Thursday, December 6, 2012

Postelle Creek

"You have to make hay while the sun is shining."

Something like that. That's what I've been doing. I have a few opportunities right now, so it's been work, work, work, for 5 weeks now, I think. Wake. Work. Sleep. Maybe take the kids to gym and dance. Maybe eat. I took the weekend off for the CFiTT and did one road ride last week, which kind of sucked, but that's been about it. I really like the work I'm doing, so at least I've got that, but it's been hard.

Things eased up a bit this week though and I found myself, unexpectedly available for Adventure.

Adventure. I could barely remember the word, and it felt awkward and strange kitting up and driving north.

 Overlook from FS64

I parked at Dyer Gap. Months ago I'd gone running around up that way, found the network of old roads that used to connect the old Jacks River community with the old Mountain Town community and gotten interested in exploring more of the area. Today I figured I'd do that.

Right away I saw something new.

 Upper Jacks River #1 Marker

Interesting. It was right across the street from the lot. I swear it wasn't there before. I wonder if there's another one up on Flat Top.

I wasn't going that way though.

There's an elaborate cemetery just North of Dyer Gap, and as many times as I've driven, ridden and walked by it, I've never checked it out or taken a single picture.

 Dyer Mountain Cemetery Sign

Today I took plenty.

 Dyer Mountain Cemetery

The graves all had newish flowers on them. The monuments all looked like they'd been updated at some point. They were all granite. In many cases, the original stone was still there, in addition to the new one. Lots of the new ones just had the letter D on them. Others had just Father, Mother or Infant and then the last name. There were more infants than I expected, and stillbirths too. Life was a lot harder way back.

The chapel was interesting.

 Dyer Mountain Cemetery Chapel

But the most interesting thing was this:

 Dyer Mountain Cemetery Bible

A Bible in a Ziplock, right there on the pulpit, just sitting there. I guess they figure: "Who'd steal a Bible." Nobody, it would seem.

They had a port-a-potty too, converted into a pit toilet.

 Dyer Mountain Cemetery Bathroom

Bring your own paper though. There's no paper. There's is a lot of rhododendron nearby, but no paper.

Ok, enough sightseeing, time to explore.

For years and years now, I've seen a trail heading downhill from Dyer Gap that looked like it might get some traffic. The USGS maps show it running down along Postelle Creek. An adventure racing friend of mine told me if I ever went that way, I'd get my feet wet. Interesting.

I was a little curious about my feet, actually. I bought those barefoot running shoes a few months back and they were great all summer when it was a million degrees out, but would they keep me warm enough when it's in the high 40's? I wondered. Ditto for those running tights, or ballet outfit as Sophie calls it. Would they keep me warm? I would find out.

Long story short, yes, they kept me plenty warm. They felt great actually.

On with the adventure.

I began my descent.

The trail appeared to get enough traffic to keep it clear. From the hoof prints and other "evidence", it mainly looked like equestrian traffic.

Right away I made my first discovery.

 JD Marker


A memorial maybe?

I wonder if the Fannin Historical Society knows anything about it.

The initial descent from the gap was total gnar.

 Upper Postelle Gnar

And then it got even gnar-er.

 Upper Postelle Gnarer

With the leaves, it was tough to even find a safe place to step half the time.

The old roadbed was feet below grade, but turnouts had been cut through the berm every few hundred feet, so apparently it was like that even back when it was still being maintained as a road. Can't blame the horses for that, except the ones pulling the wagons way back, or whatever else they were pulling.

Where it was steep though, there was a new trench right down the middle.

Probably can blame them for that.

Yeah, the trail was a mess.

After the initial descent it improved slightly, in that it was still very old and busted, but whoever's riding it these days doesn't appear to be doing any new damage.

 Lower Postelle

I crossed several creeks but managed to keep my feet dry.

Then there was this...

 Lower Postelle Creek Diversion

...where the creek had been diverted from its original course and ran directly down the old roadbed for a few hundred yards. No way to keep my feet dry there.

At least I know what that's all about now.

Again, this didn't look like a recent development.

Way down, the trail was all beautiful and except for the blown out culverts and occasional downed tree, I could have driven my wife's Honda up it.

 Lower Postelle Niceness

Actually, if it weren't for those things, and the humps at the very top, I could probably have gotten my old Outback all the way up it.

Mylar balloon.

 Mylar Balloon

Imagine finding one of those, eh?

Way down near the bottom, a downed tree hadn't been cleared and the NF boundary wasn't too much further on. There weren't any No Trespassing signs or anything, but I'm always nervous outside the NF. North Georgians can be either really territorial or really friendly, you just never know. Sometimes they're really drunk too, but that can go either way.

I proceeded cautiously. It wasn't until I could see the main road that it teed into before I saw the back side of a Posted sign. I guess most people come from that side.

There were a half dozen side trails back uphill though, so I headed back up and took the first one past the NF boundary to the right.

It eventually led to a road. A real road, which turned out to be FS623.

 FS 623 Sign

Never heard of it. In fact, it's not even in the USFS's GIS data, or at least not the data from 2009 when I dumped it into my trail site.

It's a weird road. It tees into Devils Den road but they redid the gutters or whatever gutters are called on a dirt road, they just cut across the intersection. Also for the first hundred yards, it's all rutted out, so it kind of doesn't look like a real road, but then the whole rest of the road is a model of perfectness.

 FS 623

I walked all the way up and down that freakin' long ass road. It had this spur off of it too that was equally perfect until it got up on a ridge and ate way down into it.

I eventually found another NF boundary up there, the most complex I've ever seen.

 NF Boundary

Multiple bearing trees, gallons of red paint, lots of yellow tags, a benchmark and a sign explaining it.

I didn't investigate any further. I figured I'll come back later and try it from the other end. I have a good idea where it must go.

The sun was starting to drop any my right knee was starting to bother me and none of the trails connected up anywhere interesting so I just executed a direct abort. Back the way you came, boy.

On the way back, I stopped to check out this little waterfallish thing that I'd seen on the way down...

 Postelle Creek Falls

...and this campsite that might well have once been an old homestead.

 Postelle Creek Homesite?

The land was cleared and leveled, and the fire ring was made out of big, chunky chimney-style rocks.


Further up there was this chunk of metal roofing, or something too.

 Metal Roofing?

Maybe there were a couple of homesteads back up in there once. I didn't see any definitive evidence though.

As I climbed out, my right knee hurt more and more.

I'm officially getting old. If I don't ride or hike for a few hours, every couple of days, I can really feel it in my joints when I do anything significant. The colder weather doesn't help either, or the cloudy weather. "Ooh, it's gonna rain, I can feel it in my bad knee."

Seriously though, my knee was killing me when I got back to the lot. I can see that there will be some stretching in my future.

It was nearly dark when I got back.

 Dyer Gap Lot

I was hungry but I had half a Dutch Monkey Chocolate Chip Twist, a Tabasco Slim Jim and a Mr. Pibb waiting for me in the car. Oh yeah.

By the time I got home, my knee hurt less but it was super stiff. Advil to the rescue.

Ahh, minor Adventure, how I have missed you. Maybe if my knee gets better I'll get to do something this weekend too.

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