Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
Once I find my back to the parkway from Asheville -- not as easy as I thought, I'm boxed in by some big roads -- I'm back to slaving away up the hill in my lowest gear. I'm on the climb all morning long and into the early afternoon before I finally reach the highest point of the parkway at 6,053 feet (1845 meters). All downhill from here to the West Coast, right? Please? Pretty please?
This road is on a ridge -- of course, it's called the Blue Ridge Parkway -- which would give one the impression that the road stays up high on the spine of the mountains, and therefore would not have a lot of elevation change. Definitely not the case. The road is constantly diving down from and climbing up over peaks. I rode the parkway twice on a motorcycle, on my way from Boston to New Orleans and back, so I was aware of its roller coaster nature. Of course on a motorcycle one can't really appreciate the extent of the climbing involved. I can't say for sure because I don't have an altimeter with me but I see from an internet search that the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive combined have 47642.58 feet of elevation gain. With my various trips down out of the park to towns and climbs back up, call it 52,000 feet. So after today it has been 10 days of riding since Front Royal, Virginia at 5,200 ft/day (1,585 meters) of climbing with 60 miles/day of distance (96.5 kilometers). That's some work.
I set up camp back in the woods behind one of the overlook parking lots. Having spent last night in a city, I'm well stocked with fresh vegetables, cheese, and pasta for a huge dinner to replace the day's calories. I can hear noises from some houses down below in the evening but I'm feeling confident that I'm hidden enough to avoid being found.