I was so fired up about the AHT trail last week, that I figured I should go back again this weekend. I had a little different plan in play, but the end result was just about the same or even more. The plan was to park in the same spot and ride the other direction. I also was packing a small saw to clear out any trees that I could since I was told that this was the worst section of trail for trees.
The day did not start off that great and didn’t really improve as the day went. It started off by not getting up as early as I wanted. The night before was a little later then planned and I was on my own, so I figured a little more sleep was a good thing. Once I was on the road I made a quick stop at Poor Boy’s in hope of getting some cappuccino. Denied, they didn’t have much in there, but I could have picked up some worms and bad coffee. I got back on the road and not far there was the next gas station. I was even more disappointed with this place but gave in to pick up some coffee. Then as I turn the next corner there was another gas station that probably was my best bet, but it was too late.
Some time after this I realized that my 2 water bottles were still in the fridge at home. So, this meant I would need to stop another time to get some drinks. After all of my stops and driving, I finally made it to my parking spot only to see a truck parked there. I hoped it was the other rider that thought about meeting me, but I think it was a hunter. I did a quick look in the parking lot for my watch I lost last weekend, but no luck. The guy in the truck probably has a new watch. Oh well, it had a stinky band anyway.
After a little bit getting ready, it was about time to hit the trail. I thought I would take a picture of the AHT sign before I went. Well, the camera did not work again. I really need to get some new batteries for my camera. I put it back in the car and was on my way. With in minutes I was blessed with a big log crossing and shortly after that a steep and technical rock down hill. I was thinking to myself that with in a quarter mile of the car you will know what kind of trail to expect. I have learned that it is not uncommon to be walking several different times before you hit the 2 mile mark. But, that is part of why I am here.
This part of trail was awesome. The trees were not bad. There were a few down that I could not ride and I did stop several times to clear some more sections. As I was clearing sections I was starting to hurt myself at least once in each stop. One stop I was breaking a limb off and it snapped much easier then I thought it would and lost my balance. I fell forward and my arm scraped down the little nub that was left from the limb in my hand. It was a good long scrap and it looked like the one end was close to being bad. It seems like the very next stop I was breaking a branch with my foot when it finally snapped and my leg slammed down on the nub that was left and gave me a deep bruise in my calf. I figured at this point I should skip the trail work and just try to get out of the woods.
At some point I realized that the map I brought along was still in my car. I was not too worried because I had a good idea of where I was going and the trail had been marked fairly well. That was until I started crossing some horse trails and then crossed two gravel roads. I could not find any sign posts to figure out where I was, but I didn’t think I would be too far from the camp ground because my map only had two roads being crossed. Things were still going fairly well, but I was getting tired.
I came up on a group of people building a shelter. I figured I must be real close now. This next section of trail was harder to follow. I got off on the wrong trail a couple of time, but was still seeing some markers. The markers were not as close together in this section, so it made it harder to know if I was on the right trail or not. The other thing that was not good was I came up on some crazy down hills and hike-a-bike sections. I was happy as I rode down this very long and steep rock hill and could not believe how long it was. That was until I made it to the bottom and crossed a dry creek bed to see the hill on the other side that I had to go up. This was the steepest climbing part so far as there were sections that was hard to walk and carry a bike at the same time. The worst part about this was after I made it to the top I hopped on to only ride a little bit before I was going down another crazy hill that was followed by another hike-a-bike section like the one I just finished. This continued several times in this section. I also kept having trouble making sure I was on the right trail. At one point I was going down a steep hill and thought I saw a sign. I then took a closer look for the sign right about the same time my front wheel hit a hole and over the bars I went.
I was starting to wonder how far away was the camp ground. That wonder went away and was replaced with confusion as I rolled up on the guys building the shelter again, but this time on the same trail I left on. I stopped and told them I must be lost since I did not turn around, but was back there again. They told me if I follow the road out it would run in to Cold Friday Road and that would then take me back to 462. I knew where it came out on the main road and how to get to the car from there.
It did not take long to realize that my bail out option was not going to be very easy. The road seemed to follow the same pattern as the trail I was just on. It was fast down hills followed by relentless climbs over end over for what seemed like an hour or more. I even had to walk a little bit of the road because it was so long and steep. I would have been able to ride more of the road with a geared bike, but it would not have been easy.
I finally made it back to the car. I was beat up and wore out even worse then the weekend before. I have lots of scrapes and bruises all over the place and completely worn down. I am looking forward to going back, but it might not be next weekend this time. I did look at the map to try and figure out where I was, but none of the maps I have seem to have everything on it. I am having a hard time even finding the road I was on for sure. I did see where it looked like a trail did a loop and came back on the AHT. This has to be where I messed up and got turned around. I can only hope that those hike-a-bike sections were in the part of trail that I was not supposed to be on. I guess I will have to find out the next time I go down there. I just don’t plan on going by myself if I can help it.
If you are looking to test your riding ability and want to ride some very remote back woods trail, then this is the place for you. You will have to walk next to your bike at some point.