Monthly Archives: May 2018

On A Steel Horse I Ride.

Well, this holiday weekend has pretty much been a bust. Dealing with the GDPR, Russians (seriously, the stuff you hear about is absolutely true), and lousy weather all conspired to make this a pretty much pointless weekend. I guess the real surprise would be if it was different – most of my weekends are pointless.

I did at least get out on the motorbike on Saturday between crises and weather. Logged a good 50 miles on the bike, just to give the new Mustang saddle a thorough tryout. In a word, it’s awesome. It’s definitely more comfortable, but more importantly, because of the way it’s made, I don’t slide back when giving the bike the beans like I did on the stock saddle. Money well spent.


Of course, it wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t an “incident”. In this case, a dog attack. I was riding on a secluded road (River Canyon Road in the video, near the T-Wall), in an area that’s best described as “Deliveranceville”, and a big, mean dog chased me. Because of the lousy road conditions (potholes, loose gravel, blah, blah), I couldn’t just “floor it” and take off, and I really didn’t want to hit her (you hit a dog in a car, and it’s bad for the dog; you hit a dog on a bike, and it’s bad for both of you). Long story short, she bit me. My expensive riding boots now have two holes in them, and my foot – well, let’s just say a dog has a lot of bite force (Newtons? Pascals? Depends on who you ask, I guess). Here’s hoping it was up-to-date on its vaccinations, but based on the area I was in, I find that highly unlikely. Swell. And I know that there are some of you who are going to say, “You should have just kicked its teeth in!” Yeah, that’s not how I roll. It’s not the pupper’s fault it’s an asshole; it’s the owner’s fault.

born to be mild

born to be mild

Wasn’t all bad, though. As I was riding through the gorge, my GoPro telemetry dropped out, the result of which was the data showing I was going 218 miles per hour, at 5500′ elevation. Obviously, both of these figures was incorrect – I was actually going about 45 MPH, at about 1500′ elevation (there’s nothing around here anywhere near 5500′ high, and the fastest I’ve ever gotten the bike was about 70 MPH; it’s a cruiser, not a sport bike, and probably couldn’t break 100 going downhill with a tailwind). But at least I got a good picture out if it. Line forms to the left, ladies.

50million-largerI guess the big news is that I crossed 50 million steps on my FitBit, fully 3 weeks ahead of my 5-year FB anniversary target. As with everything in my life, there was no fanfare, no brass band, no nothing, unless you count the asshat in the FitBit group who basically called bullshit on me doing so many steps. Yeah, suck my ass, guy. It’s a good thing I don’t really care what other people think. Now, I’m still going to keep pushing, right up to my June 15 anniversary, but after that, I may not obsess on the numbers as much. Well, mostly – I’m still pushing to get to 1000 consecutive days hitting my numbers on the AppleWatch; right now, I’m at about day 915, so only about 3 months to go on that. Following that, who knows? I may pull a Cal Ripken Jr. move and just take the watch off for a day. 1000 days is as high as the badges go, so after that, I’m not sure it matters. We’ll see.

And now, as I’m writing this, I heard a tree come down outside. Yay. It never ends. Time to wield my Mighty Chainsaw, I guess.

Full Frontal.

I’m about 3 miles into what is going to be a tough, rugged hike through Savage Gulf, on a new-to-me trail. I’ve just gone through the Great Stone Door, and I’m heading down into the gorge, which is a steep, treacherous descent. I round one of the many switchbacks heading down, when suddenly, there’s a topless girl standing right in front of me.

So, I’ll get back to that in a sec, but, yeah, Savage Gulf IV. Pretty soon, I’ll have as many Savage Gulf trips as there are Fast & Furious films. Technically, if you count the motorbike ride, I’ve been there 5 times, but we’ll treat that like Tokyo Drift; it’s part of the canon, but wasn’t really in the spirit of the other films, and there was very little Vin Diesel.

Savage Gulf adventures - click for larger

Savage Gulf adventures – click for larger

Anyway, after a not-at-all-surprising false start on Saturday (and a wasted opportunity), I headed north early Sunday morning, after a few hours at the gym. Turns out it’s only 44 miles, but it’s a slow roll, up and down mountains, through twisty – but scenic – roads. And because it’s in a different time zone, I actually gained an hour getting there; so I left at 6:00 AM; got there at 6:00 AM. That’s some real Star Trek time-travel sh*t.

