Appalachia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by dbarkdoll, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
    157
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Greetings everyone! This is my first post on this board, mainly because this was my first big out of state trip! It went super well and I got some pretty good pictures out of it so I've decided to share with y'all. I have already written up a RR on another forum for the trip so I'm just gonna copy/paste it here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for viewing. :strum



    SO.

    Much planning and preparation went into this trip. As some of you may or may not know, I am planning a big trip out west in about a month and I used this trip as a sort of trial run for it. I brought everything I thought I would need to be comfortable in the high mountain passes such as extra layers and such, even though I knew I would not be using them on this trip out east. I was able to bring everything on my packing list with some room to spare, minus some extra fuel. Still playing around with my options there. I have a 1-gallon Rotopax but it takes up a good portion of the rear rack and would probably be overkill. MSR bottles are another option but also take up room even when you’re not using them. A fuel bladder seems like a good option right now, need to do some research there. I am derailing already though, geeze this is gonna be a long post. :doh

    Day 1:

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    I left Little Rock around 8 AM on Wednesday. My original plan was to take two lane all the way to Memphis, go underneath it, and continue on through northern Mississippi to the Natchez Trace Parkway. I quickly realized this was not going to work out. The road I was on was absolutely awful, and I just hopped on the interstate. Sooo much better. Smooth as glass, quicker, and safer in many ways. Popped my headphones in and enjoyed the cruise. :dj Got underneath Memphis with no issues there and continued on some nice, boring divided highway. I’ve been on worse roads, at least it was smooth and well maintained.

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    Finally made it to the Parkway for the first “nice” riding of the trip.

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    I think I was only on it for 30 ish miles but I enjoyed it. I can confidently say it was one of the most relaxing stretches of road I think I’ve ever done. So much so I felt myself start to get sleepy, lol. I would definitely categorize it as an “old man road”. Sorry guys. Anyway took that northbound into Tennessee until I got close to my campsite for the night. Davey Crocket State Park near Lawrenceburg TN. Decent park real close to the main road and a bunch of gas stations, which was nice. Could hear traffic and city noise though so not my favorite place I’ve ever stayed. Nabbed a nice primitive campsite next to the creek though with only two neighbors to speak of that were wayyy spread out which was nice.

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    Took a dip in the creek which felt great after a long day in the heat.

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    Made some chili on the fire and got ready for the next morning. :dukegirl
    #1
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  2. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
    157
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Day 2

    Got an early start and set my GPS for Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Another 5+ hours to there. Geeze, I underestimated how long it would take to get to the good riding areas out there. Oh well, better get a move on. More divided highway for the whole morning, Highway 64 I believe. Coulda been worse, but you can only ride though so much flat farmland before you start to wonder why you didn’t just drive. No matter, headphones back in, throttle pinned, let’s get there already. Not sure when I got to Tellico Plains but I’d say it was about 2:00. I could see the foothills to the east, I knew I was close now. I could also see some foreboding weather forming above said foothills, uh oh. Fingers crossed. Left the fuel station and hopped on the Cherohala Skyway for my first real taste of the Appalachians on two wheels. Needless to say I was on cloud nine and grateful to finally be on some beautiful curves. Flew by a few overlooks til I saw one that looked nice, I needed to pee anyway.

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    I was keeping my eye on the dark clouds forming ahead of me, contemplating whether I should put my rain gear on or not, when a family pulls up to the overlook.

    “You gotten any hail yet?”, they asked.

    “No.”

    “We ran into some about 30 minutes back”

    “I was just contemplating whether or not to put my rain gear on...”

    “I’d put it on.”

    Duly noted.

    Kept on heading east and gaining elevation when it started to come down. Thank you nice family for the heads up. Nothing too crazy, I’ve ridden in harder rain, but at 4000-5000 feet let’s just say my nerves were a bit tight. Plodded along and actually enjoyed the ride for the most part, my gear worked well and I was happy to cool off finally. Didn’t stop for anymore overlooks or pictures obviously, just wanted to get down off the mountain and back down to normal weather. Did so before too long and started looking for a place to camp for the night. Picked a spot out on the map right by Lake Santeelah, and boy did I make the right choice.

