Thumpin through the mountains

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by thechief86, Nov 7, 2018.

  1. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    Hey folks, over the last 3 days, I rode my '06 KLR 650 up into the mountains of western Virginia to meet a buddy of mine who is in the midst of trying to do the eastern half of the TAT. My original plan was to meet up with him. and follow the TAT as far as the Mississippi river, and then slab it back home. I had planned to leave Friday night, and come back home Wednesday Morning, and try to get some sleep before going into work Wednesday night at 5pm. As I was packing all my stuff and getting ready to hop on the bike, my wife informed me that our babysitter bailed on us, and I didn't have anybody to watch my son while I was out of town! (My wife works full time as well) Being mighty pissed, I sucked it up and stayed home, but then after about 24 hours of pouting, my wife called her mom to come stay with the kid, so I got to go on a trip, just not for as long as I hoped! I prepared to leave on Sunday morning...
    I didn't have time for my original plan, so instead, I just rode up to Newport, Va and met my buddy, and rode the TAT with him from Newport, down to Marion, Va, camping 2 nights along the way, and heading home on the 3rd day.
    I left out Sunday morning at 4am, and had a very cold ride as far as Knoxville, riding interstate the whole way to Newport. I stopped at a Hardee's in Knoxville and bought a biscuit and a cup of coffee, and sat there shivering for over an hour. I have good gear, thermals and a big overcoat and whatnot, but the wind at 75 mph on a foggy morning at 36°F was just biting me to the bone.
    After sitting for a while, the sun had come up, bringing warmer temperatures with it. I got back on the road, and continued to Marion, Va, where I got fuel, and visited Hungry Mother State Park, and learned the somewhat dark and depressing story of how it got its name.

    20181103_180316.jpg
    20181104_095837.jpg
    20181104_114447.jpg

    Attached Files:

