Monday, July 4, 2011

Dry Creek

Again? Dry Creek again? Yep. Dry Creek again. I hadn't ridden everything up there last weekend and though there was some deliberation involved, I headed back up to Dry Creek again this past Saturday.

 Johns Mountain

Last time I made a bunch of new friends. This week we got the band back together.

 The Crew

Actually, Johnny and Norma even picked me up from my place, as it was only about two blocks out of the way for them.

Russell and I were trying to remember the last time we rode together. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but apparently it was quite a while. I ride by myself way too much, I think.

Whenever I catch a ride with somebody else, I end up forgetting something. Today it was gloves. Fortunately Russell had 3 extra pair. Two were winter gloves, which would have been fine, but it turned out he had a pair of summer gloves as well.

 Borrowed Gloves

Thanks bro.

We came up with a rough plan and sped off in the direction of adventure. Our route took us up to Loblolly, north to the Pinhoti, back around on Turkey and Dry Creek, the back around again on Mount Joy. We saw a deer and a box turtle. The trails were fast and flowing, but on Turkey, I nearly slid out in the off camber right handers, over and over. Invariably there was a tree right there too, just begging me to plow into it. Exciting!

The trails were in roughly the same shape as last week, but my bike and body felt brand new.

Last week's ride had just beaten me into the ground. After 20-some-odd miles, my core muscles were so tired that I couldn't even breathe deeply. I blamed it on the bumpy new trail. The trail is new and rough, but reflecting on it a bit, I recalled rocking infinitely rougher trail in years past and loving it. I wondered again if I'd been spending too much time on the road or on foot. My fork had been giving me some trouble though. About once a month I have to rub some black marks off of one of the stanchions. In the parking lot it always felt ok, but maybe it was sticking, not reacting to little bumps and leaving that up to my body instead. It was worth checking into.

I took the bike to Reality on Tuesday, they rebuilt the fork and had it ready by Thursday. It turns out one of the seals had been deteriorating and depositing it's deteriorated self all over the stanchion and even up and down inside the leg. Two new seals later, it was like night and day. It's funny how things go bad so slowly that you just don't notice until they're beating you so badly you can't even breathe right. Such was the case with that fork. I'd bought it used, and my theory is that somebody put the wrong oil in it. Who knows though.

The difference was hard to even believe. We rode way harder and faster than I did last week and I got done feeling like I'd been on the road for a few hours.

Back at the lot, though the trail experience had been satisfying, none of us were satisfied with the distance. We hadn't gotten our drive-up's worth yet. We needed more miles.

We tanked up and set off on the Wheat Trail. Norma had no trouble with the loose gravel in the creek crossings, which had actually gotten packed down a bit, even since last week. I still had trouble. So did Russell. In fact, he went down twice, though he was unhurt other than cramping from suddenly straightening out his leg. Maybe there is something to this whole 29'er craze.

About 2/3rds of the way around, we ran into a pack of raggedy hounds.


I've read about people going on mock fox hunts, on horseback, with a pack of dogs, so my first instinct was to look around for horses, but there was no one around. Russell noticed that one of them was a mama. They were moving slowly. Their tails were hanging low. Their howls seemed less like "get out of my territory" and more like "please take me home." Maybe somebody had abandoned them there. Maybe somebody lost them. Maybe the dogs just ran away from home. Whatever it was, it was sad.

On the way back to the lot, we passed a few campers and asked them if they'd lost any dogs or knew anyone who had, but they hadn't and didn't.

One group was camped out just off the road, near the creek. I'd seen them out riding when we first drove in. They were camping in style. They had a sleeping trailer, full camp furniture, a grill, a radio, a pop-up tent and even a corral set up for their horses.


Norma asked if she could pet their horses, which they were more than happy to let us all do. Ha! I learned all kinds of horse-petting information, and only a week after crying to heaven for said information. It depends on the horse where they like to be petted, some love it on their face, others tolerate it, others hate it. Most seem to like it on their neck, right behind their head, up near their mane. Let them sniff your hand first (actually I did already know that) but don't hold your hand there too long, or they'll think maybe you have food and check, with their teeth. One of the three horses didn't like me at all, but loved everyone else. The other two were very nice. It was great.

They'd been up there a few days and were learning the new trails. They asked if we'd been here last week and if they'd given out maps. Well, Conrad gave me a map, and now, knowing the trails, I didn't need it any more, so I gave it to them.

We crossed the creek, parting schools of tiny fish as we crossed. Some teenagers were setting up camp on the other side. They didn't look all that outdoorsy. My first guess was that they'd gotten bored of whatever else kids do these days and somebody was like: "Hey, let's go camping." That happened to me all through high school and college. So many little adventures started just like that.

Back at the lot, Russell'd had enough, so he took off. Johnny, Norma and I tanked up and spun another little loop around Amurchee, Bridle and Saddlehorn. We saw a turkey on Amurchee. Saddlehorn is a fun descent. I've officially ridden every trail up there now.

We closed the place down.

 Empty Lot

No more riding, but we were up for a dip at the local swimming hole.

 Swimmin Hole

It was waist deep on me last weekend so I figured it'd be a good place to cool off. We were investigated by hundreds of tiny fish there too. So many that Norma was able to catch two just by forming a cup with her hands and lifting it out of the water. It felt so good that it seemed physically difficult to get out.

But, it was time to hit the road.

On the way in, we'd seen signs for the Pine Log Creek Trail System on Hwy 140, so on the way back we checked it out.

There was a historical marker nearby.

 Pine Log Sign

There were blackberries growing all around it and we ate about 100 each. It turns out there are about 4 and a half miles of hiking trails there. Guess I'll add it to my list. Garland Mountain is just up the road too, so maybe I'll try to hit the two of them at once.

There was a gnarly old snake skin on a rock at the start of the trail too.

 Snake Skin

In Canton we tried to eat at Fabiano's Pizza, but it was out of business. We ended up at Mia's in Cumming instead.

What a day. Good trails. Good friends. Good times. I hope we get to do it again soon.

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