Monthly Archives: November 2017

Fat Bastard.

…no, not Santa. Me. They say, “Don’t be fat and ugly, go to the gym and just be ugly”. I think “they” might have been onto something there. So, obviously, that time of year again – my only holiday tradition; Santa pics with the pups. I don’t want to say it was a trainwreck, but it was a trainwreck – because reasons. Still, a half-way decent pic this year; probably the best of the 5 times we’ve done it. It is practically impossible to get a decent photo of all 4 of us – me, Santa, Blackjack and Tonka. So, they shoot 5 or 6 shots, and I simply pick out the least-worst of the lot. Sorta like playing chess, when you know you have no good moves left. Nonetheless, it’s done, and I guess I’m glad I’ve documented us once more for posterity. I’d really like a great pic of me and the boys – I need to find a photographer.

Probably the best of the lot, not that that is saying much – click for larger

Probably the best of the lot (especially after my Photoshop magic), not that that is saying much – click for larger

These old ones – ugh. Turbo ugh. I think that girl who said I was single because I’m…unattractive might have been on to something. At the very least, I don’t photograph well, unless I’m wearing the motorbike helmet or a paper sack.

Who knows, maybe by next year, I’ll be prettier. I don’t think that’s how the Universe works, though, and sadly, Photoshop doesn’t have enough filters to help much.

Savage Gulf.

This weekend, whew.

Savage Gulf Trailhead - click for larger

Savage Gulf Trailhead – click for larger

It was a motocycle adventure. I had planned this for Saturday, but the weather was iffy, so I went shopping instead. Because of course I did. Went to the 4 X 4 shop, as I’m wanting to put a winch of the front of the Jeep. Not that I want to be one of “those people” you see bouncing around in the woods, but more just in case I happen to get myself stuck while looking for a new trailhead or other adventure. It’s gonna run about 2 grand, all told – we’ll see. I’ve kinda been on a spending bender lately, and I need to reel that in. I think.

Anyway, Sunday, Mother Nature was far more cooperative, so I saddled up and pointed the bike north, to the Savage Gulf SRA. This was going to be a true adventure – I’ve never been here before, and had no idea what road conditions would be like, although the maps I looked at promised twisty mountain roads; the maps were correct. The ride was uneventful, and I logged 75 miles round-trip – by far the farthest ride ever on this particular bike. The winds on the plateau were fierce, and I got my workout in by wrestling the bike up and down the mountain – it’s surprising how much of a toll this takes on you. No idea what the calorie burn was, but over the course of a 3-hour ride, I’m sure it was good.

Now, to go back and actually hike the trails at Savage Gulf. They certainly sound compelling, with signs at the trailhead warning of high bluffs and death and what-not. And with a name like “Rattlesnake Point”, you know there’s going to be some interesting stuff. The SRA is far too large to hike in one day; I suspect I’ll spend the next couple of weekends here (and if you look at that link, I rode in to the Savage Gulf Ranger Station of SR399, on the far right [east] of the map).

Of course I ran my mapping tools. Click for larger

Of course I ran my mapping tools. Click for larger

So, I guess the ride could be considered a “pre-hike” – half the challenge of exploring a new area is finding it. Now that it’s found, time to get the boots dirty. And hopefully, not take a plunge off a bluff.

Cool Rider.

5k-2017-smI guess doing a 5K on a holiday is a good way to start the day – especially a holiday notorious for food. Too much food. Now, doing a 5K isn’t justification for going completely nuts (and I actually did about 7K this morning), but at least it offsets the forthcoming bad decisions. And listen, every now and then, you need to indulge. It’s good for the soul. But don’t go crazy, OK?

In other news, I finally got some good motorbike pics. Pretty much all the pics I’ve posted here or on Instagram have been shot using my bluetooth shutter release or timer. That’s why none of them are especially good (well, that and my face). No more – I’ve finally been able to demonstrate just how cool I actually am – or something.

Go fast now - click for larger.

Go fast now – click for larger.

bike-1-small

bike-2-small

bike-3-small

I’m pretty pleased with the results. I have practically no photos of my old bikes, mostly because that was in the era of film, so it was pricey to blow out 200 photos just to get 10 really good ones. Now, you can just go nuts, and the only investment is the time to download, convert and edit them.

