Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Berry College

I've ridden my bike at Berry College a dozen times, and during those dozen times, I noticed a good many side trails. Some of them are signed, and I've seen people hiking them, but I don't know what the rule is for riding on them. They definitely aren't on the bike trail map, so I always avoided them, but a few weeks back, me and Billy got up there to check some of them out on foot.

We parked at the horse lot on the north side of Lavender Mountain and approached from that side. There's an old roadbed leading up the mountain from that lot. Like the rest of the trails, nothing in the field indicates what you can do on the trail. It's on the horse map, not on the bike map, but horse trails are generally ok to walk on, so we went with that theory.

The road itself was braided wildly. It looked like it had been rerouted several times, but the reason was unclear. The trail lay on the steepest route, which was in fine shape. Whatever the reason was for the reroutes, it wasn't because the old route had gotten worn out.

When we reached Redmond Gap, we hung a left and carried on until we found the first of the side trails.


There are signs with arrows indicating that it leads to "Tightrope" and the "Old Mill", but the trail itself isn't named on any map I've ever seen.

It dumped us out down by the lake. We proceeded around its perimeter until we found another trail, and took it up and over a gap between the main ridge and some little subsidiary knob. The trail eventually ran down along some little creek and crossed it several times.

Some Creek

We ran into some hikers coming the other way near one of the crossings, but we also ran into something much more interesting after another crossing.

Timber Rattler

I was a bit ahead of Billy, and while I waited for him to cross, that snake started crossing the trail between us. When it saw him, it stopped, and when he saw it, he stopped too!

Billy really doesn't like snakes, and really wanted to find a good, wide route around that one, but it turned out that he didn't have to. We just waited a minute for it to decide to keep moving across the trail and down into the creek.

Farther on this old pipe was partially exposed on the east side of the creek.

Old Mill Feeder Pipe

And, even farther on we ran into that Old Mill that the sign on top of the mountain had mentioned.

The Old Mill

The mill features an unusual water supply. Water actually climbs that tower behind the wheel before spilling over it. That pipe we saw earlier starts higher up the mountain than the top of the tower, so it's able to push water up the tower. I read somewhere that it's the tallest such overshot wheel in the world, or the US, or something.

Maybe it says that on one of these historical markers...

The Old Mill Plaque The Hub Plaque Berry Schools Old Mill Historical Marker

Just east of the mill, a trail leads back up the mountain. And, my goodness, it's steep.

The trail is called the Longleaf Trail because of all of the Longleaf Pine in the vicinity. I don't remember whether that stand was restored, or just still stands from way back, but either way... Longleaf Pine, everywhere.

There were a couple of clear spots too, with some good views.

View from Longleaf Trail

We ended up on Mountain Goat, I think. The last time I was up there, Redbud was blooming all up and down the south side of the road. The bloom was over by the time we got up there, and I kept looking for those heart-shaped leaves, but nothing jumped out at me. I think I remember only seeing one. It was weird, given the significant abundance of them I'd seen before.

We took some trail that seemed like it might have been a former route of Mountain Goat. It dumped us out on the Old Mill Road...

Old Mill Road (Paved)

Which led back to the House o Dreams Road...

House o Dreams Road

Which took us back to Mountain Goat.

A guy on a bike was climbing, very slowly, behind us for quite a while. He eventually passed us, but we caught him again a few hundred yards later. I felt bad for him, because after passing him a second time, he never caught us again. A lady on a cross bike came crushing past us at Mountain Goat though, looking really strong, in sad contrast to that poor guy.

Really, in contrast to us too. We were ready to be done, and basically just marched out. There wasn't too much more climbing between there and Redmond Gap, but even the flat was tough, because, for some reason, I was developing a blister on my right foot.

Come on!

Since switching to barefoot shoes like 8 years ago, I had yet to suffer a single blister. I didn't even realize that was what it was at first. I thought I had something in my shoe. It looks like the upper layer of the insole has gotten detached from the other layers, and can now slide around a bit. I guess that's what caused it. These shoes have been a nightmare since day one. I'd finally modified them enough that they didn't bruise me every time I'd go for a walk, but it might be getting to be time for some new ones.

On the way back home, we drove past a few neat things. There's a Family Guy themed convenience store somewhere between there and Rome, with giant pictures of Peter and Stewie on their signage. There's also an old Scottish Inn that some independent owner bought and renamed "Cottis Inn" by painting over the S and h. I joked that he should have turned the first t into an i, making it "Coitis Inn", which, though misspelled, would almost certainly describe its present function in the community.

We tried eating at Gondolier Pizza in Rome. I think I ate there after a big road ride with Travis and Russel once, and I remembered it being fantastic. Sadly, it was under new ownership or something, and not as good as I remembered.

You can never go home again, they say. Rome isn't technically home, but whatever. Something like that.

There are plenty more trails up there. We have plenty more to explore, and I imagine we'll get to it soon enough.

I may be wearing a new pair of shoes next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment