Monday, September 1, 2014

Forbidden Passage

Lake Waccamaw in NC is a gorgeous, wonderful spot I've been going to with family since I was a kid, the lake is very shallow and hosts an amazing array of plants and wildlife.  (it was also the site of my first #coffeeneuring outing last Oct!) My Mom recently retired to a nice house right on the water and we've been spending alot more time down there.  Several bike related projects include the relocation of our Univega 26" wheeled Tandem and a step through cruiser project that has had some issues but seems to be rolling now.

The XO-3 hanging out at the end of the State Park pier... I like the minimalism.  The lake is only about 7 miles wide at any point so you get a feel for how foggy it was this morning.
The Lake is a great place to bike as it's flat and has a road that goes about 2/3 of the way around the lakeshore.  My goal in this most recent visit was to figure out a way through that other 1/3... entering Lake Waccamaw State Park.  According to the maps it hosts a number of trails that are marked for hiking but don't specifically exclude bicycles.  With my single speed XO-3 and some 1.9"ish cruiser tires I decided to give it a go.

I'll give myself a partial success here, I did force my way through the quite challenging shore trail in the State Park but found myself stymied at the end by a hi water dam that just didn't look safe to cross.  So I got the dubious pleasure of forcing my way back through the sandy, swampy and rooted trail back to asphalt.  A great adventure though it was damp and I was thoroughly beat down by the end of it.

Some random facts and background on the Lake;

NC State Park site for Lake Waccamaw

Dept of Natural Resources discussion on Carolina Bays
-Lake Waccamaw is the largest of the Carolina Bay instances and apparently they are quite a mysterious geological/biological formation

Council Tools
-Anyone looking for Made in the USA steel tools and Axes can look no further, they make exceptional drop forged tools right here w/in a mile of the lake. They got there start supporting the local turpentine industry

The next day my wife and I completed the other half of the ride all on pavement via the tandem and had a great ride. Enjoy the pictures;

That darned drainage creek and the hi water dam really fouled it up for me but it was a good ride all the same.
Speeding through the paved section of the State Park.

The Park Service does a pretty regular prescribed burn policy to encourage the natural growth cycle of the pine trees that actually depend on fire to germinate the next generation of trees.

Smoke on the water eh?!?  This is from the pier pictured earlier in the post along the coastline that I followed via the trail.  Primordial comes to mind...

Another prescribed burn and a fresh one at that, the trail is along the right hand side of the frame.

Trail work needed, much of the trail was fire road in width as it is here but it was also marshy and or sandy with the lake encroaching from the right and the swamp coming in from the left.

Here we have a big tree down and while I nearly turned around I decided to risk snakes and other beasts and slide through underneath pushing the bike ahead.  Having to do it a second time on my return trip really freaked me out b/c I hate snakes and this seemed like the perfect haven for them.  I made it through without a sighting thank goodness!

I don't have much in the way of great photo's of the swamp, I was beat down tired and dripping with sweat and condensation the whole way.  But this view is typical of the left inland side of the trail.

Ahhhh... so close and yet so far.  The water was pretty darn hi and I decided not to wade across carrying the bike.  Another time perhaps.  No pictures from the return ride, I was pretty disheartened at the time but having done it twice solidifies my mind against trying this trail again any time soon!

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