***Editorial Correction: I made a mistake in the below post, Nathan is NOT a Hippie, only the product of 2 Hippies of course his wonderful parents. Sorry for being sooooooo misleading.****
Okay, lucky for you I was able to get one last exposure before the shutter button fell off of my Sony DSC H-7. Here is Nate up on Curtis Creek road looking like he is a male model doing work for a Spleen donor organization. Jordan, my viewers thank you for making Nathan take his shirt off.I met Jordy at Sam Wilson Road 5mins before our pre-designated extraction time for the 2 hour drive up to meet Nathan at the Kitsuma parking lot. Even though he is a math guru Jordan's numbers were off and he rolled in 15mins late which as everyone knows times 3 is a life time for someone like me. It was fine though, he still had to get gas and then on the way up asked me if there was a store that he could do a little food shopping at before we got there. Sure, no problem Jordy I am glad that I took the time to pack last night so that way my problems would not become yours. The drive was over and Jordy even got to do his grocery run where he bought 5 dollars worth of nothing that was really no use to him.
Morale Check in the parking lot was a positive response and then the 3 of us headed up Kitsuma. Switch back across the false summit then the real to the fast descent down to the road for the Geyser. Not really geyser more like an Aquifer that was built for the amusement of those staying in a close by bed and breakfast. It was dry and shooting no water up in to the air like I have seen it do for the past few years. On up Star Gap climbing to the little Heart Break connector for the Never Ending Grassy Road of Death. The 3 of us seemed to fly across the NEGRoD and before I knew it we were at the base of Curtis Creek. We stopped to eat along the river then up a bit found a manual water pump next to Ranger's trailer and an outhouse. As I was pumping the water up and out Nate noticed the laminated paper at the bottom of the pipe that read: Coliform Bacteria detected January 2008. I was slugging back my first bottle of this fresh mountain poop water thinking that January was a long time ago when the Old/Young ranger came running out of the trailer to stop us because the bacteria is in the now. No problem. I knew that I had consumed worse in worse spots on the earth and Jordy only had a sip so we prolly would never even get sick or have the slightest discomfort. The Ranger told us that on the right 3/4ths of a mile up there is a spring that I did not know about that has the freshest possible water flowing from under the Blue Ridge. We decided that would be a better place to fill rather than the poop well we were standing over so after a few minutes up and some searching we located the clear wet gold. It was tasty for sure and cold on the brain housing group and body. For those of you racing in the ORAMM you should know that this fresh spring is coming out of a grey 1"tube just past Campsite 8 on the right on the lower end of Curtis Creek.
Up Curtis Creek dirt fire road in to the Stratosphere and the intersection with the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a relentless climb indeed, almost ten miles up from where we turned off the NEGRoD. At the intersection I was checked up waiting for Nate and Jordy to finish their Yoga session a mile back when 2 Emergency Response vehicles went flying by south in the same direction we were heading. Now we were 3 again and headed up the mountain in the southerly direction for mile marker 353 and the Heart Break Trail head.
FYI: I crashed on Heart Break a few years back that caused an inch and a half laceration in my right fore arm leaving my interior muscles visible. A shocky descent that was and then a trip to the Medical Hospital in Morganton not the Broughton facility for the mentally disabled. My very next ride there RJ fell on an inside rock and cut his eye wide open on the brow, another trip to the ER in Morganton and more stitches. This past fall Nathan who was with us today fell over and ruptured his spleen causing internal bleeding and a week in the hospital. I never knew this before Nate told me but when you rupture your spleen from a fall it means that your body has stopped but the organ did not. So it rips from it's anchor inside you where it was connected to your stomach, diaphragm and ribs and such. Note to self, keep spleen in tact.
Up the long climb of the Parkway in the final bend we were stopped by a volunteer fireman who told us we were going to have to wait a bit until the road up ahead was reopened. Come on man we have been riding for awhile and we only have another 3 miles or so to the trail. No go, we will have to wait so that they can load the bicyclist that was hit by a motor cycle in to the ambulance. So we did. We were allowed to pass on the theoretically closed road after some small talk and instructions to go through slow and stay out of the way. Just ahead in the bend lined with emergency response and a half dozen motor cyclists and their bikes at about 5,000ft we saw the mountain bike on the right hand side of the road completely run over the rear wheel and triangle. Just as I realized holy crap it was a mountain bike rider that was hit, some jackass over zealous Harley motor bike guy with a sloping forehead yelled out to me to stay out of the blind spots and that he had just hit someone like me who was in a blind spot. Oh I see you poop stain, in your own rationalization of the bad thing that you did you feel it necessary to vocally stake your claim. Not at my expense ass clown. I could not stand it so I said, "I am not in a blind spot, I am completely aware of exactly where I am." I wish I would have finished with, "Unlike you stupid" But instead kept pedaling for the fast down hill ahead and up out of the Neal's Creek saddle.
