Monday, November 22, 2010

Hamilton Branch; F.A.T.S.

We tore ourselves away from the sun and sand of Edisto Beach, picked up a pound of local shrimp at Flower's on the way off island, and drove inland to another state park just north of Augusta, Georgia. The Savannah River separates Georgia from South Carolina, and in is dammed to create Strom Thurmond Lake, on the banks of which is Hamilton Branch State Park. This lake is about 40 miles long, but with a coastline of nooks & crannies that give it a whopping 1200 miles of shoreline! The park offers huge wooded lakefront sites with electric and water, and we picked one where the neighboring sites are not visible. The dogs could run free, and trot down to the lake for a swim.

It was, for the most part, very peaceful at this park. Most of the time it was so quiet that all you could here was crickets. No traffic, no motors, no other campers. Awesome. And there was virtually no wind during our stay, so the lake was like glass:

Occasionally a train would rumble by on nearby tracks, blasting its horn at intersections, but these didn't last long. One day there was a terrible racket from some kind of racecar on a motor-speedway, and it was so awful in comparision to the blissfull silence that it shattered, and the blessed silence that returned once the driver finally had enough laps.

What drew us to this section of South Carolina is a mountain bike trail system called Forks Area Trail System, or FATS. I rode there both days that we were in the area, and it was really great. The first time was a Sunday, and I arrived at the parking lot to find it nearly full - there must have been 50 cars there, all with bike racks. I got geared up and set out to sample some of the 35 miles of trails.

These trails are known for their buttery smoothness, and they were indeed smoother than any I've ridden to date.
How smooth?....................................

Yeah, that smooth.
I think I saw 5 rocks over two days. And the trails are so well cut into the terrain, traversing the slope of the land, stretching out the downhill experience for what seemed like miles, undulating between the trees, and punctuated by lumps and dips that, at speed, provided countless opportunities to get both wheels off the ground. It was really, really fun riding.

Here I am at the intersection of Big Rock and Tower trails:

Back at camp, we went for a couple of beautifully serene paddles on the mirror smooth waters of the lake.

Not a bad way to live, if you ask me...

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys just checking in and wishing you a happy Thanksgiving. Those trails look pretty nice, quite the contrast to this morning's big T-day ride at Penwood. I think at least half the group of ~20 had a flat or mechanical!