Monday, June 18, 2012

Rain, gravel and getting lost

Sunday, June 17. Hocking Hills State Park to Waverly, OH. 46 miles of riding and bike-a-hike in 5:36 hrs.

A second evening with the net every so far away. Now I can make phone calls, but the voice on the other side is pingy, and sounds like a robot. Just barely able to get me emails. Forget uploading docs and pics. I’ll have to upload two day’s blogs tomorrow morning in Waverly. Right now we’re camped in Scioto Trails State Park, and right now we’re in the “bowels” of Ohio – way the hell down here.
         To recap last night, the campground – Old Man Cave Retreat – was a dump! Now it didn’t have the tourist traffic that the Old Man Cave SP campground in Hocking Hills SP did, but for what it lacked in people it more than made up for in crappy shower room and restrooms. Wow, I was scared to shower, let alone ….well, you get it. Gnarly facilities. So we woke up to thunder in the distance, hammered in getting the camp pulled down and then high tailed it out of there and to the Visitor’s Center at Hocking Hills SP. That’s when the rain came down in buckets, for nearly 2 hrs. Just kind of hung out in the car and ate snack bars and drank coffee as it continued to rain.
         Round about 9 AM the rain stopped and the sun began to peak out, so I readied myself to ride. So to get back to the big decision from last night – to asphalt or not to asphalt – that is the question. I came to the conclusion that I’m going to bite the bullet and ride sections of asphalt to bridge to gravel and single track. Mr. Berminator is now gone – I killed him last night. Sorry, but I’m just not going to spend all this money on a summer riding as far as Western IL. I’ll continue on my mapped course, but not do the berm thing. Hopefully I can continue to discover some great gravel and single track.
         Ok, so got ready to ride and lo and behold who pops out of a truck but Judy’s son-in-law and her granddaughter – they were visiting the SP. So Jason had a mt bike in his truck, and I invited him to ride with me a couple hrs today before he and Maddy went home. Done, I pulled out of the park and rode south to a parking area for his truck and my van. Judy would wait in the van with Maddy while Jason and I rode for a few hrs. We got going on some bitchen climbs right off the bat, I mean steep and winding…and asphalt. Got over like 3 of those and then rode to the first section of off-road – a weed enshrouded, soaking wet mess with the trail not even discernable from the woods. I looked at him and said “Up to you, what do you think?” He gave me the same look, like “screw that!” Unanimous, back to road. So we rode a bit more and then came to the next off-road section, this ATV track that wound back into the forest.
Game on. I let Jason lead because he’s an X motocross guy and just hammers through the crap like nobody’s business. And he did a good job, as I had to shift down a couple times to go with his accelerations. This was some real fun riding, and then we hit the climb…up and up and up and up, with the steepness just getting out of hand. Finally we both had to bike-a-hike. It was just too steep with too many fist and larger sized rocks in the trail. Got up one steep section and then another, and then it leveled out to where we were riding this pseudo slick rock stretch. But the final stretch was filled with these crazy big assed  rocks and cobbles to the point to where we were just able to stay on the bikes, at like 3-4 mph. Topped out on a ridge where there was all the electrical line work being done, and there were side roads just going everywhere.
         By that time Jason had to turn back, and we could see it getting darker and thunder could be heard rumbling in the distance. Great, up on a ridge with a storm blowing in – plus I had no idea where the trail had gone to. Jason went back the way we came and I was up there tramping around trying in vain to find where the BT went amidst all the destruction. So I tried numerous times to find the blue blaze, and then I found one, on a tree that was knocked down, and then another that was weathered beyond recognition. So I followed that path and it just suddenly died on the top of a ridge – exactly like the one out in Ohiopyle. Nothing but a deep wooded valley below me with zero way to get across. I looked at bushwhacking but Jesus, that was just a total, all day affair, with the thunderstorm looming on the horizon. So I got on the bike and rode it for about a half mile just looking for other access roads. Nothing.
I was beginning to think that I’d have to reride that whole ATV section to the road and then find another way to reenter the trail. I took one last stab at a track that I had looked at previously, and be damned if I didn’t see a track just off to the right of this new electric towner and again, damned if there wasn’t a blue blaze on a tree. Man I was so relieved on finding my way out of that mess. I’d wasted like 40 min riding and walking around. Matter of fact I changed out of my cycling shoes and into my hiking shoes due to the massive cobbled roads up there. I ended up having to bike-a-hike for a good mile and a half due to the bouldered road. It was just crazy hard riding. By then the rain was steady, but I was on my way off the ridge. Got it going on better road and then sailed down the smaller gravel to the valley below. Did a couple of asphalt roads and got to my meeting spot with Judy.
Just in time because the heavens opened up again and I took shelter at our crossroads meeting spot under the awning of this condemned old bldg. Good thing about that was that suddenly, after a day of now wifi or phone service I had 3G and 3 bars under this old dilapidated bldg. I was able to catch up on my emails and phone messages. But after like 45 min I was beginning to worry that something had happened to Judy, or that something had happened to Jason on his ride back. So I was getting a bit uptight. She finally drove in, having waited at a different jcn with the very same road numbers – I was at 327 North and Rt 50 while Judy was waiting at 327 South and Rt 50 – 3 miles apart from each other.
Got going on the next leg to Waverly, and across the Scioto River. That went well until I gave Judy some bad route info and it had me going the wrong direction for 4 miles. Thank God Judy questioned me again, cuz I’d of bloody ridding another 4-5 miles.
Well, anyway we got to Waverly and did Subway and bought groceries to camp up in the Scioto Trails SP. As we made the drive to the park I could see my precious bars and 3G just fade to almost nothing. Back in the vacuum.
Rustic camping down here in this park, but it’s so quiet. Nice place with no craziness as in the other SP. I’ll post all this stuff tomorrow morning. Then it’s on the BT to around Portsmouth. Late………Pete

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