Sunday, February 24, 2019

Nickajack Park

A week and a half ago I got super sick. Like, water pouring out of every part of me that water can pour out of, for 7 hours sick. Like, 6 and a half pounds lighter the next day, couldn't keep water down, and had to go to the hospital for IV fluids sick.


Then, it rained for a week and a half.

Today was the first opportunity to do anything outside. I had an invitation to get in some good gravel miles with Justin and Glen this morning, but we had COC tickets for last night, there were three opening acts, and no seats. My legs were pretty shredded when I got home at 1:30, and there was no way I was going to make a 7am start time in Heflin.

So, instead, I slept in and did an extended local ramble today, including a little spin around Nickajack Park.

Turns out there's a rusty old footbridge at the back of the park that crosses the creek and connects with the school on the other side.

Nickajack Creek Footbridge Nickajack Creek from Footbridge

The school has a baseball field and kind-of a football field, but it made me wonder if at some point they used the park for tennis and basketball.

It was a neat find. I'm sure someone knows the story. I'll have to ask around.

Coyote in Vinings Estates

Me and Sophie were up in her room the other day when we started hearing all kinds of howling outside.


They howl all day and night, and the local dogs like to join in too.

Then, about 5 minutes later we saw this guy walk down the hill behind the house.

Sophie's seen them crossing the street while she's at the bus stop in the morning too.



Sunday, February 10, 2019


Almost immediately after last week's Blue Ridge shenanigans, I invited the same crew (plus John and Justin) up to the Aska area to rip our legs off on the ridiculousness that lies up that way. Over the course of the next week, nearly everyone turned me down for one good reason or another, but Mr. O'Dea was still in, so we met at the Rock Creek Church in Cherry Log early(ish) Saturday morning, both ready to throw down!

The weather was a great deal less ideal than last week's had been. It hadn't rained a ton, but it was just barely above freezing in the lot, and would certainly be cooler up the mountain. Not absolutely terrible, but I'd really been hoping for more of those mid-50's. No matter though, we had a long climb ahead of us, and were grateful for that.

It's funny when you're grateful that you're starting out the day with a long climb.

We started up Rock Creek Road, passing horse farms and old houses along the way. There's one house up there that used to be painted fluorescent blue. A terrible paint job too, they got paint all over the windows. It's been repainted beige, but the windows are still blue.


We took a slight detour at FS259 and immediately picked up Brownlow Gap Road. Or, as I should now call it: Old Brownlow Gap Road. I'd last ridden it ages ago, and it had just been closed. I don't mean permanently closed with a Kelly Hump or anything, but the gate had been closed, and a sign had been placed saying that it was closed to motorized traffic for habitat restoration, or something. This had been done some few weeks prior to riding it, and it was still basically indistinguishable from the other gravel roads in the area, except that it didn't have a fresh coat of gravel on it. It couldn't have been more unlike that yesterday. It had basically become the Hickory Nut, but with more deadfall, and less maintenance.

Eddie joked that it wouldn't be a Dave Muse ride if you don't end up in a section where you seriously have to contemplate backtracking. Yes, that is my reputation. Clark Neal would definitely agree with that. He's said something pretty similar on a couple of different occasions.

Only about 30% of the road was hike-a-bikey. The rest was difficult, but rideable. Still, we were pleased when we hit Rich Mountain Road, and even more pleased to descend off the back side of Stanley Gap.

Me and Eddie on Aska Road

Well, almost pleased. Eddie was pleased to have brought his puffy jacket because it was really, really cold on that descent, and even colder on the Aska Road rollers.

Somewhere on the first descent, Eddie had to stop to pump up his front tire, and then had to stop and pump it up again at Aska Road. It appeared to just not have beeen sealing well on the rim though, and didn't give him any more problems for the rest of the day.

We got some good views of the Toccoa along Aska Road, but nobody was out fishing that day.

Toccoa River

Our next stop was the Turkey Farm Loop, up off Shady Falls road. We passed the Long Branch lot, and it was super full of cars. We didn't run into anyone on the roads though. I'd only ridden the Turkey Farm Loop like twice before. Once with John, and once with Billy and my Dad. The first time was only a few months after moving to Georgia from Louisiana, and I was surprised by the rolling dips in the road. I couldn't imagine why they were there except to give me something to launch, and I was super happy about it. I remembered that as I tore down the road yesterday, smiling about how I'd been so eager to catch air in the past, while at the time I was doing all I could to keep myself close to the ground.

