Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Paragon, High King, and Scarce o’ Fat

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Our weekends have just been getting better and better. We’ve really lucked out and had great weather to be outdoors. This past weekend, I rode again with the Bloomington Bicycle Club (“BBC”), and Sarah and I hiked the High King and Scarce o’ Fat trails at Yellowwood State Forest.

Cycling to Paragon

I was a little unsure whether to ride with the BBC on Saturday morning. There was rain in the forecast, and when I woke up, it was overcast, but it didn’t look too threatening. There was also a pretty good layer of fog covering everything. I decided to go for it, and I’m glad I did, because the rain never came. I got ready and rode over to the meeting place, the Bryan Park Pool parking lot. The ride went to Paragon, IN, a very small town around 20 miles north of Bloomington, and a bit to the west, and back.

It was a beautiful ride, especially with the fog, until the sun burned it away. We took a lot of remote roads through various wooded areas and by farms, etc.

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A field on the way to Paragon

I’m getting better at riding in a group, but I still have a lot to learn. I’m getting more comfortable with riding so close to other riders, drafting, etc. Sometimes it’s a little baffling trying to keep track of what’s going on, as we usually ride two abreast, and people have to dodge various obstacles … potholes, sticks, rocks, rough pavement, etc., and most of us will point out these obstacles to the cyclists behind us and announce “rock!” to warn the others, etc.

This means that the two lines of bikes move almost like a snake, the riders in front moving out to avoid an obstacle, and the others following. Also, people in the group regularly pass each other or fall back, so you never know who will be in front of you, behind you, or next to you at any given moment — and it happens so smoothly that sometimes you almost don’t even notice.

We saw a couple of turtles crossing the road in different places (I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere), and it was pretty funny to see someone point and yell “turtle!” The warnings were helpful, but in a way, it felt like being in elementary school all over again.

Our first break was at the Mount Pleasant Church (I think), and there was a dog wandering around with no apparent owner. He seemed friendly, though, and one of the other guys pet him a little bit. When I stopped, the dog made a beeline for me … he must have smelled Rob. I pet the dog for a little bit and snapped a photo of the church and cemetery. I noticed some of the gravestones read, “Acuff,” and there’s an Acuff Road not too far from where we were.

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Mount Pleasant Church (I think)

Those are the only photos I took on this ride; one disadvantage to riding with a club is that it’s not conducive to photography. But from a riding perspective, it was great. I even lead the group for a little while, although I wasn’t sure how fast to go. I tried to keep the pace they had been keeping, but then the rest of the group fell behind. I slowed down, and they caught up with me, but then I thought that I was going too slow.

We took another break when we got to Paragon and went to a gas station to get some additional snacks and fluids, but for some reason ended up going to the other Paragon gas station, which was about two blocks away. It was a really small town, but pretty quaint. I enjoyed what I saw of it, which admittedly wasn’t much.

We rode back by way of Old State Road 37, going by the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. This part of the ride was more familiar to me. All told, I rode 51.3 miles. I think I’m going to join the BBC. The social aspect of it isn’t really what I had hoped, but the rides are great, and they come up with routes I would never think of. There was one pretty cool guy, Wade, who rode with the BBC for the first time, and I’m hoping he’ll come back.

Hiking the High King and Scarce o’ Fat trails, and a picnic

Sarah and I had planned to hike the Scarce o’ Fat trail at Yellowwood State Forest on Sunday. I took quite a few photos on this hike, but I’ll put them at the end of this post as a PhotoBucket “remix.” We got up and went to Subway so we could have a picnic before our hike. We drove to Yellowwood, driving my Ford Taurus through a creekbed that it certainly wasn’t designed to go through, and hiked up a hill to eat by Yellowwood Lake. It was gorgeous, the perfect picnic spot, and there weren’t too many other people around. We ate and admired each other and the lake. It was bliss.

Sarah took some photos of some of the many butterflies we saw as we went to the car to put our trash in it and grab whatever gear we needed for the hike. There are (at least) two ways you can go: you can hike up High King Hill and take that to the Scarce o’ Fat trail, or you can hike up Scarce o’ Fat itself. We had heard we should do the former, so we did.

High King Hill is supposedly so named because it’s the highest point on land that used to be owned by a Mr. King. That seems to be true, but you can’t tell me that the play on words is coincidental. There’s a sign at the bottom that says 1/4 Mile Steep. I didn’t find it to be super steep, but that’s only because it’s a well-designed trail. It even has some wood pieces in places to create makeshift stairs and prevent erosion. This makes hiking it relatively easy, although it’s a bit tiring to hike up a hill that size no matter how you do it. On the way up were a couple of tree stumps that had been cut out in the shape of chairs. I set the camera on self-timer on another stump, and Sarah and I sat in opposite tree trunk chairs looking at each other. It’s a pretty funny photo, and it’s in the “remix.” There’s supposed to be a “vista” at the top of the hill, and there sort of was, but it was too overgrown to get a very good view.