    #1
    Dualthing, lwood10, 45Guy and 3 others like this.
  2. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    Hungry Mother State Park is a very nice little park right off of Highway 16, in the area known to us motorcycle enthusiasts as "The Back of the Dragon". There is a beautiful lake here, formed when Hungry Mother Creek was dammed up in 1933. There are several nice campsites here as well!
    20181104_115714.jpg 20181104_120829.jpg 20181104_120728.jpg 20181104_115751.jpg
    Deric had planned to meet me here, but he came to a closed forest road along his path that stopped him dead in his tracks, and cost him an entire day of riding to get back on his route, so after waiting here for an hour or so before I heard from him, I hopped back on the highway, to meet him in Newport, about 100 miles away, where his route would meet a "town" actually marked on regular map.
    #2
  3. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    I rode on up to Newport, which was a tiny town with a small grocery store, a gas station, a couple of small businesses, and a few historic covered bridges.
    Here I met Richard, who was a real friendly dude on a Harley, who had ridden the TAT from Tellico Plains, TN to Oregon, with his daughter, just a few years ago. He said he rode a DRZ400, and his daughter did the trip on an XT225. Very cool! Richard and I talked for about a half hour, and he gave me a quick tour around the area to see a few of the covered bridges, and along the way we stopped to take a few photos and b.s. about former bikes and places we've ridden them.
    He was a very cool guy to meet 500 miles from home, haha!
    Once we got back to the grocery store/ gas station where Deric and I were supposed to meet, Richard went on home, and I went inside to get some stuff to eat.
    At this point, my lovely KLR was quite clean, and had been thoroughly serviced to prepare for a lot of miles, many of which were sure to be quite rough. This was the last place my bike would be clean for a few days.
    Deric met me a couple hours later, and I was really excited to see him! This is a great friend I met through ADV, who happens to be a fellow KLR guy, and only lives a couple of miles from me! After catching up for a bit and describing our journeys up to this point, we fueled up, and rode to our campsite, which was about 10 miles of beautiful paved twisties, then about 20 more miles of un maintained forest service roads, up to the top of a mountain, where we arrived at the White Rocks campground, and set up camp, just as it was getting dark.
    We built a nice fire, and Deric began making us a nice dinner of rehydrated Mexican something or other, and I broke out some hotdogs and trail mix, and some pre-cooked rice. We feasted on the delicious items until we couldn't handle much more, then enjoyed our fire for a bit, and then went to bed in our respective tents. It had been a great day, and we were both quite tired.
    20181104_141922.jpg 20181104_141943.jpg 20181104_142212.jpg 20181104_142013.jpg
    #3
  4. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    More photos from day 1:
    20181104_152208.jpg 20181104_144313.jpg 20181104_162308.jpg 20181104_162246.jpg
    To be continued...
    #4
  5. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    That night, I was sleeping quite well, in a new tent I had just bought off Amazon, which packs down to be the perfect size to fit in my Seahorse 720 knockoff Pelican cases, with my cold weather sleeping bag, I could tell it was going to be a good night.
    About 10pm or so, I was woken up to the sound of thunder, and the pitter patter of rain outside my tent. Awesome. The white noise put me back to sleep very well, and about an hour later, I woke up with a jolt! My feet are wet! And it's cold as hell! My tent was leaking. I was sooo tired, so I just kind of repositioned to get my feet out of the puddle :mad:
    Then, a few minutes later, I noticed my pillow had sopped up the puddle it was in! GAAAHH! In short order, all my gear was soaked, and I was PISSED. Deric, in his fancy bivvy tent from REI that cost like $250, was sleeping quite soundly, steadily snoring, with an occasional grunt and a fart, presumably fueled by our dinner, lol. He's quite a manly dude, originally from Canuckistan, the Great White North. He's a business owner with kids already grown and out of the house, so he has a better supply of disposable income than I, as well as the freedom to take time for whatever and for however long. Often I'm quite jealous, lol. I won't have that kind of freedom for another 20 years.
    Either way, all my shit's wet now, and I can't sleep, but I don't see any point in disturbing Deric. He's quite comfy, lol.
    I crawled out of my tent, and looked to the outhouse building a few hundred feet away, and decide I may hole up in there, but when I get there, there is a big ol' padlock and a sign saying something or other about these facilities being closed for the winter and whatnot. Dang. But over the door to the outhouse, is a bit of a lean-to kind of overhang, with kind of a wall built on three sides as a windbreak. I decided to use what I had, so I go to back to the campsite, and grab my rain gear, and Deric's camp stool, my soaked bag and pillow, and set back for the outhouse. I hung my sleeping bag and pillow up on some nails sticking out, and sat on that stool, leaned up against the wall of the outhouse, and went back to sleep. Brrrr.