In addition to awesome photos, I shot some GoPro video, because of course I did. Something new, though – I mounted the GoPro on the back of the Jeep, facing rearward, and then followed the Jeep down the highway (clearly, someone else was driving the Jeep – I’m good, but not that good). Interesting perspective – I may have to do a longer version.

Jeep GoPro Mount - click for larger

Jeep GoPro Mount – click for larger

Oh, and I got my new motorbike jacket, and it’s great. However, between it and the leather chaps, I kinda look like one of the Village People. I don’t care; who am I trying to impress? No one, that’s who.

OK, I’m trying to please everyone. Just shut up.

As for the rest of the day, meh. The usual. No real complaints, though. Surprisingly. And hey, Stephanie Zinone? I’m right here.


Addendum: Well, not totally the usual. I did get out for a little bit (story), and ended up getting the I-just-washed-it-yesterday-Jeep all good and muddy. Didn’t go nuts in the mud, but it’s nice to know that if the need arises, it does quite well in the slop. Here I come, off-the-beaten-path trails.

My Name is Mud - click for larger

My Name is Mud – click for larger

Links:
Cool Rider Photo Album on Facebook
Muddy Jeep Photo Album on Facebook

Holiday Malaise.

Yeah, it’s that time of year again. My own personal opinions about the holidays aren’t really important (nor are the reasons for the opinions I have), but if you’re trying to be healthy, this time of year is a minefield. No speeches, no lectures, just remember, temptation is everywhere. Stay on track, avoid the pie, lay off the eggnog.

Ketner's Mill - click for larger

Ketner’s Mill – click for larger

To help deal with the holiday blahs, a little adventure always helps. Saturday, this took the form of a motorbike ride. I received the GoPro helmet mount I ordered, so I wanted to try that out. Even though it was a little chilly, I saddled up and headed for Ketner’s Mill; one of my favorite rides. First thing in the morning, it’s an awesome ride, even in the chilly temps. The Helmetcam™ worked out nicely, as well.


I finally ordered a new motorcycle jacket. The one I wear now I just love – it’s a Hard Rock Las Vegas jacket; was hard to find, and stupid expensive. But it’s waaay too big now – a good problem to have. I’ve been trying to find another one in the proper size, but no luck, so I ordered something else. We’ll see.

Insurance Bluffs - click for larger

Insurance Bluffs – click for larger

Sunday, more adventure. I pointed the Jeep over to one of my favorite stomping grounds, Insurance Bluffs. My first off-road adventure with the new wheels and off-road tires, and they performed great. Just a little bit of hiking on the bluffs, as well as at Davis Pond and Snooper’s Rock. And since I’ve been playing with the GoPro, I decided use the suction cup mount and roll a little film. OK, it’s not actually “film”, but “rolling a little ones and zeros” doesn’t have the same charm, and kinda sounds like a drug reference.


And, of course, there are more videos from these and all my other adventures on my YouTube channel. I suspect most of the videos are kinda boring – just keep watching; maybe someday you’ll see me run over by a dump truck or something equally compelling.

Despite the holiday malaise, I have something potentially pretty cool planned for later this week – Mother Nature permitting, as always. Watch this space. In the meantime, stick to your goals, mind your diet, lift heavier, and celebrate – or don’t celebrate – the holidays exactly the way you want to.

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aristotle

This weekend, a different kind of adventure. Not exploring some remote trail, or paddling waves in the middle of the river, or bicycling to a distant waterfall. Nope, something different, yet familiar.

The mall.

"I love the smell of commerce in the morning." - Brodie

“I love the smell of commerce in the morning.” – Brodie

The weather Saturday was forecast to be cold and cloudy, so I put off the trip I had planned to take (maybe next weekend!) – as it turned out, of course, it ended up being a perfect day. Still, I had shopping I needed to do, so I decided to head for the mall. Now, I like shopping, but I generally only travel to the alleged “big” mall about once a year, because the traffic is just such a CF over there, especially this time of year. Nonetheless, it was a productive trip; the goal was to find some proper warm-weather hiking pants, as I plan to hike throughout the winter. As for that, mission accomplished. And not just that, but other hiking apparel, as well. Yeah, not very glamorous, but necessary.