My memory was apparently fuzzy though... We hung a left, missed the next left, circled a field, and ended up taking a trail down to where the Toccoa becomes Blue Ridge Lake.

Toccoa River Feeding into Blue Ridge Lake


Not exactly right.

Time to backtrack, and reinforce that reputation.

I'd replaced my chain and cassette two days earlier, as both were officially worn out after last week's ride. I'd opted for an 11-46 cassette, hoping to replace my 30 with a 34 up front, have bigger intervals, and have something more useful on the road and going downhill. Well, as fate would have it, the 34 didn't fit my chainring, so I was still riding the 30. As such, I had a pretty easy climb up from the lake, but Eddie wasn't digging it at all. I think he had a 9-46 in the back, but was still running the 36 up front that he used on some long ride. Maybe even from riding the Tour Divide. Whatever it was, he'd been talking about changing it, but never actually did, and it sucked on that climb.

Fortunately, the misadventure was short, and we found the trail that we thought might be the right one quickly.

When we started seeing ruins, we knew we were on track for sure.

Turkey Farm Chimney Turkey Farm Slab Turkey Farm Basin Turkey Farm Smoker Turkey Farm Basement Another Turkey Farm Basement

The loop is called the Turkey Farm Loop because there were once turkey farms back in there. The more durable remains of the farms can be seen and explored. I'd like to go back on foot one day to do a more thorough exploration. I'd bet there's even more out there than you can see from the old road.

It was cool that Eddie wanted to check it all out too. Most people I ride with aren't interested in such things and I tend to bore them with the little side trips. In this case, he actually noticed that first chimney. I hadn't seen it before, only the basements.

It was pretty interesting too. It looked like the stuff had all been built at very different time periods. Some of it was stacked local stone. Some was made out of strange bricks. Some of it was concrete. Made me wonder how long the farm had been in operation before it had finally shut down.

We eventually picked up the "Unknown Road", took that to Brown's Cove Road, and got in some great road shred somewhere in there.

Browns Cove Shred

Kenny who's last name I now forget, that used to run the Dirty Spokes series (the only race series I ever won, though sadly only in Sport) lives off of Brown's Cove Road, so we rode right past his house. Another guy that Eddie knows named Dan (I think), though I forget how they know each other, lives right next door, so we actually rode by both of their houses. Eddie had actually called Kenny when we hit Aska Road, to see if he wanted to jump in for a few miles, but he was skiing or something. Something more reasonable to do when it's cold outside.

The Long Branch lot was still super full when we got there, and we passed a lot of hikers on the trail. I'd heard that a bunch of work had been done on Long Branch after that CoTrails-led full-forest evaluation thing, but I hadn't seen it yet. At first, I didn't notice anything new, but at the north end there was some twisty new singletrack and a bridge over the creek.

Super classy.

There might have been even more done on the other side, but we only rode the west side that day.

Next up - Green Mountain.

Green Mountain Connector

But only after a little lunch and light texting.

Textin and Eatin

That photo totally reminds me of Flo's sister in that Progressive commercial where she's on the exercise bike, texting, and ignoring Flo.

"You're ruining my workout... I'm blasting my quads... Cycling is my passion..."


We climbed Green Mountain and ran into even more hikers.

The descent had been noticeably reworked as well. It looked like road-trail-conversion type work. The work looked nice at 30+ MPH, at least from a sustainability perspective. And, it was so long ago that I last rode it, that I don't know what it was like before SORBA "ruined" it, so ha! Ignorance is bliss.

The Deep Gap lot was also super full, and there were some moms there taking their very young (like 3 or 4 year old) kids out for a hike on the Girl Scout Nature Trail loop. It reminded me of taking my girls out there when they were young. Though they were like 6 and 8 at the time, and we'd whacked directly up the side of Davenport Mountain, ran along the ridge until we picked up Stanley Gap and hiked back down that. Christ, we did that. We did that kind of thing a lot. Man, those were the days...

Climbing Flat Creek, we passed a group of 3 mountain bikers who were impressed that we both had titanium bikes. Or maybe they were mocking us. I don't know. I do know that we dropped them so fast that it would have been upsetting, if they had been mocking us.

We also passed a guy in a PBR kit, just like mine! He was shredding downhill though, and I didn't recognize him or do much more than wave. Eddie thought that it was Josh Vandall, but I honestly couldn't tell.

