Friday, December 31, 2010
Followed by the EXTREME climb to
Our legs deserved a full rest after the arduous climbs
Followed by the extreme technical decent
I nearly got a splinter. Damn safety rails!
Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
|Short and STEEP|
|A huge 'can't move on' flag|
A little fire didn't stop Peggy from bird searching
for the elusive Swamp Chickens
I'm fairly sure that this is the best picture of the Loch Ness Monster ever (Google it)
|look closely...right in the center|
|isn't it just like a commercial?|
Then on to the next destination and boredom quickly set in.
There could be severe penalty for in attention or wrong turn
Maybe this will tow us back on track
We are getting close
Home Sweet Home at the Jolly Roger Travel Park
Saturday, December 18, 2010
|Great pine needle trail|
|Mad skillz! Look out below!|
|alligators, pythons & cottonmouths oh my!|
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Getting a late start ruled out a ride that would capitalize on the whole 32 mile loop. I opted for the a shorter 15 mile option that followed the blue marked trail out then bailed me out to the the Withlacoochee State Trail.
Very much like the Santos ride yesterday this ride crammed as much mileage possible into each acre of land. There seems to be a maximum amount of trail that will fit into an area without feeling contrived and at points parts of the trail felt a little forced. That said, this is a great trail and an extraordinary ride featuring fast corners, big drops and interesting pits.
Thank you SWAMP for maintaining the trail. On note if you use the GPS/Google Map provided by SWAMP it may leave you short of the parking area by a couple miles. Be sure to continue a mile plus after crossing under I-75 just at the crossing of the Withlacoochee State Trail again.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Have you ever ridden a 20+ mile mountain bike ride (not on a trainer) and only logged 230 total feet of elevation gain?
Today I had that honor starting at the Santos Trailhead of the the Cross Florida Greenway. This trail system winds through and round the greenway to maximize the trail distance with minimal use of acreage. The trail was fast and windy enough to keep you on your toes and easy enough to keep the grin ear-to-ear. We managed to ride the trail with only one tree hit! Which is quite a feat on this narrow tree lined singletrack.
I was expecting to only ride my road bike while in Flordia, but have been surprised to find great trails through beautiful forests while down here. This trail system is an IMBA Epic ride too, maintained by OMBA.
Our ride was a loop even though the map looks a lot like an out-and-back. The trail continued farther, but the over pass made a great turn around point. Next time you come to Florida bring the mountain bike as well as the golf clubs...or just leave the golf clubs at home.
One of the cool features of the trail is the I-75 over pass that Peggy is demonstrating the proper riding form.
|I-75 N & S|
And we found Waldo so we can come home!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
On a too cold to climb day, we drove just across the Georgia border to visit the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The park was formed in 1890 by vote of Congress. The veterans of the Chickamauga battle returned and erected monuments where each state had been. I am sure military historians would find this park even more interesting than I did. It is a huge park with a great museum and antique gun collection. After getting a stamp in our National Parks Passport, we headed out on the driving tour.
Along the drive through woods and in open fields are monuments and canons marking battle lines. As we drove along Battleline Road, I was struck with the reality of the war and the battle fought at Chickamauga. In the woods on both sides of the road were stately monuments marking positions. I could only imagine a similar cold day and the soldiers firing single shot rifles through the trees. For the first time the Civil War seemed real to me.
This photo is just one of the battle lines with the Georgia state monument in the background.
While in Chattanooga we visited Lookout Mountain. This is where the Rebel forces laid siege to Chattanooga for two months after their victory at Chickamauga. The Union won the battle for geographically strategic Chattanooga.
We also visited Allatoona Pass which was a strategic railway and supply road. The house in the background of the photo to the left served as a field hospital. It is now a private residence.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Snake Creek Gap section of the IMBA Epic Pinhoti Trail was a leaf covered and rocky-ish singletrack trail. It climbs steeply for about a mile and a half then rolls for about five more to our turn around point. There were multiple creek crossings that were partially iced over since we are in the midst of an "Arctic invasion" as one telecaster put it. The trail does continue to Dug Gap and points beyond as this is just one section of a 140 mile trail that I would love to come back and ride completely...not today, not with this fitness level.
