I’ve spent as many weekends as possible in 2021 on mountains. Every weekend since getting mountain bikes, my bride and I have gone west, south, or north of Atlanta to ride. One weekend earlier this month, however, we brought the children, and Jody brought his oldest daughter, and the 7 of us stayed in a cabin in a mountain biking hostel of sorts (that’s how an article we read in Atlanta magazine described it, after which I immediately booked a trip) called Mulberry Gap in north Georgia near Ellijay. We met a couple that had driven down from Cincinnati, OH; another came from Greenville, SC. Clearly this place was a destination, and it didn’t take us being there long before we agreed. There’s a barn that’s been converted to a dining hall, and the breakfasts and dinners (and even the sack lunches) prepared there were delicious. There’s even a shuttle service to pull you and your bikes to the trailhead so you don’t have to complete your run and then pedal back up a dirt road several miles to get your car (or to start your ride if you leave the hostel without the shuttle).
We did the Pinhoti 2 trail, which we were told would be “good for a family” but we later saw was a “blue/black,” and I loved it….my youngest child, not so much. There was a fair amount of climbing involved and the descents involved roots and rocks. I captured some of it with my newly installed helmet camera, as did my son (his footage is better quality):
We loved our time at Mulberry Gap and certainly hope to go back this Spring or Summer. I’m even looking into parcels of land in the area where we can pitch tents or trailers.
For Valentine’s Day weekend, my bride and drove a couple hours northeast to Highlands, NC. There aren’t biking trails nearby, but there are lots of hiking paths, so we climbed Whiteside Mountain on a cool, misty Saturday, and it was great. We stayed at the modest but very adequate sister property of Old Edwards Inn, called 200 Main (as the former was booked), having cookies, beer, and champagne delivered to our room each evening that we enjoyed in the parking lot after the early bar closures mandated by Covid, like a couple of delinquents. I’d love to go again when more of it is “open” and bring the children.
Last weekend, we flew to Denver and drove to Frisco to ski Copper Mountain during one of the biggest blizzards the area has ever seen–it was awesome! Until it was time to head home Monday evening, and Delta moved our flight to…Friday. Normally, I’d be fine with turning a 4-day weekend into an 8-day one, but I had a conference to chair in Atlanta and no lodging (or clean clothes) after Monday night. After an hour on the phone with Delta during which I scoured a map looking for cities with flights to Atlanta to which we could drive, we were re-booked for Tuesday night out of Kansas City, so we loaded into the rented Nissan Armada across a snow-covered I-70, and after about 10 hours of “Hamilton” show tunes, slept in Topeka, finishing the trek to Kansas City the next day, which allowed time for a stop at the Brown v. Board of Education historic site, some bbq at Arthur Bryant’s, and a tour of a really well-done WWI museum before boarding our flight home. The Mrs. and I even got bumped to first class, where we drank beer and guffawed at “The Big Lebowski,” as I love to do on a Delta flight.
We hadn’t skied since A-Basin in 2015. The children took lessons the first half of Friday, while my bride and I skied some nearby greens. Later on, I ventured off by myself and used the Strava app to record my runs, which was amusing to look back upon, as I thought I was being quite safe and conservative, but the app’s indicating I was going 35mph made her shudder. I did a few blues but mainly just enjoyed the gentle slopes of the greens as snow poured down from above. We continued on Saturday and Sunday.
Given we all upgraded our goggles, jackets, and pants for this trip, we’re going to make more of an effort to ski more frequently than the approximate “once every 6-9 years” we’ve been doing (it’s also cheaper to get a pass before the season starts instead of buying lift tickets right before you arrive, which were $600/day for the 5 of us, AFTER military discounts). Even the most timid among us (i.e., my bride) enjoyed our time in the snow on the mountains. Our ski in/out condo even had sleds we used Monday morning before heading to I-70!
The mountains called, and we went. This upcoming weekend, we 5 are going to the highest point in Alabama, Cheaha State Park, for more of the same (on bikes, not skis) as my friends Jim Bob and Jody meet us with their families. Are the mountains calling you? If so, I highly recommend heeding the call of the mountains, whether in hiking boots, on skis, or on pedals. It’s good for your soul.
This might be the only part of my character that has ever been described as “timid,” but it’s fair. I love the peace of the snow, but I’m not so sure about the speeeeeeed. (Buckets of snow falling on Colorado was MAGIC, though, truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. Big love.)