Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Biking the Phenomenon Trail

After hiking at Providence Canyon, we were ready to finish the outdoor trifecta with some biking and kayaking. Lucky for us, there is a wonderful biking trail called "The Phenomenon Trail" just a few miles from our camping spot. So we drove three miles to George T. Bagby State Park, using our new Georgia State Pass to park there while be biked. It's a paved path that starts in the forest . . .

and ends at the reservoir dam.

From the dam we could get a close up of the unusual pink grasses we had seen blooming beside the road.

Also from the dam we could look down on the lake, as well as a smaller pond that we now will call the alligator pond. On the left hand side was a 6-foot gator sunning himself.

Now just a single gator, he would be joined by a second, smaller gator by the time we rode our bikes back.

At the end of the dam, we parked our bikes by the Walter F. George Lock. We had no idea it was even there, but of course we were curious and started looking around. Then we asked questions of the engineer that came out to greet us. He told us that this is one of a series of locks used by recreational boaters moving their big boats all the way from the Gulf of Mexico up the Chattahoochee River. Normally, a boater would contact the engineer, and those one-hundred-foot-tall doors would open so the boat on the river far below could enter.

Once inside this huge box, gravity brings water in from the lake to float the boat up 88 feet higher in just 23 minutes. That would bring it to the level of the lake on the other side of the lock. Then the set of gates at the other end of the box would open to allow the boat to continue its journey north on the Chattahoochee. What a great ride for the boater, and we were surprised to find that it is free at this government-run lock. But as of August of last year, the lock was closed because of problems with those huge doors shown above. So instead, a temporary dam was built to replace the lake side door of the lock.

This little lock problem could be fixed with just $3.5 million dollars. But they are waiting to hear about national appropriations, biding time talking to curious bikers that randomly appear. 

Also along our bike path were expansive groups of these delightful white blooming plants. When we asked at the visitor center, we were told they were wild blackberries. So this trail could be a delicious experience in a month or two. But two different sources also told us that rattlesnakes love to hide in blackberry bushes, also enjoying the summer berry treat.

As we rode our bikes back through the forest, we have to ponder this wonderful life we are leading on the road. Again, we learned about things that we had no prior knowledge, just because we were curious and have the time explore. We also got some good exercise as we got to the end of our ten mile bike ride. We love this retirement life!

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