January 2006
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Day January 2, 2006

new years outing

i wanted to kick off the new year on a positive note, so what would make me more happy than a day in the mountains! i woke up early and met kevin tumlin, bill & alisa and their niece & her husband up in the blue ridge mtns. we got on our bikes at 10:15am near skeenah gap campground (flashbacks from ngar!) and rode down doublehead gap road. there we split up: alisa & noelle took a shorter route (down doublehead gap then up noontootla creek road), while the rest of us headed up old rock creek road to FS69. we took a break to see the trout at the fish hatchery, then met up with FS42, taking us up to winding stairs gap. we met the gals there and rode down noontootla/FS58 to three forks.

waterfall just a bit north of the three forks start point.

we stashed our bikes in the woods there, put on our hiking shoes, and set off on the benton mackaye trail. this is a great trail -challenging, but scenic. the weather was nice & mild (temps got into the low 50s i think) and as long as we kept moving, the chill stayed away (oh, except for the downhills while biking. that was chilly!) night fell shortly before we crossed the swinging bridge over the toccoa and on went our headlamps. (i almost didn’t bring mine – didn’t think we’d be out this late!) following the ridgeline up tooni mtn, the wind picked up a good bit and we had a few snow flurries (at least i’m calling it such – unfortunately i haven’t seen any yet this season! ‘course i’d better not say that with 2 big winter races coming up…)

we got back to our cars shortly before 8pm, giving us almost a 10hr training day. it was a bit slower than i think we normally would have gone, but noelle and will are from the flatlands of south georgia, so the mountainous terrain was quite different for them (although they did a great job with it). (besides, it a laid back base-building training day – no need to hammer!) the bike was about 19 miles and the hike 11.4 (and included 3300′ of elevation gain alone! not sure what our gain on the bike was.) after driving to get our bikes (a bigger deal than originally thought, with a fallen tree and road washout preventing access via doublehead gap rd), we ate a gourmet late night dinner at the ellijay waffle house.