Sunday, April 4, 2021

Boundary Waters

This happened today! No more backlog.

One of my favorite things is to go check out some completely unknown trail system. Somewhere I've never been, but somewhere that doens't have such an epic number of miles that I can't hit it all in one day. It's hit or miss when I do that though. Sometimes the trail is great, sometimes the woods is great, sometimes I find ruins or other cool things. But, sometimes the trail is a poorly marked spiderweb, it takes all day to figure it out, and I end up riding around in circles trying to match reality to the map. So, hit or miss.

I felt like rolling the dice on that today though, so I grabbed some lunch and headed over to the Boundary Waters Aquatic Center.

Boundary Waters Aquatic Center Sign

Never heard of it, right?

It's obscure, to say the least, but the web site alleged many miles of trail open to bikes, hikers, and horses. The map looked only mildly spiderwebby. I was adequately intrigued.

Sometimes figuring out how to get out of the parking lot is the trickiest part. Once I'm on the trail, I can usually figure out where to go next, but figuring out where you are in the park is sometimes harder than it looks. To that end, I usually ride around the little park roads until I figure the park itself out.

I did that.

It was spring everywhere BTW.


Every tree was like: "Dave! It's spring!"

More Spring!


So, there's the Aquatic Center proper:

Boundary Waters Aquatic Center

And there's this new building going in next to it.

Some New Building at Boundary Waters

The map doesn't show the new building. In fact, it was covering up a road that is shown on the map - part of the equestrian lot.

See, good that I discovered this now, rather than trying to figure it out later when trying to follow the map out of the woods later.

After a quick loop, I felt like I had the lay of the land, so I hit the first trail, which turned out to be paved.

Chattahoochee Hill Country Greenway Trail

It's the "Douglas County segment of the Chattahoochee Hill Country Greenway". Super fancy name for like 0.85 miles of paved trail. Will it connect up to some other chunk of paved trail at some point? Is there more to this Chattahoochee Hill Country Greenway? I am now interested, but also lazy, so I haven't looked it up yet.

About halfway around, I passed Groover Lake.

Groover Lake

Or, at least I think that's Groover Lake. Google maps puts the name in a different part of the park where there is no lake. So, I'm not really sure.

The paved trail was "The Green Loop" which I guess makes sense because it's a "Greenway".

Next, I hit "The Blue Loop", which seemed quite well signed.

Blue Trail Signage

At first!

The posts in the field don't quite match the map, and there are a few that are missing, and there are multiple routes, but, I was able to figure it out.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. It was also kind-of a gear test. I'd recently gotten Glen to drill all kinds of holes in my frame. That's a nervewracking experience, by the way. Drilling holes in a carbon frame. He added many carefully placed rivnuts, and I can now mount all kinds of stuff all over.

BP Configuration

I spent all last week wringing it out, especially that cage on my top tube. I kept hitting it with my knees, and just whittled away at it until I no longer did. The idea is that I can use it for food. It's the least likely spot to get muddy and wet, except from rain. I can get to it the easiest without unpacking anything else. And, I can carry an arbitrary amount of crap there, as long as I can capture it with two straps. Eg. roll up on a Chic-fil-a, order 4 packs of grilled nuggets in a paper bag, strap that bag to the top tube and take off onto the Dalton Pinhoti.

I had a huge italian sandwich strapped to it all day today, and it worked great, but we'll see how it goes. That bag strapped to the downtube is a placeholder. It fits all of my sleeping stuff in it, but I don't love the bag itself.

I had been running two bottles side-by-side on a Wolftooth B-Rad thing, with that Blackburn rack behind them. Everything fit, and it only used 1 bottle mount, but I hit the bottles with my knees constantly, and having the weight of 2 full bottles so far ahead of the center of gravity caused all kinds of issues. The weight distribution is way better now. I can get hop, rock, and nose bump over stuff with less effort, the front doesn't dive quite so hard. It's way better. Fingers still crossed though, I've only ridden a hundred miles or so on it.

