Ferdinand Foolishness

The plan was hatched weeks ago. I would return from a family Florida trip and undertake a gravelling the Sunday before tennis season started. To further sweeten the punishment pot, Patrick suggested a Sat.night camping to augment the gravelling. People were informally invited. Of those, Timothy was the only taker. He arrived before us, but it took a while because Ferdinand State Forest was REALLY DARK. First we happened upon a gathering. Then the man with the brown outfit asked if "we were invited" to this here shindig. "No", we replied, wherein we hightailed to the pay spot and then escaped the bruhaha. Seems some tennie-boppers were going to have a party.

We finally found Timothy atop the hill and we set about camp, with Patrick trying to start a fire and Timothy and I fetching more wood. All to naught, though. The wood was damp and we never had that good blazing campfire we need in the freezing temps. Did I mention that it snowed on Patrick and me on the way in?

We ate (thanks to Patrick's chilimac) and bedded shortly thereafter. It was cold. And the cold continued well through the night. My BigAgnes pad has a small hole somewhere- one which I couldn't find in the bathtub yesterday- so I had short use of it and mostly slept on the Thermarest on the ground. I was cold. And slept like crap.

This morning we made some quick coffee and learned that Timothy's "not great stomach" had ended in some vomiting and an even colder sleep for him. He packed up and went home and Patrick and I embarked on a 55-miler in temps somewhere in the mid-20s with an attractive breeze livening things up a bit more.

Camp, with snow that fell during the night. It was cold.

Admittedly nice sunrise over the forest.

They were waiting for our demise. The raccoons eventually gave up the previous night.

Morning coffee, a necessity.

We realized pretty early on that our original 55-mile route wasn't going to happen. I had planned some short-cuts, and we would utilize one of them to soften the blow of the cold temps and questionable form. We found, though, gravel conditions all over the place: frozen, snowy, chunky, muddy, hard-pan mud layer, smoothness, not-road gravel.... We also got pretty warm early on, which was later explained with a saucy headwind on our turn home. And so it goes.

First gravel on E850S

This is the intersection  at October and Cloverdale where we decided that today should be shorter and more pleasant than longer and abusive.

We missed a turn along W Oak Hill and then doubled back to find a deteriorating road along the power lines, one that then plummeted down a creek run. At the bottom we found two barriers. While the left looked a bit more pleasant, and the right more challenging with an immediate creek crossing, the planned short-cut said "Right" so away we went. Conditions then deteriorated some more, with wash outs, a set of horse hooves and plenty of chunkiness to challenge the efficacy of the 35c's on the Sogn. At the top of a rutted climb where we stopped for a snack we then saw one, two, three hikers in full gear out for the afternoon. They informed us that our "road"  was the Birdseye Trail, which is open to hikers, bicycles and horses. The road/trail deteriorated some more along a pleasant-but-challenging descent, where Pat extended a good lead with his fatter rubber. At the bottom we were met with an interesting portage, one we eventually succeeded in crossing without taking a dip in the cold stream.


GPS short-cut track said Right

Spot where we met the hikers. 

Crossing. We went to the left of this pic and managed with little problem.

After this adventure we met a longish section of the chunkiest gravel of the day. No bueno. Shortly thereafter we arrived in Birdseye for a quick water/food stop and then a final turn towards the car. By this point, one of us was suffering mightily, having just come off a week-long virus. The other was nicely fresh. Ultimately, the shorter day satisfied all parties. Why be miserable?

Fargo and Sogn. Not the same size.

One-room schoolhouse. Cool.

I wouldn't say we finished strongly, but we finished sans injury, sans damage, and had a great Sunday of gravelling, fun enough to return to this excellent area.


Kokorozashi said…
Looks like a really nice (if cold) trip. Part of me is sorry I missed it; part of me is glad I stayed home like a wimp and vacuumed my living room carpet.
Pondero said…
The route looks fantastic. But I'm guessing it would be more fun with a good, warm bed the night before. My sleep-on-the-ground limit is about mid-30s. Why be miserable?

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