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My first solo bike patrol with the cagers

Yesterday I again got up at the BCOD (butt crack of dawn) in order to get out to Cades Cove before the hoards arrived. And by hoards, this time it means automobiles.

Now, where are those Nissan Leafs when I’m behind the cars?

My day starts by locating the Ranger to get signed in and a radio. Our radios were supposed to have been fixed from the last time I was out. It turned out that three of the four were wonky.

We found one and it only picked up the local channel. This might mean that on the other side of the Cove I would need to get to the Visitor’s Center if help was needed. Once out and about, I found my radio picking up both channels.

The first half of the loop was pretty uneventful. I think it’s still too early for any four-footed black furry animals to be up! I did stop some traffic to allow some deer to cross the road.

Oh, and as I was cruising in a shaded little overlook, I came across a few gals walking. One stopped and turned towards the field. Then she started to sing. The others joined her. I was a little taken back at first. Then I smiled, because they were pretty good.

The Abrams Falls trail was reopened to the falls this weekend. Lots of blowdowns from the tornado that went through weeks ago. I do a little ride down to the parking lot to check things out. Not much, until I was riding back out on the gravel road and got to the top of the hill. A truck passed me going in and I noticed a dog hanging out of the window. So, I stopped and watched to see if they would stop.

They did.

So, I rode back down to the lot and sure enough one of the gals had her dog out on the trail without a leash.

You see, dogs are not allowed on all but three trails in the National Park. Long story, but a lot of it is animal management and the fact that our Park is a biosphere where research is turning up plant and animal life not found anywhere else on the plant. They were cool when I told them about the trails and dogs. I’ve been lucky with this so far.

I went on to the VC. My usual stop to freshen up and eat a little something (Snickers bar). As I know from experience now that the second half of the loop will probably take me a few hours to get through.

And I made it all the way to the Lawson Cabin before my first bear jam of the day. It’s kind of nice because it sits a little off the road, so unless the bear is out in the side field most traffic doesn’t have a clue.

She moved into the side field.

Fortunately another Volunteer popped in to help. I kept the people back (they do try to test you and sneak closer) and he took care of traffic.

Over an hour and a half later (I stopped looking at the time) I moved about a half a mile up the road. And a deer jam. She was just curled up up on the hill. But the traffic was jammed further up the road.

So, I made my way, weaving in and out and around automobiles to the cause of said jam.

A yearling bear.

As I got off my bike I demonstrated why I don’t walk much. I lost my footing and fell into the wire fencing running through the wooden posts! For a moment I had the thought of barbed wire. Then realized that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen, so no barbs.

You should see the bruise!

So, our yearling has a sad story. A tourist pointed him out and I swore he was a very brown deer. This little, and I mean severely underweight, guy was abandoned by his mama last year as a new cub. It seems they were all trying to cross the street and because of people and cars he couldn’t get across after his mama and two siblings did. She went on with her two cubs and left him. Mama bears do this more that apparently most think. So, when we’re trying to keep people away from the bears, it’s not just for the people’s safety. The safety and development of the cubs is at stake.

Our little yearling was munching in the field and making his way towards the road. There was one guy that myself and the other Volunteer had to keep telling to get back. But everyone else was cool about it.

At one point we parted everyone to make a path for the little guy to cross. I realized I was maybe 15 feet from him. We are supposed to stay (if we can) 50 yards or more away, but at a road crossing with a truck maybe two feet behind me (and inching forward?!) that means we’re close! He looked me in the eye. Wow!

I later learned that he has bluff charged others, including the Volunteer that I was with…just last week.

Once we got traffic moving along, I headed towards the end.

I did end up meeting the Ranger who I work for. She was out enjoying a hike with the family.

Not much more happened…and I needed to boogie to the restroom!

I rode 11 miles in 5.5 hours yesterday. With a good chunk of that spent on my feet. Two large bottles of HEED, 1 100 ounce camelback of water, and two snickers bars worth!

Can’t wait until next time!

(bridge before Abrams Falls trailhead)


6 Responses

  1. Some real interesting rides your having Marla, thanks for the enjoyment vicariously.

    • You’re welcome. For the short amount of time I’ve been doing the bike patrol in the park, I’ve had many exciting rides. The last one involved a stray dog, a buck, and just when I said the animals must be smarter than us to stay out of the heat, i roll down the road and about run into a bear. It’s a great place to be!

  2. Your “job” sure is a lot more interesting than mine Marla. A good read.
    – Antoine

  3. Knock knock, is Marla home? 🙂

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