Monday, September 14

Trust Issues

We were in a bit of a scramble mode this past weekend.  Plans were made and canceled and made and canceled and...

You get the point.

Rain moving around and making a mess of it all.  With a desire to travel and go big, it looked like Damascus was the closest place with no rain and large, lumpy land.  Unfortunately, we'd be making the call kinda last minute, so instead of asking for route suggestions from trusted friends, I just found a loop on MTB Project that sounded good.  It was the first time that I've taken a route there, figured out how to load it on to my Wahoo, and followed the bouncing ball.

We rode the Beartree Gap - Old 84 loop, a 28 mile ride with around 3,800 feet of climbing.  Below is the ride information from the site... that I've taken the time to correct.


One of the very best link-ups around Beartree Gap: a rooty, rocky mix of singletrack, doubletrack, gravel roads and some asphalt. This loop has great forest scenery and some expansive views up on the ridge tops. Expect some short (you call that short?) sections of hike-a-bike.  (The climbing miles pay off in smiles, as long as you giggle about how many calories you burned.  If you like horse poop, horse hooved mud bogs, and downhill gravel, this ride is for you.)


(edited to where we picked it up as the halfway point made more sense for us)

Next up is a long (it was a mile?), uphill grind up Whitetop Road; it's paved and has a nice shoulder. 

Jump back onto Iron Mountain trail (up a trail that drains well, has a deceivingly nice grade making me think it's all gonna be this sweet, and there's more unavoidable horse poop per mile than I've ever seen)  near the crest of this hill and follow the IMT until you can continue heading east on FS 84, which is a gravel road. 

 Fork to the right again on the IMT (rocky double track/road... and horse poop... and
horse hooved mud bogs) and ride up to the Cherry Tree shelter. 

Stay on the IMT (more poop, bigger bogs) and roll down to a left on FS 828, another gravel road (losing hard earned elevation on gravel is so rewarding)

At the intersection of Forest Service roads 84 and 828 take a right and ride downhill (more downhill gravel yeet yeet) on FS 84 to the Rowlands Creek Trailhead on the left. Roll down Rowlands Creek until a left on Old 84 Trail. Old 84 is a nice contour trail that begs to be ridden fast (because you're gonna wann get it over as soon as possible)! Ride it until it ends back or Forest Service road 84 and roll it back (more downhill gravel?   really?) to Whitetop Road.


Cross Whitetop Road and jump back on the Iron Mountain trail which ascends (actually slogs as you drag your bike up stairs and loose rocks) up to the Straight Branch Shelter...

stay on IMT and roll the ridge which is characterized by sharp uphills and downhills with lots of exposed rocks and small boulders (boulders?). At Shaw Gap, you'll look for a left and then a right following the left (what did you just say?) with signage pointing to Beartree Gap Trail. 

Use Beartree Gap trail to descend back to the start and enjoy the thrilling cobbled chutes and sweeping turns (those descriptors did not align with my experience, quite cobble free and I rarely felt swept)!  

(the original ride start... where because my "route" had ended, I no longer had an arrow to follow on my computer... and the next trail wasn't showing up on my Wahoo)

Merde, merde, merde!

Shortly after entering the Beartree Recreation Area on Beartree Gap Road, there is a parking area on the right that has a porta potty and a map kiosk. Ride out of the Parking area and back down to Hwy 58, where you take a left and ride a short distance to the Straight Mountain Trail. Straight Mountain Trail is a rarely used doubletrack (that starts off as a vague power line cut that feels like anything but a trail), so expect some downed trees. The trail steadily climbs up to a ridge and then quickly descends (I actually had fun here) back to the fishing lake (never saw the lake) at Beartree where you pedal up the asphalt road to its termination at the trailhead for Straight Branch Trail and the campground. Water is available here at the bathhouse for the campground. Straight Branch Trail is roughly half a mile of climbing and just a bit less than a mile of descending (which actually was a pleasant way to end up back at the car... aside from riding through my hundreth spider web).

Just me now...

I can't complain.  I trusted a stranger who had access to the internet.  I had great company all day long.  I also had the privilege of going to the mountains and riding my bike in the woods.  It was better than doing nothing, and we hardly had more than a mist in the air to contend with weather-wise.  I do want to get back up to the area to ride someday, as I remember a totally different experience on a ride... well over a decade ago?

Also... man, do horses fuck shit up or what?

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