|Sunrise over the Black Canyon|
Having spent a good portion of my youth in the southeast dreaming of ice, snow, and craggy mountains, I made a break for the Rockies as soon as the opportunity arose. In the decade since, for various reasons (including humidity, traffic, Atlanta), I’ve probably not seen my family as often as we’d all like. However, with my parents retiring and moving to Asheville, NC, where there’s significantly less traffic and humidity, visitation may begin to increase. Adding in that Asheville is also home to a sister and her family, along with Grandma, multiple aunts, uncles, cousins, lots of mountain biking, rivers, breweries, it’s not Atlanta, and a ridge top yurt, visiting gets sweeter.
|Clementine, my niece|
Yurt, you say? Like that round tent that the moguls patented a couple of years ago?
40 years ago, my Dad bought land in the backwoods of western North Carolina and hand-built a two story log cabin on the valley floor. Since retiring and moving back to NC, my parents have reclaimed the cabin and have been working to build a yurt higher up on the ridge as their anytime retreat. Hidden on the hillside among the poplar trees with spring fed, gravity powered running water and a view of the setting sun, it’s a lovely spot.
|Leaf prints in 40+ year old chinking|
Looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains from the solitude of the yurt is as deceiving as a siren’s song, for hidden beneath those gently forested ridges lies a truth I’d forgotten in the years between visits.
They’re steep and rugged. Trails run straight up the ridge to a summit and turn straight down the proceeding ridge. Riding a bike down them is an absolute blast; covered in roots and rock from every direction creating a puzzle of drops and jumps, twists and turns. Dark tunnels through the laurel and rhododendron that have the uncanny ability to close in further when the trail is at it’s most demanding. Riding to the top is laughable. Large sections of trail (miles) require pushing and/or carrying your bike up the hill, fighting vegetation the entire time. What takes an hour or more to hike-a-bike up takes minutes to ride down. I have a love for technical riding and won’t shy away from ascents or descents, however, the key word there is RIDING. While adventure was high, I questioned if the effort was worth the rides on a whole. In my mind West is best, no apologies.
A few final thoughts on the trip:
- I will not miss riding or walking through countless spider webs. If it ever becomes an issue back home, I’d think about moving.
- I’m terribly spoiled with trail access and the riding in my hood
- The forests are dense, I missed the openness of home
- Bring lighter sunglasses next time (dense forests)
- Next trip, the bikes stays home. I’m bringing my paddle and boat
- Put your bike in a hockey bag, smile at the ticket clerk when it checks in less than 50lbs and pay your $25 baggage fee. Walk away quickly
|Live Caged or Die|