    If you’re ever in the area and are down with primitive camping, this is the spot. It’s called Cheoah Point. The lake is beautiful and there’s a nice swimming area. The campsites are nice and spread out, making for a very quiet and peaceful nights sleep, free hot showers (yes, you read correctly.), free drinking water, no bugs, no dew on the tent in the morning, and oh yeah. It’s 15 minutes south of Deals Gap. For $20 a night. Can’t beat that. :rayof

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    I contemplated doing the Dragon that night but decided to hit it fresh in the morning. I could hear people screaming and roaring down US 129 to and from there for most of the evening. My closest neighbors had some dual sports they had trailered in so naturally I went over to chat with them. Two super nice guys who drove down from Toronto and were riding the area for a week. Been coming down there for 8 years now doing the same thing so they knew all the roads front and back and gave me some suggestions on what I should ride the next day. Had some beers and talked bikes with them the rest of the night and then hit the hay. Wonderful guys really. :freaky
    #2
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  3. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
    157
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Day 3

    Woke up early, had my tea, and set off for The Dragon. The Canadians had filled my ear with all sorts of tales and legends of the road the whole night before, so it was with nervous excitement that I zipped along towards it. The air was crisp and clean, the foliage all along the road was bursting with vibrant color, the mountain streams were rushing along beside me. I was in a very, very good place this morning.

    US 129 to Deals Gap is quite curvy with plenty of elevation change so I felt good and loosened up by the time I got there. Went in to check out the store for a minute and use the restroom, and then back out to the bike to suit up. The lot was already pretty full of all sorts of bikes, mostly cruisers who appeared to have stayed at the inn overnight. As I was gearing up a swarm of high-end sports cars came up highway 28 from Fontana Lake and turned north to head up the Dragon. One by one they screamed up the hill, Corvettes, Shelby Mustangs, imports, Porsches, you name it. V-8s roaring, turbos chirping...... the sound and imagery of that is burned in my memory forever.

    Well, I suppose it’s my turn now. Making sure there wasn’t a squad of cars or bikes coming my way I pulled out of the lot and up the hill. The next 11 miles were honestly a blur, and I was so focused on just getting through it that I’m not even sure I enjoyed my first pass. I was told this might happen, and that every time you ride it it gets better. I do recall having a group of three cars come up behind me about halfway through, I pulled over to let them by, and they were gone instantly. The caliber of drivers and riders on that road is incredible. I also remember passing several photographers, which I was instructed not to look at no matter what, lest I want to end up running into them.

    Finally made it down to the lake after what seemed like forever, took a quick breather, and turned around to do it again. This pass was much more fun, so my buddies were right so far. I remember dragging peg on a right-hander harder than I ever have before, after that I took it a bit easier the rest of the way down. Made it back down the store for my obligatory t-shirt and photo with the Dragon, and headed out for some more incredible riding.

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    I took Highway 28 towards Fontana Dam/Lake which was stunning. And after the relentless hairpins on the Dragon, the perfectly sculpted sweepers and rhythmic flow of 28 was just what I needed. The air was still cool and crisp, the sun was out, the scenery was breathtaking, I was having the ride of my life. Took 28 all the way down to Franklin where it was about time for some lunch. Franklin is a super charming little town nestled in the hills, smiling faces everywhere you look and lots of cool little shops and restaurants. Grabbed a great burger and fries on the main strip, poked around a real nice outdoor store for a minute, and then headed for Highlands via Highway 64.

    64 follows the Cullasaja River Gorge to Highlands. All of the riding I had done on day 3 had been the best I’d ever done, but this portion had to take the cake. The road snakes it’s way up the gorge with sheer rock walls to one side and the river valley wayyyy down below on the other side at times. Then the road will meet back up with the river for an up close and personal look at a 40–50 foot waterfall, a roaring white water section of the river, or just a nice scenic overlook. Lots of places to pull over and admire/dunk your head in the freezing crystal clear water. I got very few pictures of the gorge itself, it would have been far too risky to stop in the road for a picture as the twists and turns were tight and frequent.

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    Like most everywhere I went on this trip, the pictures don’t come close to doing any justice. Just gotta be there and feel it. Speaking of, I spent a good while standing behind that waterfall letting the mist spray all over me (you can see the tiny little people behind it for scale.) On a hot day like that it was incredibly invigorating.

