Sunday, September 4, 2011

a little exploration

Knowing I would be stuck at work all Labor Day weekend I snuck in as many rides as I could find the time for last week. I got in two at Warrior's Tues. and Wed. and one at Bays Mountain on Thursday. I've been want to explore Bays Ridge for some time now but just really didn't want to go it alone. Something about exploring back country trails alone that are not well marked has always kinda freaked me out somewhat.

I conned Richard into heading out with me, packing plenty of water, snacks and a trail map we set off to see what was what and what was not in the further reaches of the park.

We started out on double track that climbed, climbed and then climbed some more before switching over to singletrack and more climbing. The singletrack was super tight and littered with down trees really killing any momentum we ever built up. It had the potential for being a fun trail if it was clear but park maintenance while short staffed doesn't seem to interested in clearing if it can't be reached via ATV.

Bays Ridge was a very fitting name for the trail as we rode across the ridge for a long time. At one point we were directly over a shooting rage than was in full use. We couldn't see the range below and knowing they couldn't see us I was a bit leary of a stray bullet or two making it's way up the mountain. I was prepared to take cover if I heard anything buzzing by my head or even remotely close.

After checking the map a few times we realized we were pretty close to the end of the park's borders and I knew the trail was supposed to end at the bottom of the valley, several hundred feet below us. The further we rode without descending I had a sneaking suspicion that the decent was going to be short and power sliding steep. We came upon a right hand turn looked down and realized my guess was correct. I rode as far as I could under control but a couple more downed trees forced us to dismount and the the pitch got too steep for riding much less for hiking. I really wonder what was going through the minds of the trail builders back when this trail was constructed. Probably something along the lines of "Let's just hurry up and get this over with, I'm sick of building trails."

We did manage to get back on our bikes and finish the decent the rest of the way to the bottom. Once at the end we began the search for the connector trail that was supposed to take us up and over the next ridge so we could ride singletrack our rather than old jeep roads. We looked and looked and looked but never found the trail. I'm sure it existed at one time but no doubt was grown up with weeds and or covered with downed trees.

Needless to say we never found it and wound up riding the jeep road back into the main area of the park. The ride out was quite an adventure in it's self. Not having rain in nearly two weeks you would think everything would be dry but this was not the case. Being deep in a valley with not much in the way of sunshine coming through the thick foliage the huge pits created by illegal access from off road vehicles were still a wet muddy mess. By the time we reached the end of the road we were covered in mud and had picked up and extra 5 or 6 lbs. on our tires.

Having ventured to the end of the Bays Ridge trail I have pretty much covered most of the park's trails and land with the exception of that one connector trail that was hidden or non-existent. I don't regret exploring the Bays Ridge trail, it was fun and a learning experience but it will probably will be a while before I venture back there again.

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