This weekend was a little brag-worthy. It was ... painful. In so many great ways.
It started when PMBAR and DoubleDare partner Greg texted that his wife was working all weekend. The kitchen pass was signed, and all we had was starting coordinates and time. Game on.
NMR > 5000 > Trace Ridge road > Never-Ending Road > Middle Fork > Spencer > Big Creek > Sassafras > Laurel > Pilot > Slate Connector > 1206 ... and then because I couldn't get enough, solo 5051 > Yellow Gap Trail > North Mills River > Fisherman's in a raging thunderstorm that didn't hit until I was already well up on 5051.
Couple of things to note: First, Never-Ending Road does, in fact, end. You get to a point way out there where it becomes a wildlife corridor and is off-limits to bikes. Second, the new Pisgah map should be explored. Third, and closely related, Greg and I had a long conversation about whether Sassafras is legal. The story goes, it was once but has been decommissioned, but in checking out the USFS database, the new Pisgah map folks found it was still in the GIS registry and included it on the map. So though we share a strong dislike for poaching, we wanted to see what was what and decided to check it out in the least-destructive manner: Up. That's right, we went up to Laurel. Ho. ly. Crap. First I began riding like a small child on Spencer (I always do, very weird), and then we climbed on foot for nearly 40 minutes. It's been a long time since I stopped for a rest during a hike-a-bike; this time I stopped. Twice. Ouch.
Needless to say, the rest of the day was spent recovering. Thankfully, it went well ...
Sunday dawned with storms over Bent Creek and Mills River, but a mostly-dry Brevard showing pretty on the map. Greg decided to take it easy, so I headed out solo, parking at the Fish Hatchery and starting with no real route in mind. Only then it hit me: Why not do a SWANK?
475 > Davidson River > Cove Creek > 225 > Daniel Ridge > 475 > 471 > 471D > Butter Gap > Long Branch > 475 ... and then because I was feeling sassy and inspired by Mr. Janes, 5003 > 140 > 5031 ... which put me right at Farlow as the thunder rolled in and the rain started pounding, for a very treacherous Farlow Gap > Daniel Ridge ... on a suspect rear brake, and where it was sunny at the bottom for 475 > Davidson as quick as I could to meet my honeys.
It being Father's Day and all, the Ks came out to play, and we hiked to the Daniel Ridge waterfall and played in the river by the bridge before getting ice cream on the way home. It was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon, and it was fun to show Kate how to skip rocks just as my father showed me many, many years ago.
So today I'm feeling it, and my planned bed time keeps creeping sooner and sooner in my mind. I really, really need to re-bleed that rear brake, and empty the dishwasher, but you know my legs are like lead and my head is kind of foggy right now ... yawn ...
Late edit: Took a break from spraying booze all over the bike (only the Champagne of Beers will do for Avid, btw) to really look at the map. And ... no Sassafras. Damn. I'm really upset -- I absolutely take the high road when it comes to poaching; I don't even like "gray area" trails. Sustainability is way too important to me, as is our very fragile relationship with the USFS. Chalk one up to ignoring hearsay and carrying the map for myself.