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S24O: Turkey Creek

When I think of S24Os, wilderness camping is the first thing that comes to mind.  But any local destination will do for a mini-tour.  A cheap motel, nearby campground or even a friend’s couch make great destinations. 

A mere 8.5 miles from our backdoor is the privately operated Turkey Creek campground.  A small brook, Turkey Creek, meanders through the camp and eventually pours into the Nantahala and Little Tennessee Rivers.  The campground sits in a heavily wooded cove just off NC Highway 28 in the community of Almond, NC.  It’s in a great location.  Close to Tsali Recreation area, the Nantahala Outdoor Center and Bryson City, there is plenty for visitors to do.  Single track mountain biking, zip-lines (canopy tours), white water rafting, trout fishing and tons more are within a few miles. Bryson City is the closest town and would make the perfect starting point for visitors to the area wanting to include a short bike tour in their Smoky Mountain vacation.

With the exception of stealth camps and backcountry camps in the park (GSMNP), Turkey Creek is the quietest campground I’ve experienced and it’s very clean and well laid out. Sites have picnic tables, fire places and raised tent pads.  There’s also a very nice bathhouse with hot showers, a coin laundry and a game room.

I make a very Spartan (but Ultralight) camp consisting of little more than my Big Agnes tent in fast-fly mode, Big Agnes air mattress, summer sleeping bag and a small twig fire. Equally Spartan is supper: Instant mashed potatoes, frozen peas (thawed by the time I cooked) and Spam. A few cookies for desert, Yummy.  After dinner as the light begins to fade, I crawl into the tent to read.

A lot has been written lately about e-readers on bike tours.  I’m choosing a totally different device to read with, a paperback novel from the local library’s used book store costing a whopping twenty-five cents. Battery life is substantially longer than most e-readers although processing speeds are getting slower the older I get. Titles are limited, but I’ll bet more will be added if this ‘paper book’ reading thing catches on.  I’m reading Conrad’s novella “Heart of Darkness” (which, by the way, is a total rip-off of the movie “Apocalypse Now”).  Despite Conrad’s frequent use of the “N” word, this short novella is about the right size for an overnight bike trip.  Its dark dreary plot reeks of existentialist angst and should be read with caution if you are feeling the least bit suicidal.

An hour long downpour put the Big Agnes’s fast fly to the test.  The biggest issue was big fat rain drops ricocheting off the muddy ground into this Ultralight shelter.  The next morning everything, including me, was covered with little muddy dots.  This may not have been a problem if I had pitched the fast fly on grass and staked the rain fly closer to the ground.

Overnight trips feed my touring addiction and stave off withdrawal symptoms until I can manage more time for a longer trip.  I’m very fortunate to live in a place with so many opportunities for short bike camping trips.

Packing List:
The standard fix-a-flat stuff that’s always on my bike
Big Agnes Seed House 2 fast-fly ~ Big Agnes air mattress.
Summer sleeping bag
Snow Peak 700 titanium mug/ DIY windscreen pot stand and a few Esbit tabs, lighter, spoon
Food in a zip lock sandwich bag, camera and a paperback novel

Thanks for reading, Jack

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  1. July 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Great descriptive story, and it sounded like a great time. I also have nice options nearby, but the summer heat is a little on the oppressive side right about now. Even so, I’m thinking about trying it anyway. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. July 10, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Great post! I can’t even dream of anything close to camping till October, at this rate. Here in the Dallas metro, we are experiencing the 100+ temps. I am happy for ya!

    Peace 🙂

  3. The Velo Hobo
    July 11, 2011 at 6:30 am

    In my neck of the woods, it’s more the humidity than the heat. Hot and thick pea soup fog (hence the name “Smoky Mountains”) seems to suck all my energy. Early mornings and later in the evenings are the best times for me to get out on my bike. It’s a good time here to go to higher elevations, like up on the Blue Ridge Parkway for cooler temps and thinner air.

    Thanks for the comments, Jack

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