Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sloppy Floyd State Park

Last weekend I decided to take a break from the bike and walk around a bit. I've been on the bike way too much this year. Really, for the last year and a half, and just generally haven't been exploring as much as I used to. Part of it is trying to just improve/reclaim some fitness. Part of it is "training" (if you want to call it that) for the TNGA. Part of it is just that I get stuck in a rut at times and just want to keep doing what I've been doing.

For whatever reason, I felt like hiking and exploring last weekend, so I got myself up to Sloppy Floyd State Park do some of that. I'd ridden through the park a while back, while exploring that part of Taylor's Ridge, and it looked like fun.

Turned out it was.

I parked in the gravel lot and just kind-of meandered around on the Jenkins Gap and Marble Mine trails, and on the various connectors between them until I figured out where everything was.

The Marble Mine itself was pretty cool.

It looks like it goes way back up into the mountain on the left side, but I didn't follow it. There's a barrier, I didn't have any light, I've never done any caving before, and it didn't seem like a good time to start.

There was a weird little scramble loop up above the mine that I did follow. I figured it might lead up the creek for a while, but it didn't. Just made 2 little loops and petered out.

The "trails" up there are mainly old roads that led to the mine from a couple of different directions, and they still retain the general character of a road. There are some more proper trails too, though some are more arguably doubletrack.

In particular, there are a set of trails that lead up to the Pinhoti and back down.

So, I made that loop too. Most intersections are well signed, but the names on the signs don't really match the names on the map, so it can be confusing. Also, some of the Pinhoti signs look really similar, and there are 2 intersections that are easy to confuse with one another. But, it wasn't that bad, and I managed to figure it all out eventually.

The southernmost trail leading up-to/down-from the Pinhoti is super, super steep. It has signs indicating such, and they're not kidding. I had to take quick little half steps, lean way forward, and keep moving to keep from slipping. The tread was mainly decomposed granite too, so there were tons of little marbly rocks underfoot. It was nervewracking to say the least, and I was glad to be off of it.

The park really has 2 sets of trails - one set up on the mountain, and another set down around the lakes.

The whole area was originally industrial. There was the mine, and roads and stuff to support the mine. Presumably when it was abandoned, the state bought the land and turned it into a park. I haven't done any research yet to figure out who operated the mine, but I'm sure the info is out there. The lakes weren't originally there. There was a spring though, which is now below the upper lake. The road leading through the park runs along a dam between the two lakes. I guess all of that was built when the park was created.

After exploring most of the trails up on the mountain, I ended up at the upper lake. Then, I found another connector leading back over to the mountain. It was apparently the main drag back in the day because it had various ruins along it that must have been related to the mining operation way back.

These looked like storage bins.

I've seen similar at modern facilities.

Across the road there's a privy for the nearby campground now.

But an old map shows that there was a building there at one point. I'm guessing it was the office.

Further up the road, there's a shack of some kind that isn't on any map.

No idea. Old bathroom, maybe?

After exploring all of that, I ended up back at the upper lake again.

There's a boardwalk across part of it now, but in antiquity there was a road in almost that exact spot, that led along what's now the lakeshore and then became that connector with the ruins on it. It's amazing how different it is now from how it must have been.

There's a trail, with a couple of spurs down around the lower lake too.

But, I didn't have the energy to explore it too. My shoes had been giving me some trouble too. They have plenty of tread left, but the insole is kind-of separating and the layers slip around on each other. This is garbage and basically causes the same problems that non-barefoot shoes cause. It might be time for a new pair.

At any rate, I didn't have the energy or feet left to keep hiking, so I made it back to the car and went home. I'd gotten almost all the way home when I realized that I hadn't eaten anything. There's a good Mexican restaurant just down the street though, called Rancho el Molcajete, which is generally very good, so I went there. I had no idea until I walked in, that it was karaoke night! Everybody was singing songs that I'd never heard before. But, they all knew them really well. I love that kind of thing. Every now and then you discover this whole separate world that you don't know anything about.

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