Track Rock Gap

Since I was already in North GA for my chainsaw cert, and we finished earlier than I had expected, I decided to drive a little further North in an attempt to find the supposed Mayan ruins. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about searching for the ruins ahead of time.

I was basically driving blind with my ‘smart no-phone’ searching the internet for the article and the maps for location. All the time knowing that the article that mentions the location is saved in my old email… but my phone only keeps current email.

Luckily my memory of the area from riding the Gaps (local info: you turn North before the base of Jacks Gap) was able to lead me pretty close to where it is. I pulled into what was listed at TrackRock campgrounds.

Entrance to TrackRock area

After about 10 minutes of driving back through this area, I stop and asked where the Mayan ruin site is, luckily this person knew and I headed back up the road. Just as I think this lady sent me on a wild goose chase, I come across the TrackRock Archaeology sign, and pull into the parking lot.

TrackRock sign

I head off down the trail which looks quite well traveled, and come up to the spot of all the Petroglyphs (fancy name for old etching on rocks). And the USFS? has put up signage to explain what you are looking at and what the symbols supposedly mean.

Main description sign at Archaelogical site

I check out the different rock drawings, and read each signage…. yet, I was expecting more.
As I’m looking around, I hear voices coming from across the street. A couple is walking down a trail on the other side of the road. I chat with them about the trail, they said it was steep, but magnificent views along the ridge line. This is the start of the Arkaquah trail, which leads up to Brasstown Bald.

Arkaquah trail.

Unfortunately for me, since I did the chainsaw certification until about 3, I don’t have enough time to explore that side of the road.
So, I continue to explore what I am lead to believe is the Mayan ruins area. As I look and hike around the area I come across many large rocks that seem to be closely piled, but nothing to be suspicious of. As I explore some more I realize that there are some actual areas to take notice of, but are covered up in leaves. I’m sure the pictures will not do these justice for that reason.

First, I was curious if these were part of the irrigation system.
part of the Irrigation system?

Then there were several places where there were large depressions? I’m not sure if these were natural depression or archaelogical digs, from scavangers or what?

This was the only picture I got that seemed to convey the depth of the area.
Sunken area above the Petroglyph site.

Either way it was pretty interesting and I headed off down the trail less traveled to see if I could find more. Later I found what appeared to be a terraced area that seemed to match what the article had described. Although it was on the other side of the parking lot from the stones that were engraved.

I also found a trail that started to lead up the hill. As I followed it, I started to pick up some trash that had been left behind by other people. The last several weeks of picking up trash have been some interesting finds for me. And this trip was no exception.
How old would a can have to be to be a pull-top beer can?

Back in the day this was the High Life. Notice the pull tab.

Having my hands full as I hiked, I decided to set down the cans since I could grab them on my way out and continued hiking up the mountain for awhile. I saw a fairly interesting rock ledge, but nothing else really worth mentioning. After a half mile or so, the sun was dropping behind the Mt., and I decided that it was getting a bit late. As I headed back down I suddenly heard some rustling noises & stopped to try to figure out what it was. As I stood there the rustling leaves got closer and closer. Then suddenly 2 Turkeys crossed about 50 yards ahead of me in the direction I was heading. As I stood there motionless, they meandered along their way. Fortunately I was far enough away that I don’t think they noticed me. I still heard rustling so, I got out my camera-phone and waited until, to my left another Turkey crossed in nearly the same spot. Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t zoom much and you really can’t see the turkey, but he is there, just over the cans that I set down. After he was on his way I picked the trash back up and headed back down the Mountain.

Turkey crossing.  Look just over the can in the center.

Shortly after this I hopped back in the car and started the drive back. But suddenly I had to stop along the road, and I quickly got this picture.

Mother Natures way of saying “come back soon”.
Mother Natures way of saying 'come back soon'

US Forestry Chainsaw Certification

This past weekend I attended the US Forestry Service (USFS) chainsaw certification class/workshop in Blairsville, GA. This class was recommended to me by David so that we would have more trail volunteers capable (certified) to do more maintenance. This class was Free from the USFS and a volunteer, FOR volunteers.

In attendance was 1 new USFS employee, 6 Appalachian Trail volunteers, and 9 local Mt bike volunteers – in attendance was Mike Palmeri, Joe Palmeri, Todd Lyons, Seth Owens, Jason Brousche, Tony Stevens, Gary Monk, Jim Townsend and myself.

