I just got back from 4 days of riding in the Smoky Mountains. Read about day four here….. http://blog.ridedms.com/
Day 4, Monday September 24
The last day is always so bittersweet. Bitter because I have been away from home for 4 days and missing the wife, sweet because the riding down there is so awesome. We had originally planned to spend a day down in Rick’s stomping ground, the Georgia Mountains. In the morning we got together and decided instead of running the hour and a half down there we would stay local, go back to Krambonz for lunch and get back to the house early enough to get the bikes loaded before dark. We had a plan and we were off.
It does not get any better than an early morning ride up RT28 from Franklin. This road has been named the “Moonshiner 28” because local legend has it this was a favorite road for bootleggers. Since the bootleggers knew the road so well they could out run the police as they hauled their liquor out of the mountains. It makes for a great story. Even if it isn’t true it is a fantastic road to ride a motorcycle, one of the best in the area and my personal favorite. After a start like that we knew it was going to be a great day.
We made the left on RT74/23, went 3 miles and turned right continuing up Rt28 passed Fontana Lake. Once we got to Stecoah we made the right that goes by Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge and Campground. This another local treasure of a road that twists through the hilly countryside and comes back to RT28 that we have found to be a worthwhile side trip. At the stop sign at RT28 we had our only mishap of the trip. When everyone came to a stop, one of the riders, I won’t say who, stopped a little too close to the side of the road. When he put his right foot down it was on the very edge of the road which dropped off about 4 inches. You can guess what happened next; his foot slipped off onto the wet grass causing him and the bike to do a slow motion tip over. The problem was he didn’t stop there. The momentum from falling caused him to roll to his right into a rather steep, grass and brush filled ditch. All we saw was feet as he toppled into the ditch. Luckily there were 2 small trees that stopped him after he rolled down about 7 feet. The thick grass cushioned his fall so he was unhurt. He came out laughing so of course we all joined in. The bike avoided any major damage and after a couple of quick tweaks we were back on our way.
We continued on RT28 along Cheoah Lake to RT129, The Dragon, but decided make the left at the store and continue on Rt129 South. At the bottom of the hill when you cross the bridge you can look over at the dam that was used in the filming of “The Fugitive”. You remember the scene where Ford turns back to Tommy Lee Jones before jumping off the dam to what would be, anywhere but Hollywood, his death only to survive. This is that dam.
We worked our way back over to the Cherohala Skyway for two reasons. First the Skyway on a Monday, when it is lightly traveled, is just about the most perfect motorcycling road, no matter what type of bike you ride. Nice curves, well placed outlooks and incredible scenery of the valleys and surrounding mountains greet as you ride along the mountain top at 5400 feet. Although on this trip we kept a brisk pace because we had reason two on our mind; lunch at Krambonz. I’ll say it just once more, if you like BBQ, you have got to eat there. How can you beat a huge baked potato (biggest I have ever seen) with butter, cheese and sour crème topped with two inches of pulled pork or brisket for only $8.00. Some our party split one, some of us (me included) didn’t but couldn’t or wouldn’t finish it all.
After a fantastic meal we decide it was time to head back over the Skyway. Since we were full and not in any hurry a more relaxed pace and maybe ever stop at some over looks to get some pictures was in order. We stopped at a few outlooks and the pace was still brisk enough to keep my attention.
When we got back to Thunder Mountain Store we looked at the watch and the map to see what else we could squeeze in. The decision was to ride over to Bryson City and ride the “Road to Nowhere” out and back. The road has an interesting history that you can read about here. Since the road does not get any real maintenance it is pretty rough in spots but still worth the ride. It abruptly ends just before an abandoned tunnel through the mountains that is eerie to walk through. We didn’t walk down to the tunnel this trip but while taking a break at the end of the road meet a brother and sister who owned property in the area that filled us in on some of the local history.
Remember I said we wanted to get back early, well that was not working out so well. The sun was getting low as we headed down the mountain through Bryson City and back over to RT28 and back to the house. We just had time for a quick beer as we loaded up the bikes just before the sunset. Another great trip!
Over dinner and more beers in town (I am so glad Rick is our designated driver) we started planning for next year……possibly even a dual sport ride in Colorado, that will be epic!