Laurel Canyon - click for larger

Laurel Canyon – click for larger

As it always is, Savage Gulf was spectacular. I started off at the Great Stone Door Ranger Station; I’ve never started here, but I did hike in here from Greeter Falls a few months ago. It’s an easy hike to the Stone Door, so I decided to hit Laurel Falls first, which is a somewhat rugged loop trail near the ranger station. The falls were nice – not the best I’ve seen at SG, but worth a look. And the Great Stone Door – well, it’s just amazing, and the overlooks immediately preceding it are some of the best I’ve ever seen outside of Cloudland Canyon. Now, I’ve seen a lot on the trails – walked up on a mountain lion; was stalked by a bear; nearly stepped on a rattlesnake (twice!); and numerous other critters. But I’ve never walked up on a topless girl before (otherwise, I’d go hiking waaay more often). The girl and her two companions were taking a break on the trail, and didn’t hear me coming because they had music on their phone playing. Of course, I averted my eyes, but really, she didn’t seem to care too much – if you’ve got it, flaunt it, I always say. So, we had a nice chat – they were woefully unprepared for the gorge, and were asking me questions about the trails, the falls, etc. I left them with my map (I also had it on my phone, so I didn’t need it as badly as they did), and gave them required trailnames: Cool Breeze (because he was super-chill); No-Map (because she didn’t have a map); and – obviously – Tits McGee, which they all found hilarious. So, yay, new trail friends.

The Great Stone Door - click for larger

The Great Stone Door – click for larger

Following that encounter, I didn’t see a soul for the remaining 7 or 8 miles of the hike. Big Creek Gulf is not for the faint of heart, or the inexperienced hiker. More than 1000′ in elevation shift, and if you go down that far, eventually, you have to go back up. Because it’s a difficult trail, and therefore, less-travelled, it’s considerably more rugged. More so, the side trail to Ranger Creek Falls. This was about a mile (one way) off the main trail, but was so worth it.

After Ranger Creek Falls, the ascent back out of the gorge, and a quick 3 miles across the plateau back to the trailhead. Not a moment too soon, either – I was talking to the rangers for a few minutes, and it just started pouring. So, I hung around until the storm passed, so I wouldn’t have to drive back down the mountain in the rain. Easy-peasy, and a great adventure. With any luck, I’ll go back this weekend, and tackle the North Rim. It’s the last significant trail I need to hike at Savage Gulf. It’s long; about 15 miles, but no ascents/descents, so it should be no big deal for me. All dependant on Mother Nature.

motorbike-622
Speaking of Mother Nature, I got the motorbike back today. It’s been in the shop for the past two weeks, but now she’s home. The weather was too mediocre to go for a substantial ride today, but the quick spin I went on – wow. Much, much faster. With any luck, Friday night will be nice, and I can go downtown and hang out with the cool kids, or at least get out and open her up over the weekend. We’ll see. Next: I need to get a new saddle, but holy cow, are they pricey. My wish list is getting longer by the day – but, as they say, you can’t take it with you. And really, I need to stop watching motorcycle crashes on YouTube. Of course, at least I usually run my GoPro in case I ever have one (which the Laws of Probability dictate I most likely will). What’s the point of getting creamed on the highway if the world can’t enjoy it?

mustang
Addendum: I decided to splurge on a new saddle for the bike. The stock one suuuucks, and I’ve got too much ass for it to be sore after a long ride. These Mustang saddles are stupid expensive, so hopefully My Huge Fat Ass™ will appreciate it. Seriously, crazy expensive. I could have bought an entire La-Z-Boy, although I’m not sure how I’d attach that to the bike.

Oh, right.

Oh, right.

As if that wasn’t enough (is it ever?), I went ahead and ordered a set of Highway Hawk Fat Crash Bars. The purpose of these is to (hopefully) help keep your legs from getting crushed if you get broadsided, or to help protect the innards of the bike if it falls over. These are much heavier that standard crash bars, which is just what I wanted. You’ll see in their stock photo (below), there are highway pegs [footrests] installed in the crash bar – I dunno if I’ll do that; I always thought dudes with their legs all stretched out looked a little dopey. That, and I like to have my feet closer to the actual controls.

Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself.

Hopefully I’m not jinxing myself.

I think that’s enough shopping for today – it’s amazing how much money I can spend sitting at my desk. Oh, wait – I also need a luggage rack…

Link:
Big Creek Gulf Photo Album on Facebook

Déjà Vu All Over Again.