    Retraced my steps back up 64 to Franklin and started heading back west to my campground. More beautiful, flowing landscapes as far as the eye could see. It looked like it wanted to rain over Lake Santeelah where I was camped as I neared it so I stopped for some ice cream and waited to see what it would do. Turned out to be nothing so I made it back to camp nice and dry, ready for a nice meal and eager to regale my journey and slaying of the dragon over a few beers with my new buddies. :freaky


    I hate to rank things such as that day's ride, but if I had to it would be at the top of my all-time list for sure. :nod
    #3
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  4. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
    157
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Day 4

    It was with much disappointment and reluctance that I had to pack up and start making my way back towards home in the morning. I would have loved nothing more than to spend a few more days, if not weeks, exploring that wonderful area and everything it has to offer. But I had work to get back to Monday morning (not for long hehehe :kat) and a whole lotta miles in between so off I went.

    I knew I wanted to take another stab at Cherohala as my first pass on it was a bit of a letdown and boy was I rewarded for it. The weather was absolutely perfect this morning, the traffic was nowhere to be seen, and I felt as if I had the road all to my self. I rode through more scenic areas on the trip, honestly most of the overlooks on Cherohala are not all that great IMO, especially compared to the BRP, but man was the riding good. I may have exceeded the posted speed limit a few times (alright more like the entire time) but I knew this was to be the last great road of the trip and I was not going to squander it. I was in the zone and vibing in a big way. Lots of hootin’ and hollerin’, yippin’ and yappin’ in my helmet, I was having a lot of fun. And on a fully loaded naked air-cooled retro wonder machine to boot. Life was good.

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    The further from Tellico Plains I got, the more muted and bland the landscape became. I settled in and prepared for the long ride home. My tank was full of good vibes and awesome memories to last though so my spirits were high. I wanted to lay down some serious miles today so that I could have a nice easy last day getting home tomorrow. I was on a mission to reach the state park on Pickwick Lake in southern Tennessee, which was only about 5 hours from home. I laid the hammer down and sped through the soft rolling farmland and heat. By the time I reached the park it was nearing 5:00, my body was aching, my mind was shot, but I reached my goal and put 420 miles between point A and B that day. I was greeted by a “CAMP FULL” sign upon arrival. :flush

    The park staff was super friendly and kind and luckily found a spot for me across the lake at a separate primitive campground which was more my speed anyway. My campsite for the night did not suck.

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    Hopping in the lake after that long hot ride made it all worth while. And knowing that I’d have an easy short ride tomorrow meant I could slow down for the first time the whole trip and relax a bit. Good beers were drank, a lovely lakeside fire was stared at, and a good nights sleep was had.
    #4
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  5. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
    157
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Day 5

    Not much to speak of on the final day, good times were still had though.

    Had a nice relaxed morning getting packed up which was awesome and a first for the trip. Set out from the lake and stopped for fuel on the way out, right behind me this guy in a ‘72 Chevelle pulls in.

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    This thing was immaculate and sounded (and smelled) like a pro stock car. I just stood there mouth agape staring for a minute, the guy was looking at me probably not sure if I was all there, he’s like “how’s it goin?” and I’m just standing there nodding like a fool. Finally found my words and chatted with him for a while, he knew the CB1100 and worked at a Honda shop. He’s also got a XR650R (not the L), guys got good taste in motors. He was familiar with the Dragon and all the other spots I was at the day before, and informed me that this Chevelle makes 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. He didn’t seem like the embellishing type either. Anyway he left before me and proceeded to effortlessly roast the tires on the road out, also forever burned in my memory.

    I chugged along on more divided highway home, listening to good tunes and reflecting on the last few days. I felt really good about my overall setup, just a few tweaks here and there before I head out west. The original Type 1 bars are definitely going back on, they’ll add a good deal of comfort for long days in the saddle for absolutely free. I’ll be purchasing some highway pegs as well. I’m a tall guy and my knees were pretty cranky the whole time on the highway, an easy fix tho. Still going back and forth on a windscreen, I always ride without one and the Street Shield I have buffets like crazy even after trimming it down, I’m leaning towards just leaving it as is. We’ll see. A few other small things packing-wise, otherwise I’m feeling really good about going west.

