Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day One Hundred-eighteen, 090626 - BRP#3 Asheville, NC

Day One Hundred Eighteen, Date Friday, June 26, 2009
Time in Saddle: 8:03
Distance for the Day: 63.19 miles From BRP SC#2 To BRP SC#3
Accumulated Trip Distance: 5637.57 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 6028’/4083’, Highest: 6051’ Accumulated: 5371’
Speeds: Avg: 7.8 mph, Max: 44.0 mph
Weather: 65° mostly clear, becoming partly and then mostly cloudy by evening
Expenditures: $72

I got up this morning at 5:46am, broke down my tent, packed everything away, and was ready to go by 6:15am. Had a great view of the sunrise, and took pictures of it. In my previous life as a worker-bee, I was never an early morning person, and rarely ever experienced the transition from dark into day. It’s rather beautiful, and I highly recommend it; not just being up and making coffee in the kitchen (or whatever), but actually just going outside and watching it happen without distractions. I noticed I was running a little low on liquids, again – only 1.5 qts of Gatorade left – I would have to conserve it, and if necessary, use up some of my small store of powdered Gatorade. The air quality here at higher altitudes became cooler and drier – a nice change from the heat and humidity of a few days ago, and that also meant no mosquitoes (yes!) However, to take their place were these annoying gnats that would gather in a distractive cloud in front of my face when I was stuck having to go slow on the uphills. I put on my face mask to keep from sucking any of them in, breathing, and tried to ignore them as best I could. If I went faster than 6mph, or if there was a breeze, or sometimes if there was a rush of air after some motorcycles pass (oddly, though they are bigger, cars don’t leave very big wakes), the gnats would be temporarily swept out of the way. For a short while, I would snap at them with my hand to try to catch and kill them, but quickly got tired of doing that, and it seemed for every one I killed, two more were ready to take it’s fallen brother’s place. Aughhh! I knew I was coming up to some services on Mt. Pisgah, and could afford to use my water supply to do some washing up. So, at the “Cradle of Forestry Overlook,” elevation of 4710’ I washed my hair right there in the parking lot. It was early enough in the day, not one other vehicle even drove by to witness this peculiar event, for which I was grateful, but truth be told: I didn't really care. I'm starting to get a permanent triple-mohawk kind of look, caused by the wind passing through the air passages in my helmet for 8 to 10 hours a day, every day. It's quite stylish, actually, if a bit scary looking. (I don't take my helmet off when I go to restaurants, libraries, or ask permission to camp - I don't want to put people off.) It's probably time to get another haircut.

There was a light overcast in the sky, which kept the temperature cooler at about 70°, and the terrain was a little less severe than those first 35 miles of the BRP, but there were still plenty of grades to choose from. Level or nearly level stretches of road were rare and short – the BRP was pretty much either up, or down, and that is tough on ones’ knees and legs. I stopped in at the Mt. Pisgah Visitor Center at about 10:30am, recharged my notebook battery, and bought a celebratory lunch of BBQ pork ($17), in addition to restocking up on food and liquids ($12) at the store. I met another cyclist, Jeff, who gave me advice and info on the road ahead, and also a $20 donation for the cause (*thanks*)! I took off again at 1:12pm, and made Asheville by 3pm. Jeff had recommended a great bike shop right off the BRP, and I found the exact same Topek bike tool ($38) that I’d lost; that was a relief. I got more fluids at the grocery store next door ($5) and continued back up the BRP at 3:47pm. Up and down, down and up, but the views made all the work worth it. There’s no argument about it: the Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful. The road, while shoulderless, is lightly traveled enough to allow the easy passage of cars – sometimes conjunctions would occur (me, and vehicles coming from both directions coming into alignment at the same time), but everyone behaved admirably, and except for one instance, where one of those large, bus-sized motorhomes unwisely decided to “go for it,” and zoom around me in the face of oncoming traffic, forcing the oncoming traffic to stop or get hit, nothing bad ever happened. Oh, but about the BRP: the road winds its way through tall forests, past rock walls with flowering bushes, wide vistas of distant, misty (smokey) mountain ranges, ranchlands with cows or horses or hayfields with huge rolls of already harvested hay, and lots of "overlooks" - parking areas off the side of the road - many of which that have exhibits and/or trails.

It was getting on toward evening when I found a suitable stealth camp location off the side of the road. (N35 40.501’ W82 26.163’) It was just a wide, grassy area with trees beyond that formed an inside corner around the grass. I figured I could park and cloak my trike in the corner, away from the road, and hang my hammock inside the trees. I pulled out my book and read it, waiting until it was too dark to read, and then implemented my plan. It worked well, and I had a nice, untroubled sleep, without the worry or rain or mosquitoes. The temperature was very mild, and a breeze started up around midnight which made things even nicer. Ahhhh!


Jim said...

Hi Don - Great to meet you on the BRP late yesterday. You were just setting up your tent next to a picnic table near the highest point on the BRP ... when I rode up on my motorcycle ... and, a ranger came up to "suggest" other places to camp. I'm amazed at your adventure and have enjoyed reading your blog. You've re-inspired my dream of taking off into the wild blue yonder. Many thanks and safe travels. I'll look forward to keeping up with you, Jim Manring PS: Enjoy the facilities at Mt. Pisgah. Jim

June 26, 2009 8:38 AM

obi_donkenobi said...

Hi Jim: Ah, yes - I remember you, and the "campsite." I hope you get to live your dream, as I am living mine, now. I can tell you - it's a wonderful feeling that money can't buy. ;-Don