Sunday, June 26, 2016

Improvise (Reeb Ranch & Dupont State Forest pictorial trip report)

It was time to improvise.  Original plans had the whole family going to the beach for a long weekend recently, until we realized one of the kids had a commitment we almost forgot about.  So we backpedaled a bit, realized we still had 32 hours between their commitments, and starting thinking about what we could do in that time.  We improvised to a quick getaway trip to the mountains.

The road into Reeb Ranch

The barn and barn apartment.  They have weddings and events here.

Its a crime we have neither spent much time in the Brevard area nor mountain biked in Dupont State Forest.  That had to change.  I had heard about the Reeb Ranch nearby Brevard, owned by Oskar Blues Brewery (Reeb is beer spelled backwards).  You can tent camp onsite or stay in their cabin or barn apartment.  We opted for the cabin and we're very glad we did.  It was very private and we even had our own waterfall with a creek running right by the cabin.   Katie was very helpful answering my questions over the phone and email before we booked it, and was very accommodating and helpful at check-in.  The Reeb Ranch also includes a bike park, pump track, and is home to the annual Burning Can Festival.  It is also located next to Dupont State Forest, so you could ride your mountain bike from the ranch to Dupont's trails and back if you wanted to.  It is a beautiful place.  

The Cabin

Wild turkeys on site
As soon as we checked in, we went for a family waterfall hike at Dupont State Forest.  Since we had our old family dog (who is in bad health) with us and had limited time, we opted for a short and easy hike and chose the famous Dupont "3 waterfall hike".  It included Triple Falls, High Falls, and Hooker Falls.  It was probably a round trip of approx 3.5 miles and the kids got to swim.

High Falls

Triple Falls

High Falls

High Falls

Hooker Falls
After the hike and a quick picnic lunch we had packed, I went mountain biking in Dupont State Forest.  I found a great recommendation here and here for the best trails to hit.  I wanted a good mix of the area's trails (single track, fire roads, slick rock, climbs, downhill, creek crossings, etc) so I put together a combo of the two recommendations.  That would also allow me to get in the famous Ridgeline Trail as well as Cedar Rock and Big Rock slick rock trails.  It was going to be approx 22 miles of riding.

This is where the improvising continued.  About 8.5 miles into the ride, I got a flat tire.  I haven't had a flat tire while riding in several years.  That was the moment that I realized the extra tube I had in my trail pack doesn't fit my bike.  Doh!  Luckily, I also had a patch kit in my pack.  So I patched the tube and was good to go.  The patch fix seemed to hold just fine as I checked it every mile or so.  Until mile 13.5.  The patch fix stopped holding, the tire went flat again, and I tried to patch again to no success.  The hard reality that I could no longer continue finally set in.  Luckily, I was less than a mile from a trailhead lot, yet it was on the other side of the whole Dupont State Forest from my car.

So I hiked my bike back to the trailhead, found a group of young college kids who were leaving, and hitched a ride with them.  They were local summer camp counselors enjoying an afternoon off and were actually on their way to Oskar Blues Brewery, so naturally I gave them beer money as a small token of my appreciation for getting a ride to my car.  They had a small car so I ditched my bike in the woods at the lot, got a ride with them to my car, drove all the way back to get my bike, and then finally drove back to the cabin to meet the family.

All good and very grateful for the day but I unfortunately wasn't able to finish the ride I set out on....and missed out on the Ridgeline Trail.  The trails I did ride were awesome however, so I guess I'll have to go back!

The view from Big Rock Trail

Cedar Rock Trail

creek crossing

We then set out for dinner and opted for the ChubWagon Food Truck at Oskar Blues Brewery.  I was introduced to the original Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado by my friend Neil.  He had Dales Pale Ale at his wedding reception many years back.  I still remember being blown away by the concept of craft beer in a can at that time, as Oskar Blues was the first to do it.  Of course, now many craft breweries are canning their beer.  So its very cool that Oskar Blues decided to expand and open their east coast operations in Brevard.  

Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard

Our dog Cooper hanging out at the cabin with us.  He's getting old and not in good health but he really enjoyed it.  

It got a little chilly at night

The view of the cabin from our private waterfall

Shoal Creek Falls at the Reeb Ranch

The next morning, we slept in then went for a short hike to the waterfall and bike park on site that my wife and kids had enjoyed the day before while I was mountain biking in Dupont State Forest.  The kids really enjoyed the bike park at the Reeb Ranch on their own bikes.  After playing around at the bike park, we packed up and headed home but not before stopping for a great lunch at the dog friendly Flat Rock Wood Room in Flat Rock, NC.   Nice outdoor patio, very good food, and our waiter was excellent.  

The entire weekend trip, door to door including travel time of 2.5 hr drive each way from where we live near Lake Norman, was 32 hours.  We packed a lot in that trip for sure.  And there is so much more that area has to offer (Pisgah National Forest is also next door) so we definitely want to go back and explore some more.  Sometimes the best laid plans don't always work out, so you just have to improvise.  And it turned into a great weekend getaway.

My daughter made a great video of the trip.  Hope you enjoy!

Friday, June 17, 2016

May Not April

The old Greensboro windsurfing crew reunited for a trip back to Hatteras Island recently.  Most windsurfers normally flock to Hatteras in April when springtime rolls around.  We chose to go in May, thinking it would be a bit more consistent warmer weather and water....but we got the up and down April weather instead.  Hence the title of the blog post and the video below.

As most of you know, the first rule of Hatteras Island is to bring everything.  We windsurfed in light to medium wind, SUP wavesailed in small waves, and SUP surfed in medium to fairly sizable waves, in cloudy and sunny conditions.  Still had to wear some rubber due to chillier temps but it was all good despite some rain too.

Hatteras Island will always be one of my favorite destinations.  Such a wild and beautiful place with world class windsurfing and surfing.  I have so many great memories of years past there dating back to the mid 90s to now.   Despite spending more time in Charleston and making mostly annual trips to Hood River these days, I look forward to making more memories there.

May Not April from WaterTurtle Media on Vimeo.