Further up, we passed like 5 girls and a guy, all drinking Miller Lite, mostly pretty drunk. Got to stay hydrated, right?!

Eddie joked about how good that beer would have been right then.

The Long Branch descent was furious. More of the same road-trail conversion work had been done there. Basically, the right-hand side of the old roadbed had been filled in with debris, encouraging traffic on the outside edge. I'd bet in the summer it's all overgrown on the inside now too. Occasionally, the trail swerves in and then back out. There does seem to be less chunky rock, but it's been so long that I can't really be sure, and man is it fast. And there are super long lines of sight, so though we were able to go tearing down the trail, we didn't come tearing up on any of the 3 different groups of hikers we ran into on the descent.

Eddie flatted somewhere in there. Rear tire this time. I stopped to wait, noticed he wasn't there, and climbed back up for like 1/4 of a mile before I found him. I'd passed some hikers, had to pass them in the other direction, and they hadn't even seen him yet. Yikes.

Turned out he had a pinhole leak at the sidewall that just wouldn't seal. We fiddled with it for like 20 minutes, got passed by all the hikers we'd seen earlier, and those guys on mountain bikes too, and had to pass all of them again later.

Everyone was super friendly. The first group was glad that I'd found my friend.

I was actually really happy to see so many people out hiking those trails. Ten years ago that was almost unheard of. There'd only ever be like 2 other cars in the Deep Gap lot, both with bike racks. I think me and John ran into some hikers on Flat Creek once, and once again ran into some on Stanley Gap. People used to avoid hiking multi-use trails. I've seen lots of hikers and runners at Bull over the past few years though, and an increase at Blanket's Creek too.

I'm not sure if the recentish work can be credited for the increase, but the trails do look beautiful now. They actually strike you as hiking trails now, rather than old roadbeds. They have the character of hiking trails, but are also open to bikes. I love it.

The rework was very apparent at the bottom. There are several bits of twisty singletrack down there. More RTC.

But, the most apparent thing was the new bridge.

The Replacement for the Slipperiest Bridge in the Forest

The old bridge used to be the slipperiest bridge in the entire forest. It was slippery in every season, at every time of day. My brother and I'd both crashed on it. I'd randomly mentioned Flat Creek to other mountain bikers over the years, and they'd been like: "Yeah, and that bridge..."

The new bridge is narrower, but a lot sturdier, and not the least bit slippery. I fantasize that even nature itself had gotten tired of the old bridge and destroyed it with deadfall in a flood.

The climb back out was tough. I'd forgotten how steep it gets in some spots. It's super, super steep.

In retrospect, the ride was a little strange. The climbing got successively longer and more difficult, all day - Rock Creek Road, then Turkey Farm, then Long Branch, then Green Mountain, then Flat Creek, and now, finally, Stanley Gap.

I had to fiddle with my jacket or something, so Eddie went ahead of me. That turned out to be a good idea because I ended up crawling a few times.

Just, crawling.

30/46 is a good gear to have on Stanley Gap, when it's the last climb of the day. But, you crawl.

I was overjoyed to hit the ridge on Rocky Mountain...

Stanley Gap

...and even happier when I saw Eddie waiting for me at the top of that kick before you start sidehilling again.

We passed several more groups of hikers between there and where the BMT splits off.

The first bit of downhill on Rocky Mountain gets slippery. I'd even crashed there once, riding with Travis, and tore up my arm, but there was no crashing yesterday, only flow, worn out fingers, and tired forearms and triceps.

All we had left was to cruise down Rock Creek Road back to the car.

You can just let it go too. No brakes needed. The road is just the right grade, and just the kind of tread. Or, at least it was that day.

When it became pavement again, we passed the weird old blue-beige house again, and greeted the various horses in the various pastures. And the mules. Not to forget the mules.

There are a couple of kicks at the end of the road, right before you get to the church that aren't really that hard, but after downhilling for so long, your legs feel dead when you hit them. Especially at the end of the ride.

Actually, that had been happening all day. We'd climb for a while, hit some long descent, rip that, recover, keep ripping, and eventually have dead legs when it was time to start climbing again. That's how long the descents are out there.

Gotta love it.

We'd been joking about how hungry we'd gotten on the last descent, and so that neither of us felt the need to eat our respective arms, or any of the horses we'd passed, we satisfied our hungers at Poole's BBQ, just down the road in Ellijay.

Poole's BBQ

It's the one with all those pigs on that hill.

