Road trip part 1: Steele Creek

We’re back in Ohiopyle now, so I can get to writing some of this stuff down. The big loop around the Southern US was the biggest trip I’ve taken. We covered a lot of ground, and saw some cool stuff. It was good.

We left Ohio in the afternoon following Colleen’s surprisingly stressful graduation. My good friend the Birdman graciously agreed to let us roost in his nest for the night in Charleston, West Virginia. While we were there, he graciously let us listen to his newborn chick making noises on the baby monitor, while graciously regurgitating dinner into our mouths.

The next morning, we headed south for Pisgah. A few hours into the drive, we weren’t having a very good time, so I found a trail system called Steele Creek in Tennessee.

“Water erosion has cause this trail to be very rough. Some parts can cause mere death if not careful,” said a reviewer on Singletracks, who was either very unafraid of death, or unsure how to correctly use “mere”. Either way,  the risk of mere death sounded great.

The trails were steep, fun, and chokingly green.

Steele Creek

At one point, I descended a big hill, followed some moto tracks into a stream, then realized that I was pretty lost. I wandered around for a while, trying to decide which way to go and scratching my legs on all the scratchy plants. Finally I turned around and went back to the top of the ridge. I’m glad that I did, because when I got back and checked a map, I figured out that the trail kept going until it ran into the next town.

Eventually I found my way back to the car and Colleen, who was taking pictures of ducks. We loaded up, and finished the drive to Pisgah.

By the time we got there, we could have each eaten full small buffalo.

“Mexican or barbecue?” I asked.

“Mexican,” she said. Always the wrong choice. She was served the most disgusting, soupy, shredded lettuce chicken salad I’ve ever seen. I laughed a little, which made her a little mad.

Then we headed into the forest. Since staying at campgrounds would break our budget, my plan was to camp in a free primitive spot,  then sneak into the Davidson River Campground to steal a shower. Which sort of worked.

We walked down the dark trail, then into the campground like we owned the place, towels slung confidently around our necks. We were immediately intercepted by a campground host.

“Are you guys in that RV? I need you to move it,” he said.

“No, we’re camped over there,” I said, pointing in the general direction of our spot in the woods.

“What’s your site number?” he said.

“Uh…I can’t remember,” I said, very convincingly. Colleen stared at something on the ground.

“I just saw you walk out of those woods,” said the old guy. Then he smiled. “If you’re here to use the showers, just go ahead. Use them.”

I thanked him, and got the impression that he stole a few showers when he was younger.

After getting clean, we headed back into the woods, and sat around a tiny fire for a while. Then we crawled in the tent. I was ready to do a big ride the next morning.

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