such high humidity. My hands really got cold, so I could have used the riding gloves, but the stove did the trick along with using the pockets of the vest. Beanie essential for a head like mine, if you know what I mean. I guess if I was really really going ultra light I could have dinner in the afternoon, before it gets too cold, and skip the vest, or throw the sleeping blanket over me, but I still enjoy relaxing around camp before going to sleep.

    What I did for the paleo dinner was take out the pasta on a Mountain House chilly mac dinner for two people before I left home , added a portion of dehydrated green peas, and resealed the bag. Instead of chips I ate wasabi almonds. Very satisfying.

    By the time I was finishing the wine I was ready for the warmth of the sleeping bag...

    Moon-set around 5 am with frost on one side of my sleeping bag, not bad though, I was able to stay comfortable with the Thermarest Xlite system:

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    Tarp camping is really nice in the mornings, especially if you chose a good view like the one following below...but I still find it unsettling in the dark despite hundreds of nights inside a tent....check out the sounds last night:

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    Coyotes in heat? Maybe. Blair Witch Project came to mind...:eek1

    Sunrise:

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    Room with an illegal view somwhere along the Trace:

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    After "reconstituted scrambled eggs" and reading for a couple of 3 hours, it finally got warm enough to try a morning trail run:

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    In theory to cut back on bulk, you can also eliminate the shorts, t-shirt and the running socks/shoes and simply use your boots to walk around camp. No versatility though...and what if you feel like a hike or run? Depends on the type of trip you plan I guess...

    I have to say I really missed the high carb breakfast with latte, granola, etc...and a Cliff bar...dehydrated eggs and jerky weren't too bad though and the hot tea was acceptable last night and this am.

    :ricky Eventually I got down to business. Exploring Trace Rd as it crosses South Fork Coles Creek, south of 553 and south of the Trace:

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    Green Mountain Rd and Geoghegan Rd, still south of 553 and the Trace:

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    You know you're in redneck country...

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    When you down and to the left of the above picture and see a couch down a ravine along with this:

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    :becca



    South section of Chamberlain Road which loops around Mount Locust stand:

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    In front of the stand:

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    This one is at Wakefield circa 1834, owned by a friend of mine, north of Saint Francisville, quite a ways from the Trace on the way to Baton Rouge:

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    :jose Wazzzzaaap? in St. Francisville:

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    You can see the ultralight camping set up is pretty small.

    The following goes on the bike:

    10 liter water proof bag with:

    sleeping bag
    down vest
    merino wool long sleeve
    long underwear
    running shorts
    running socks
    thick socks
    wicking underwear
    wicking t-shirt
    light gloves

    I didn't weight the whole thing but I will in the future. I think it's all I need for an MX bike for single track...plus tools and tubes..it can fit inside the Mojavi day saddle bag.

    Strapped on top of the bag carbon pole for the tarp and running shoes. These I need to figure out how to accomodate outside the Mojavi.

    Carried inside the hydration system's backpack:

    UL stove and solid fuel for 2 hot meals
    dinner and breakfast and snacks; have room there for 4 hot dehydrated meals; 5 if I skip the wine.
    wine
    water, about a gallon
    long spoon
    SPOT
    TP
    Xlite Neoair Thermarest mattress
    toothbrush/paste/suntanlotion/deo, etc.

    Carried with me in my jacket pockets/belt pockets front and back (that BMW advrider jacket has a ton of them):

    tarp/stakes/floor (yes, the tarp made out of cuben is really expensive, and so is the carbon pole, and so are the titanium stakes, and the thermarest sleeping system...but what's really expensive is wasting your time exhausted wrestling an overloaded MX bike in technical single track or sand...I've been there......
    Kindle
    iPhone/charger
    lighter
    pocket knife
    lip balm
    headlamp
    bandana
    beanie
    sunglasses
    ID/money


    And then whatever I wear while I ride, this case padded underwear, knee-socks, long sleeve MX shirt, electric vest, goretex insert for BMW jacket and pants, riding jacket and pants, gloves, boots, helmet...9mm Glock 26, just in case I have visitors...

    Fuel :dg in St. Francisville's "Que Pasa":

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    #20