GTFO 2013, Day 4 - July 7th
I woke about 9 AM and started packing. I stepped out onto the balcony to get my tent and noticed the Chattahoochee River was running pretty fast and nobody was tubing.
I checked the weather radar and saw most of the rain was going to stay to the west.
I said "Tschüß" to my hotel and rolled out about 10 AM. (See, it is
I stopped just outside of town to gas up and eat a honey bun and then headed up Chattahoochee River Road. About five miles in, I hit a snag.
Just past the closed section, I was treated to a waterfall from one of the many tributary creeks.
After 14-miles of asphalt, I found myself back on dirt. I was surprised by the steep, rutted road and it wasn't until the very end that I realized I was on one of the sections that offered a bypass. Picking my way slowly up the road, I was doing fine until I bashed the bike on a rock. It stalled me, so I quickly looked for damage. I still had my shifter, so I figured I was good to go. I started it up, unvoluntarily slid back a few feet, picked a new line, and was back in progress. I was rewarded with a rutted descent and then three water crossings.
You've got to be fucking kidding me.
I scouted the first two and then cleared them, but the Tallulah River stopped me dead in my tracks. Standing there, I had no way of judging how deep the water was or where the opposite exit was. I tried calling to some waders on the other side, but they couldn't hear me over the sound of the water. I had two obvious choices: go back over the two creeks and up the rutted hill (and there was no guarantee I wouldn't drop my bike in those creeks) or go forward. As the man said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger," so I decided to go for it. But I really needed to find out where to come out on the other side. If there weren't people there, I would have waded across. I figured, what the hell, my feet are going to get wet anyway. Instead, I tried to go down the bank just a bit and try yelling across one more time. Although they couldn't hear me, when I made a zooming motion with my hand, a lady pointed to the bank behind a tree. I figured that was it and gave it a go.
Clearing that was my last hurdle. I had a little more asphalt, one more forest road to climb and descend, a little more asphalt, and then I was back in Rabun Gap. Programming Gate 1 of Ft Gordon into my GPS, I saw I had a three hour trip back. Turning the bike south down US-23 (which also goes through my home town), I didn't get far before my stomach started growling. Passing Tomlin's BBQ, I doubled back to try it out. I thought the pork was a little dry, but the vinegar BBQ sauce more than made up for it.
Not long after that, I made a quick stop at Tallulah Gorge. One of these days I'll have to make the trip back up here so I can see the gorge up close.
From there, it was almost a straight shot down to Augusta. As I got about 10 miles from post, I saw a rainbow from a passing thunderstorm cell.
Was this finally an omen of good things to come? Not bloody likely. Rolling up to the gate, I got a rude reminder as to why I'm in the Reserve and not still Active Duty.
The gate had only one lane open and traffic was pretty backed up. Rather than put cones down blocking the other lanes, the guards left them open. Drivers would shoot up the closed lanes and then force their way in at the last minute. Knowing I'm a "soft target" on a motorcycle, I tried to hug the rear bumper of the car in front of me so nobody could get in. My strategy backfired. When the car ahead of me got to the gate, I noticed the passenger talking with the guard and pointing my way. They moved on and I moved up. As soon as I got to the gate, the guard stepped off the curb like he was going to start something. He barks, "Is that GoPro on?" Really, dude? I understand OPSEC as much as the next guy, but was there a need to go full Hooah on a TRADOC post? Hell, anyone with a driver's license can get in. If someone was really interested in casing the joint, all they'd have to do is drive in themselves.
I told him the camera was off (it was) and showed him my ID. As he handed it back to me he said the car ahead of me reported that I "don't know how to drive that thing" and that I "almost hit them several times." He waited for an answer, but I just shrugged. My God, I don't know how people can put up with this shit on a daily basis. I'd go nuts or get busted down to Private.
I got back on post about 7 PM and took one last photo at Signal Towers, the home of the US Army Signal Center of Excellence.
The GPS says I have 233 miles for the day and 829 for the trip. It also show the descent from the mountains down to the coastal plain.
All in all it was a great trip. I'd do it again, even with all the rain. The creek crossings really built my confidence and I identified that I need to get faster on downhill turns. Best of all, I didn't drop the bike a single time.
The only thing I do differently is have waterproof boots (I've already ordered Alpinestars Scout WP boots) and maybe a few extra parts in case something really bad happened. I have a 4-day weekend for Labor Day. Who knows, maybe I'll do the same route in the other direction. For now it's...