Friday, August 6, 2010


Back in June, I wrote an article about some Odd Sights I've Seen. Remember this picturesque setting?

The "driver" of this fine example of the automakers' art is this beady-eyed creature.

Well, there is more.

The same homeowner is apparently plagued by bears and other varmints in the area. Look here.

I think that is a wild hog peering out from the wheel well.

And here.

In the driver's seat sits a bear, intent to extricate his vehicle from this rock pile.

And up there on the hill above the car and truck:

There may even be a wolf up there with the bears. Strangely, all of these creatures are apparently scared motionless while I am taking their pictures.

Lets give this some perspective. The old pickup truck is right down the road from the sectioned yellow Volkswagen.

The truck was there the last time I came through, but I was so busy gawking at the yellow bug that I didn't take a good picture of it. I have mended my ways for you now. Google Street View shows the bug but doesn't show the truck, so it is a later addition to the landscape. Unfortunately, Street View doesn't give a date that the pictures were taken.

But I have gotten ahead of myself. The bears are so interesting; I forgot to tell you how I came to see them today, this 24th day of June.

My ride today is a short one. I have started out early -- about 7:00 AM -- because I have chores to do at home later, and it is going to be about 100 degrees F today back there. It will be cooler in the mountains though.

I gear up and start. I ride up to the Holly Springs Country Store and stop a minute to see if anyone else is there. It is located at Pushpin "B" on the map below.

View Larger Map

No other riders are there, so I go further north on US-178 to Rocky Bottom, at Pushpin "C". I turn right on F. Van Clayton Highway, and pass the Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind. This is also where you turn to get to the highest point in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain.

The road is quite rough. They are clearing brush from the sides, so there is also some debris on the road from that. I am not going to the top of the mountain today, so I don't turn right at Pushpin "D", which is the road that goes up there. It, too, is a bit rough, but has surprisingly few switchbacks and steep grades. There are no long views from the top that I have been able to find, so I don't go there often.

I continue along on Glady Fork Road -- my first time here. The pavement is fair. If it were better, this would be a nice motorcycle road, with few driveways and some nice curves. There is a little series of waterfalls along the road that are kind of pretty.

I reach East Fork Road and take a hard right. It is on this road that I encountered the bears, located just before Big Hill, at Pushpin "F" on the map.

After I ogle the fake wildlife, I go up Big Hill, this time a little faster than before, as I know the road better, and I am not looking for places to stop for pictures.

I turn right on US-276. It is quite straight through here, a contrast to further south nearer Caesars Head State Park. I spot a sign for DuPont State Forest and take a left on Cascade Lake Road to see what is there.

The road in is well-paved and easy, with little traffic. This is also the first time I have been here. I turn right on Station Road, then follow Sky Valley Road, and continue to Old CCC Road before I turn around at Pushpin "I" on the map. The paper map I have with me doesn't detail this area very well, so I am not sure where the roads go, and anyway I need to keep my ride short today.

It looks like the park is a great place to hike, sightsee, mountain bike, fish, hunt, kayak, swim, and ride horses. It is not far from the bears I showed you earlier, but there are probably real ones here. A map of the trails shows more than ninety miles of them.

Here is a picture of a small rapids that is visible from the bridge over the Little River at the Hooker Falls parking area.

And here is one thing you can do at Hooker Falls besides look at its beauty. It is about an eleven-foot drop for these fellows.

Notes to self:
  • Go back and see more of this park.
  • Cascade Lake Road looks twisty near the lake. Visit there some time.
  • Explore the gravel part of Sky Valley Road (which starts where I turned around at Pushpin "I").
Aside: You know how I seem to be attracted to gravel roads -- maybe I need to get a little dual-sport bike. How about a Suzuki DRZ400SM? Only 300 pounds -- like a motorized mountain bike.

This New York City couple on the ADVrider Forum has certainly used their pair of them a lot. They have ridden mostly off pavement, about a week or two at a time, all the way from New York to Alaska (so far), storing their bikes along the way and flying back to New York between legs.

I leave DuPont Forest and head south again. Next up is Caesars Head State Park. This is a good stopping point in preparation for the ride down the twisty road to the south. As I am taking off my helmet, a guy on a bicycle comes into the parking lot. I ask him where he has come from. Traveler's Rest, he says, about twenty-two miles from here, and an elevation difference of about 2166 feet, not counting the downhill sections that he had to regain on his way up. He says he is taking it easy today on his ride because it is so hot. I wish I were in that kind of physical shape. He bids me adieu and says that he is going to "turn on the air conditioner" now -- in other words, he can coast down the hill he just labored up, and cool off on his way.

I walk over, take a quick look off the edge of the escarpment toward Table Rock, then gear up again to go down the hill. As you can see in the stretch between Pushpins "J" and "K", some of the turns are quite tight, so I use a bit of rear brake to also apply throttle without gaining too much speed. Part way down I catch up to two guys on cruisers, and I follow them back to Pumpkintown (just north of Pushpin "M") where they stop at the restaurant there.

My ride was only 115 miles today, but I have seen some new territory -- and some bears! I wouldn't have missed that for the world.

Other nearby attractions:
Green River Road and Saluda, NC
Jones Gap State Park
Saluda North Carolina and the Saluda Grade
Caesars Head (at Pushpin "J")
Table Rock (west of Pushpin "L")
Sassafras Mountain (south of Pushpin "D")


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