May 12, 2007
Route: Clear Creek Trail to Rockport Rd., Rockport to That, That to Leonard Springs (stop at Springs). Back to Eller Rd, Eller to Garrison Chapel, north to Gardner, over the ridge on Gardner to SR 43, north to Whitehall and east to Vernal Pike, and back to town.
Miles: 38, 11.5mph
Weather: perfect, hot till we got to the springs and cooled off, then after 5pm, a wonderful light cool breeze.
Nature sightings: A large hawk, a redtail, or perhaps a northern harrier, flew right over us on Vernal Pike, while being harrassed by a gang of smaller birds, who kept dive bombing the hawk. Leonard Springs, even after several weeks of dry weather, was flowing freely, the waterfalls were all splashing, and the water was cooling. Surprisingly the mossy green stuff that grows in the rocks in the stream was not at all slippery, and the water itself unbelievably clear, the ony taste being the mineral content.
There is a lot of relatively flat karsty territory out west of Bloomington, perfect for raising (longhorn) cattle.
Vernal Pike is perhaps one of the eastiest returns to town after a long trip, a bit of a climb to get across 37, but nothing compared to Mt. Gilead, Kerr Creek, Schwartz Ridge or Bottom Rd. You gradually ride out of the Richland Creek Valley, quite idyllic (except for the PCBs down stream from Conard’s Branch.) When we got to Loesch Rd, we found Vernal Pike closed due to the renovation of the bridge, looks like a month or so more before it opens (you can get across, but it is not easy.)