I hit The Yellow Loop after blue, and ran into various people hiking and on horseback, but everyone was friendly. The Red Loop was semi-difficult to figure out how to get started on. I kept finding signs telling you how to get over to it from the Yellow Loop, but no proper "Here's where the red trail starts!" kind of sign. All day long, I'd seen a guy walking two horses around with different riders on them every time I saw him. He, apparently, led people on horseback rides, literally all day long. I happened to run into him again, with his 4th set of clients that day, as I was looking for the red trail, and he pointed me in the right direction. Super friendly guy, and helpful.

The trail experience out there is somewhat diverse. There's no purpose-built singletrack, but it's still pretty good.

There is some decent-ish singletrack.

Decentish Singletrack

There's this long pipeline right-of-way that the trails tend to loop back onto at some point.

Pipeline ROW

Along the south edge of the property, it's kind of a swamp, and the trail gets kind of flooded.

Flooded Trail

I had many opportunities to push and carry my bike, and finagle it through tight spaces between trees, fully loaded with all my BP gear, and I had no problem with any of that.

Most of the trail is pretty flat, but man, when you get to the north end of the system, on the "Chattahoochee Crossing/Circle Loop", it's super steep. Just straight up and straight down, over and over, for a mile or so.

There is also some climbing on "The Chattahoochee Loop" but it's nowhere near as steep, and there's a long run with the river to one side that's pretty scenic.

Chattahoochee Loop

There are some points of interest as well.

Eg, there's this cute little bathroom kind-of out in the middle of the system.

Cute Little Bathroom

An unexpected ammenity. I ended up using it twice.

There are good views of the Chattahoochee.

The Hooch

A cute little covered bridge.

Covered Bridge

The Detail 6 Memorial Bridge.

Detail 6 Memorial Bridge

I'll have to look that up. What is Detail 6?

There was this weird stone structure too.

Some Stone Structure

It struck me as being the size of a grave, but it was in an odd spot for that, and I didn't see anything else gravelike around. It was also kind of the right size to be part of a grill/smoker, but it was missing the chimney, and the chimney usually persists. It wasn't obviously a kiln, or an oven, or a furnace, or anything else that I've seen before. Not sure. Maybe the internet knows.

When I finally got done riding everything out there, I ended up kind-of near my truck, just as a matter of course. I also just happened to notice another pond.

Some Other Pond

It's not on the map, and it's kind of hidden behind a stand of trees. You'd really only get a good look at it from one of the disc golf greens on the other side, unless you happened to notice it like I did.

Speaking of disc golf, man that park is shot through with it. Closer in to the park, I had a hard time figuring out what was intended to be a trail and what was just a fairway. In one case, a marked trail was actually being used as a series of fairways. There were a million people out playing, but there was only 1 time that I had to stop to wait for a guy to take a shot.

On the way back home, I was like "Mmmm, I'm in Douglasville, there's an Outback here. I feel like some grilled chicken." But, the parking lot was packed and there were a dozen people waiting outside. Garbage! This scene repeated at every restaurant along Douglas Road, except for one. Hooters! I remembered that in college, my brother and I would often catch a band playing at the House of Blues in New Orleans after work, but we'd be rushing to the show, with no time to sit down to eat. There was a Hooters between the parking lot and the venue, and they're semi-quick, so we'd run in, order a hamburger to go, wrap it in a napkin, and eat it on the way to the show. We'd totally sidestep the entire objective. They'd be like: "You want it to go??!" "Yep. To go." We joked that we may have been the only customers to ever order something to-go. We did it consistently too, just about every time we caught a show. So it was again, today. Hooters to go. I ordered from the parking lot and went inside 20 minutes later to grab my food. These days, they're handling to-go orders all day long, and they've got their game a little too down, if you ask me. Their go-bags have adhesive on the inside. They peel of wax strips and hermetically seal the top of the bag. Great if you want your food to stay hot. Terrible if you want to check to make sure that burger is plain. Good luck getting it open, and then good luck not getting everything you're trying to pull out of the bag stuck to it. Every, single, thing. My God. It was like it was specifically designed to yank everything out of your hands. If you tried to design a system to punish someone for trying to check their order, you couldn't do a better job than they accidentally did.

That said. Really good burger.

Hooters To-Go

So salty.

Same for the fries.

Hooters to-go. Give it a try.

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