The guy behind the counter was garrulous and told us a story about how in high school they were talking about converting the US to the metric system, and he'd had a poster of a girl in a bikini with her measurements in imperial units on one side and metric on the other, with "Think Metric!" at the top of the poster. Sounds like a weird story to tell, but it struck me as really funny at the time.

My brain wasn't functioning properly yet, and while he was taking my order, I thought briefly about work. This switched it into Portuguese, and I answered "Para aqui, sim" to "Is that for here or to go?" and actually had to translate that into English in my head so I could say it again in English. That has not happened before, and it was weird.

We feasted on brisket before finally hitting the road back to the ATL.

I was hungry again only a few hours later and managed to eat another full meal at Doc Chey's with Sophie that night.

Calorie deficit. If you want one, there's nothing better than climbing all day at Aska.

Creekside Area

For quite a while now, I've been trying to get in some kind of mileage every day. Usually a ride, but I'll get in a hike if the weather's bad, or if I did a long ride the day before. Sometimes, if there's just somewhere I want to explore, it's also easier on foot.

I usually don't write about any of these little outings, but sometimes I run into something interesting, and it's worth mentioning.

Such was the case a few days ago. I was exploring some neighborhood trails near the Creekside condo's off of East-West Connector, and found this beautiful little feeder creek in the middle of Smyrna.

Feeder of Nickajack Creek

If you didn't know any better, you might think it was some feeder of the Upper Chattahoochee.

Beautiful! And almost literally in our own backyards.

Blue Ridge WMA

A few weeks back Mark B. texted like 10 people seeing if we wanted to ride the general Blue Ridge WMA area. The route he had in mind included some trails that I used to ride in the mid 2000's, like 2004-2007. Back then, I'd tried to get other people to ride them with me, but nobody wanted to. I got Eddie O out there a few times, and Russell once. But the trails were too remote, too steep, and involved too much hike-a-bike, or hopping downed trees to be interesting to the general public. I even lost interest myself after learning, that while not technically illegal, riding such trails was discouraged by the Forest Service. The more I learned about trail construction and maintenance, the more I understood why, and I basically limited myself to hitting those trails about once a year. And I hadn't even done that in 6+ years.

Turns out, these days, some of those trails are almost mainstream, with cute names like "Ace of Spades" and "Gold Coin" instead of the dry and clinical "Horse Gap Connector" and "Little Sal Mountain Ridge Trail" as I'd gotten into the habit of calling them.

Sounded good to me. I'd count it as my once-a-year on those trails, and I was interested in seeing how much they'd changed.

I grabbed some Waffle House on the way up - order scramble well, dry toast, hold the grits... And we all met at the old game check station lot off of FS77. "All" being Mark B, Marc Hirsch, Aaron, Aaron's friend Chris (who I hadn't met before), Eddie F (who I didn't recognize without his helmet and glasses), Patrick Jones, and Mike who I'd ridden with before but only knew as Bromley's guy, except that I also knew his name but didn't know that it belonged to him. If that makes sense. It was a popular place. Like 5 other riders came by while we were getting ready, as well as a trail runner. Two guys and one of them's daughter were heading down to Jones Creek to fish it between the lake and FS77A too. Super popular.

It was like 33 on the way up, but the temps were rising quickly. Last minute, I ditched my windbreaker, heavy gloves, shoe covers, and arm warmers, keeping only the base layer and knee warmers. Turned out to be just right.

We started by climbing up and over Jones Creek Ridge, then up Winding Stair.

Climbing Winding Stair

I felt good on both. No trouble keeping up with anyone except Patrick, who was riding a single speed, despite knowing exactly what kind of climbing we'd be doing, and crushing everyone.

At Winding Stair Gap

At WSG we met the E and a guy who I recognized but who's name I forget, and were supposed to meet Peter Josky. His car was there, but he was nowhere to be found, and after multiple attempts to contact him, we were eventually like "Well, bye" and continued on our way.

At Puncheon Gap, we climbed up Puncheon Knob and dropped down East Penitentiary Cove Ridge. This was obscure trail number one. 15 years ago, it was a barely distinguishable ribbon of singletrack, threaded around and over exposed rock and deadfall. The very bottom was indistinct to say the least. You just had to pick a route through the spindly little trees down there and hope it didn't lead off into to thick brush. The Rangers used it. I rode it. That was about it. These days, a lot of the deadfall has been cleared and the trail is super easy to follow. I even saw what looked like motorcycle tracks. The leaves were thick and deep though, and I mostly rode it in the summer way back, so I'd be curious to see it again in the summer for comparison.