The leaf covered trails add an interesting level of difficulty to riding. Depending on precipitation, the leaves can be dry and slick, wet and slick or just slick. The leaves obscure roots, rock and other obstacles that keep you on your toes at all times or a quick trip off the trail will be in order. The leaf blanket is also a bit disorienting as it's like watching a conveyor belt of plaid fabric run under your wheels hiding the hazards and sometimes even hiding the trail!
Anyway. We had a good time and added yet another item to the bucket list.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
My ride was bedazzled with snow, clouds, wind and frigid air temperatures in the high 20’s and covered just less than 12 miles with 1300’ of total elevation gain. I intended to ride more of the area’s trail network but the weather was colder than the clothes I wore--not expected this far south.
The majority of the climbing was packed into the first two miles of the ride and, on the way back, was the downhill that froze the boot covered toes. The trail is wider than what would be classically considered singletrack, but is not double track--just ample room to accommodate multiple uses in both directions. The climb is lined with rhododendrons that would make a spring ride even more spectacular. Once on top the trail is fast hard pack up to the Chilhowee Recreation area, location of a civil war battle.
I rode this as an out and back journey. There are many options to make this a loop or a lollipop ride. When I get a chance to come back for warmer riding, I will also check out the Tanasi Trail system just up the road and an IMBA epic ride.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
|Trigger - a Pivot Mach 5|
Friday, December 3, 2010
We have been in Tennessee now for about 10 days. After leaving Kentucky we made our way to Crossville, TN. This served as our base for one week while climbing in the Obed Wild and Scenic River recreation area. During spring and summer this is a white water rafter and kayaking destination. During fall through spring this is a rock climbing destination.
The rock climbing is concentrated at the confluence of Clear Creek and Obed River. The bluffs of sandstone overlook the respective rivers and face south to catch the weak winter sun. Those cliff bands that face primarily north are too cold this time of year. The approach hikes are relatively flat along the top of the cliffs. However, to get to the Tierney wall, it took us almost an hour of hiking. We were not racing, but also not lolly-gagging along. That was by far the longest approach we have done during this trip.
'The confident swagger is gone from your step'. That is what Tony told me on our last day climbing at the Obed. That sums it up pretty well. I did not adapt well to the climbing there. It is always an interesting phenomenon that the same rock, in this case sandstone, climbs differently between areas. The rock is less featured and instead of pockets and 'finger jugs', it is rounded and flat. The breaks can be punctuated by abrupt horizontal roofs. The roofs range from 12" to 30'. Flat, slightly downward sloping and rounded holds have never been a strong suit for me. I just don't feel comfortable or confident on the rock. Tony however had a much better time at the Obed. I am not surprised. He has always had a much better time climbing on those type of holds.
Onward further into Dixieland for some mountain biking and boulder snatching! (more on boulder snatching later)
Friday, November 26, 2010
For years we have heard talk from our climbing friends and associates about the great rock climbing in the southeastern United States. Part of the reason for this adventure on the road is to visit rock climbing areas that we have not enjoyed. First on our list of new places to visit was Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky.
My first impression of Kentucky was the beauty of the scenery and picturesque rolling pastures. Horses grazed in pastures rimmed with black painted wood. It is what any horse loving girl (me) dreamed about. Most barns are painted a neat black to match the fences. Within some barns I caught glimpses of kelp like tobacco drying in the breeze. The rolling blue grass melded into mountains.
