Timon of Athens, 2010-07-30 18:15:36
I needed some pictures from the southern part of the trail so I decided I would go from Welda to Iola and back. I arrived at Welda at 9am and got the bike off the back of the car, loaded up my water bottles and was ready to go. It was eighty-two degrees and about a 10mph wind out of the south.

This gave me a chance to check out the detour between Welda and Colony.

It’s not too bad, but it is long. It’s not break-your-spirit hilly like the detour between Scipio and Garnett was but it is not railroad grade either. I put in my five miles on the country gravel roads and saw one car the entire time. They waved.The surface was not trail-sized gravel so expect some bumps as you lope along. When you connect up with the trail you can look back down the closed area and see the tunnel for the future has already been put in and covered. It looks like for all general purpose, the trail should be open. Grumbling, I turned south, determined that I would take the much shorter Old Colony Road alternate on the way back.

First of all, the surface between Welda and Iola is in much better shape than the rest of the trail. Much flatter, harder and smoother. I felt like I put in pretty good time on the stretch to Colony. And the trail scenery was much improved. The rains have made this stretch positively verdant. My last memories of this stretch consisted of very dry, brown and over 100 degrees last summer and very dry, brown and under 45 degrees last fall. It was much different this time.

I arrived at Colony soon enough and sat at my favorite picnic table for a good while. I love the vista at the Colony trailhead. It was warm, but I had the perfect breeze to cool me off. After about 10 minutes I stopped at the ATM at the bank and went into Colony Foods for a Gatorade. Had a good 20 minute conversation about how the plans to tear down the attached building might endanger the business. Needless to say, by the time I left at 10:40 I was sufficiently cooled down for the next leg to Iola.

After passing under the Highway I was welcomed by much shade all the way to Iola. I did notice small clouds starting to form on the horizon however. Lollygagging seemed ill-advised from this point on. As I hit the asphalt in Iola the first thing I saw was a large (4′!) snake sunning herself in the middle of the trail. I did not stop to inspect and she did not move as I went past. About 100 yards away I came upon a herd of young rabbits. The seemed content to stand by the trail and watch the idiot go past. This was a much more pleasant compared to the carrion possum half way back to Carlyle.

I zipped around Iola taking pictures, bought a sandwich and discovered that Sunmart was gone. You may have noticed that it has disappeared from the website, I will seek out a new close grocery stop in the near future. Since I was pushing noon, it was time to head back.

Well, it is all uphill to Colony, and in the heat you start to feel it. My indicator was hovering around 100 but the clouds were starting to get organized and gave me some shade now and again. I took my limited comfort from that, knowing that organized clouds were not exactly my friends at this point. A sudden thunderstorm halfway between Colony and Welda was my worst nightmare at this point as there would have been NO cover and a dirt road detour for the last segment. Needless to say, rest stops were going to be few and brief.

As I approached the detour I decided to bite the bullet and take Old Colony Road. There was a bit of traffic but the speed limit was 35 and everybody seemed reasonable. I was not longer afraid of getting caught in the rain as I could see Welda in front of my and the cloud hadn’t made themselves ominous yet. The road was bumpy and full of potholes, but as the official traffic detour (as opposed to the official bike detour) it had been worn very firm and smooth surfaced. By that I mean you rode smoothly into and out of the potholes.

Got back to the car at 2:00.

Good day, good ride.


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