The only thing I struck out on was a new motorcycle jacket. My awesome Hard Rock Las Vegas one (the one I’m wearing in most of my videos) is now waaaay too big. I guess that’s a good problem to have. But I need a new, smaller one, and the HRC ones are very hard to find, not to mention expensive. So, I went to the local Harley shop; no love there, and no surprise; as well as another bike shop. At least I have a better idea of the size I know, so I guess I’ll look online. Puttering around in the Jeep all day was nice – I like my BHT (big huge truck), but it’s a pain to drive, especially in congestion. The Jeep is a pleasure to drive, especially with all the gadgetry.

bike-jeep-smallSunday, a ride on the motorbike. The weather is about to the point where it’s going to be too cold to ride, but I headed out regardless, with the temps hovering around 45 degrees. At 55 MPH, that converts to a wind chill of around 30, but the leather chaps I picked up a few weeks ago did a great job keeping me warm. Had it been sunny, I would have been even more toasty.

The ride wasn’t a long one, nor was it intended to be. Just some new ground on the bike – in this case, a quick buzz through downtown, then up on the freeway (well, technically, a highway, but it’s 6 – 8 lanes wide, with a 65 MPH speed limit, so, whatever). I went out before daylight, which is the first time I’ve actually been out on this bike in the dark. Riding in the dark basically doubles the danger of being on a bike – much less reaction time for road hazards, and more frightening, the possibility of deer darting out in the road. The route I ride always has deer; I generally see 6 or 8 regularly on the way to the gym. Still, riding in the dark is amazing – it’s like flying. All you can really see is the little headlight-illuminated area right in front of you (although the Cobra light bar I installed on my bike – the two smaller headlights on each side on the main headlight – helps dramatically). Anyway, by the time I got downtown, it was just starting to get light, so i was able to tackle my main objective – the perpetually-under construction bridge across the river. Because the road is considered a freeway, I’ve never walked or bicycled across it, so going over in the motorbike was a bit exciting. And fast. The speed limit through the construction zone is 45, then jumps to 55, then 65 on the non-construction section. Going that fast on two wheels is an awesome experience, especially early in the morning with little traffic.


Hopefully, this won’t be the last ride of the season; I guess that’s up to Mother Nature. There are still a few trips I want to take, and I’m already planning a trip in the spring (which will require a motorcycle trailer for the Jeep). And there are more non-motorbike adventures in the works – they say, “Everybody has to be somewhere”; well, I intend to be everywhere. Life is short, y’know?

Dangerboy.

So, this was one of those days where things just kinda went off the rails. For starters, this whole time change thing. Can we just be done with this? Stupid farmers. Threw off my sleep schedule, and now it’s going to get dark about 3 in the afternoon. Depressing winter weather is officially here – even if it was 75 degrees today. If it’s gonna be winter, can we at least get some snow, so I can have some fun in the Adventure Buggy? Please?

Foster Falls - click for larger

Foster Falls – click for larger

Aaanyway, I had this whole hike planned out. I’ve done Foster Falls, and I’ve done the adjacent Fiery Gizzard to the northwest. The Fiery Gizzard Trail runs through this whole area, so the plan today was to do the middle section – 16 miles R/T – that connect the two. Went to the gym, and pointed myself towards Tracy City about 5:30 AM, since it would be light earlier (OK, I guess there is one upside to the time change). Because of the distance, I intended to move somewhat quickly – 16 miles would still take a good 7 or 8 hours. Then, Murphy. At about mile 3, I rolled my ankle. Badly. Luckily (I guess?), this was just before the steep, slippery descent into the gorge – so, I decided not to go down on wet rocks and one gimpy ankle. See, it’s not just down, it’s back up the other side. And then the whole thing again on the way back. But rather than simply turning around and heading to the trailhead, I looked at my maps, and saw there were several old logging roads about a half-mile through the woods. I love going off-trail, when it’s reasonably safe, but these logging roads – this is where danger lives. Bears and mountain lions both frequent these types of areas, so vigilance is required – both my previous bear and mountain lion encounters have occurred on exactly this kind of terrain. Luckily, no carnivores found, but I walked up on about a half-dozen deer – they didn’t bolt until I was maybe 20 yards away. They were being very still as I approached, and I didn’t see them until they ran, and yeah, that gave me a good, but brief, startle. Following that excitement, I crossed a cool old logging bridge across Little Gizzard Creek (see photos of all the bridges on Facebook), and then continued to the highway, which turned out to be 3 miles away.

