Monday, October 12, 2015

Jack's Knob Trail

About three weeks ago, the ribs were starting to feel a lot better, and I was feeling up to walking it off to a slightly greater extent than I had the previous week. To that end, the girls and I headed up to Jack's Gap for a little out-and-back.

What we didn't realize though, until we turned left onto the Richard B. Russel, was that the 27th of August was 6-Gap Century day.

6-Gap Hogpen


We saw hundreds of riders crawling their way up to Hogpen Gap, the most difficult climb of the entire ride. They were working hard and some were just outright suffering. I wished that I could be suffering with them, but I'd only just been brave enough to go for an 8 mile ride on the Silver Comet a few days earlier. At the time, being able to ride 6-Gap seemed like an impossible dream.

We passed riders carefully, and when we got to the gap, we pulled over and cheered them on for 20 or 30 minutes before heading down the other side.

At Jack's Gap there were port-a-potties and water-cooler bottles and pop-up tents lying about. Those same riders had come over that gap a few hours before. I guess the staff had already started picking things up. We took advantage of the port-a-potties though. Thanks 6-Gap staff.

I had 3 objectives for the day: 1) spend some quality outdoor time with the kids. 2) see how my ribs were doing. 3) see where the railbed that runs along the ridge at Chattahoochee Gap goes.

The "quality outdoor time with the kids" objective was pretty easy to meet. Sophie seemed rather overjoyed to be in the woods. She actually annoyed Isabel whilst proclaiming said joy. Iz wasn't so excited. She's got some Adversity-management skills to work on, and as managing Adversity is part and parcel to being outdoors, I think it just felt like work to her. Nevertheless, after the initial climb, she seemed to have an easy time of it, and it helped that we really got to carrying on too.

The one thing though... Neither of them wanted to go first. It didn't appear that anyone else had gone that way yet that day, and there were little strands of spider webs every 10 feet. Ha! Ok. I'll go first.

The trail was beautiful.

Jacks Knob Trail

I'd hiked the other side, up to the Brasstown Bald Lot before, but never this side. It looked like old-school purpose-built singletrack. No sign of old road or rail at any point. Just trail.

Iz suggested that we should have a code word that we should say whenever we hit a spider web. I suggested that the code word should be "code word". And then in the next 10 seconds, I said "code word" so frequently that I had to interrupt myself half the time. Seriously, there were a lot of spider webs.

There was also a lot of American Chestnut.

American Chestnut

It was quite prolific up there. There was even a little sapling that had managed to grow up to about 10 feet tall. Not terribly impressive as trees in general go, but for a chestnut, it was pretty impressive.

We made it to Chattahoochee Gap fairly quickly...

Chattahoochee Gap Sign

...and paused for lunch.

Chattahoochee Gap

I'd been to that particular gap before, fairly recently, actually. I'd basically followed the Chattahoochee from the campground below up to its source, just below the gap. The trail there is an old railbed, and on that previous trip, I'd followed it south. Today we followed it east. It wasn't immediately obvious, but the old rail continued to the east. It was substantially more deteriorated in that direction though. The backslope had slumped into the cut. Lots more rock was exposed. There was no obvious reason though. It was surprising.

We followed it until the AT diverged from the rail, in the vicinity of Red Clay Gap, then stuck to the AT for a while to see if it rejoined. It didn't appear to. We could see it dropping away below us, and before long it just disappeared altogether. It wasn't clear if it just ended somewhere around there or switched back down the mountain, but it was far too overgrown to investigate. Or, I guess, far too overgrown to subject the kids to an investigation of.

The AT there was kind of fun though. Up and down, with lots of rocks sticking out all over the place. Both girls commented that it was a good bit more fun than what we'd been on before. Unfortunately, we eventually had to turn around and head back through all that less-fun, which they weren't so happy about.

Fortunately on the way back, all of the spider webs had been cleared out. Well, most of them at least. Enough that Sophie wanted to go first. Not enough to make Iz willing to.

We drove back over Neel's Gap and passed by Trahlyta's Grave. We'd been talking earlier about the bear we'd all seen on a Smith Creek hike years back. It was apparently the only bear that they'd ever seen. It seemed crazy to me that they'd only ever seen one, given all the bear that I'd seen. Well, as we approached Trahlyta's Grave, a very large black bear ran across the road ahead of us. There was a truck ahead of us too and the driver had to stop hard to keep from hitting it. I was immediately like: "Bear! Bear! Look girls, ahead of us. Bear!" Iz was dozing off though, and missed it entirely. Sophie was awake, but couldn't see around my seat well enough to see anything. Come on! A bear ran right by in front of us and neither of them got to see it. What luck.

We ate at Moe's in Dahlonega. Whatever that spicy chicken is that they have now... It's pretty good.

I think both girls fell asleep on the way home. My ribs felt ok. A little sore, but not like I'd done any new damage. All the muscles in my back were stiff and tired though, which was a little unexpected. I'd had a little of that on the road ride, but not to the same extent.

One step a time though, I guess. One step at a time.

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