Wednesday, November 2, 2016


It's mid October in North Georgia, and that's generally a really good time to be in North Georgia, if you like the outdoors. It's cool but not cold yet. The leaves are changing, and there are hundreds of miles of gravel roads to suffer climbing, if you're in to that sort of thing.


I'm in to that sort of thing, and to prove it (mainly to myself, because looking at the riding I've been doing lately, it's not so obvious, even to me) I got myself up to the general Noontootla area a few weeks back.

I got a late start, but that was kind-of on purpose. I'd recently acquired a new set of those little Spok lights and I wanted to do a little night riding with them.

I parked just above Doublehead Gap, in the first turnout off of FS42, kitted up and started climbing.

I didn't see much of anyone on the road. There were a couple of folks camping, but nothing like I expected. I thought it was the opening weekend of firearms season, and I expected every campsite to be jam packed, but I could literally hear crickets everywhere I went.

Turned out opening weekend was on the 21st.

Shows what I know.

Near the top I passed some Rangers out having fun too.

Ranger Humvee

Further up I passed a few more, and then a few more after them.

It's been so long since I was up there, I'd forgotten about seeing Rangers all the time when I was more of a local.

I felt good after the climb. Good enough to push across the top, and push down off of Hightower Gap. My 1x11 is a bit limiting though. After a steep descent, I can't start pedaling again for a while. The jury is still out on whether that's better because you get rest, or whether is just sucks because you lose time. I guess I need to do some long rides in the mountains with other people to find out.

The lake was deserted. The fish hatchery, also deserted.

Fish Hatchery

I saw a small water snake ahead of me on the road and stopped to see if I could figure out what kind it was.

Water Snake of Some Kind

Dead. It was the dead kind. That's how Billy classifies snakes. Alive or dead. Those are the two kinds of snakes. He prefers dead.

Either a Banded Water Snake or a Midland Water Snake. I guess technically it could be a Northern Water Snake, but I can't tell them from Midland. Nor, it seems can I tell them from Banded. I think of Midland/Northern as having offset stripes further back on their bodies. Which this one has, but there appears to be a lot of variation in Banded Water Snakes, so I can't be sure.

I pushed kind-of hard around the north end of the route, and got a little tired. The 1x11 was definitely sufficient back in there.

Emerging back into the civilized world, I noticed new construction along Rock Creek Road. I also noticed the nearby pasture was full of cows.


As many times as I'd ridden through, I don't think I'd ever seen cows before.

Of course, that photo is so bad, I guess it would be hard to prove that I saw them that time too.

Riding back along Doublehead Gap Road, it started to get dark, and I noticed the urge to hurry up and try to beat it.

DH Gap Road

Silly though. I meant to be out in the dark. That was one of my objectives. Just knowing that doesn't quell the urge though. Funny how that works.

Oh yeah, there was no beating it. It was really getting dark.

Really Getting Dark Now

It was black before I reached the church at the bottom of Noontootla Creek Road. Headlights blinded me, but it didn't seem anyone had any trouble spotting me. Yay blinky lights.

It's only a few miles from the church up to the gap and back to the car, so I probably spent less than 10% of my ride in the dark. I guess it's a good start though. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do more of the same over the next few months.

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