words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Posts tagged “FATS (Forks Area Trail System)

your world beginning | into the gathering of dreams – day 3


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filmed in 1080 HD: please select this quality setting in the tool icon, for high-definition viewing

“Into the Gathering of Dreams – Day 3”, continues my series “Your World Beginning”, which explores the fusion of past, present, and future through the lens of daily life, dreams, and aspirations; beautiful times gone by, transcending the mundane, and an unknown future. The series is an attempt to capture the essence of being in the present moment, while simultaneously reliving moments from the past and dreaming of the future: Into the gathering of dreams.

The central filming in the video is from an afternoon biking at the Forks Area Trail System (FATS) in South Carolina, located on the border of South Carolina and Georgia. The filming of the biking was produced in 2010. The system consists of four machine-made trails, each approximately 6 miles in length. They are fast and free-flowing, making for a wonderful biking experience. Located in the midlands of South Carolina, the trails themselves are not as intimidating as the mountain trails located in North Carolina and are a joy to ride.

“Into the Gathering of Dreams” combines different elements, each having its own moment in time and space. I recently watched again, a documentary on the opera “Einstein on the Beach” by Robert Wilson and Phillip Glass. I had the pleasure of seeing this 4 hour opera in 1984 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I mention this because the main concept was how time and space interacts with objects, people and places. Place a familiar object in an unfamiliar place and you create a new reality. Surreal, beautiful, conflicting, or contrasting, yet a reality unto itself. Part of my process as a digital artist is to reinvent and remix these “realities”. The digital medium and digital process itself, provides a beautiful, infinite and creative end to this objective. And it is also my objective through the process to infuse an emotional integrity, influenced by the experiences we all share. To touch on something that is universal.


Biking to a Place Inside and Out / 04

Road biking at high elevation on the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

But here in the South biking takes on a whole new dimension. It explodes with energy and beauty. Both road biking and mountain biking provide a means to an enriching and trans-formative end. This post entitled “Biking to a Place Inside and Out” includes a gallery of images that records visually that magnificent end.  And it is an attempt to express the color, beauty, emotional, and physical essence of biking. It is difficult to say what I enjoy most–road or mountain biking. They both provide their own unique challenges. The mountains of Western North Carolina, and the forest areas of South Carolina harbor great recreational parks such as Tsali, DuPont State Forest, Bent Creek, and Laurel River in NC and Paris Mountain, Southside and FATS (Forks Area Trail System (named one of the top 10 machine-made trail systems in the country)) in SC. These are moderate and difficult level trails with hundreds of feet in elevation changes. They are comprised of single track, access roads, and some, like the Left and Right Loops at Tsali, a single track that the rider navigates around a large man-made lake (Fontana Lake). In a recent conversation with a fellow rider, we discussed the horrible consequence of making a riding error and going over the edge into the lake (not good). In the winter the lake is drained and in the summer it is at full capacity.  Until then, it had not occurred to me that the prospect of losing one’s bike to the lake could become a reality.  But a challenge is a challenge, and in mountain biking especially, there can be no room for fear. Both the Left and Right Loops are each approximately 12 miles in length, and any lapse in concentration could be costly. In contrast to the obvious hazards, Tsali is a very beautiful recreational park located on the borders of Swain and Graham counties with the Great Smokey Mountains as its magnificent playground.  One can only marvel at the beautiful surroundings that become infused with every fiber of your being as you push, pedal and commit yourself to go one yard farther—to make that climb. Throughout most of these parks are rivers, gorges, tree roots, rocks, creek crossings, ravines, dead drops, imposing trees everywhere, and some that provide mountains summits that climb to 5000 feet. Expect to fall, expect to get hurt. These and numerous other challenges test the will, the level of oxygen deprivation to the muscles, balance, hand/eye coordination, timely decision making, and your overall physical stamina.

The tree obstacle on the trail at Laurel River, North Carolina