Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There comes a time.

When our usual habits do not, will not, suffice.  





When we need to explore new places, experience unique panoramas, inhale exotic smells.  







And be inspired by them.







Hear new (or at least long forgotten) sounds, including the many varieties of silence.







And wonder about them.







Take bold, calculated risks.  







Then learn from the failures, and revel in the tiniest of victories.




And then?  

Repeat.




  As comforting as habits are, they do little to inspire, inform, or energize our lives.  







At least not our lives.  We need fresh things to keep us fresh.







Including fear, humility, even intimidation...







...balanced with awe, introspection, and appreciation.







Our lives are predictable in that we are inundated with new information ("news") all too often, to the point that we are largely desensitized to it before we've even processed it.







  Sidestepping that cycle and immersing ourselves into real places -- doing things that can please, or hurt, or teach, or kill us -- brings us back to the present.  To the simple state of being present.







Whatever it is that scares, inspires, intimidates, or emboldens you -- reach out, embrace it.  The time is right.


Thanks for checkin' in.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hidden Gem: Colorado.

Last weekend, while looking for something else, I stumbled onto a trailhead.  It was new to me.  In 25 years of living within a few hours of this spot, I've probably driven or ridden past it 50 times.  Maybe more.




With only 90 minutes til sunset I knew I wouldn't get far, but that seemed all the more reason to grab the bike and go.  In the interest of saving time I forewent the chamois, just slipped on shoes and helmet and started climbing.




It was steep.  I like steep climbs, and my bike is geared for them.  Still, I walked a fair bit up this trail.  Walking allowed me to catch breath while noting the various states of change of ground cover, scrub oak, cottonwood, dogwood, box elder, and aspen.






The tread was skinny and seemed little used.  The forest was quiet, serene.  That omnipresent kind of quiet that makes you speak in a whisper, even if only to yourself.  It felt not unlike a cathedral.  I felt not unlike a believer.




75% of the climb was done in this gear, begging it.  The other 25% was walking next to the bike.




The forest was mature enough to have a canopy but not so old that undergrowth couldn't thrive.  My inner aesthete kept returning to the word "balanced".






I'm not particularly good at them, but I love switchback challenges.  Several were so steep, and so tight, that I could only negotiate them while walking behind the bike, rolling it along on the back wheel.  I can nose-pivot the bike when needed, but I lack the commitment to do it when it's this steep.




Eventually the pull of new trail was overridden by fading light, creeping cold, and my lack of lumens or layers to adapt.  I flipped it and enjoyed the sound of plump low-pressure tires gliding over duff and organic soil while hyperaware of every noise I didn't make.  Lots of bears in these parts, even if none showed themselves on this night.




Had someone prepped me for how uniquely enjoyable this trail was going to be I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly as much.  For that very reason I'll only share that it was somewhere within the Uncompahgre drainage.  Happy hunting.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Common ground.


I've spent a lot of time in and around Moab over the past 25 years.  That fact alone makes me feel unaccountably wealthy.  Maybe lucky is a better word.


Even if you've never been there, you likely 'get it'.  The unique geology and presence of desert, alpine, and river in such close proximity lends itself to all manner of outdoor recreation and exploration.  Virtually limitless potential for anyone with the ability to think outside the dots.




We've done countless single-day trips in the area -- literally driving there, playing on rock or in water, then driving home same day.  Not ideal, but sometimes that's all the window you have so you take advantage.  Going briefly beats not going at all, ya know?






There have also been innumerable weekend trips -- sometimes for a night, sometimes for two.  You get so much bang for your buck on these that it's difficult to *not* head home glowing.  I accidentally ripped 6 spokes out of a wheel once at the top of one of my favorite descents in Utah.  I subsequently walked, carried, and dragged my 35# bike for the next 4 miles to get out, and I still finished that day, and that trip, happy -- appreciative to have been out on the rock.






We've also done a number of multi-day and even week+ trips around Moab, riding, boating, combining the two, even backcountry skiing.  Camping under the stars, in windstorms, sandstorms, and snowstorms, while traversing vast chunks of landscape.






After decades of tripping to Moab for various objectives or no reason at all, this last weekend we found a new impetus: Hiding from copious and unseasonable rain and snow in Colorado.  We fled west looking for dry rock and moist sand.  We weren't alone.






In fact, we'd normally avoid Moab at all costs this time of year, because we (well, maybe it's just "I") have become increasingly crowd averse.  Unsurprisingly it was busy when we arrived, and the collective we were crammed onto very few trails -- the ones that most quickly shed the rain.






And, honestly, it was fine.  I don't relax much when repeatedly bumping into other people, but the bike riders, moto riders, and texas wheelchair jockeys we crossed paths with were all at least respectful: Just out enjoying themselves, same as us.  Can't ask for much more on multi-use motorized trails.






That said, the existence of mere tolerance should not, in my opinion, be 'enough' for any of us.  IMO thriving should be the goal, and feeling humbled and insignificant in wild places is, perhaps quixotically, my favorite means of achieving that.  I may be alone, but I do not, cannot thrive when what predominates is the sound of engines revving, tires spinning on rock, music blaring above all else.




Recreating around Moab is effectively the opposite of a wilderness experience.  You pretty much can't go there expecting one unless you're willing to make some compromises -- like leaving behind bikes, boats, and vehicles and going off-trail backpacking or ski mountaineering for a few days.  And even then you need a little luck on your side, because it's just that popular.


That said, it is impressive bordering on amazing that so many people can be outside recreating in close proximity, and (best I could tell) all getting along despite massive differences in the ways they choose to see and interact with the world.  Tolerance and cooperation don't equal a wilderness experience, but that doesn't make them any less remarkable these days.






Point simply being that I was surprised how much I was able to enjoy myself in the midst of masses of not-my-people.  








Can you blame me for concluding, admittedly from within the throes of an endorphin-soaked haze, that maybe we can all get along?




Probably not.  But maybe we aren't as divided as the cheeto in chief wants us to be.  Maybe we just need to spend more time on common ground.  Outside.






Against all rational explanation I want to believe that those whom would empower such a buffoon aren't so different from me.  Situationally, sure, but fundamentally?  No.


I don't know how else to reconcile where we are with where we seem to be heading.


Have a great weekend,


MC