DISCLAIMER - This is my first "not real time" RR. I was looking thru some pics and got reminded of some great riding we (wife and I) did in Tennessee back in October (8 weeks ago). What follows is more of a recap in words and pics.
It had been almost a year to the day since I first traveled down to Tellico Plains to explore some of the back roads in the area. I was alone that first time as my usual riding partner was busy tending to a new rider in training
(Nearly) needless to say the riding there was GREAT. So much so that I vowed to return this year.
This time around I would be joined by Kris and we would spend 3 days re-visiting some routes as well as discovering some new GREAT back roads.
Day one began with giving the bikes a good once over, chains, tires, nuts and bolts. Since Kris hasnt been on two wheels much since baby came along I plotted out a "not so challenging" route for her introduction to riding in the Cherokee National Forest. This would lead us into North Carolina by way of the Joe Brown Highway. The name may be a little misleading. This particular "highway" is no more than a dirt and gravel route cutting its way into the Cherokee National Forest.
Getting ready to head out for Day 1
Heading south on Joe Brown we came to Trail 82 (single track), a mutli use trail that heads thru the forest and empties out on the Hwy 68 a few miles in. It wasnt on the route, but I couldnt resist the urge to investigate it a little.
Heading up to the to Trail 82
A little further down Joe Brown we crossed into North Carolina
A top Buck Bald (former location of a fire watch tower)
From Buck Bald we headed back to Tellico. We encountered almost no traffic along the route, sans a few bear hunters.
The following morning we headed out River Rd, a paved 2 lane blacktop that traces the Tellico River past Bald River Falls. It is a great paved route that is as picturesque as any place imaginable. I said it before and I will say it again, its like a ride not even Walt Disney could have imagined.
Bald River Falls
We looped around on North River Rd and Sycamore trail and then west on Forest Service Road 126 and deep into the mountains towards Wauchessi Lookout Tower that sits atop, you guessed it... Wauchessi Mountain. The riding was superb, a great mix of smooth twisty pavement and not so smooth but equally twisty dirt. There were a few more technical challenges today, not the least of were the ride up and then down from the lookout tower. Both really require all appendages and brain to be fully in sync. For me anyway, being "in the moment" is what its all about. No time for thoughts of anything other than: brake, clutch, throttle, clutch, edge of cliff, clutch, blind switchback, brake, throttle.. well you get the idea.
Fosrest Service Rd 126
Kris points to Lookout tower (note is way, way out there)
Kris climbs towards Wauchessi
Kris point to lookout tower (its much closer now)
The road behind
We left Wuachessi and headed back towards home base. We again today encountered almost no traffic (aside from Bald River Falls). Again only a few bear hunters, but no bear.
The following day we took the short ride down Hwy 68 to the infamous Witt Rd. Never heard of it? Well, 4 or 5 water crossings (depending on where you start counting), countless switchbacks, endless ruts and large rocks that demand your attention all under a canopy of forest so dense you are given the sense that the world is far, far, far away (which it may as well be). In other words, one of the BEST ROADS EVER!
The water was a bit deeper this time than last. With the last crossing causing great pause as we speculated whether or not it was better to turn and run, or stay and fight. We opted to fight. The water was really only a secondary concern on the last crossing. This is the tricky one. Long, deep rock shelves parallel to travel are at the bottom. Getting a front tire caught up in one would not be fun. The water just about came over both of our boots as we made the crossing one at a time.
From there we continued on Witt towards Hwy 68 and Kimsey Mountain Hwy. Kimsey is another great gravely road that climbs and twists into the mountains. We again crossed into North Carolina and turned back towards Tellico. We rode the last stretch out on Hwy 68, a pristine two lane that has more twists than a slinky.
This is a puddle
This is not a puddle
Kimsey Mountain Hwy
3 great days of dual sport riding. Two thumbs, wait make it four thumbs up