The mountains are covered with a deciduous forest comprised of oak and many trees I don't recognize. These trees are interspersed with evergreen pines, holly and Rhododendron shrubs. The tree leaves turned orange, red, brown and yellow. When these vibrant colors were dispersed with pops of dark green, the hills were a gorgeous site. The steep rolling mountains hide bands of hard, coarse sandstone. It is unlike the red and sometimes brittle sandstone found in Utah and Nevada. The rock provides some wonderful climbing. The rock climbing in Kentucky is located in the mountains of eastern Kentucky about 1.5 hours southeast from Lexington. The closest town to where we are camped in Beattyville.
My second impression of Kentucky was of the poverty found in the mountains. There is a certain level of detritus that occurs when living in the country. I would expect to see some abandoned cars, outbuildings and equipment. However, as we drove through the hills, I was completely dumbfounded at the percentage of residences that go beyond rural detritus to trash heap. Debris starts on the front porch and spills across the yard, through the garage, to the barn and down the hill. The houses are so rundown I cannot fathom anyone living there, yet someone does. Sometimes the house is abandoned and has been left to deteriorate. Even more amazing is that the trash heap very easily could be next door to a very well groomed mini-estate.
No matter what the quality of the housing stock, everyone has a front porch. These porches range from a small stoop to a spacious covered porch that stretches the entire front of the house and sometimes around the house. All porches are completed with the classic slat back chair and a porch swing. I can just imagine a summer evening on the porch sipping Kentucky bourbon whiskey on the rocks.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The real reason for the quick move is so I can watch Gonzaga play Kansas State tonight!
Fun here we come!
Monday, November 15, 2010
I am here to catch a fall and lower my partner to the ground after he finishes.
As I gaze upward watching his progress
I observe the brilliant blue fall sky through leafless bare gray tree branches.
Red oak leaves swirl in the breeze at the top of the cliff.
A plane silently glides through the sky leaving behind a white vapor trail.
We are alone at the cliff today. I relish the peace of the Kentucky fall.
The silence is broken only by dry leaves falling through branches to the ground.
The climb is finished and I lower my partner to the ground.
Now, I am the climber and he is the belayer.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
I was climbing, poorly, a route called Like a Turtle (.11b and not the Madonna song). The route is nothing exceptional and makes a decent warm-up. Let me caveat that, it has a run-out going to the last bolt.
It’s not difficult climbing but spacious. Am I sounding repetitive? I just want you to understand that I was strapping on my biggest courage package to pull these moves through perceived danger.
Grab the crimp, steady self with under-cling, move feet up, and repeat but vary the holds. Now I’m to a point that my feet are at least a body length above the last bolt with a final move. A final gentle slap to a clipping jug; a clipping jug that slowly disintegrates in my hand while raining sandstone drops on my belayer.
So I’m run-out, not confident and ready to poop diamonds as my only salvation collapses into dust in my hand.
What to do? What to do?
Cry. Curse. Scream. Deal with it.
Some quick movements, a lightning clip and phew. Well I’ll through those shorts away, but the disaster was averted.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
We have met wonderful people from Australia, Canada, Germany (via Turkey), Greece, Spain, Switzerland and the US. By being in the canyon during the week we had the opportunity to meet the mid-week climbers who are rarely present during the weekends. Rifle Mountain Park lures those from all walks of climbing life to test and prove their climbing prowess. We have mingled with some very famous rock climbers and those that are not so famous.
We have met some fabulous local people and travelers who are in the park to camp. If we had not been the camp host, we would have never met or even spoken with these non-climbing users.
Not everyone we met was nice or polite and not every encounter with park users was positive. There were those who didn't want to pay for day use or camping. Some felt that being able to climb in the canyon was an entitlement not a privilege. Some flaunted the rules of the park and pushed the limits of what we would tolerate. We had to ask some to leave the park because of their behavior. When I filter out the negative encounters I am left with a very satisfied feeling about how I spent my summer.
The summer enabled us to decompress, rejuvenate and adjust. Now we are anxious to continue our adventure by visiting climbing areas in the southeastern US.