Yesterday, I intended to go fly at one of my favorite spots, Insurance Bluffs. The last time I flew there, I got some great footage, but spring had not yet sprung, so everything was still gray and yucky. Now that the greenery has returned, I wanted to get some new film (why do we call it that?), but it wasn’t meant to be – the entire back side of the PCSF was closed for some reason. Oh, bother. I could have walked back to the bluffs (only vehicle traffic was forbidden), but I wasn’t properly equipped for a 10-mile hike – no pack, only a little water (and I’ve done that hike before). So, I decided to hike a little elsewhere – there are a few short roads and trails I want to explore, and since I couldn’t go fly, I went with that. Nothing long or dangerous enough that I’d need my gear.

Anyway, in hiking Sheep Rock, I came to a stand of massive pine trees in a flat, open area that very much reminded me of the aptly-named Pine Island in Florida, where I spent a lot of time growing up. It was uncanny how much this area resembled Florida, almost as if the Universe was trying to tell me something. I’m listening, OK?

Sheep Rock on my maps is a loop. No more. For whatever reason, it’s been broken up into two roads that don’t connect, which I now know because I walked both of them. Not a particular exciting or challenging hike, but it fills in another section of the Master Adventure Map.

Following that, a little driving around on the trails, just to see what there was to see, and to scout some future hiking/flying/biking locations. The little Jeep handled the trails quite well, including pulling off a nice wheel stand on one of the more rugged trails.

Wheel stand!

Wheel stand!

The weekend wasn’t a total loss, though – Saturday, I got in some amazing flying. First, a long hike in and around Edwards Point, which is one of the places I’d really been looking forward to flying.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

Now, I’ve done Edwards Point before – in fact, one of the best hikes I ever went on was here on a foggy day years ago. Another time, I got caught in a wildfire, and had to take the long, long way back around to the trailhead. So, to make this one different, after the fully-loaded 2.5-mile hike in (and flying!), I decided to follow one of the Jeep trails to see where it led (in the hopes I could bring the Jeep down here some day). Eventually, my map and compass indicated that I wasn’t going to meet back up with the trail as I hoped, so I decided to really challenge myself, and go off-trail. Basically, just going through the woods in the direction of the trail I wanted to intersect with. Clearly, I was able to find my way out, but it was tough. My legs are cut to ribbons from the thorns, and my path took me to a point about 200 feet above the trail, with no clear route down. So, I had to follow the ridge for a little ways, then actually climb down the ridge – with no ropes or climbing gear – to get back on the trail. An awesome challenge – but my legs are shredded.


But the flying was worth it! Unfortunately, there were some campers on the Point, so I didn’t exactly get to do the flying I wanted to, but I got some good footage, nonetheless. Equally sad, there was trash everywhere. I’m going to go back in a few weeks and try again, and take trash bags to clean up the mess. That area should be pristine, not littered with empty beer cans from the locals. C’mon, people – don’t be dicks.

That wasn’t all, though. After Edwards Point, I decided to head to nearby Falling Water Falls. You’ll recall that the last time I was there (on my bike), I did one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done on a trail, and I’m still surprised I didn’t end up all dead. And all in the interest of some good photos. Not this time – this time, because I was going to fly, there was no need to hang over the side. And footage – just wow. It speaks for itself.


I want to go back and fly more here. When I dropped down in front of the waterfall, I lost the GPS signal, which kinda freaked me out (the prospect of my super-expensive toy flying into the falls and crashing to the rocks below, y’know). So, in my excitement and/or nervousness, my cinematography wasn’t that great. Now that I know what to expect, I can plan it out better when I return. Plus, I saw people far up above the falls; therefore, there must be a trail there, which I intend to find.

There’s been other stuff going on, as well. Another trip to Huntsville (but no hiking; weather), a great flight at Snooper’s Rock, and I’m crushing my numbers on the Fitbit. As of now, I’m at 49.5 million steps, so it looks like I’ll hit my goal of 50 million by my 5-year anniversary in June. I’m also in the home stretch on the Apple Watch; less than 100 days to go to hit 1000 consecutive days hitting my goals. I also scouted Enterprise South and Bauxite for mountain biking, and took a trip to Cleveland to walk the greenway. I got the dashcam hardwired into the Jeep (and it’s amazing), and hopefully, I’ll be getting the motorbike out of the shop this week. I guess it’s going to be a busy summer – watch this space.


Link:
Edwards Point Photo Album on Facebook
ESNP, Bauxite & Cleveland Photo Album on Facebook