Monday, May 22, 2017

Scouting for Eagles

Last week I went to a conference at Lake Cumberland State Park.  There is no mountain biking at that park and the trails for hiking and/or running are sparse.  Not that I could run anyway.  This ankle thing is refusing to heal, and it’s starting to bug me.  I did take the bike, and on the first evening I ventured back across the line into Pulaski County to ride at the county park and the infamous Eagle Scout Trails there.
I rode that area back in 2013 when I was in the area for a Lake Cumberland ADD meeting.  I was impressed by the machine cut trails interspersed with the old school, hike-a-bike, legacy trails.  I parked in the wrong spot and rode it all jacked up, but I had a good time on that first trip.  I knew work had continued and that there were more trails and the existing trails were getting more attention so I was eager to revisit.
Right out of the gate (a truly posh trailhead, but I’ll get to that later) I had to decide between the older machine cut trail and a really fresh machine cut trail.  I chose the new trail because that’s how I’m wired, and I soon came upon a guy running down the trail on said machine.  He let me pass, we exchanged waves, and I kept on going down the trail.  The new stuff followed one of the older and more difficult trails but it switchbacked where the old trail fell down the hills.
Eventually I picked up the older machine cut stuff and carried on.  On my first visit I ran out of time and energy and didn’t ride all of the old stuff in the back.  I was determined to do that.  By the time I reached Piney Grove Loop in the back I was tired.  The loop itself is fantastic, but the out and back to reach it is of dubious value.  Even if you were strong enough to ride most of it there are just some stupid steep sections.  It needs some rerouting to make it a truly great trail.  For some reason I didn’t remember it being so hard.  Maybe I was just jazzed about the other trails and forgot about the slog.
When I got back out of the back forty and onto the Hamby Hollow Trail I remembered why I had liked the area so much.  The new trails are flowy and fun.  It’s a beautiful setting.  And there’s a decent amount of riding to be had.  The only thing that besmirched my more recent ride was a massive tree that had fallen across the Low Line Trail and a little bit of poor drainage on the Hamby Hollow Trail that has resulted in a boggy situation.
The Play House Loop is ridden in nicely now.  When I first rode it the tread was fresh and rough.  I absolutely flew along the ridge so fast that my old bones tensed for impact more than once.  This area seems like it could be a really fast ride if it was dry, you knew the trails, and had fresh legs. 
The trails are a pleasant surprise for sure.  The area is somewhat removed from the beaten mountain biking paths.  It’s not really too far from Laurel Lake and London, but it’s far enough that most people may not stray in that direction on a rumor.  Well, let me put those rumors to rest: the Eagle Scout Trails at Pulaski County Park are worth taking the time to go ride.  If you’re still not sure plan a full day around exploring it and riding Laurel Lake or Cane Creek WMA or the Sheltowee Trace off of KY 80 near London to make it worthwhile. 
At the trailhead there are restrooms with showers and a bike wash station outside.
It threatened to rain for the last half of my ride.  There were a few sprinkles but nothing significant.  However, the next day of the conference dawned wet and ominous.  My drive home that afternoon was sketchy to say the least.  It’s not been a continuous rain since then, but we’ve had some fairly strong storms and the Red River is up in its banks.  That’s disconcerting because work has started but not finished on the boat accesses at Clay City Park.  I’m hoping when the waters recede that the drain pipe and gravel they put down on Friday will still be in place.
And in Bald Rock news…I got out Saturday morning and blazed Rock Jock (formerly known as Hillbilly Hayduke).  After discussing it with the land manager and sign maker we decided minimal signs and blazing would be a good balance and a good solution.  Reports are coming back of people having trouble finding and following the trails.  I need to blaze the Flat Hollow Arch Trail, Chainwhip, and the two trails that are currently under construction.  Curtis and Audrey have been making signs and soon those will be up. 

Riverfest is this coming weekend and after that it will be full on planning and preparing for the Red River Gorge MTB 100.  I’m looking forward to having a few of these other things behind me so I can focus.  This past year has been the perfect example of how not to be an easily distracted person and function in life.  I’ve got to stop coming up with new ideas, schemes, and projects until more of these big ones in my life are finished. 

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