Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bike/Photo Adventure #2

Adventure #1 can be found here.

Adventure #1 was mostly scary, wet, and miserable.  But that didn't stop me from making last-minute plans for a second adventure.  Because it's fun to kill two birds with one stone! (a/k/a bike somewhere new + take cool photos)

I had thought I was resuming my babysitting job on Monday, but I found out Sunday afternoon that I actually wouldn't be babysitting again until Wednesday.  So I started thinking about what to do with my extra two days off.  Sitting around the house doing nothing would be a waste.  I needed to do something adventurous.  I started thinking about a trip for Tuesday.  I've been wanting to bike the Parkway section of the Highland Scenic Highway, and it is located close to The Falls of Hills Creek, which I have photographed before.  (I was going to link to the blog post, but apparently I did not blog about it! I was last there on 6/23/14, with Holly.)  I decided that my next adventure definitely needed to be parking at the Falls, biking a 50+ mile loop that included the Parkway, and then photographing the Falls.  There has been much more rain this year than last year, so I knew the Falls would be more impressive than last time.

Holly and I at the lower falls

So I was going to do that on Tuesday.  But there was a smaller chance of rain for Monday than Tuesday, so as I was going to bed late on Sunday night, I changed my mind and decided to go on Monday.  I wished I had made the decision sooner so I could have prepared before I went to bed (and gone to bed earlier), but oh well.  Monday seemed like a better plan.

I got up at 6 on Monday morning so that I could eat a good breakfast and get on the road as early as possible.  The drive is about an hour long, and I knew the bike ride would take a long time.  I wanted to limit the amount of time I spent riding in the blazing midday heat.  I had to make a quick stop for gatorade and gas on my way out of town, but I was on the road out of town by 7:30.  I arrived at the Falls shortly before 8:45.  It started raining as soon as I got out of my car.  Of course.  It was not supposed to be raining.  I had just driven all the way up there, I couldn't just turn around and go back home.  On the other hand, 50 very mountainous miles in the cold rain was a very unappealing thought.  I spent the next ten or so minutes sitting in my car watching the rain go from lighter to harder to lighter to harder.  Then it seemed to stay on the lighter side, and I decided I needed to just go for it and hope that it was going to blow over soon.  I started my ride around 9.  Between the light rain falling, and the spray my bike created off the road, I got cold and wet pretty quick.  I had to be careful on the first long descent because wet roads and wheels are not a good combination.  6 miles into my ride, I reached Rt 150, the Parkway section of the Scenic Highway, and began the second of several long climbs.  There was an overlook at the top, but it was so foggy, I couldn't see anything but clouds.  The sun gradually came out, thankfully in time for me to get better views at some of the other overlooks.  On one of the descents, I got dive bombed by a bee.  And then almost immediately I got dive bombed by a second bee.  I'm pretty sure one of the stung me...it hurt for a little while, and today it's itchy.  I can feel the small bump by my collarbone where it itches, but I can't really see anything.

By the time I reached the end of the Parkway and turned onto Rt 219 to loop back to my car, it was nice and hot out.  I was very glad that I had thought to put gatorade in one of my water bottles, and for the first time, I actually ate the power bar that I always stick in the pocket of my bike jersey.  It would have been a very bad day if I had not had that power bar.  The ride ended up being 55 miles with over 6300 ft of climbing.  It took me just under 4 hours to complete.  I was able to reach 40 mph on some of the descents, but it wasn't enough to make up for the vast amount of time I spent climbing at 6 or 7 mph.

photos from the ride
you can see in the photos on the left, the mountains are hidden behind the clouds

map and elevation profile of the ride

Once I finally arrived back at my car (at which point my neck was so cramped up I could barely turn my head, and I was desperate to be done...but hey, at least my back is still fine), I changed out of my wet bike clothes, strapped my lunch bag to my camera backpack, and headed down the path to the Falls.  I figured I could find a picnic table or bench somewhere to eat my lunch.  I ended up eating next to the upper falls, with the roaring of the falls as background music for my meal.  Then I continued to the middle and lower falls for more photos.  There were a lot of steps involved in getting down to the middle and lower falls...because a 55 mile bike ride wasn't enough torture for the day.  I had to go down and up a million steps too.  It was worth it, for the photos...of course.  

Nice, easy, paved path to the upper falls.

the upper falls

obligatory adventure selfie

and then there were stairs

the middle falls

this is my favorite shot from the day

the lower falls

And then I had to climb all the stairs to get back to my car.  It was tiring.  Then the drive home.  I arrived just in time to upload photos onto my computer before heading off to a 4:00 meeting.  And then after inhaling a quick dinner, I went out to ride my horse for the second time in two days.  I finally got to take a shower and relax around 8:30 PM.  A very long day, but also a very fun and successful one!

I captured this photo of the sunset on my way home from the barn.

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