Up past the last overlook before the trail head Jordy and I passed some nice hippies having a picnic and listening to music. One made eye contact with us and asked if we needed some lunch. "Nope, we were prepared to take care of ourselves but thanks anyways", I said with a smile. Then one of the men commented on his awareness that we were single speeding on the parkway, thanks fellow man for motivating us with your simple brilliant comments. On up at the HB trail head we stopped and Nate was not insight off the back. Shit, if those hippies offer him lunch then he is going to stay there for a week. Small talk, time lapses and then here comes a rider but it is not Nate just a new Josh on a road ride back to Asheville, have you seen our friend? Yea man he is down there at the over look laying on the ground, looked like he was resting. Okay at least he is alive and then it happened.
A huge truck came screaming around the bend and just as it passed Jordy yelled really loud for it to SLOW DOWN! Not only did the truck slow down it completely stopped, it was a Mt Mitchell State Ranger on his way back to the mountain after responding to the Harley/bicycle incident. He stayed in the truck making radio calls for a couple of minutes while I thanked Jordan prematurely for whatever was about to happen. When this little fellow came out and approached us from a distance he made it clear that he was out of his jurisdiction and that a Federal Ranger was on the way. Hunh? More time elapsed while we waited for the Federal Officer. Radio transmissions, weird verbiage, talks of combat action medals and the First Amendment potential situations with no adjective that was there over the radio. When the Federal Blue Ridge Ranger drove up he was greeted at the car by the little guy with the gun who chatted with him very quietly. I got nothing from him but I could see the Fed's eyes and face which immediately put me at ease. He has to see this is nothing and even though he seemed bigger than life he will get this straight and we will be able to go get Nathan and get on with it. He was great and had us theoretically out of detainment in less than 8 minutes of his arrival with a hand shake that was 18 million times firmer than the little State guy's grip who would not look me in the eyes.
Free at last they may take my life but they cannot take my time, holy crap we have been here for just over an hour from the time we got to this spot! Jordy, please go get Nate. Within 3 minutes of saying that I realized that I just sent a hippie down to get a hippie that was with the nice hippies at the van. Dammit!! I had no choice but to go back the mile and a half down to round up the troops who were hovering around enjoying a picnic with sandwiches and cookies when I got there. I felt rude but also motivated to continue this epic mountain day as soon as possible considering that time was waisting and so was the day. I was under my own support and knew that I was fine, not in need of anyone else or their fooding or what ever they had to offer. Let's go now please.
Back up the hill and finally over the push to the top of the start of Heart Break Ridge. It was late, way later than I wanted it to be but hell now is the most amazing down hill section you can imagine. Fastidious Ridge surfing, pink Rhododendrons blooming an earthy floral scent, light colored dirt, Twisty turns tight single track, gray rock outcrop, undulating speedy terrain, slopes left, then right, huge vistas of sky and green mountains, ridges and fingers dropping from the ridges creating almost a human like appearance of the land scape. Like huge hands or feet seen from up high at 20mph plus on top of 2 triangles and 2 revolutions. I could hear the music in my head, I was free falling seeing how long I could go without touching the brakes. This scary ridge was mine for the now, she was talking to me and letting me know that it was time to have fun and what fun indeed. At some point just above Star Gap Nate had a flat and we settled in for a bit. Okay back on and off to the road for the last climb up Mills River Rd.
At this point it was late and I did something I had never done before. All I was thinking was that I was supposed to be home back in the Jar in like ten minutes but that will be more like three and a half hours.I used my brain and realized that the morale was low and that this climb which normally takes under an hour could very well go 2.5 times that. A truck came up behind and the driver Jason was headed the entire way up past Ridge Crest for his Sunday evening BEER run. I have always been passed by cars and or trucks on the fire road climbs I have done but I had never asked for a lift. Speaking for my entire team I asked if we could throw the bikes in the back and catch a ride. Jason obliged and we took the bed of his truck up to the car. He got me home to my family an hour earlier than the 3 hours late I would have been, thanks Jason.
And thanks Jordy and Nate for being Part of one of the weirdest mountain days I have had in awhile. A special thanks, Nate...you dropped your trousers in front of me without warning, YOU BASTARD, you will pay one day when you least expect it.