Hopping deadfall was no longer a challenge, but it was still super steep in a few sections. I managed to flat pinging over a rock, and fix it before the next rider came through. As I was fixing it, I noticed an ammo box on a stake about 10 yards away, very well obscured by brush. Super random spot too. I'd never seen it before, and I wondered if I'd ever be able to find it again.

We gathered up at the bottom, headed out to Montgomery Creek Road...

Montgomery Creek Road

...took the Bee Trail past False Black Falls...

False Black Falls

...and rode out past Camp Merrill.

Two Blackhawks were parked on the helipad there, and one was warming up, so we all stopped to gawk. Some locals with a jeep were there too, as curious as we were.

Blackhawk at Merrill

We watched for like 5 minutes, but they never took off, so we crossed the Etowah and headed toward Cooper Gap Road. I managed to get a foot wet crossing, not because of any clumsiness, but because I was like "ok, it's shallow enough to stop ratcheting now..." but it totally wasn't.

Fortunately the temps were still climbing. It was at least 50 on the south side of the ridge, so it never really presented a problem.

The Blackhawk did take off though, right as we were passing the entrance to the camp, and it was really cool. It popped up, started moving forward, then dove to tree level as it climbed up the valley to Hightower Gap. I met some Rangers at Garrett's Farms once that called it "map of the earth" navigation or something similar. Where they basically hug the terrain to wherever they're going. I'd seen almost the exact same thing from Hightower Gap once. A Blackhawk followed the valley up to near the gap, then headed up the face of Hawk Mountain. It's surreal when you see it. I can't make it sound nearly as impressive in words as it is in real life.

Post-spectacle we climbed Cooper Gap Road...

Climbing Cooper Gap Road

Just past the "Sky Orchad" we ran into another guy who hadn't ridden it before and was happy to hear that he was getting near the top.

At the gap there were a bunch of folks camping where the AT crosses, and some motorcycles passed us from the east.

We reorganized and headed west, only to stop again at the quarry for a couple of quick photos.

"The Night Watch" style:

Getting Organized at the Quarry

And traditional:

Cooper Gap Quarry

Darn sun, right in my face the whole time.

From there we hit the Ace of Spades, or Horse Gap Road Connector as I'd been fond of calling it. Eddie O had to bail there to go find the guy he rode up with. Eddie F bailed somewhere in there too, but I forgot exactly where. The rest of us carried on. I could not ride the hideous chunk on my 80mm 2.2x26'er but everyone else on their 120+/100+ 2.7x29'ers had an easy time of it. Actually, Hirsch rode it on his hardtail. I'd ridden it before, but it was a very long time ago, and I just didn't see a line this time.

On Horse Gap Road, there was a guy walking his dog. Of all things.

Chris had flatted, couldn't get the Stans to seal it, and eventually had to put a tube in.

Rear Flat

We took Horse Gap around Greasy Mountain, to a trail that I'd never ridden before. It's on old topo maps, but I'd hiked it end-to-end way back, and it was nearly impassible, even on foot. So much deadfall. Since then, enough of it had been cleared to be nice and rideable, and what remained was basically exactly what you'd do on purpose, in a road-trail-conversion. A happy accident, I guess.

We crossed Cochran Creek, hung a left and climbed up to Edmonson Gap. About 80% of that was rideable, but the top 20% was a difficult hike-a-bike. Difficult, mainly because of the freeze-thaw. On the shady side of the various ridges, there was a slip layer. The top 1/4th inch was dry, but that just insulated the 1/4th inch below that, and kept it from drying out, so the next 1/4th inch was wet and slippery, and the top bit would slide along the bottom bit with enough pressure.


Unrideable. Even hiking was difficult and slippery. Our feet were all slipping and chewing up the soil. All of this right along the creek. Worst conditions to be on that part of the mountain in. I felt irresponsible being there. I felt bad about my impact on the forest. Under different circumstances I'd have turned back.

When we got to Edmondson Gap it was fine for a while. The slope was north-facing. There was a more hike-a-bike on the way up and over to Frozen Knob, but a lot of it was rideable. Somewhere in there, my glasses went flying off of my helmet as I hopped over a log, and Patrick ran them over. Of course he couldn't have seen them, so it wasn't his fault. And, it didn't do any real damage. I just straightened the nosepiece, clipped the lens back in, and they were fine. That's the one really bad thing about my helmet, it just won't hold glasses, and I hate wearing them while climbing. I'm thinking about somehow putting some little rubber strips on the temples for a little extra grip.