    I had some crazy dreams involving what I thought was a chainsaw massacre, but turned out to be a fat kid in a wheeled office chair, propelling himself around my neighborhood with a huge leaf blower, while laughing maniacally. What an odd dream...
    About 4am or so, the rain slacks off, and I decided to quit trying in vain to get any sleep, and broke down my tent and stuffed my wet gear in its respective spots, and waited for Deric to get up. Once he was up and broke down his camp, we rode back into Newport, and found breakfast at the gas station. A skinny blonde girl had the ladies in the kitchen make us each an omelet, and we bought a few of the fresh donuts they had made that morning, as well as a big cup of coffee. Yum! And so cheap! We paid like $6 each for a great breakfast, and when we finished, Deric remembered he had left his backpack at the Campsite! So we rushed back, and killed another hour or so riding back to get it. Great ride either way, but it was very foggy up on the mountain, and very cold, and the mist kept fogging up my helmet and glasses, so I had to ride much slower for fear of crashing or riding off the side of the mountain. Fun times!
    Once he had all his stuff in order, we got back on his TAT route, following scroll maps he bought from the guy who did all the leg work to map the route out.
    This ended up being roughly 8 hours of riding through some gorgeous countryside and mountain scenery, and some challenging wet forest roads, as well as the occasional break from the unpaved, onto well maintained country roads, and then back onto the dirt and gravel. We rode about 300 miles through the middle of nowhere, including the 100 miles or so going to and from the campsite at the beginning of the day, and ended up about 100 miles from where we started, due to all the zigzagging we did. This was a ton of fun!
    Deric is a much more confident rider than I, although I have done many more miles over more years, I have a very healthy respect for pain and crashing, after some of the things I've experienced in my riding career. This does include a crash just this July which totalled my bike and a Honda civic, and put me in the hospital for a night, and had me out of work for a week. Deric hasn't had any injuries from crashes as far as I know, and isn't terribly concerned with the possibility.
    As a result of all this, I found myself riding far enough behind him that our Senas wouldn't link anymore, and occasionally asking him to slow down. Everything is wet and slippery, after all.
    Because he was already behind on schedule, and I was further slowing him down, we didn't stop for pictures as often as I would have liked, but I did get a few.
    After we had ridden all day, we stopped for fuel in Wytheville, and decided to stop at another campground for the night, which was only about a half hour further. This was the Raccoon Branch Campground, also run by the U.S. Forest Service, located in the Mt. Rogers Recreational Area, at the base of the mountain.
    Our campsite this time was glorious! Under 4 large pine trees, on a soft bed of pine loam where needles had been collecting for decades, and in the bend of a fast-running stream, with crystal clear, delicious cold water, a small waterfall, and an amazing rushing sound that was constantly reminding us how great this spot was.
    We set up camp, and Deric told me he had a spare tarp I could string up over my tent to keep me dry, so I did, and set forth trying to build a fire, while he got out his stove and boiled water to rehydrate some Mountain Home lasagna and beef stroganoff pouches I had brought. These turned out quite good! But try as I might, I could not get a fire to stay lit, as all the wood and brush I could find was totally soaked from the rain. I even robbed a liter of gasoline from my bike, and although I got some impressive flare ups, nothing would continue to burn.
    Having wet gear, and no fire, I decided to improvise. It turns out that a KLR makes a fine blow-dryer if you hold the rpm above 2k and hold your wet stuff directly behind the tailpipe and dry one small section at a time. :D
    With my sleeping bag and pillow now dry, and my belly full, I laid my fat, happy arse down for the night and went to sleep. :cool: 20181105_063749.jpg 20181105_060341.jpg 20181105_064015.jpg 20181105_063752.jpg
    #5
  6. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    More photos from day 2: 20181105_104037.jpg 20181105_082615.jpg 20181105_104052.jpg 20181105_104106.jpg
    #6
  7. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    Day 2 photos, continued: 20181105_104233.jpg 20181105_104602.jpg 20181105_112450.jpg 20181105_124922.jpg
    #7
    Dualthing, motocopter and MYUMPH like this.
  8. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    Keeping the photos coming....
    20181105_134626.jpg 20181105_104052.jpg 20181105_134617.jpg 20181105_134540.jpg
    #8
    tekes, Dualthing and motocopter like this.
  9. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    I hope you guys wanted more pictures from day 2, because here some are. Site only allows 4 per post, but more are coming.
    20181105_142711.jpg 20181105_154257.jpg 20181105_154241.jpg

