Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Mulberry Gap

On New Year's Eve I worked most of the day, but Kathryn and I managed to sneak out to see Yayoi Kusama's mirrors exhibit at lunch (thanks Moriah and Isabel!) and then when she got home, we also managed to get up to Mulberry Gap in time to hang out with some friends and ring in the new year.

A bunch of the folks I'd seen the day before for the Fireball Fiasco were still up there, but more folks were too, including Diane, up from Florida!

Rachel was going to come by later, and there's some running joke about her being a tyrannosaurus because her arms were too short to make the upper bunk beds, or something. To perpetuate the gaffe, Kate and Hirsch dressed up as T-Rex'es and attacked her when she showed up.

Hirschasaurus Rex and Kateasaurus Rex

It was really funny, and when they were done, me and John got to try on the costumes too.

Daveasaurus Rex

There's a good video of Kate riding a clown bike in costume, and another one of my brother.

Those costumes get hot quickly though, if you're doing anything other than just walking around, even with the little inflater running the whole time.

We played cards, and some music, and watched the ball drop, and the peach drop, and then it was time for bed.

MGap Cabin

The next morning we were up at 8:30 for breakfast - eggs, pancakes, and fruit for me. There was sausage too, but I had a ride later, and it would be no good if I ate any of that.

Around 9 I got dressed and ready, and at about 9:30 me and this girl Jen took Shakerag over to Gates Chapel Road to meet the Cartecay folks for the ride. I'd met Jen briefly the day before, but only briefly. Turns out she does some kind of camera-related film work in Atlanta, but has been in Savannah working on something for a while. She even worked on Night School, which me and Kathryn saw recently.

Really cool.

She could ride too. We were pretty compatible on Shakerag, and she, Baldwin, Hirsch, Chris, and I were the only ones who got the final checkpoint during the Fiasco.

So, we met the Cartecay folks at Bear Creek.

Cartecay Ride Start

Turned out it was Dondi, a couple of other guys from the shop, a few random guys who heard about the ride one way or another, and like half of the local NICA team. NICA is the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Basically a youth mountain biking league. With the plethora of in-town trails that have cropped up over the past 20 years, kids growing up riding mountain bikes is now a thing, and there's a league, and a race series.

I love it!


Roll Out

We began by climbing up to the Bear Creek Overlook. It wasn't actively raining, but it had for most of the previous evening, and the roads and trails were far from dry. Best to stay on the roads at first, give everything a chance to dry out more, and see what it was like up there before committing to climbing wet Bear Creek.

The NICA kids had nice bikes, and they were strong. Stronger than I expected, at least. Some of them took off early, and it was a bit of work bridging up to their group.

I started growing a flat about a half mile downhill from Holly Creek Gap too, which was a little discouraging. I managed to make it to the gap though, and fixed it pretty quickly. My tires are relatively new though, and the one wouldn't just pull off of the rim without a lever, so that was a drag. But I guess I can't be too upset. Tires get loose by being pulled off, and they get pulled off when you get flats. So, it's good that they're tight. Just means I haven't flatted a lot. Can't really complain about that.

The NICA kids kept going up to the overlook. The rest of the group arrived while I was screwing around with my tire.

Two VW vans pulled up from the Holly Creek side while we were waiting there too.

VW Vans at Holly Creek Gap


After the regroup, we headed up to the overlook. I made a quick side trip to Barnes Creek Falls.

Barnes Creek Falls

I figured it would be impressive with all of the rain we'd been having, and I wasn't disappointed.

I made it to the overlook soon after, and we regrouped again.

Today, it was actually possible to see something.

Bear Creek Overlook Fort Mountain from Bear Creek Overlook

A far cry from the previous day's foggy nothing.

From there, a few of us climbed up to the upper lot and took the trail down. It was super wet, and the switchbacks, as sketchy as they tend to be, were just that much sketchier today. Nothing was muddy though, or at least, by and large, it wasn't muddy, just super super leafy and wet. The sketchiest parts weren't the switchbacks though, rather some little rocky and rooty sections between them. I must have dabbed 5 or 6 times, and Dondi was behind me filming the entire time. At one point, I got stuck and he had to pass me.

How embarrassing!

Nobody crashed. Though wet, the trail was in fine shape, and it seemed fine to take it down from there.

The upper grasstrack was fast and fun. From there to the switch back was mostly fine. There was one sketchy section with a slip layer and another thing where you had to manual a puddle, then negotiate a hump while ducking under a tree.

Fun. Fun. Fun!

We regrouped again at the switchback and bombed the rest of the descent after that. The first quarter mile of that was also slippery, and I had trouble keeping speed. I let a guy by after the first couple of creek crossings and he rode it like it wasn't wet, rocky, or technical at all. He had 3.0 tires on what looked like a 130/110 travel bike. It seemed like the right tool for the job that day. I could not follow his lines.

At the road, we met some hikers, just getting on the trail. I talked to them for a few minutes. Turned out they'd lived off Cooper Lake and East-West Connector too, until about a year ago, when they moved up to Ellijay.

Small world!

The road back to Gates Chapel is mostly downhill, but there's a good climb about halfway down, and a couple of the NICA guys attacked me on the climb.

Ha ha! Yeah!

I felt like I was riding with Baldwin.


Back at the road, the ride was over, and I hung around a bit to thank Dondi.

While waiting though, we all noticed a cow outside the fence up the road.

Cow Outside of the Fence

Oh no!

There was actually a calf out too, but it hadn't made it down to the road yet.

I rode over, knocked on the door and let the owner know. Apparently a buddy of his had just driven by in a jeep and called him a minute earlier though, and he had it in hand.


Me and Jen took Shakerag back to MGap, and joked about how that last kick over Mulberry Gap proper is always the final insult.

When I got back, Kathryn was watching the LSU game in the barn.

I was a little dirty.

A Little Dirty

So, I got cleaned up before joining her and the girls for the rest of the game. Mandy the dog occupied the far end of the couch that Sophie was on for the duration. Only moving to re-position herself, and getting up once when Ginny promised her a cookie.

Meanwhile, Andrew and Kate and the rest of the staff were taking the tree down, and inventorying the store. They had various things to get done for the seasonal closure and didn't waste a minute getting into it.

When the game was over we said our goodbyes and headed home. I was starving, and had been wanting to eat at Charlie's Italian Restaurant for as long as I've noticed it's existence. The oversized chair on their porch had amused me for years and years, but I never had a good opportunity to give them a try. Today was the day though. It was dinner time, we were all there, and they were open.


Turns out you can actually sit in the big chair (at your own risk). Well, no risk, no reward, so me and Sophie took them up on the offer.

Me and Sophie in Charlie's Chair Me and Sophie's Feet in Charlie's Chair Sophie in Charlie's Chair


The food was excellent too. I had some beef tortellini in marinara. Sophie had the same in alfredo. Iz had a New York Strip, which we all taxed her for a bite of. Kathryn basically ate our soups, salads, and potato. Not because we were stingy and just giving her our scraps... She's been on a meal plan lately, it's been working really well for her, and she could get away with eating that stuff.

All delicious. I'll definitely eat there again. A fine end to a fine day.

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