Its been a little wet lately here in Asheville. Warm. But Wet. Wednesday rolled around and I decided to rescue Bruce from the perils of self employment during the crunch period, and get him out in the woods. It's been a while, but Bruce was the first person down here to introduce me to Pisgah. He lives it. And forgive me for allowing a little Asheville spirit to enter my vocabulary, but I'm pretty sure Bruce draws all his "energy" from that wild place. If you knew Bruce, you could easily draw the parallels between him and the forest: wild, unpredictable, in the moment, but like his endless number of plans, the forest has a plan for you when you clip in and start pedaling.
We rode a loop introduced to me by Ed. Start at the Hatchery Parking lot, climb 475b, drop in on some singletrack that doesn't' appear to be on the map, connect with Caney Bottom, climb some singletrack that doesn't appear to be on the map, climb some road that MAY be on the map, reach Daniel Ridge, roll down that to the bridge, climb 225 to an entrance to Long Branch, roll down that until Butter, and then return joyously to the Fish Hatch Parking lot. I like the ride because it has basically 3 extended downhills that are all singletrack, and the climbs to them are a mix of road and trail. A lot of the downhills in Pisgah get you to the bottom in a hurry. These three (Canney Bottom, Daniel's Ridge, and Long Branch/Butter Gap) are drawn out, and each offer their own style.
We climbed up 475b well enough, chatting about how Bruce's bike du jour hadn't been touched since Double Dare. The singletrack drop in was immediately interesting for Bruce, who clipped a handlebar at a good clip, and it tossed him round a few times before coming to a rest. I missed the whole thing, but it woke him up. Everything was slick; roots, rocks, leaves, bridges. The mist continued to coat everything on the trail and kept us on our toes on the fast decent to the Cove Creek campground.
The climb out was a tough one, and I was happy to make the final single track pitches to the highest portion of Daniel's. Along the climb we got a nice look at a waterfall that I've only ever seen as a trickle. It was in full force today.Daniel's is amazing. At this point probably my favorite trail in the forest. Downward trending, rocky, rooty singletrack that is tech enough to make you pick a line, but fast enough that its still a eye tearing decent at points. From the top of the ridge you descend into a large ravine, make a left hand switchback, and then ride parallel to a creek. I was just back here a month ago and didn't really remember the water. This time around, it was impossible to take my eyes off. What was typically a little stream was running high, with white water its entire length, and some pretty impressive falls alongs its course. We stopped numerous times, forgetting the riding for a moment and just enjoyed the sense of place. Even without the stream, the ravine intself feels somewhat different from the rest of the forest. More rock, wetter, greener, a little more remote, older trees, almost no Rhodo or Mt. Laurel...really an amazing place. The ever present roar of water was always audible as we splashed and slid our way down the forest.Its December, nearly the end of it at that, and the chance to ride in shorts and a jersey, and dunk your head in a roaring stream is a special feeling. A little cold. Refreshing in all the ways you need at the end of tough year. Cleansing in all the ways you need as you prepare for another year of life, and season of riding. Truly lucky to have been in the forest that day.