Signup for a folk alley account


Folk Alley Man Attempts to Summit 2nd Highest Peak East of Mississippi on Bicycle with Rescue Dogs Trailing Behind.

April 23, 2006

The tune that best showcases Doc Watson's dexterity with a flat pick is probably the Black Mountain Rag. The Black Mountains are the highest mountains in the eastern US, of which Mt. Mitchell is the highest at 6684 feet. Once you're in the Black Mountain region off the Blueridge Parkway north of Asheville you can easily see why music is written about them. They are inspirational peaks to be sure, despite the haze that surrounds them and the pollution that has damaged most of the trees up there.

I could never figure out why singer Jim Pipkin (find him in the Open Mic) left Carolina for Arizona. He explained his reasons to me over some of his Honey Mead, and they are thoughtful and sound, but I'm from Ohio. I've always wished our ravines were a little deeper, our mountains higher, our music festivals a little more accepted, and the trails more plentiful (and less rocky than West Virginia). And I like lots and lots of green. Even blue-green. That's North Carolina.

After Merlefest, it seems fitting to go where Doc Watson grew up, the North Carolina backcountry. One can drive off the Parkway straight to the top of Mt. Mitchell. I've done it, with a milkshake in hand. There's an observation tower which allows you to clearly see the J-shaped range.

OK, so if I can drive up it, why would I climb it on a bicycle? The answer is I wouldn't. However, Wood Mountain is across the valley. That one has no road but there is a bike trail right to the top. Very few smart people attempt this route, but I am taking one with me - a left handed fiddler named Ed Eakin. I made him buy a full suspension mountain bike and agree to the terms: We take our time; we take two rescue dogs (Kali and Harriet); and we turn around if we want to. As Loreena McKennitt relays - it's not the destination, it's the journey, right?

By the way, Ed pointed out that "rescue dogs" are dogs I'VE saved; he suspected that you might would think that the dogs were insurance, ready to rescue us. Umm... Now that he's made me think about it, every dog and cat I've saved has given way more back to me in return. I guess I had the term right and the definition wrong. I AM the one getting rescued, daily.

Anyway, Ed agreed to all the terms, and we're going. Joe Ebel and Annie Lalley, Folk Alley Musicians extraordinare will put us up. (or put up with us) Joe's Mom is visiting at the same time we are, so Mrs. Ebel gets the guest cottage, Ed gets the sewing room, and I get the van. I'm betting that Kali (Austrailian Shepherd mix) and Harriet (Chihuahua Terrier mix) will choose to share the cottage with Mom. Mrs. Ebel is probably figuring they'll sleep with me, but the dogs are doing the route finding and they'll need the desk and lights for nighttime study with the topo maps and trail guides. I just wanna ride.

That brings up a key point. Why a bicycle? Here's the answer: You get a free ride back down. In all my earlier backpacking journeys out west as a kid, I wished I could be riding my bike. Mountain Bikes didn't exist at that time, but I dreamed about them. Today there are two types of mountain bikers: There are the high-tech athletes who love the steeps and deeps, the rocks and racing, and they never get off the bike. That mandolin player in the Bearfoot Bluegrass band from Alaska is one of those guys (Jason Norris). Then there's me. I like to ride quietly through the woods on a bike with my puppies (and sometimes with one smarter person than me). I can't ride on the road with dogs, and hiking is too hard on the knees. I'm quite sure that the Dalai Lama owns a suspension Mountain Bike. I'll have to ask Richard Shindell, he would know for sure -- except he'll be visiting our studios at the same time that I'll be in the wilderness asking questions. I better take him next time.

Though there may not be a free lunch in life, there is a free ride - - when there's a hill. And who needs a free lunch? I'm happy with endurance bars, trail mix, and an apple.....as long as I have the one thing which I value more and more these days - TIME. Wanna go? Better yet, invite me on YOUR next trip. Since the dogs do all my planning, I have to keep replacing the smart people (don't tell Ed...)

Jim Blum

Posted by Jim Blum at April 23, 2006 10:55 PM


Support Folk Alley During Our Spring Fund Drive!

 

Recent Topics

 

 

January 2018
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
   1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31         


January 2018


December 2017


November 2017


October 2017


September 2017


August 2017


July 2017


May 2017


April 2017


March 2017


February 2017


January 2017


December 2016


November 2016


October 2016


September 2016


August 2016


July 2016


May 2016


April 2016


March 2016


February 2016


January 2016


December 2015


November 2015


October 2015


September 2015


August 2015


July 2015


June 2015


May 2015


April 2015


March 2015


February 2015


January 2015


December 2014


October 2014


September 2014


August 2014


July 2014


June 2014


April 2014


March 2014


February 2014


January 2014


December 2013


November 2013


October 2013


September 2013


August 2013


July 2013


June 2013


May 2013


April 2013


March 2013


February 2013


December 2012


November 2012


October 2012


September 2012


August 2012


July 2012


June 2012


May 2012


April 2012


March 2012


February 2012


January 2012


December 2011


November 2011


October 2011


September 2011


August 2011


July 2011


June 2011


May 2011


April 2011


March 2011


February 2011


January 2011


December 2010


November 2010


October 2010


September 2010


August 2010


July 2010


May 2010


April 2010


March 2010


February 2010


January 2010


December 2009


November 2009


October 2009


September 2009


August 2009


July 2009


June 2009


May 2009


April 2009


March 2009


February 2009


January 2009


December 2008


November 2008


October 2008


September 2008


August 2008


July 2008


June 2008


May 2008


April 2008


March 2008


February 2008


January 2008


December 2007


November 2007


October 2007


September 2007


August 2007


July 2007


June 2007


May 2007


April 2007


March 2007


February 2007


January 2007


December 2006


November 2006


October 2006


September 2006


August 2006


July 2006


June 2006


May 2006


April 2006


March 2006


February 2006


January 2006


December 2005


November 2005


October 2005


September 2005


August 2005


July 2005


June 2005


May 2005


April 2005


March 2005


February 2005


January 2005


December 2004


November 2004


October 2004


September 2004


August 2004


July 2004


June 2004


May 2004


April 2004


March 2004


February 2004


January 2004


December 2003


November 2003


October 2003


September 2003


August 2003