Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Memorial Weekend Adventure

Those of you that read this little blog know that Kelly is the bikepacker of the family.  He has spent days out in the wilderness biking from one location to the next.  He has many miles 'under his belt.'  Well, this past weekend it was my turn to give bikepacking a try.

Kelly and I decided that a long holiday weekend in Pisgah would be a great opportunity for me to see what it's all about, and how my body would hold up for a few consecutive days of riding.  I've ridden in Pisgah many times before.  Oddly enough, heading in to a multiple day trip did not leave me with nerves, like much shorter rides have done in the past.  The thing about mountain biking out there is that you have to work, really work, for the reward.  Nothing at all like what we have locally in Raleigh.  We parked the car at the North Mills River parking lot on Friday morning, loaded up our bikes, and headed on up 1206.

My 'home' for the weekend!

Oh yeah, to do a 'true' Pisgah post, I need to tell you the route we took.  So here goes:

1206--Laurel Mountain--Blue Ridge Pkwy--Black Balsam aka 816--SLEEP!--Flat Laurel Creek--215--140--140a--5003--475--276--Downtown Brevard.....hello White Squirrel Festival--276--477--Clawhammer--Black Mountain--Buckhorn Shelter--SLEEP! (but not really, more on that later)--Club Gap--477--276--Blue Ridge Pkwy--5000--Trace Ridge/Reservoir Road to reservoir and back--5000--1206--cool campsite at Yellow Gap--SLEEP! (finally, a good night's sleep)--back down 1206 to the car.

All in all, we guesstimate (b/c the GPS died on the last full day) that we covered about 108 miles.  Not to shabby for this girl!  I could go on and on about the views that we had while riding along the parkway.  I must say that the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the coolest two lane highways in the country.  No matter what time of year, the views are just stunning.

Riding along the parkway on Day One

I learned some things on this adventure that I  think I should share.

1.  The higher up you are, the better the whole bug situation is......there aren't any!  High five for night number one.

Good Morning Day Number Two!

2.  Putting on damp chamois in the morning is not as bad as one would've got to put something on to get out of the sleeping bag, it might as well be your 'outfit' for the day.
3.  I climb so slow, that it makes my lovely husband yawn repeatedly.  While we are riding!  I literally was climbing so slow that it was putting him to sleep!
4.  Sleeping in a shelter seems like a good idea until it isn't.  If its not pouring rain, don't do it.  Although, I'm sure the two of us trying to sleep on a hard wooden 'bunk' gave the mice plenty of entertainment on that second night.  After they got done rummaging through all of our stuff.  That is an unnerving little sound.  And we made so much noise just moving around, that we never managed to see the little bastards!  Oh, but we did have a good laughing fit in the middle of the night in  the pitch black :-)  It was awful in that damn shelter!

And we thought we were going to get a good night's sleep......ha!

5.  There is a right and a wrong way to hike-a-bike.  Thank you Upper Laurel Mountain for clarifying things. Getting whacked in the shin/calf over and over by your own bike pedal should not happen.  And after that first day, it did not happen again for the remainder of the trip.

Typical view of Upper Laurel 

6.  Back to #3, we were climbing so slow that Kelly was not even close to being out of breath.  So he rambled.  On and on and on he rambled until I finally told him that he talked too much.  His response, "he usually doesn't talk while climbing, but with me, he could."  Gee, thanks honey!
7.  My hair is nasty after multiple days of sweating and then sleeping outside in the dampness and then sweating some more.  Nasty like the little nat thingys that just hover and don't bite could not leave me alone.  I thought I'd need my little head sock thing b/c it might be cold.  Nope, it was on so that as the little bugs were swarming me, I couldn't hear them every second.
8.  Waking up to a beautiful morning makes all the difference.  And, it helps that Kelly was always up first and had a warm cup of hot chocolate waiting for me.  Yes, I know, I am spoiled.
9.  Big, fat, rattlesnakes do not like to be run over.  Have you seen the video that Kelly posted on Facebook? Mr. Fat and Happy was NOT happy to be run over (Kelly did that, not me!) and I was FREAKING out.  I swear, having to wait that rattlesnake out made my heart race the fastest the entire weekend.  I'd much rather spook a turtle, like this guy.

10.  Bikepacking is cool.  How else could I have all the experiences from this weekend without riding my bike?  And being able to do it all with my husband, is the best part.

Thank you to Kelly for taking the time to prepare our gear, to plan a very 'Vanessa friendly route' and to let me go at whatever pace I needed.  I had a great time and am looking forward to the next one!

You can call me Katniss Everdeen........the girl on fire!


  1. Great write up. Sounds like you had an amazing first adventure! Can't wait to hear the next one.

  2. Now I get a feel for what you were saying last night at dinner Ms. V. Great trip. Looking forward to hear about the next one.

  3. This is great! While searching for bikepacking trips in Pisgah I stumbled upon your blog.

    Totally signing up to your feed and will probably duplicate your trip in a few weeks! If you have any tips/suggestions please post them away.

  4. Nice job Vanessa, I am jealous!!! Nice to get caught up with the blog, including the below posts. I will be following you guys from CA. :)