Tennessee: Wacheesi Mnt. and Trout
After riding the forest trail we rode some tight-winding forest roads, climbing higher and higher. Sometimes on the ridge, sometimes on the mountain side. We stopped for a view and photo opps. Here you can see the road that climbs the mountainside. The hazy valley in the background is Tellico Plains. Finally, after several switchbacks (the kind where you can see your own tail light), we made it to the top. Below shows the top of the road as it levels out from a steep climb. At a bit over 4,000 feet, a fire lookout tower used to stand here on Wacheesi Mountain. Jack told us stories about the fire tower and the men that manned it. Sometimes the forest ranger would stay up there for a week or month at a time. Once a ranger got bit by a snake and had to get out for medical attention. Now the fire tower is gone and only radio and cell phone towers remain along with a cement block building for equipment. I didn't take many photos because I had to eat something and take a potty break. Also, the sky was looking really ominous. We could see a storm coming our way. Jack called Lori from the top and it was already sprinkling at the campground. Time to find some shelter. We rode down the same mountain top and ridges, riding switchback after switchback. I trailed behind watching the other two ride below me and in the opposite direction, all through the darkness in the trees. It was neat watching that. I liked it a lot and wished I could have caught it on video. It was steep as all getout, but putting the bike in lower gear and just letting it coast down the roads and around the turns was effortless. It was like a feather falling, slowly and going side to side. I could have done this all day and been content. We turned off another forest road and rode northeast, headed for Green Cove. Jack had mentioned this earlier as a memorable place to visit. And it was. After several miles, we left the dense forest and entered a clearing: A shelter stood on the side of the clearing. It's an old 'tabernacle' built decades ago for gatherings and church. Most of the old church pews had rotted and been replaced by simple boards nailed onto stumps. Jack explained that this was once a good-sized logging community. People would build little shacks to live in wherever they found a spot they liked. And like nearly all ghost towns and long-gone communities, a cemetery was left behind. We parked the bikes next to the shelter and followed a two-track road up to another clearing on a hill. Most of the headstones were old, but a few newer ones could be seen. New burials are still permitted here, it seems. And like most older cemeteries, many infants and children were buried here. One headstone was for both a mother and infant; both died in childbirth. Notice the nondescript slabs in the photographs. About half of the headstones were these unmarked slabs. We tossed around ideas of what they meant: slaves? Native Americans? We didn't know for sure, but Jack confirmed what I suspected. Colonists didn't erect inscribed headstones for slaves or the Native peoples. So they could have been both. And then there is the easiest and cheapest way to erect a headstone. As we began walking back towards the shelter, darkness descended and the sky opened up. We ran the rest of the way and dove inside while it proceeded to pour. Jack ran out and brought in his DR to fix the idle; it had been idling high. Ed and I ran out and brought our bikes under cover, too. When the rain finally decreased to sprinkles, we geared up and headed back out again. We stopped at Green Cove Pond where only veterans and disabled retirees can fish! What an awesome privilege. Moving on, we exited onto paved Tellico River Rd (FS210) and pulled into the Tellico River Trout Hatchery. All around us was heavy mist and fog. It was eerie and neat at the same time. Fog blanketed the tanks of trout. The netting over the tanks challenged taking photos but I was able to get a few. These trout were HUGE!!!! And so many of them! The water from the river next to the hatchery is pumped into the series of tanks and back out into the river. Across the river is the road that winds through the forest. It's a beautiful spot. Leaving the hatchery, we rode north on FS210 towards Bald River Falls and then onto the Skyway. By that time, we had worked up an appetite. And I was dying for some trout to eat. We stopped in at Tellico Cafe for dinner where I had........trout. I hadn't eaten trout in about fifteen years when I lived in Oregon. It was delicious. We returned to camp and watched a huge storm cell grew into several. Lightening lit up the cloud formations overhead, but it didn't connect with ground where we were. Later we heard that the center of the storm was just north of us. I think Janet experienced that one. Wiley said Goodnight to all and we went to sleep another night away.
Labels: dirt, Tennessee