I got kicked out of the house this weekend, my better half was hosting a "girls day" from Friday to Saturday. So, me and the dog went camping in the Blue Ridge mountains a bit North of here. The plan was to ride out Friday, hike to the top of Blood Mountain, camp there, and come back down in time for dinner on Saturday. Things didn't quite turn out as planned, but I still had a good time. Here's the scooter, all packed up. The dog rides on the tunnel bag: My only bike is a 125cc scooter, but I don't let that stop me from having fun. Riding is riding, I just get there a bit slower and with a lot less gas consumption than most riders. "Ready to go, dog?" *maddiedog looks up at me* *wags tail* "Thought so." Riding out of the suburbs, heading North... Maddie wasn't getting enough wind through my windshield, so she leans out from time to time to get some extra air: A couple of hours in, the skies looked ominous: But the scenery was getting beautiful already. We passed a big lake nestled in the mountains: And were able to enjoy long stretches of road with no one else on them: After awhile longer, the mountains started getting bigger. Luckily, we seem to have escaped the rain for now: We got on Highway 129 to go the rest of the way to the Appalachian Trail. 129 is a great ride. You know riding is about to get a lot more fun when you see these signs: Curvy. Inside the National Forest. We'll be camping in there. More curves: We reached the Appalachian Trail. There's a shop there that I've been stopping at every time I go there, ever since my dad took me when I was barely old enough to walk: Hmm, so that is why they call it Blood Mountain: Taking in the view: But, I can't park at the shop overnight, so I went out and found parking: Hmm, they've paved this trail since I rode it last. I found a spot, unloaded and locked up the scooter. I can almost lift it by myself, and have lifted it into a pickup with the help of only one other person (and I'm scrawny), so theft has real potential out in the woods. Once I had my pack on, I got to hiking. Just as I got on the trail, I noticed this sign: That should have been my first warning. Black bears are generally harmless, but annoying. I just rolled my eyes at the sign and kept walking. After all, I was going to the top of the mountain. There's always several people up there, so the bears will avoid our camp if I set up near other people. The foliage was pretty, and there were streams all over the place. I couldn't walk more than a mile without hearing a babbling stream or waterfall. Maddie was having the time of her life, chasing birds and small animals that were near the water. Misty, and covered in ferns. This picture was in the middle of the afternoon, but the trees were so thick that it looked like evening. I hiked for several miles, and noticed that I still hadn't hit the Appalachian trail from the linking trail I was taking. Uhoh, the sun is starting to go down. I decided to set up camp, and gave up on finding Blood Mountain. I can't believe I missed the trail... Oh well, the hike was fun so far. I made dinner, then hoisted my food high up out of the way: At the bottom of the steep incline, I put up my hammock tent between two trees: I climbed in the hammock tent, lifted the dog in, relaxed and read a book until it was completely dark out. It was an overcast night, so there were no stars -- just absolute darkness. I switched off my flashlight and tried to sleep. I was rudely awakened by my dog growling. Maddie does not bark, I trained her since we rescued her not to, so she's not yappy like most small dogs. But she rarely growls, so something was thoroughly wrong. I switched on the flashlight, and looked out of the tent through the mosquito netting. A small black bear was just out of view, foraging around my site for food. It was too dark to get a picture, but it was probably a female, because she was at most 4' long. Black bears generally leave people alone. Knowing this, I ignored them, stuck the damn dog in the sleeping bag, and tried to sleep. After a few minutes, the bear left. My waterproof bag was sealed with all the food in it, so I doubt she caught whiff of it, since it was left untouched in the morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but the dog was shell-shocked. She growled at EVERYTHING, even owls. I managed to sleep through some of the rest of the night... I awoke and made breakfast at sunrise. We were in the shadow of the mountain, so the sky was lighting up before I could see the sun. I started hiking back. It was good to finally see the sun after a mostly sleepless night. Deer tracks. Odd, I hadn't seen a single one. Usually I see several white-tailed deer on a hike, but none this time. Judging by how little the track is, this one is still a little fawn. We started the ride back home. I took a detour down a gravel road, that was fun on the scooter. :lol: Potty break on the gravel road (can you spot the shitting dog?): After she was done with pottying, she kept trying to eat a butterfly. Dogs are weird. "ready to go?" I snapped a picture while we were riding: Open highway back towards home: Wait, what did that sign say? Close-up Sounds like a fun town to me. I got home, made dinner, and had beer. Mmm, Shock Top. Great summer beer. I'll have to go on another ride soon to try to climb the damn mountain. I still don't know how I missed the trail. :huh Looking back at the map, and based on my bearings, I walked PAST the Appalachian trail, and ended up hiking almost completely around Blood Mountain before I set up camp. Oh well, I'll get a map next time.