June 12, 2017

NC: W. Kerr Scott

Summer (May 15th - Sept 15th in my book) here in Phoenix is hot. Duh. I really don't mind the heat, you learn to deal with it and acclimate for outdoor activities if you're into those sorts of things. I am. However, it sure is nice to break up the intense heat with routine trips up north to the high country or in this case a vacation with the in-laws back east in the mountains of western North Carolina.

We caught our desired flight out on Friday afternoon and arrived near Boone, NC shortly after midnight. Our plans for the five days were simple: eat good food, sample a ton of beer, relax and squeeze in a day of riding.
Our view for the next few days.
Our first stop was down in Hickory at the Olde Hickory Brewery. I snagged a flight of brews to share with K as we dug into some southern grub.
You don't say.
First night's sampling.
We firmed up plans to meet with more family on Tuesday. This freed up Monday as my day to sample the local trails.

Sunday we drove to Plumtree, NC to visit Blind Squirrel Brewery. Such a friendly staff and atmosphere there.
Will serving up the suds.

River floats & ziplines here too.
Found this at a local grocery store, had to buy a single.
Mast General Store in Valle Crucis is a real throwback in time.
Nice signage.

Monday rolled around and I was ready to ride. I drove down to Boone Bike for the 10a opening and secured my rental for the day. A full suspension Specialized Stumpjumper FSR carbon 29er. I had to take off both wheels to fit it in the rental, but it worked.
Plenty of room!!
I originally thought I'd have to be back by the 6p closing to return the bike, but they allowed me to return it by 11a the next day without charge. My plan for the day was to head about 30 minutes east to ride the trails at the Kerr Scott reservoir, then come back to Boone to ride Rocky Knob bike park. K and I had hiked there a few years ago and I really wanted to ride it. I also knew I was trying to squeeze in a lot of miles & drive time into a relatively small window.

My first stop would be the Warrior Creek trails on the west end of Kerr Scott.
Pump track action at the trailhead.
Buff. Machine built contours were the name of the game.

Not a ton of water views considering the trail was right next to the reservoir.
Just your average looking series of turns here. Berm me.

A rare grass-lined section of trail in the forest.
This was the only open area I rode through all day.

Bermed drainage run, yes!!
Typical scene.
Nooo, not Happy Jack!!
Warrior Creek was really fun, but I didn't cover the miles as fast as I thought I would. It was warm, low 80's and a bit humid for this desert dweller. I was soaked from sweat, mostly because it doesn't evaporate like it does in AZ.

Warrior Creek flyover

I started to pack up the bike and couldn't get the front wheel through axle to break free. I futzed with it for a few minutes and said 'screw it'. I put the bike in the trunk, half hanging out the back. It was only 7 miles or so down the road to the next trailhead. But I knew I'd have to work out a better solution for the drive back to Boone.

The second ride used a small portion of the historic Overmountain Victory Trail. A trail used by patriot militia during the 1780 Kings Mountain campaign. The ride was mostly an out-n-back with a few side loops added.
Ride into history.
I consulted the Trailforks app on a few occasions to see which fork in the road would seem to flow better. Worked like a charm.
Freeway overpass, trail style. I rode the serpentine first, then a few miles later came back across the bridge.
Boat housing.
The only down tree all day, but it was huge!! It provided me with a bushwhacking HAB fix.
My ride was going much slower than anticipated and I almost cut this loop out. Glad I didn't.
Another stop to wring out my headband cap, just drenched.
In AZ we don't get to ride next to water often.
By the time I wrapped things up, it was 5:30p and I conceded that I wouldn't have time for Rocky Knob park. Not if I wanted to stay married. I kinda like my wife, so I packed up and made a quick exit back towards Boone where a refreshing shower was waiting. At least I remembered to bring a change of clothes for the drive back. I was so soaked, my cellphone case  that I clip to the front of my pack was wet and had a salt ring on it!!

Kerr Scott OVT flyover


Our last two days in the mountains were spent relaxing with family, bird watching, storm watching and of course some more beer sampling.
The lineup at Blowing Rock Brewery.

Here comes the rain.
10 minutes later.
Barrel aged samples.
Incredible view from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Local history lesson.
Moses Cone manor.
Where did the mountains go? Another round of storms rolled through.
One last tasting with a Pliny I brought from the west coast.
Fiery sunset from the porch.
Full lineup from our visit. Not too shabby.
Morning fog pockets on our way to Charlotte.
Yep, all of this was in our checked luggage. Score.

Back home in the heat, we decided the mountains of North Carolina may have to be an annual summer retreat. I think we both felt recharged after our relaxing time there.

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