We reached the Scarce o’ Fat trail, which is supposedly called that because farmers had little success growing anything on that land. The trail followed a ridge for a while before descending into a valley and following a creek or two for a while. It was really pretty, and we saw tons of toads and butterflies, some mushrooms, lots of wildflowers, etc. Eventually, we climbed out of the ravine and the trail met up with a fire road for a while. This fire road supposedly used to be a stagecoach road, and it’s fun to imagine riding through the area on a stagecoach.

The road split, and we weren’t sure which way to go. There were no obvious signs. There were shapes spray painted on trees which we had seen along the way, but I guess we didn’t completely understand that we were supposed to follow the diamonds. Leave it to me to overthink things instead of just following a diamond shape painted on the trees. Anyway, we followed our instincts and hiked for a while, but it seemed like we had hiked for a long time without finding the trail.

We second-guessed ourselves, went back, and went the other way for a while, but there were no markings of any kind in that direction. Eventually, we turned back to go the way we had initially gone. When we reached the point where the road splits, I saw a snake basking off to the side. We took some photos, and I apparently scared it away. It darted back into the woods and disappeared.

Eventually, we arrived at the trail. By this time, our feet and ankles were pretty tired. Most of that road had been rather loose gravel, and it was the hardest part of the whole hike. And then we walked on it a lot more than we would have needed to had we trusted our instincts a little longer. But most of the rest of the hike was downhill. It felt great to be back on the trail instead of that gravel road. Things were a lot prettier again. Sarah was hiking ahead of me and was going pretty fast — I had to hurry a bit to keep up. I was impressed with how well she held up and how fast she was still hiking.

As we descended toward the end of the trail, I was really glad we had hiked up High King Hill instead of going up the way were going down right now. It wasn’t steep, but we went downhill for what seemed like forever, so I know going the other way would feel like climbing forever and probably would have been a lot more tiring than High King Hill.

I love being out in nature with Sarah, away from people for the most part. Something happens to me when I’m there — the rest of the world melts away, leaving only Sarah and me in a place of quiet beauty. I would say it makes me feel like the luckiest man under the sun, but it’s more than that. It makes me feel like the only man under the sun, with the only woman who matters, and it seems like the trees, creeks, toads, flowers, mushrooms, and even the snakes are all for us … and that’s even better.

We arrived at the car and left, still feeling the sun on our faces, and I watched Sarah’s hair blowing in the wind from our rolled-down windows. We were tired, but it felt great. We felt a real sense of accomplishment and connectedness to each other and nature. I stopped to snap photos of a couple of things on our way out of the state forest. I know we’ll go back again soon.

Finally, here’s that remix with photos from our hike. I didn’t add any music this time, as I couldn’t find anything fitting in the options on PhotoBucket.

8 Responses to “Paragon, High King, and Scarce o’ Fat”

  1. furiousball Says:

    Couple of nice little journeys there. I plan on doing a lot more photography and biking come July-ish. When I took my son through a trail ride this past weekend, he was worried that a bear was going to come get us. I told him if he stayed close, he’d be fine.

  2. John Says:

    Double paceline? Good for you. Did you guys get up some speed. Like 20-22 mph?

    I know what you mean about the photobucket music. When you’re ready for youtube, let me know. You have to have a movie program, but Windows XP has it preloaded.

  3. John Says:

    p.s. the other reason for youtube is that I cannnot view the photobucket remix at work, and cannot edit things at work.

  4. Apertome Says:

    I wouldn’t call it a double paceline exactly, it’s a little less structured and formal than what I would consider a paceline, and a little more haphazard.

    The speed much of the time was in the 18-20 mph area, although it was higher at times and lower at others. I think I hit 39 mph at one point, I am pretty slow on climbs. I think my overall average was 16 and change. The more aggressive “Mad Dog” group was not present this time, and I probably wouldn’t have ridden with them this time around. It would’ve been too much.

  5. Marty Says:

    I really enjoy reading your riding entries – they sound fun and exhausting at the same time, but still make for good reads.

    I know what you mean about the trails – I’ve often found myself trying to sync up the trail markers and a map, only to learn that the map was created by a one-eye navigator with a lean and vertigo; better to stick to the trail markers, usually. I really enjoyed the photos, too. You managed to capture your hike wonderfully – I always forget that sometimes the simpler pictures can be much better than getting too hyper-focused on getting ‘something’ in the frame…

  6. Apertome Says:

    Thanks Marty, I appreciate that. It’s completely different for me taking simpler photos like this, with a point & shoot camera, instead of my usual gear and artistic mindset. It’s actually kind of refreshing just trying to capture what’s there and not worrying as much about the technical stuff.

  7. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Lake Trail Says:

    […] We approached the end of the lake and hiked across the dam. We had picnicked here before when we hiked the High King Hill and Scarce o’Fat trails before. […]

  8. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Modified Paragon route Says:

    […] The only time I have ridden a version of this route before was with the Bloomington Bicycle Club back in May of last year. I looked at the map and it included an out-and-back stretch that went to Paragon and then crossed […]

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