Sunday, September 16, 2012

Little Ridge Trail

Good Lord. Week before last I was sick, all week. I even had a fever of 102 for a couple of days. I missed marking the Fool's Gold route and then still wasn't well enough to ride in the event itself. Sorry Eddie, I wish there was a word that means "more powerful sorry" but if there is, it has slipped my mind. Thank you Greg Heil though, for picking up my slack.

All last week I played catch up and I was finally close enough today to go for a short ride.


Or ramble as it were.

I got the good fellows at Reality to replace my old and busted drivetrain last week and I've been itching to test it out.

First thing I noticed... I couldn't climb my driveway without chain sucking. I've let chains get stretched out before, and had to replace middle and big rings, but until now, I've never gone long enough to wear out the little ring. Looks like another trip to the shop may be in order.

Speaking of being in the shop, last time I was, Franklin mentioned trails in the park over off South Lanier Beach Road, AKA Samples on the other side of Buford Dam Road. Hmm. Never heard of a trail there before. And as I'm compelled to ride or hike every trail that exists in the world, that's where I went today.

 Little Ridge Trail Sign

The Little Ridge Trail, I guess.


There were no signs indicating what it was open to but there were lots of tire tracks. I scoured every inch and read literally every word on every piece of paper attached to the kiosk to try and find some official stance.


The closest thing was a single sentence about operating vehicles in accordance with posted regulations or something.


I rode. But I kept the pace down to a "family trail" speed.

The trail encircled a peninsula, never terribly far from the shore. There were tons of folks hanging out down by the water. Some looked like they'd walked in, others like they'd paddled in.

There was a dog too.


At first he looked hurt and acted kind of strangely, but his guy was just up the trail and they were soon reunited.

Our at the far end, there was a nice view of the lake.

 Lake Lanier From Little Ridge Trail

Heading back, I noticed a little island off to the right. Kathryn had mentioned one of her friends walking out to some island recently because the water level was so low. Franklin had mentioned the same. I guess this is where they'd done it.

 Little Ridge Island

I felt like some ancient arctic tribesman, crossing the Bering Straight.

But unlike them, it would appear, at least that I was not the first to have done so.

There were fire rings, a well worn trail, trash and graffiti everywhere.

 Fire Ring

Somebody had even ridden their horse out there, and not too long ago it would seem.

 Horse Sign

Graffiti artist vs. Litterbug.

 Do Not Litter Bitches

I'll leave the judgment to the judging kind. I was just amused by the duality.

After my little island excursion, I spun around and explored the remainder of the trails. It was only a couple of miles, but the scenery was nice, and fairly interesting.

There was, of course, the water, but also the terrain appeared to have been terraced and dug out and stripped of trees and replanted and who knows what else. I've long wondered where they got the dirt and rock to build Buford Dam. Maybe that area was one source, or maybe it was just an old pasture. Who knows?

Whoever did whatever, whenever, they left a gigantic white oak tree and then when they built the trail, they ran it by it. The tree now stands, just off trail, surrounded by spindly little pines and tiny little random hardwoods.

Exploration accomplished, I headed back down the road, past the weird apartments that I'd noticed on the way in...

 Crazy Apartments

Past the most strangely placed bridge in the history of trail-building...

 Haw Creek Bridge

And on to the Haw Creek Trail. There, I spun a couple of laps and gave the new drivetrain a real workout.

All was well. It's amazing how big of a difference a new chain and gears makes.

The weather was beautiful too. It's getting a lot cooler. You can work hard without worrying about getting overheated at all. I forget about that, every year.

I passed several families out riding, and a guy out walking too. It's great to see that the trail is getting well used, and not just by hardcore mountain bikers, but by folks who might not otherwise ride, or walk, or do anything at all, and by their kids too.

I love it.

When I got home, I realized something amazing. Or that at least something that stood to be amazing, if it worked out.

"Sophie, put your shoes on, I'm going to make one of your dreams come true!"

This made her far more apprehensive than excited, but she put her shoes on and, not without a million questions, (which I declined to answer) got in the car.

Every time we drive over Buford Dam, she talks about one day wanting to take a boat out to an island in the middle of the lake. It would be "a dream come true", she has said.

So, she, my father in-law, and I went back to Little Ridge Park and walked back out onto that island. All of Sophie's fears and apprehensions disappeared when she realized what we were up to and she was very excited.

In the end though, she was actually a little disappointed. I think she expected the island to be some kind of magical, unexplored world with fairies and dinosaurs and trees that grow delicious food or something, but instead there was trash, horse poop, graffiti, and the same old boring trees as on the shore.

Oh well.

On the way out, we saw a 4 foot long black rat snake. Sophie spotted it actually, and showed it to us.

I managed to forget my iPhone, so I'll have to get the photos from my father in law and update this post later.

The snake legitimately impressed Sophie though, and it made up, at least somewhat, for what I'll probably refer to from now on, as the Island of Disappointment.

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