Saturday August 8, 2020
Karen was determined to get in a good ride on the New River Trail. This time I checked everyone’s tires, making sure Josh’s were good. His brake was also too tight, not letting the wheels turn freely, so we fixed that.
Mark and Sue Ann told us about a good section of the trail to ride where there is a long, curving tunnel to ride through that smells of diesel fuel. Chestnut Creek also joins the New River, and there is a big bridge over the river. We drove to the Gambetta access and parked at a little church.
I was interested to see how Karen would inspire the kids to do this ride, and I was not disappointed. With constant chatter, rest stops and snack rewards, we ended up doing 16 miles. With Josh’s bike in better condition, he did quite well.
Little Melissa, however, amazed me. We let her set the pace. She rides a rather simple, little bike with no gears, but she was steady as a rock. She might as well have had cruise control, as she rode at 8.5 miles/hr the whole way. She was a bit scared in the dark tunnel, because she couldn’t see the trail, but she made it.
The New River Trail is a 57.7 mile rail-to-trails state park that travels along Chestnut Creek until it enters the New River from Galax to Pulaski. It is quite pretty and well-maintained on a crushed stone surface. I would have called it cinder, but I learned that is from ground lava. The trail is in a remote part southwest Virginia that is very pretty.
This section of Chestnut Creek would be fun to Kayak, with lots of ledges and a nice flow, especially with the rains we’ve had. It would also be fun to fish.
From Wikipedia: “This ancient river begins in the mountains of North Carolina near the Tennessee state line, flows generally northeastward through the Blue Ridge Mountains, Great Appalachian Valley, Ridge and Valley Province, and the Allegheny Front in western North Carolina and Virginia, before turning and following a more northwestward course into West Virginia, where it then cuts through the Appalachian Plateau (in the New River Gorge) to meet the Gauley River and become the Kanawha River in south-central West Virginia. The Kanawha then flows into the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Much of the river’s course is lined with steep cliffs and rock outcrops, particularly in its gorge in West Virginia.”
On our section, the New River makes a hard left turn against a big rock cliff and a long set of rapids. We got off to take a look, walking out to a rock to get the best view. Geese were scattered all across the river, which is wide here. They were feeding and bathing in a small pool right in the middle of the rapids. I was reminded of St. Mary’s Rapids near Sault St. Marie in Canada, where we found geese doing the same thing.
Taking an open canoe through this rapid could be treacherous, but a kayak could be interesting. A raft would have to take the middle of the river. We enjoyed this beautiful spot both going out and coming back.
The kids got a bit tired on the return trip. I rode right behind Melissa, amazed at her steady pace. I could hear her whimpering a bit, and then she made a sudden stop. I yelled as I barely avoided her, but Karen, not being able to see what had happened, ran right into her. There were tears, apologies and hugs, but then she got back on the bike and rode on.
We rode across the long bridge, passing other riders going the other way, but Melissa never wavered. She was nervous going into the long, curving, dark tunnel, afraid she couldn’t see where she was going. I could barely see her in front of me as she swerved back and forth. I was afraid I would run right into her if she stopped, so I encouraged her to keep going. Thankfully, she did, brave little soul that she is.
With three miles left, she stopped and started crying. Karen was encouraging and patiently waited. She wanted to walk back, but Karen said that would take too long. She got back on her bike and rode on. By the time we got to the trail head, turning toward the church, she was giggling and talking up a storm. I was amazed. Martha said that’s the way girls are – give it a good cry, and then get on with it. Little Melissa is my new hero!
Back at camp, we had lunch and a little rest. Karen took a nice, little nap before packing everything up. I don’t know how she got all that stuff in her car! We said our goodbyes, and they headed back to Fort Mill, SC. It was a good trip!