Friday, August 20, 2010

Marking the Fool's Gold Route

The Fool's Gold is right around the corner and the course has to be marked. Every year, I help Ed and Nam out with that, and today was the day. I guess technically yesterday, but I started writing this yesterday, so at that time it was today. It's cool to mark the course, you get to recon parts of it, feel out your fitness, and so on.

But first things first, you can't flag a course without flagging material, so I ran by the Home Depot in Dawsonville on the way up...


I'd forgotten what color ribbon we were going to use, so I called Ed about that: "Pink, hot pink, like your undies!" Ha, ha. Joke's on him though, my undies are actually black with little flying pigs all over them. I bought 4 rolls of tape. Ed must have been by there earlier in the week though, because my 4 rolls almost cleaned them out.

I got to the Bull Lot about noon and it was surprisingly not-all-that-hot. This year, the route's going up Bear Hare and down Bull, backwards from previous years. I'd never climbed Bear Hare before, so it would be interesting.

On the Bull Mountain Cutoff, I picked and ate many muscadines.


You can't walk 30 feet in Georgia without finding these, and they are so tasty and delicious.

I passed the ancient School Bus of Booger Holler. It's hard to see coming from the other direction. I'd bet most people have never seen it at all.

 School Bus

Lance Creek was looking nice.

 Lance Creek

Right as I finished flagging that turn, it began raining, intensely, for like 20 minutes. Just long enough to soak everything and turn me into a silt magnet.

Speaking of silt, this year we had record drought, followed by record rain, followed by weeks of alternating record heat and thunderstorms. Perhaps the worst possible combination of conditions for exposed dirt. Every road out there has ruts and bad washboards in the corners. The old-school trails have a nice layer of silt going at the bottom of every hill. Even the new-school trails have a thin layer of silt evenly distributed across them by runoff from the backslope. It'll harden up this winter, but right now, it's like riding on wet beach sand and I collected it on every surface of my body, all day.

The climb up Bare Hare was more difficult than I thought it would be. There's a long rideable-if-it's-dry section that I had to walk. I wonder if I'll be able to ride it during the race.

At the top, I remembered Lance Creek Falls. I've been up there a hundred times, and I almost always forget about it, but today I remembered and took a quick little side-trip.

Not so impressive, actually...

 Lance Creek Falls

More of a trickle than a falls. Maybe that's why I usually forget about it.

Descending Bear Hare the other way was super fun. I've climbed up Lance Creek Road and come down Bull from there, but never descended the top of Bear Hare. The rhodo tunnels feel a lot tighter coming down than going up.

I stopped briefly at The Truck too.

 Truck From Side

 Truck Inside

I've seen it a hundred times, riding by, but today I actually thought a little about it. It's an old flatbed, probably an old logging truck. Three sets of tires are missing. The remaining tires are bald. The interior is completely stripped out and lots of parts under the hood, including structural components are missing. I could imagine people taking souvenirs over the years, but it seems unlikely that random people could make off with everything that's missing from that truck. I've seen old wrecks dumped in the woods before, but usually at low elevations and close to a road. This thing is way up in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it was barely running, so they parked it up there, cannibalized it for parts for the rest of the fleet and then just abandoned it. Who knows? Fun to think about though.

Not a minute after leaving the truck, I saw a relatively large black bear. First I heard it, then caught sight of it fleeing off to my left. As I rode by, it paused, looked back then took off again. Like: "Run!!! Hmm, I appear to be running. Why am I running? Oh yeah, that thing! Aaaah! Run!!!"

A little further down I saw a pair of turkeys too.

So I marked Bear Hare, Bull and the 83 bypass and then ran into another thing that you can't walk 30 feet in the Bull Mountain area without finding. Some sort of cherries, I guess?

 Some Sort of Cherries

The fruit is pitted, and the edge of the leaf is toothless. Pin, Black and Choke Cherry leaves have teeth. These are more like laurel leaves, so they could be the dreaded, toxic, Laurel Cherry, but I think those are dark purple, and these stay red. I've tasted them before and they taste like cherries, and sweet or tart, red berries are generally safe to eat, but I'm reticent to eat them outright until somebody can tell me what they are.

Right about then, Eddie called me and sent me up to mark Turner Creek. On the way up I was caught by David Hall, who was out recon'ing the course. I recognized his name, he's signed up for the TNGA. Nice guy, we chatted a bit. He took off up Winding Stair and I hung a right onto Turner.

I've always seen a little side-trail off of Turner Creek, so today I dropped my bike and hiked it. It turned out to be clear though, I could have ridden it. It appears to just have been the former route of Turner Creek, as it just breaks off of and rejoins the main trail. It's possible horsemen still use it to avoid encounters with fast-moving bikes. I've heard there's an old homestead up in there somewhere, and hoped the trail would pass by it, but no luck there.

Dave had been on Turner Creek earlier in the day and warned me about a huge, downed tree. He wasn't kidding. It took me almost an hour to create a rideable path, turning this...


...into this.


That's what an hours work looks like.

I actually ran into Ed heading back toward my truck. He gave me water and sent me up the Moss Branch connector and Jones Creek Ridge to mark those trails. I marked them, and checked out a new trail, just recently opened to bikes that leads from 83 down to the lot.

I was now, officially tired, wet, covered in grainy silt, and very ready to be clean. I drove back to Wahsega, walked down to Ward Creek, took off all of my clothes, except for my shoes and bathed in the creek. I was pretty well concealed, and there weren't any cars at Wahsega, but still, after a while that "Woohoo! I feel so liberated" feeling turned into that "Ok, this is awkward" feeling and I got dressed.

I met Ed again and we drove around Montgomery Creek and Winding Stair, marking those roads. I think there's just a little bit of singletrack left to mark behind the camp. Hopefully Ed'll get to that tomorrow.

I'm not sure how I feel though. Allergies have been killing me, the allergy meds don't seem to be doing anything except making me more tired. The muscles on the right side that I use to hold my head up while riding are overworked from ORAMM and bother me pretty constantly. The meds for that also make me tired. With all that going for me, I'm actually thinking about bailing on the race. We'll see though. Maybe some good sleep is all I need.

1 comment:

  1. eat some local raw honey at the begining of allergy season to cut down on your symptoms. Must be local and raw though.