Miles Ridden – 196
Total Miles – 617
Today’s Travel Time – 12hrs
Water Crossings – 3
Animal Totem – Dragon
What I learned today – I am a dragon slayer! My waterproof boots are not, in fact, waterproof. ALWAYS put everything in a dry bag – even on a sunny day, even when you go to sleep.
Day 4 was a jam packed day, and that’s saying something on this trip, where a normal day feels like 5! Riding out of our campground at 8:15 (our earliest departure yet) we wound through the gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the sun just cresting over the ridge. After about 45 minutes we drove by a suspicious ‘No vehicle traffic before 10am’ sign…a couple of miles later sure enough we find out the road is closed for another hour! So much for our early start.
We back tracked a bit and found an alternate route to get to where we were going- The Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap. This famous stretch of road – 11 miles long with 318 curves attracts motorcyclists from all over the world. As fate would have it, if we had made it through our original route this morning it would have cut off about half of this awesome ride. I love that on this trip we are doing not only some fun, gnarly, off-road riding, but also some amazing road riding – curves and gorgeous countryside.
After taking a break, getting some requisite Dragon slayer stickers for our bikes, and visiting the tree of shame, we hit the road again, riding some paved and some dirt for a few more hours until stopping for lunch in Tellico Plains. After lunch we were on to the official start of the TAT- and was it ever a start!
About 5 miles in we got to our first obstacle, a fallen tree blocking the path, followed by a wide water crossing. We paused to strategize about how to tackle the tree, my dad and I ended up walking my bike over, since the trunk was at an angle and Dad and Stefan rode across.
After that we all made it through our first water crossing of the TAT! What fun.
A few curves later we came to some more water, and a couple miles after that a third. The third water crossing was a real challenge- at the place where the trail crossed there were a bunch of slick slanted rocks poking up through the surface of the water. Dad and Stefan made it across, but both almost bit it, and I elected to walk my bike across, which was no walk in the park!
After a bit of a breather, on we road in squishy boots, trying to make it to camp before dark. After setting up camp and making some grub we were in our tents (and hammock) when a thunderstorm hit, soaking my socks and saddle bags which I had laid out to dry. Oh well! I guess better when I’m in my tent than on the bike!
More Day 4 Pics