Saturday, 24 December 2011

November 18th-20th, 2009

We woke up to cold, fog, and a light drizzle.  Good thing we camped underneath the pavilion or we’d all be packing wet tents.  I hate packing wet tents.  We rode over to a place close by and had breakfast.  I was so tempted to get the country buffet lunch for $5, but opted instead for eggs & ham.  Bloochdog & Banshee were going to do a little riding back home via West Virginia and so we said our goodbyes.  Amanda and I proceeded onwards down the Blue Ridge Parkway and noticed the fog started to get thicker and the drizzle became rain.  It was hard to see 5 feet in front of me and I kept losing sight of Amanda in my rear view mirrors.  This doesn’t look good.  We need to get off this road.  Amanda pulled over to the side of the road and demanded that we do not proceed any further.  I on the other hand wanted to at least get off this mountain we were on and regroup.  Amanda eventually convinced me that there were too many factors that could go terribly wrong:  Slippery road, terrible visibility, and then you add deer and other cars into the mix; you might as well jump off the cliff and end it right then and there.  Besides, I will not drag Amanda into something she’s not fully confident in.  We pulled into a scenic viewing area that was literally 4 or 5 miles south from where we had breakfast; that’s how slow we were going.  It must’ve felt like half an hour!  Groundhog Mountain it was called; it was gated up and was closed for the season.  Perfect.  This means we can sneak our bikes around the fence, pitch a tent, and nobody will bother us because cars can’t drive in.  Also, we’ll be hidden by the heavy fog.  Screw it; let’s do it.  If the cops or park rangers come hassling us, we’ll just tell them we’ll be dead if we continue down that road.  So we rode in, scoped the place out, and started setting up our tent.  It just happens that there was this old civil war watchtower we could huddle in to keep out of the rain and cook our meals.  With everything set up, we spent the rest of the day snuggled up in our tent playing cards, listening to the radio, and watching movies on our iPod. 

The next morning we got up only to see nothing but fog and rain.  Looks like we’re stuck here for another night.  We got out of the tent and into the watchtower to cook up some oatmeal for breakfast when all of a sudden from a distance, Amanda noticed someone coming over.  Sh*t.  We immediately ducked down to hide.  Is it a cop?  Ranger?  Custodian?  Who could be out here in this nasty weather?  Especially when it’s already closed for the season!  The suspense was killing us.  We kept poking our heads up to get a better look at who it was.  It turns out it was an elderly woman taking pictures.  This could be bad.  If she spots us or our tent, surely she would report us…wait a minute…she’s not suppose to be here also!  Let’s sit and wait.  An eerie silence surrounded us as we waited for the photographer to do her business and leave.  Then she started to walk closer.  Here we go.  We heard footsteps approaching the entrance to the watchtower.  By now we figure she’s seen the tent and motorbikes.  Do we say something so we don’t freak her out as she’s coming up the stairs or do we sit tight and hope she just leaves?  What do we do?  What do we do?  What do we do?  Think damn it!  Next thing we know, we hear her footsteps walking away from the watchtower.  Phew!  That was close.  We just hope she doesn’t report us.  Well, back to the tent to kill some time playing cards, listening to the radio, and watching more movies on the ipod I guess.  As we were walking out, all of a sudden the fog lifted like magic!  The sun was shining bright and we can see down the valley; it was gorgeous.  It’s the perfect opportunity for us to get off this mountain!  We didn’t get let off that easy.  5 minutes later we saw the thick fog roll back in; it was crazy.  Back to the tent we went. 
That night must’ve been the craziest night we’ve ever slept in a tent.  We could hear the thundering wind churning up on the right side of the tent and then blast us over on the left.  For the longest time I had no clue and continued sleeping, but Amanda on the other hand had the top of the tent pressing down on her face because the wind was blowing so hard.  I forgot to set up the guy lines.  Stupid mistake.  We ended up taking turns holding up the tent with one hand while the other tried to sleep.  I remember my hand freezing whenever it was my shift.  Of all the craziness, we got to experience a beautiful moment.  Amanda had to go tinkle and as she did we looked up in the sky and saw the brightest stars we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes.  It didn’t look real; as if it was some kind of special effect from a movie.  I just wish I knew how to take pictures at night.  I didn’t know you needed a tripod and the aperture set to soak the light in.  Oh well, hopefully there’s a next time. 
The next morning was a pain in the butt to break camp.  The wind never let up and it was freezing cold.  My fingers kept getting numb and I couldn’t move them.  I had to take multiple breaks to warm them up again.  Eventually we got everything packed and got our butts off the mountain.  We rode to Mt. Airy to a library to regroup.  We decided to head to Albemarle, North Carolina because someone had offered to let us stay there—MikeBike4.  What a difference in temperature off the mountain!  It was sunny and warm. 
My contempt for Groundhog Hill
Interesting camping store.  I believe we have made it into the bible belt.
We arrived at Albemarle late afternoon and tried to get in contact with MikeBike4 with no luck.  I managed to find a backcountry campsite in the Uwharrie National Forest as a backup plan.  In the meantime, we stayed in town to enjoy the Christmas parade.  There were marching bands, food, and Santa!

Lighting of the tree
Can it be?  Is he really here?
Later on in the evening we rode out to Uwharrie National Forest, set up camp, and called it a night.
In the cloak of fog.
Found solace up in the stars.
Won’t shoot my eye out!

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