Friday, May 31, 2013

You Sure Look Like You Could Use a Drink of Water - Land Between Lakes, Tennessee

Day 23 - Hillman Ferry, Land Between the Lakes (LBL) to Piney LBL, Tennessee  54.8 miles

We had quite a restless sleep as during the night our campsite was raided by a gang of masked bandits.  Yes - we were victims of a racoon invasion.  We had hung our food before going to bed, yet the little rascals valiantly attempted to get at it all night long.  We were quite nervous as the next 2 or 3 days takes us into a forested area, and we will have little opportunity to buy supplies.  I was concerned when I heard loud snorting beside the tent, but Rob reassured me it was probably just wild hogs and not to worry!  We survived the attack unscathed....just a little sleepy.

Crossing the Tennessee State Line
Morning has become our favourite time to ride, and we find ourselves getting up earlier and earlier to avoid traffic and heat and to really enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest coming to life.  This morning's trip through Land Between Lakes was the sun rose we cycled in silence listening to the bird's morning chorus and taking in the scent of honeysuckle in the air.

One of our guidebooks describes the Tennessee terrain as a series of exhausting roller coaster hills....enough said.  This morning as we were seeking refuge in the shade during one particularly long hill climb, we noticed a jeep in the distance pull a U turn.  The driver came back, pulled up beside us and said, "You sure look like you could use a drink of water."  He was a man of few words and simply handed us 2 ice cold bottles of fresh spring water and was gone before we had barely said thank you.  AWESOME!

Cold, water delivery - another random act of kindness!
We met Matt and Jennifer at the South end LBL visitor centre.  They were from Nashville and out "letter-boxing."   Their mission was to check on their letter-box site, that has been undiscovered for over 5 years.  Rumour has it one should look on the Devil's Fork trail.  They explained letter-boxing is like geocaching - but low tech and more fun.  We chatted for a while and then Matt asked for our picture.  He was intrigued with our trip and wanted to show his buddies in Nashville a photo of the 2 Canadian cyclists.....

For the past few days we have been hearing tales of an infamous Costa Rican cyclist following the same path we are on but moving south to north.  We laugh as many of the folks we run in to have met him, but we have yet to catch a glimpse.  We were hoping cross paths and get some insights on the route ahead.  Today at the LBL visitor centre, we learned that he found the Tennessee hills too much and hitched a ride from Waverly to LBL in order to avoid them.  Now, we are really feeling nervous!

We neared the end of Land Between Lakes early afternoon and had a tough decision to make.  There was a beautiful campsite beside the lake, cold drinks, swimming beach or a 40 mile trek to the next campsite.  It was hot, 90 plus degrees, humid, the wind had picked up and we were looking at a series of ridges and valleys for the next 40 miles, with no services.  Yes - the same section of terrain that humbled our Costa Rican friend.  Needless to say, it was not a long discussion!  

Piney campground - tent site with a fabulous view of the lake

We look forward to good eats and a good sleep tonight as prepare for tomorrow's assault on the Tennessee Hills.

Giggle of the day:

As if snapping turtles, barking dogs, bounding deer,  wild turkeys, snakes, turkey vultures, raiding racoons, ticks, lizards and poison ivy wasn't enough.....

Bison - Elk and Bison Prairie - Land Between Lakes