It was a beautiful Friday after several days of crappy and cold weather. Nace invited to take me out on these trails he rides that isn't open to the public. They are on the land of a local girl's summer camp. But because he used to work at the camp and lived in the area, he's gotten the ok and cherishes the privilege. Having heard so much about the trails I was super excited to ride them.
We parked at his friend's summer house out by the camp and got our bikes ready. We biked passed all these nice summer houses as he told me about the time he lived in the house across from where we parked. Great location and beautiful, but man, Nace said, it was cold during the winter! The houses weren't built for year-round living. And the winters got chilly. Cycling up a gravel road we got onto a short section of sweet single track - narrow and off-chamber with blue skies and views of the mountains peaking behind the forest. From there we ride through part of the camp, past the horse stables and onto this large pasture where the horses usually hang out. But it was empty. And it was beautiful. The pasture rolled upwards toward this gnarly old tree that stood on its own.
From there we get onto a double track and towards this brightly painted red gate. Nace tells me how the camp had talked about replacing the gate with a newer one, so he came out and repainted the gate to show how much life and character the gate still had.
Deeper into the woods we go and amazed that we actually have a day of blue skies. We make a sharp left turn, up a short hill and then Nace gets off his bike. "What do you see that's unusual?" Hmm...I lay my bike down and start looking around me. Nothing...but there has to be something. So I keep turning in circles, straining to figure it out. And then I look up...holy shit! A high ropes course. HIGH ropes course. No longer in use though, which makes me nervous as Nace starts climbing up it. "You can't go higher than your head!" And he's in bike shoes. (Ok, so I sometimes worry more than necessary.)
The ropes course spans across several trees. But I couldn't visually connect the course back to the tree that Nace was on. And there were actually two different heights route on the course. We may have to go back and climb to the top of one of the platforms next time...when we're not wearing bike shoes!
And then back on the bike we get and through the woods we go.
When we stop again, it's to show me this old cabin that the campers may or may not still use. I walk into it and worry whether or not my foot will go through the floor boards. This is the view from below, know where to look or you'll ride right pass it. And Nace points out a Pipsissewa plant to me. It's also known as the Striped or Spotted Wintergreen. This plant/herb was used by Native Americans and early settlers to treat kidney stones.
The trails are super fun with a little bit of everything in it: techie climbs, fast downhills, jumps and tight turns.
Some of the trails are marked with hand-made signs. "Those campers are kayakers, horse backers and sailors - not English majors," Nace said when we rolled up to the sign below. I follow Nace in and out of trails that are true to Appalachian style and follow creeks and streams.
Then we come across another cabin, a lot larger than the last one we saw. This one is at the top of a long climb and is still in use.
Sadly the last part of our ride back to the car didn't go as Nace had hoped. I got a flat. Which wouldn't have been a problem except that I brought the wrong size spare ($*!#&) and Nace's spare had a pretty major leak in it. We decided to forgo trying the patch his spare since we were close enough to a road. So Nace rode and got the truck to pick me up as I walked to the road.
Lessons learned: don't choose spare tubes by feel and a 26" tube can be stretched to fit a 29er to get you out.