V Strom riders from all over the eastern US arrive to swap tales and enjoy the scenic Smokey Mountain roads, both on and off the pavement. The Iron Horse is a full service motel and also includes a social area, dining services, and onsite camping.
Kevin Pugh and I departed Paducah Friday morning, June 16th, and rode I-24 to Murfreesboro, TN. Leaving the interstate, we picked up two-lane roads (Hwy 70 & 30) east across central and eastern Tennessee. This was my first time riding this area, and I was more than a little impressed with its scenic beauty. At Sparta, TN, we caught up with the rainy weather front that had covered Paducah the previous day. The rain was light and spotty, and proved not to be a problem.
We stopped at Tellico Plains, TN to check out the Tellico Motorcycle Outfitters. This is a high-end shop with an excellent inventory of bike clothing and related products. I was specifically interested in seeing the new Olympia line of bike clothing. I think I found my next riding jacket .... we'll see.
Leaving Tellico Plains, we immediately rode up The Cherohala Skyway. As soon as we reached the higher elevations we encountered a stiff wind, dense fog, and spitting rain. The fog was simply too thick to continue, so we made the prudent decision to return a campground near Tellico Plains. We spent the night at The Indian Boundary Recreational Area waiting out the fast moving front.
It did not take us long to locate the campground, and to set up. Canned soup, beef stew, and trail mix were on the dinner menu. It rained off and on, lightly. The evening was futher punctuated by the call of the owls, and the whippoorwills. All in all, not a bad night.
Saturday morning, after quickly breaking camp, we continued up the Cherohala Skyway. The rainy weather front from the day before had long since cleared and left a beautiful, bright blue sky with infinite visibility. In all of my Smokey Mountain trips, I have never seen it any prettier, or the visibility any farther.
It did not take us long to find the Big Santeetlah Creek Road (Forest Service Road 81), which runs from the top of the Cherohala almost to Robbinsville, NC. This is a beautiful gravel road that winds up and down the mountains, through deep woods, alongside mountain streams and beautiful waterfalls.
For some unexplained reason, large groups of butterflies were congregating on the damp ground. We saw several different varieties almost everywhere we rode.
The Stewart Cabin , located on the Big Santeetlah Creek Road, is an unmanned National Historic Site. We stopped here to take a break, and talk to the many off road riders passing through.
We arrived at The Iron Horse in Stecoah, NC around noon Saturday, registered, and quickly set up our camp alongside the many tents already there.
Not wanting to waste a beautiful day in the Smokey’s, we rode over to Bryson City for lunch. From there we rode up the Blue Ridge Parkway to the point of the highest elevation before returning to Stecoah via Waynesville and The Smokey Mountain Parkway. (Notice the clear, bright blue sky)
Saturday night we had dinner at The Iron Horse, and visited with the many V Strom riders in for the meet. I saw several old faces from previous meets, and many new ones. Later, we retired to our tents along side a beautiful stream that passes through the property.
Sunday morning we broke camp early, and were ready to ride after an Iron Horse breakfast.
The ride home included a quick stop at The Tail of the Dragon Store. For some unknown reason I had never seen The Tree of Shame even though I had been to the store many times. This infamous tree sports broken parts picked up from the many motorcycle wrecks that happen on a daily basis riding The Dragon.
(Photo's by Killboy.com)
After riding The Dragon, we continued on to Marysville and rode the interstates home to Paducah, arriving home at 2:30 pm.
No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities. ~Christian Nestell Bovee~