30 May Craggy Gardens – Blue Ridge Parkway Bicycle Ride Day 10
Today I blasted through the 5000 ft elevation barrier having three long climbs along the way. The first big climb started at the Burger King in Spruce Pine. I was up early having camped on a steep slope near the Spruce Pine exit. I used the uphill side of a large oak tree to give myself about 3 feet of flat space under the tarp. I had camped in a rhododendron thicket. I sped down to the BK and had a couple of egg and cheese croissants and pancakes and coffee. I was on my climb shortly after 7 am. As I reached Little Switzerland, my dad and Minnie called. Soon after I was going through the first of a number of tunnels for the day. I rode the rest of thisajor ascent with a couple of guys wearing US Army bike jerseys.
The 2nd major climb began where Hwy 80 intersects. This is also where the Assault on Mt Mitchell joins the Parkway. Now I am reminded why the Assault was so tough. The higher portion of this climb crossed to the sunny side of the ridge as temps increased and my water ran low. There was another drop, then the final major climb to Mt Mitchell State Park.
I chose to bypass the Mt Mitchell climb and headed on up the Parkway with what little water remained. Fortunately it wasn’t long before I saw a stream of water coming from the rock face road cut. I filled bottles and added chlorine. Farther up the road I took a refreshing shower under the rocks to completely cool off.
I cooked rice and sardines at the scenic Glassmine falls overlook.
I saw beautiful stands of flowering Galax for the first time on this trip. I also saw some sort of blue phlox that I hadn’t yet seen. See photo. Phlox?
Now I relax in a Starbucks waiting the hour when darkness will fall so I can secretly retire to a nearby patch of Parkway woods. A couple of policemen sit nearby cheerfully sipping cafe lattes as if to remind me of the perils of my sleeping arrangements.