Darius took this shot on our exploratory ride this afternoon. Some friends from Virginia are coming up on Sunday for a ride from the Old Forge Area. I have a fairly decent loop in mind, but any loop can always use some more singletrack right, so we went out to check out the status of the Spooge trail, which has recently been logged, heavily logged actually, and in more than one spot. Spooge would be a real sweet descent to finish the ride on, and would surely send the southerners home with grins on their chins. But the last time I rode it, it dissolved into an explosion of damaged earth and trees, and we couldn't re-find the trail, so I wanted to scout it today.
We get there and get rolling at about 4:30, it's about 25 degrees, and snowing a bit. We have about an hour of daylight to work with. Darius brought a 3-watt LED, I brought my new eBay HID, just in case. Our goal isn't to ride Spooge in the normal way (meaning, down), but is more just to find our way through it now that the loggers are doing their thing to the mountain. So we park near the bottom, and climb up a steep, bisecting doubletrack, find the singletrack, and climb up to the first of the logging craters. We bushwhack and drag our bikes though this, and actually ride a fair amount of it. Darius finds the trail on the other side, and we climb on up some more to the next giant scar on the earth. This one takes a little more huntin' & peckin' around to find our way out the other side. Somehow Darius comes through again and finds the singletrack which leads us up to Rothrock Rd. Mission accomplished, more or less.
We decided to turn around, and see if we could easily re-trace our snowy tracks in the same direction we'd be riding on Sunday. By the time we get to the lower mess, it's snowing and blowing pretty good. It's 5:55, and we both needed to be home at 6:30. It's way past sunset, but with the reflective snow, we can still see a bit. My man Darius is a bit of a gambler. He wants to find another trail, not the one we came up on, but another one that he knows will drop us out onto Staley Rd. He bushwhacks around below the ridge for 10-15 minutes. It's gettin' real dark now. And the the wind is blowin'. I can't see him anymore, and if he were to shout, I wouldn't hear anything with the wind, even if he was 10 yards away. I'm bushwhacking too, also below the ridge, but I can see the clearing on the top in the fading light, and presumably, there's the loggers road up there as well. I decide to get up there while I can still see it. Because, even with a high powered HID light, if you don't have an actual trail to follow, you might as well be lost. It's pretty hard to find anything bushwhacking with a light.
Darius eventually gave up his search, and joined me on the logging road, we then dropped down to Swift Run Rd, and then took a right back up a log road to try to find some more of Spooge. This time, we score quickly, and start descending Spooge proper in the snow and dark. Sweeeet is all I can say about that. I'm not a huge fan of night riding, but I do love it when snow is on the ground. It's quiet, it's soft, sublime. Nothing beats a technical singletrack descent in the snow in the dark. Not even the cold beverages waiting to warm us up at the car.