Forestry Morning Meeting

On the Forestry side, it became obvious that (as you can expect) these guys are overwhelmed with the amount of land that they have to maintain, manage. They are thankful for the volunteers. The USFS in their efforts to gain assistance, while volunteering, a certified sawyer is considered an employee of the USFS and falls under their insurance. They said to date, that no one has needed to take them up on the offer of the insurance, and hope no one would need too.
Oak slice

Side Note: For those of you that don’t know, each Spring/Summer I cut & Split 3-4 cords of firewood for my Mom to heat her house all Winter. So, going into this class I felt quite confident, but was also hoping to fill in some areas of my knowledge. Well, it was pretty shocking that having someone that is basically grading you and hanging over your shoulder as you work made me more nervous than I would have expected. Suddenly, I’m not out there doing things my way & just my dog watching. But still I was able to attain ‘B’ cert. or the 2nd level of certification.

Getting Instructions

One of the greatest things that I learned from the class was Safety! Of course, working with chainsaws is Dangerous – period! The moment you relax and/or get ahead of yourself is when you will get hurt.

They are insistent that you use the brake on the chainsaw. This was something I wasn’t used to – heck, only 1 of my 3 chainsaws even has a brake on it.

Speaking of Safety, 1 of the things they were insistent on was a pair of chaps – and this is why:

Since most of what trail volunteers deal with is blow-downs (trees that the wind knocked over) they showed us how to best cut that tree with out getting your saw stuck, which is very easy to do & also dangerous.

How to properly cut a tree to better control which way the log goes once it has been cut.

How to maintain more control over a tree that has been blown down on the trail.

Dawg demonstrating a leaner cut

Another great technique was how to deal with Spring trees – these are trees that the tops got pulled over by another tree and the trunk is still rooted, but the top of the tree is pulled over & down. They are a dangerous situation, because the force of the tree wants to ‘spring’ it back up.

How you approach a situation where multiple trees are down and you need to clear the trail. Access the situation from all angles – and do some limbing if you need to get a better understanding of where to start.

How to determine the amount of lean a standing Tree has. This will determine which direction a tree naturally wants to fall, and what it would take to make it drop in a different direction if needed.

Since I do cut firewood & have to cut down dead trees I learned a ‘felling’ technique that I am anxious to try out.

Here is an example of a compound tree that I cut up for firewood. Notice it has a ‘Spring tree’ on the right, and that it is a compound situation where the downed tree is interlocked with the standing tree. It was a tricky situation to say the least.
Compound Fell Tree

Again, remember taking your time for safety and accessing the situation are the 2 greatest points – we are volunteers out there and in some situations even the Pro’s have to walk away.

Also, if you ride Mt bike trails – you should volunteer, if you are good with chainsaws, this class was Free from the USFS and volunteers, FOR volunteers.

How to ride in Cross Winds

I love riding in cross winds. It is a time when power to weight ratio of the sprinters can really put the hurt onto the climbers.

It is a time when how the break works together can be the difference between survival and getting shelled.
Work too little and you may win, or the break may get caught, Work too hard, and you get shelled.

It is a time when knowing where the draft is can be crucial.
Just watch these professional riders have a tough time staying in contact with the rider in front of them due to the cross wind and the speed of the race.

Notice in this video of the 2012 Tour of Qatar – when Cancellara makes the move, the wind is coming from his right side & so he is on the Left side of the road – this is so that anyone behind him gets as little draft as possible. He is doing this in hopes that they will not be able to hold his pace and he can ride away.

Conversely once Cancellara realizes he isn’t going to be solo and wants some help, he edges to the right, so that the person drafting him has room to find the best draft on Cancellara’s back left.

Also, notice how when there are more people in the break they move to the right – so that the other riders can get a draft and they can all work together to hold the gap.

Quick Tip: Mash a larger gear in a crosswind. This is a great strength builder and when you spin (I generally) feel the need to always change to an easier gear and spin even more. If it is a training ride, try mashing that gear! You may feel tired after the ride, but you will get stronger!

Video Mt biking at FATS

I got out last month and met up with some friends for a ride at FATS Mt bike trail. If you have never been there, let me tell you, it is like going to a pump track! I remember saying to the group, ‘you just can’t jump each one, you have to select which one’s your going to jump, because there are so many”.

I tried to time some of the music to the events in the video, whether each person jumping a jump in line, or a crash.

It still amazes me how much footage I end up cutting out before getting what can be put into a video with out it being over 5 minutes long. And I think this video is a bit too long, but I tried to warrant the length with crashes, passes, jumps, and whoops.

This video is actually the 2nd video from the day (here is the First). It is amazing how different people can change the dynamics of a ride. I was glad I wasn’t wearing a Heart Rate monitor!