    As I was chugging along contemplating all of this I noticed a bike on the shoulder up ahead, guy on the phone next to it obviously in need of some help. I whip around and see what’s up, he tells me his rear went flat and asks if I’ve got plugs/air. I said yeah, let’s look at that tire first though. I think we found the puncture but it was a long, irregular slash in the tire that was pretty close to the sidewall, we both agreed it wasn’t gonna take a plug. Plus his bead was completely off, I really don’t think we woulda been able to get it back on there. He was on the phone with a tow truck anyway the whole time so he was pretty set and not much I coulda done anyway. It was gonna be another 45 minutes before it got there though and the guy had literally nothing on him other than his jacket and phone so I went back to the nearest station and got him some water, it was HOT out and no shade around so it was the least I could do. This was in northern Mississippi and he said he was trying to get to Oklahoma, why he had no water/tools/anything I have no idea. He was on a Busa to be fair, maybe he thought if he rode fast enough he’d be able to outride any trouble, lol.


    The rest of the way home was very uneventful. More good tunes and hot weather and my new favorite interstate game which is to dart between the reflectors every time you change lanes, trying to avoid hitting them. Gives you something to do and helps with the monotony.

    Made it back home at 3:00, gave my dog a big ol’ hug, woulda done the same to my girlfriend but she was out of town as well, and hung out with my buddy who was house/dog sitting for me. Got some tacos/beer (are you picking up on a theme here yet..? :dutch ) /ice cream and relaxed. I was glad to be back but already thinking about the next trip. I think most people would feel very fulfilled and satisfied from a 5 day nonstop trip like this, I feel like I only got a small taste of what is to come and I’m ready for the whole enchilada. :dukegirl I think this is a good sign.

    Much love, thank you for reading and I’ll try my best to reply to everyone. :super
    #5
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  6. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
    157
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Man, those pics turned out LARGE. Lol.
    #6
  7. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Sarasota, FL / Sylva, NC
    nice pics, thanks for posting!
    #7
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  8. jojofett

    jojofett Hi, I'm Armando but most folks call me Joe

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2018
    Oddometer:
    397
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Great write up
    #8
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  9. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
    157
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Thanks Joe. I will miss all of y’all, I feel like I was just starting to get to know everyone.

    C’est la vie....
    #9
  10. Just Cliff

    Just Cliff Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2018
    Oddometer:
    169
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Very nice write up & sounds like a nice 1st out of state trip. Be careful this type of travel can be habit forming! :photog
    #10
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  11. Essbee

    Essbee Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Durban, South Africa
    Thanks for sharing!
    #11
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  12. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    The guy in the Chevelle is a friend of mine. He's the parts manager at Lake Hill Motors in Corinth. And no , he wasn't embellishing.
    On his XRR on the TAT.
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    #12
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  13. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

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    Nov 26, 2017
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    How cool is that? Small world....
    #13
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  14. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    He's an inmate on here. Very rarely posts anything, though.
    #14
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  15. 1stgenfarmboy

    1stgenfarmboy The Sherpa Man

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    southern tip of ILL
    Nice write up dude, I also wish I was a little closer to " the good riding ".

    I try to sneak away for some mountain air at least once a year..........not nearly enough.
    #15
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  16. st2sam

    st2sam Adventurer

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    Feb 11, 2013
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    NEPA
    Nice job, can't wait for your next Westward trip.

    Thanks.:thumb
    #16
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  17. dbarkdoll

    dbarkdoll Amateur Brapper

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Me neither! :jive
    #17
  18. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,719
    Location:
    Kentucky-Eastern that is!
    Thanks for a VG RR! You have barely tapped whats here in the SE's best riding area. For a look see at a bunch of routes that real riders provided for the tourist website, based from marion, VA look at my ofetn posted link and favorite rides: www.vistvirginiamountains.com They will send you a packet of the maps free via the website. There's yer next trip! Just like the Ozarks, best in spring & fall when heat and humidity is lower and stuff in bloom or leaf color. If you mostly avoid Smoky Mtn Np's busy side near gatilinburg, sevieville or Pigeon Forge and Ashville other than as a stopover traffics not bad. Tazewell, TN to Marion, WV16 into Marion and area around Mt Rogers over into NC where you were are great. I love the ride west from just S of Marion off I-81 toward KY at Breaks SP. Enjoy.
    #18
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  19. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Kentucky-Eastern that is!
    What? NC/TN is EAST of Arkansas... did I miss something...
    #19
  20. st2sam

    st2sam Adventurer

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    A little critical today are we?

    OR -

    You forgot the :D after your post?
    #20