Wearing nothing but a smile in the Big Elkin
by Stephen Harris
My first motorcycle, which I bought from a cousin here in the hometown, was a hybrid motorcycle that they called a street/trail. Nowadays they call them a dual sport.
Many years ago with my new, first drivers license I would ride my street/trail on the highway, knobby tires and all. But the exhaust was jacked up high like on a regular trail bike, and that provided plenty of clearance under the motor to also allow riding in fields, through streams, over berms and such.
I rode my street/trail all around here. And in so doing I learned so much more about my hometown area.
When I would spy a tractor path or some other trail leading off-road I’d go exploring. If I went biking on someone’s private land where I was not welcome I apologize, nearly 40 years after the fact.
One time on a pretty Sunday afternoon I was riding my bike on a dirt road up near the foot of the mountain. I was delighted when I looked over and saw what I later determined was Big Elkin Creek running alongside.
I stopped at a tractor trail that crossed the creek to who knows where. I thought a moment. And I took off.
I didn’t get far. Out of sight of the road and along the edge of a small, untended field I stopped at a shaded spot along the creek that looked so inviting. It was summer and hot, and the wind blowing through my hair (figuratively) while riding the bike just was not cooling me off enough.
Rocks had created in the creek some ripples that were sweetly gurgling. And there was a little, still pool between mini-rapids that looked just about my size.
So I slipped off my helmet, athletic shoes and T-shirt and waded in. I will not address an ugly rumor that the cutoffs didn’t stay on long, either.
And there with the bright summer sun shooting beams through the trees I lay back in the cooling water and let the gurgles sing to me. I lost track of the time.
During that too short of a break I contemplated a simpler life in which I was one with nature and not just a trespasser in this world. I contemplated a life with no job, no school, no pressure. And with no one else around.
Did you know there are many such little pieces of Eden all around us? We have such a pretty landscape to enjoy here in the hometown, but if you stick to the roads and with what is familiar you will miss so much.
A few Saturdays ago I joined an eager group of volunteers who cleared a segment of the planned Rail Trail. When the trail’s finished it will stretch from Elkin Park to Stone Mountain.
We trailblazed on the north side of Wells Knob and not too far upstream from the spot where many years before I took some time and some other things off.
Whenever I go off on one of these projects once again I go off-road. I see some new sights, meet some new people, become reacquainted with some old ones and gain a new perspective on my hometown area.
I fall in love all over again with this hilly land which my family and I have been enjoying and where we have been prospering now for more than 200 years. Life’s been good here.
What a great chance the Rail Trail will offer some day for you to go off-road as well. No bike needed.
By the time they open the trail – at a date to be determined - these tired old legs probably will be too far gone to walk the entire 20 miles from Elkin to Stone Mountain.
But I do hope to still be able to take some shorter trips. I’ll start from the house, trek about a half-mile over to Klondike, then onto the trail for new adventures. I’m looking forward to it.
I expect to see some new views out of sight of the roads and learn a bit more about my hometown area. And I expect it will be exhilarating.
However, I do plan to keep my clothes on.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.
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