From there, about 2.5 miles back to the Foster Falls trailhead. By the time I got back, my ankle felt a little bit better, so I stopped at the Adventure Buggy and dumped off my gear, with the intention of a quick hike up the power line right-of-way next to the falls. Well, one thing kinda led to another, and after winding up *back* at the highway, I once more headed back to Foster Falls, but decided to cut through the woods on a trail I found. This trail led back to the power line, and to another, unmarked trail which meandered towards the bluffs downstream of Foster Falls.

overlook-622This is one of the great things about going off-trail; you never know what you’ll find. In this case, I found an old, abandoned overlook which looked down on Little Gizzard Creek. Super rickety, totally unsafe, so of course I went out on it. And after that, and old trail that led back to the falls. I guess this was the original trail down to the base, before a better one was constructed. It was really, really tough going (especially on a bad stem), but totally worth it. And once i made it to the bottom of the gorge, I rock-skipped off-trail to the very base of Foster Falls (where the picture at the top was taken). I am, indeed, Dangerboy.

After all of this, just a quick hike back up to the top, following the “official” trail, easy-peasy. So, I didn’t make my 16 miles, and I didn’t fill in all the gap between the two previously-hiked trails, but I did log some good miles, saw some cool stuff, and lived up to my trail name. I guess that can be considered a success. Actually, as long as I don’t get killed on one of my adventures, that’s good enough. And y’know, even if I do, that’s cool, as well – I’d much rather get killed on a bluff, on the motorbike, on a trail or on the water than on the sofa. To that end, I’m in the planning stages of something stupid dangerous; the less you know, the happier you’ll be.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

To put everything in perspective, I composited my recent activities in the area onto one satellite map. This is today’s hike, my previous Foster Falls hike, the Fiery Gizzard & Denny Cove hikes, and the Monteagle to Sewanee Mountain Goat Trail bike ride. I’m sure there will be more to come here – I think I even know what my next trek will be – watch this space.

South Cumberland Adventures - click for larger

South Cumberland Adventures – click for larger

Link:
Foster Falls/Fiery Gizzard/Highway 41 Hike Photo Album on Facebook

The Adventure Buggy.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t often have what I would consider a “perfect day”, but today was pretty friggin’ close. A two-state, two-activity adventure, a new friend, and some stunning scenery.

The Adventure Buggy - click for larger

The Adventure Buggy – click for larger

Before I get into that, I (finally) received the new wheels/tires for the Jeep. They look great, but more importantly, the off-road tires (BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2, if you care)(which you don’t) will allow me to get to more remote trailheads, mountain bike trails, kayak put-ins, etc – not to mention, if we ever get snow again, I won’t have to skip the gym. Priorities, right? Bonus: the tire pressure sensors (which display the tire pressure of each tire on the onboard computer) were detected/linked with no re-programming or anything. That’s some real James Bond sh*t right there. On the truck, if one of the tires looks low, I have to get out my trusty pressure gauge and test the thing. Like an animal.

So, to put them to the test, after the gym this morning (natch), I rolled up to Lookout Mountain in the foggy, pre-dawn hours. The goal: Sunset Rock and Lula Lake. Stunningly, I’ve never been to either (although I did stop at the Sunset Rock trailhead on my Coolidge Park-to-Rock City mountain bike ride a couple years ago). No more. It was actually still dark when I got to the Sunset Rock trailhead, and (amazingly) I loitered around the parking lot until there was enough light to see the trail. It was crazy foggy and super slippery, so going over the side of the mountain in the dark I decided would kinda put the kibosh on the capering. Discretion is the greater part of scaredy-catness – or something like that. Right? Right.

