Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Buford Fish Hatchery, Rocky Mountain Recreation Area and TNGA

Sunday and Monday just ran together. We all slept in Sunday morning, hit the late service and then hit the pond. Lanier's got ten million little bream or some kind of bream-like fish. That's all I know how to catch there. The little pond at the Buford Hatchery has catfish and allegedly bass. The weather was great and the fish were biting all day.

I tried a rig that put the hook about a foot off the bottom. The plastic grasshopper didn't work, but I got several strong hits on a real worm. I think the water is so murky there, you've got to use bait with a good scent. Nothing can see the grasshopper. My hits didn't pan out though. I tried a smaller hook and started catching.

Kathryn and the girls were catching too.

 Kathryns Fish

 Sophies Fish

Hey, I caught a catfish.

 My Fish

Actually, I caught 3. I caught my share of catfish when I was a kid, but I also watched my grandfather get his hands ripped to shreds by their serrated spines, so I always took them off the hook by putting them on the ground, holding them down with my foot, getting the hook out and then kicking them into the water. Saturday I tried my grandfather's technique of sliding his hand up the body from behind the spines and holding them out with his thumb, hand and first finger. It worked enough to get the hook out, but while throwing the fish back in, I got cut up just like I saw him get cut, and the mild poison felt like a bee sting. The next time I just let the fish hang by its lower lip. A loose wrist kept it's spines away from me, even when it thrashed about. Much better.

That's all we did. A cool, lazy day.

On the way to dinner I caught sight of the Blue Ridge to the north and thought of the riders out there hauling themselves across it.


The tracker showed Eddie, Matt and Brad, already west of Dalton. If they kept moving, they could get to the border by 2AM or so. I would meet them.

Me and Iz headed west. Sophie declined. We got to Rome in a record hour and a half. It's a quick trip when there's no traffic. When we got there, we checked the tracker on my phone. Nobody had moved. They were asleep. Even moving, they wouldn't be at the border for at least 8 or 10 hours. We could sleep too.

We'd brought our sleeping bags, but there was no 3G or even Edge at the trailheads. We could have parked in a church lot or something, but if Iz had to go to the bathroom, it wouldn't be good. We opted for a hotel room. At 8AM we checked the tracker again. The riders were moving, but were at least 6 hours out.

While scouting and riding the route, I'd seen a sign on Hwy 100 for the Rocky Mountain Recreation Area and always wanted to check it out. The sign just points east, so I followed it, expecting the area to be nearby, but it was like 10 miles away. Suddenly I recognized it. We passed it getting a ride home from our TNGA adventure. I've even seen it on the maps. Somebody turned Rocky Mountain into a pumped storage reservoir, like Raccoon Mountain, maybe even before Raccoon Mountain, and converted the land around it into a recreation area.

Me and Iz found a trail and hiked it. We weren't quite prepared though. No technical clothing. No camelbacks. Jeans, T-shirts, Iz was wearing boots. Empty soda bottles, filled with water. Iz carried a bag of Doritos.

The trail was flat and easy, but very scenic.

 Antioch Lake East 1

 Antioch Lake East 2

 Old House

We ate a few elderberries.


The trail eventually led across a dam a the east end of the lake...

 Dam at East End of Antioch Lake East

...and we had to walk on the road for a while. Iz found a large, awesome feather.



The Spillway was cool.


I don't totally understand the water flow out there. It looks like the northern lakes drain into the middle lakes when they're high enough, then water is pumped up to the top of the mountain from them when there's surplus energy, and let flow back down when they need to generate more electricity. Maybe.

We had a tough time finding the trail again. A friendly park ranger pointed us in the right direction. It went up over a hill, then back down along the lake. We passed several people fishing, and I saw my first Paw Paw tree...

 Paw Paw

...with it's weird fruit. I didn't try it.

Our little adventure over, we headed back to Rome to check the tracker. About halfway there, I got a voicemail from Russell. Eddie was like 20 miles out. Woohoo!

We headed to the border and waited a little over an hour.

And then...


A few hours later, Matt arrived, but declined to finish. He and Brad had been travelling together for over half the route. They'd gotten separated coming down off of High Point. I'm not sure exactly how. He explained it, but I didn't understand. 20 minutes later Brad showed up, met Matt at the gas station and they rode in together.

Matt chucked an empty gatorade bottle at Brad's front wheel at the last second to try to take him out! Or something like that. Maybe Matt pushed him and it fell out of his pack. Whatever it was, it was dirty! Hahaha.

We piled in the truck and Matt was literally asleep in seconds. He has that gift. I wish I had that gift. At Los Portales, we mowed through a metric ton of food. Iz didn't like her hamburger, but hey, that's what you get when you order a hamburger at a mexican joint. She should have had some of my Camarones a la Diabla.

The guys were moving slowly. I remember that from my ride. Stiff muscles and joints, and lots of chafing. Once you sit, you don't want to get up.

 Brad Kee, Wiped

At length, we dropped Brad at a hotel. Matt Fusco was coming in later and Matt's girlfriend would pick the two of them up. I pulled his bike down off my rack, and man, his bike was heavy. His front wheel felt heavier than my bike. His gear was heavy! Brad is just an ox. Strong as hell. Inhumanly strong.

Back on the road, Mulberry bound, Matt crashed out again. Zzzzz. My truck hit 300K on the way.


It must be built Ford tough or something. Does Dodge have a slogan like that? If they do, I can't come up with it. Good job Dodge.

My mom called me: "Your dad's fine but..." Man, I hate when it starts like that. Apparently he got stung by a hundred bees. Just riding along, noticed a downed tree, stopped, "Hmm, how do I get around... Bees!" Benadryl, ice packs and a ton of water to drink. I talked to him today, he took off work, but he's feeling ok. They were supposed to send me a photo, but I don't have a photo yet. Send me a photo!

At Mulberry, everybody was up, buzzing around. Charley Rome was still there and we hung out for a while. He's riding the local trails today.

Before long, Karlos showed up, riding super fast up the super steep hill leading up to the Barn. We were watching his light come up the hill and doubting that it could even be one of the riders. "Who is that?" "Karlos!" "Karlos?"

 Naked Indian

Yep, Karlos. His stamina is amazing. I think a lot of these guys just don't need much sleep. They just ride and don't need to sleep. Were they born that way? Did they train that up? Both? Something to work on for sure.

Mission accomplished, me and Iz rolled home. She was out after 5 minutes. I remember driving, but no details of the drive. My bed felt good.

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