Coming down off of Frozen Knob was ridiculous. I've always called the trail that leads up Frozen Knob from Williams Gap, and over it to the gap above Gooch Creek Cove the "Frozen Knob Trail." Well, these days, the bit of it that drops off of Frozen Knob proper down to Williams Gap is referred to as Mario's Run. I'd hiked it forever ago, but never considered riding it. It's super steep and rocky, and short of hike-a-biking up Mauldin Knob, dropping down to Edmonson Gap from that side, the hike-a-biking up to Frozen Knob Ridge, I could never figure out a way to even get to it. And the trail between Frozen Knob and Greasy Mountain doesn't actually go all the way to Greasy Mountain. It kind of fizzles out about 2/3rds of the way up. So, I didn't think much of it. Somebody did though, and while not exactly popular, it definitely gets some traffic these days.

At any rate, it was also north-facing, and incredibly slippery. Like touch-the-brakes-and-lock-up-both-wheels-then-put-a-foot-down-and-that-foot-starts-slipping-then-put-another-foot-down-and-that-foot-also-starts-slipping slippery. Me and Mike basically jogged next to our bikes down about 60% of the trail. I could finally ride the last 40%, but even that was sketchy.

We regrouped at Williams Gap and apparently everyone had been having trouble, though most fared better than I did. I'd like to hit it again in the summer when I have a chance at riding it.

We hit Frozen Branch next. I immediately got a big chunk of mud in my eye, had to stop, got passed by Mark B and Chris, and struggled to catch back on. There was a time when I was fast. Seems like a long time ago now though.

From there, we climbed up, past Rock Creek Lake, to Hightower Gap. Water was blasting over the dam at the lake. Some people were fishing. A little past that, there was a truck parked on the side of the road, and a guy and a lady were poking around on the downslope. They both had grocery bags that appeared to be full of something, but I couldn't tell what. It didn't look like trash. They didn't appear to be picking up trash. No idea. In the bed of their truck though, there were two young girls, like maybe 4 and 5. Maybe younger. They were very excited to see us coming, and the younger one ran to the tailgate and was like:

"Hello! My name is Stacy and my sister's name is Violet!"

Maybe not Stacy... Some "S" name.

Her slightly less extroverted sister smiled kind of nervously and waved.

I replied with: "It's very nice to meet you!" and she seemed very pleased with how well it all went, smiled really big, and danced a little.

The whole exchange was heartwarming. The guys behind me were like: "What was that all about?" They couldn't hear what we'd said, they just heard us both talking, then saw her smiling and dancing.


It was a bit of a grind up to Hightower, and a bit more of a grind over to Winding Stair Gap, but we all made it. Nobody bonked and nobody had to walk.

Back at WSG

Me and Patrick almost caught two dudes in black jerseys at WSG. They were barely ahead of us. I figured they might stop at the gap and we could say hi, but they just kept going and bombed right down it.

After a quick regroup, we bombed down as well. I caught and passed Patrick, but then managed to front-flat (and thankfully not crash) about 2/3rds of the way down. Dangit! I'd already flatted once, and I was fresh out of spares. I had to patch that one. Fortunately Hirsch and Patrick stopped to help out, and the repair went quickly. Good thing I'd brought two CO2's.


Woohoo, Blue Ridge WMA! And it only took 12 years and dramatic advances in technology to get those guys out there. There are a dozen more trails back in there, and routes that don't include the ones we rode last weekend. I wonder if they'd be interested in any of those?

Back the lot, I ran into Stan Crane! No work party that day, so he'd been out riding too, and ran into some guys in Jeeps on some of the trails off of FS877. They were planning on doing some work the next day, but I had family stuff to do and it didn't work out. Hopefully March 2nd works out better. I haven't been able to do any digging for months now, and it's been pretty discouraging, actually.

On the way home, we all stopped at Johnny's Pizza in Dawsonville. The restaurant was full of smoke from the kitchen, for some reason, and the sun was just above the horizon, beaming directly into the booth we got by the window. The guys on the other side of the table had to wear sunglasses to be able to see. I got a chicken parm sandwich with no cheese. Sounds crazy, but it was just crazy-good.

I wasn't all that tired on the drive home, but I slept really well that night and could only manage a 45 minute recovery hike the next day.

Good times, good times.