The hike wound up being more than I planned, because of course it did. Following Sunset Rock, I decided to explore a little bit of the trail (Lula Lake doesn’t open until 9, so I had an hour to kill). Long story short, instead of just puttering around Sunset Rock, I hiked (and did some trail running – luckily, I planned ahead enough to wear my Brooks Cascadia 12 GTX trail runners) on the Bluff Trail to Point Park, then back to the trailhead through the neighborhoods of West Brow Road. Only 3 miles, but a good start to the day.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

Following Sunset Rock and Point Park, the main objective: the Lula Lake Land Trust, which is across the border in Georgia. I know many people who’ve gone here – mostly my dog-walking friends – but I’ve never been. No real reason, it was just a bucket-list thing, and I’m emptying that bucket.

Entrance to Lula Lake - click for larger

Entrance to Lula Lake – click for larger

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was amazing. OK, that was pretty fine.

Lula Falls - click for larger

Lula Falls – click for larger

Because of yesterday’s rains, Rock Creek was running strong. Mother Nature is up to something, because the temperature was in the 60s (and, y’know, this is November), but it was still really, really foggy. I don’t mind that, though. It’s just a different perspective versus a sunny day, and the fog “traps” the sounds of the forest, so the creek was quite loud. Water features are my favorite. While bluffs have their own appeal, creeks, waterfalls and the like are ever-changing; what you see today will be different tomorrow. Bluffs represent stability; water represents constant change – and a place like Lula Lake provides both.

OK, that was a little philosophical. Moving on.

I ran a little GoPro along the creek, as well. I really need a gimbal for the thing (basically a gyroscope, so the video is smoother – but what am I, Spielberg?). Still, the Chesty harness would’ve been a better choice than the handlebar mount, but at least I remembered to turn the thing on this time.

After the falls, time to get serious. Well, as serious as I get on the bike. I’m just not really grindcore; I’ve seen too many MTB wrecks – I’ll get my danger on the motorbike. Still, I probably should get some pads, just so I can push the boundaries a little. Anyway, I headed up the Bluff Trail, which, as you would expect, follows the bluff to the border of the Trust a few miles away. From there, just exploring the various trails – some fast, some not so much, all somewhat slippery. Still, no major screw-ups (yay!), and after about 3 hours pedaling – but only 9.5 miles – I had covered almost all the trails, and was back at the parking lot.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

Adventures like these just underscore what a great decision buying the Adventure Buggy was. My friends all know how I labored over whether to buy, what to buy, etc. Zero regrets. I still have some things to do to it – Monday, I’m going to order a basket for the roof rack (to carry my paddle and other gear), and I think I’m going to go ahead an put a little winch on the front, just in case I ever get stuck. At the very least, I probably should get a manual winch – that would be better than nothing. In fact – and somewhat ironically – back at the parking lot, a truck very similar to mine was stuck. Just in the somewhat flat (but wet) part of the parking lot. Meanwhile, the Adventure Buggy had no issues, and it didn’t even need four-wheel drive. That’s something else really cool about it – it switches to 4WD if it needs to, or you can manually turn the little knob thingy for different terrain – snow, rock, mud, sand, etc. Pretty cool. I also figured out how to use the manual transmission last week. It’s an automatic, but you can kick the shifter over, and drive it like a clutchless manual, with 9 speeds. Frick, I remember when we all we had was a P, R, N, D, 1 & 2, and we were happy to have it. Now, I’ve got automatic gears, manual gears, plus automatic 4WD, and a bunch of 4WD options. Super-fancy.

Of course, tomorrow is another day, and I already have something planned. With any luck, I’ll knock out the last section of Foster Falls/Fiery Gizzard. The time changes tonight (which reminds me, this is the one-year anniversary of my 100-mile Century Ride – yay, me!), so that’s gonna throw me off, I’m sure. Get to bed early tonight, get up, go to the gym, and find some adventure. This is my life, and I have few complaints.

Link:
Sunset Rock, Point Park & Lula Lake Photo Album on Facebook