    Attached Files:

    #9
  10. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    Final installment of day 2 photos, I promise.
    20181106_053920.jpg 20181106_060434.jpg 20181105_161720.jpg 20181105_161738.jpg

    Day 3 return home report and photos coming soon. :cool:
    #10
  11. motocopter

    motocopter ˙˙˙ƃuᴉɥɔɹɐǝS

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,666
    Location:
    Sumner County, TN (for now)
    Nice. :thumb

    Probably not what you were expecting. However, as they say, it's an adventure.
    #11
    sanders446 and thechief86 like this.
  12. scout68

    scout68 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2018
    Oddometer:
    209
    Location:
    Germantown TN
    Nice pics Chief. Way to Go on setting off. Looks like green monster KLr performed great. I realize it wasn’t the trip you had in mind......but.....you broke some more ground, got out in the field, and probably learned a bunch of stuff you’d do different next time. Solid stuff.

    Although I have kids in college, I also have a third grader. I feel you bro on the “time horizon” you mentioned. I’ll be 83 before I can take a long walk in the woods. But that’s what drove me to commute more, which is making me a much better rider, which is some adventure in its own right.

    Glad you stayed safe.
    #12
    thechief86 likes this.
  13. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    Tuesday morning, I woke up around 5 or so, and realized it was raining, but the tarp strung up over my tent had done its job. I was dry as a bone, and had achieved a good night's sleep. I figured Deric wasn't far behind me, so I got on up, broke down my camp, and packed all my stuff back onto my trusty KLR and waited to hear Deric stir.
    A couple hours later, he kinda rustled around, and eventually got up. Until this point, the rain had been more of a drizzle than actual rain, but as soon as he got out of his tent, the bottom dropped out. I decided to go to the outhouse for this campsite and wait for him, and it became clear that my buddy was draggin ass this morning, haha. We later decided that it made more sense for me to get on my way home after we got some breakfast, although the plan had been to ride more of the TAT with him, then head home around noon. At this pace, noon would come right after breakfast, lol. So around 9am, we rolled out of the campsite, and headed into Marion to seek out some breakfast.
    After riding around downtown for a bit, we finally asked some guys who were raking leaves where to find some grub, and they pointed us down the road a ways.
    We parked our bikes on the street, and walked around looking for the diner they had mentioned, but instead found a real fancy boutique/coffee shop/brunch nook staffed by attractive, well dressed, high-maintenance-looking women, who gave us the type of fake smiles that said "You came to the wrong neighborhood, motherf*cker!".
    But they sold us a delicious breakfast anyway, with somewhat sub-par service, but excellent food, and just a teeny bit of the attitude that matched our first impressions given with the smiles we were first greeted with. Either way, we each got a cup of coffee, an exquisite Belgian Waffle, scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, and biscuits with sausage gravy, and were provided with a large selection of gourmet syrups and jellies and jams, apple butter, and Amish-made real butter. The food was excellent, and quite filling!
    I paid our bill, to show Deric my gratitude for inviting me to ride with him for a few days, and keeping our route straight, and cooking for me, as well as loaning me his tarp the previous night. He really has been a good friend to me, albeit not without reminding at every chance that I don't bring enough stuff, and I dont buy the best quality of the stuff I do bring. He is right, but we do the best we can, lest the alternative be not doing anything at all...
    After paying our bill and leaving a big tip for our attractive hostesses, we parted ways, and Deric hung around a bit to charge his electronics and perhaps conduct a few business calls, and I headed home.
    By now the rain had stopped, and I hopped on the interstate for about an hour, then decided to get fuel, and out of curiosity took a look at about what time I'd get home if I took the roads less travelled, and if I avoided the big roads on my sojourn back to Middle TN. I had, after all, prepared my wife for my return to be well after bedtime.
    As it turned out, an all day interstate extravaganza would have me home around 3pm, or a backroad route that allowed for a few quick stops and better scenery looked more like 6pm. That's still better than I had planned for! So off the super slab I came, and made my way home by way of remote two-laners and the occasional gravel road, and as many twisty sections as I could find, at least until I reached the Knoxville area.
    Then I hopped back on I-40 for about 20 miles, and then got on highway 70 for the last leg of my journey, as far as Lebanon, where I picked up highway 109, and then backroads back to my home. Along the way, I stopped at a neat abandoned church, which didn't have indoor plumbing, and again at Ozone Falls in East TN, and at the last "Scenic Overlook" that highway 70 had to offer, just as I dipped off the Cumberland Plateau.
    Once home, I took a shower and put on clean clothes, and took the family out to dinner at a nice Italian place near the house. Good times.
    Now after a good rest, I'm posting my ride report from work, my home away from home, haha.
    Thanks for reading!
    Pics from day 3:
    20181106_074237.jpg 20181106_065346.jpg 20181106_075152.jpg 20181106_075133.jpg
    #13
    tekes, Dualthing and MYUMPH like this.
  14. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    Day 3 photos, continued:
    20181106_092542.jpg 20181106_075601.jpg 20181106_115837.jpg 20181106_075545.jpg
    #14
    Dualthing and MYUMPH like this.
  15. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    More day 3 photos:
    20181106_115848.jpg 20181106_115918.jpg 20181106_115901.jpg 20181106_120046.jpg
    #15
    Dualthing, tireatr and MYUMPH like this.
  16. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    Final batch of photos for this trip!
    Hope you guys enjoyed the report, and I apologize for the crappy cell phone pics, that goes back to my lack of expensive equipment, however, (for me) the point of travelling on a bike is to travel light, and to learn to make do with what you can carry. I've been motocamping for a few years now, and I know what usually works for me. And I rarely wish I had brought more stuff, or even bought better stuff. This trip my cheap tent got me, but it's a lesson learned, as Scout68 pointed out.
    I can't wait to do another one of these, maybe a trip out west next summer, perhaps on my BMW. We shall see what the schedule and bank account dictate. I'm sure there will be some more local trips into the Appalachians between now and then. :D
    20181106_152524.jpg 20181106_142910.jpg
    20181106_143547.jpg
    20181106_142923.jpg
    #16
  17. 2up ADV

    2up ADV Nature’s Neat

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2018
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Natrona Heights, PA
    Nice report. Looked like a great adventure:ricky
    #17
    thechief86 likes this.
  18. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3,070
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Thanks for posting! Could sense the travel-high in your writing :D

    You have to name and shame the worthless tent you bought so no one else makes the same mistake. It's always a fine line balancing the needs of budget vs. quality. One good way to nudge things along toward the higher quality side is to buy used. My first Arai street helmet was a used XD3...paid $200 for it and it looked like it had never been worn. No way could I have afforded $700 for a new one at the time...

    Anyway, apologies in advance for this worthless and unasked for advice :lol2, glad you got to take this short trip and look forward to your next report.
    #18
    lwood10 and thechief86 like this.
  19. thechief86

    thechief86 jack of all daniels

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,153
    Location:
    White House, TN
    I believe the tent was called Yodo, and marketed as a "3 season" tent, however, I couldn't find anywhere on the description where they claimed it was waterproof, but it did come with a rain fly.
    If you go through and read the reviews, several people had said it was not waterproof, and that they had decent results after hosing it down with waterproofing spray. I used a whole can of waterproofing spray, and begrudgingly just look at it like, "well, I REALLY would have gotten wet without the spray" Whatever, lol. Live and learn. I have some better tents, but I specifically wanted one that would pack down and fit in my side cases.
    #19
    tekes likes this.
  20. sledrydr

    sledrydr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
    Oddometer:
    122
    Location:
    Iowa
    Nice story Chief. Makes me feel like taking off and heading south! 12f here this a.m. however. The first 6-8hrs would be tough!
    #20
    thechief86 likes this.