When Snotrotter and I ran into Broussard last weekend at the top of Cantrell, he informed us that driftwood had met up with Samford and was heading "some place on South Mills River, some big rock or something." Seeing as how that happened to be the one section of trail in the Pisgah Ranger District that I've not ridden, I started making plans pretty much right away, holding out hope that no one would beat me to the punch ...
I drove On Through the Night to make sure I made my date with Samford. In case you were wondering, while the world around you may be unstable, at least in Pisgah we're doing OK:
Sorry, just Foolin'. I figured this day was all about Action! Not Words, and so I grabbed my gear and headed up Clawhammer, a man on a mission. I warmed on the climb, and looked forward to passing through Buckhorn Gap on my way down to Wolf Ford: Heaven Is descending a long, wide-open trail in Pisgah on a Ride Into the Sun as the forest floods with light.
Before I knew it, I was at the bridge, and crossed over. A bit of Hysteria crept in -- this was the way to Squirrel; where was SMR? I crossed back over, and there, hidden behind some shrubbery, was the trail I wanted. I knew I had several thigh-deep crossings ahead in frigid waters, but I didn't expect to be riding through small streams and water falls that had taken over the trail in the rains of the past several days. But Die Hard the Hunter: I made my way along South Mills River Trail and kept an eye out for the Rock of Ages that driftwood had identified.
Sure enough, Samford was safe and secure, and I wasn't Too Late. I was worried he'd be cold and wet, so I offered him my PMBAR and Double Dare-approved safety blanket.
"No, no," Samford said. "I'm not hypothermic, just hypoglycemic. I need me some White Lighting; c'mon, Pour Some Sugar On Me."I obliged, and then freed him from his Vault. First we took a Photograph for Maida:
and then I introduced him to Ted, the Only Friend I Had last weekend.
We settled him into my pack, and headed back the way I had come.
At first he was quiet, and I was worried he wasn't feeling so good. Eventually, though, he started to open up. "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad?" he asked. "I mean, that driftwood is an Animal. He made Promises to me about Women, and then left me High 'N' Dry there in that little cave. I shoulda' known after Broussard -- I was Wasted, and Love Bites, ya' know? -- but When Love and Hate Collide, it's like you just can't turn away. I thought it might be Too Late for Love, but I thought I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. Ah, well, It Don't Matter, No Matter What they'll both eventually Answer to the Master for Bringin' on the Heartbreak like that."
I thought it was poigniant that he opened up to me, and I felt a bit sorry for the little guy. We reached the bridge, and stopped for a quick bite. My feet were cold from all the river crossings, and I thought about starting a fire to warm them. But no sooner had I pulled out the PMBAR and Double Dare-approved lighter than Samford grabbed it out of my hands.
"Fire! Fire!" he said, a maniacal look taking over his face. Quickly, I grabbed back the lighter. "Aw, man," he complained, "a little Pyromania never hurt nobody!"
I told him we had to be careful there in the Forest, and that my feet weren't all that cold anyway. "No No No," I said, "Let It Go."
"Hey, I know what let's do," he said suddenly. "Are you Excitable? Let's Get Rocked!"
"What?!" I asked, incredulous.
"Well, I heard they did some work over on Pilot last week," he replied. "Let's head over there and see what's cooking. I know a place nearby that always has something going on Saturdays. We're going to Rock! Rock! Till You Drop. No more of this human stuff; I want to hang with my own kind for a bit."
I was game, so we headed up the hill, and turned right to head down into the horse camp area. We very politely stopped to let a couple of groups pass, before we were out on the road and making the left turn onto Pilot Rock Trail.
Something snapped in him just then, and he was off like a Rocket. I spent the rest of the climb following Two Steps Behind, before he finally stopped to take in the view from the rock face.
While he chilled, I turned the other way for a nature break, but found myself with a bit of Stagefright. I turned back, but he was already up the trail ...
I quickly gathered my things and hurried to catch up. "Man, You Got Me Running," I said when I finally overtook him. "You might show a bit of gratitude, a bit of Love and Affection for bringing you up all this way."
Suddenly, he stopped. "What happened here?" he exlaimed. "Someone decided to cut out my favorite log in all of Pisgah, totally Armageddon It! It's like a Run Riot up here now! Do they think they can just Tear It Down? It's my Personal Property! It'll never be the same!"
"Oh, whatever," I replied. "Could you get over the log?"
"Well, no," he admitted. "Only a Koerber could Klean it. But I was trying, and man, I was getting close. I could have done it someday! Darn it! I'm madder than a one-armed drummer in a rock band. May the Gods of War reign down all over Blue Ridge Adventures! I'll never ride this trail again!"
"Unbelievable," I said. "You are so full of yourself. Let Me Be The One to tell you that Day After Day, Todd's no Demolition Man, and his crew do an amazing job out here, and by cutting out that one log they made this trail so much more sustainable. So Back In Your Face: Look how much better it drains now: It was beginning to Disintegrate, and now there's no Scar. If you think removing that one feature -- which wasn't a feature at all, by the way, but was created by happenstance when the wind blew that tree down, and caused a natural drainage problem -- ruins your trail experience, then you have a Long, Long Way To Go toward understanding trails. IMBA is not a Four Letter Word, though I know they've been Comin' Under Fire, and the trail is not Torn To Shreds. Now, don't Cry -- this trail will still put a huge smile on your face Everyday; you can still get your Rocks Off!"
Samford allowed that was true, and said he felt a bit Guilty, so we continued on and crested the hill, turning right onto the connector. Gravity didn't disappoint, and soon we were at the gap and turning left onto the top of Laurel Mountain Trail. This is the so-called Gnome Trail, and Samford was visibly excited about reuniting with his kind. We rode for just a few hundred yards and stopped.
"Aw, man," he said, "I'm sorry. We're early. There's no one else here. The party must not start until Tonight, Only After Dark."
I looked at my watch. "Dude, I wish I could stay, but I've got a pregnant wife and a little girl waiting for me at home. I gotta' book."
"That's OK," he replied. "I'll just hole up here for a bit. I'll Miss You in a Heartbeat, though -- thanks for the ride."
I didn't want to leave him hanging, so I offered to leave him with my orange Onza toothbrush, just in case he got some Action.
Then I said Goodbye, and turned and headed down my favorite descent in all of Pisgah -- let me tell you, Love Don't Lie, and cleaning the rock garden felt awesome, even with the changes. I headed back up SMR, and down Clawhammer, turning right onto Buckhorn Gap to finish out the ride. It was a great day To Be Alive, and I'm sure Samford will have some serious fun All Night!
If you'd like to join him, Samford is on the Gnome Trail (top of Laurel Mountain Trail), just past the second tree blaze as you head toward the Parkway from Turkey Spring Gap. There's a jumble of moss-covered boulders on the uphill side of the trail, and Sam found a nice little niche next to a rock running perpendicular to the trail, halfway between the tree blaze and a big tree with a nice root-over. Happy hunting!