Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rocky Fork

Cold and boring no more! That was the title of my most recent post but since then the weather has changed and the trails have been set on fire! Once the weather man let it be known that this week was going to see those spring like temps again we did the one thing most mountain bikers only dream of. We called in sick and spent the day riding in the woods. Well I didn't actually call in sick, I was off all this week but a few others were conned into it.
Rocky fork has been all the buzz here lately in northeast TN. With the recent acquisition of the 10,000 acre land tract by the the Cherokee National Forest and the State of TN the possibility of a huge recreation area for mountain bikers, hikers etc. is in the near future. Actually the state and Cherokee didn't get it all yet but their working on it and the land is secured for now. Read all about it here.

We had a good crew Tues as we unloaded at the trailhead ignoring the NO PARKING SIGN, I didn't drive but I did ride with a cop so as long as he didn't care neither did I. Rocky Fork is not known for sweet single track, at least not yet. What it is known for is a grueling climbs up old logging roads covered in loose rock and debris (sticks & leaves not trash). The climb is long, difficult and requires you to navigate 6 creeks. What makes this ride worth it you ask? The views, they were amazing. After reading the nice article from Blue Ridge and looking at the photos I assumed that we could cross some of the creeks on foot via rocks and not get wet. I really didn't want to get wet, even though the temps were warm the water had to be ice cold and I had a feeling cold feet could make for a miserable day on the bike. As we approached the first of the 6 creek crossings it was clear we would have to ride through the water, no rocks to cross on foot. Jason and Andy made the first attempt each trying different lines both getting wet. I decided on a different line as well but as luck would have it I managed to hit a large rock stopping me dead in my tracks mid creek and causing me to put both feet down in the water. It was cold but actually not as cold as I expected but I didn't stand around long enough to see if it got any colder. Luckily I had enough sense to pack a few extra pairs of socks. I didn't bother changing then because just about every water crossing was a wet one. Even if you were able to stay up right on your bike some crossings were deep enough to submerge both feet as you pedaled through. As we reached the top we realized the wet ride was definitely worth it. The views were amazing!

Trace amounts of snow!

One of the first things we did after staring at the amazing view was to strip off all our wet gear and lay it out on Buzzard's rock to dry in the sun. It looked like a yard sale up their but it felt nice to replace cold wet socks with dry ones.

As we retraced our route going down I had to hit the brakes and take some time to enjoy the nature around me. We followed this creek for a couple of miles and it was filled with all kinds of activity. Even if you never make it to the top the first 3 or 4 miles have plenty to see. I can't imagine what this place will be like if trails are built, it would be a true mountain bike heaven.

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