MORE MILES THAN EXPECTED

What an adventure. I’m usually pretty good at gauging distances, but with my maps packed away at Shera’s house and me just days away from moving into a sweet little house in downtown, I decided to just go for it. I had only one day to get myself as far up into the wilderness as I could without a car, and Jacks Spring Rd seemed like the most interesting and back-roadsy option being that my heart was set for the Tam MacArthur Rim.

I started pedaling at 4pm, leaving downtown and pedaling up towards what has become my usual “hobo” camp for the summer. A mile further I was biking up a minor, yet steady climb. And climbing I went. After a total of four hours, and how many miles I’m still unsure of, I made it to my destination, Bottle Creek. I walked up it and found a slender camp that was flat and rocked by the gentle sound of water. I made dinner, drank a little wine, and fell asleep by 9:30.

After a relaxing morning, I seated myself back onto my bike and continued on. “When will this end?!?” I asked out loud, a tone of bitterness growing. And with that I continued to pedal uphill, solidly locked into my lowest gear.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but was really an hour, I found the very non-descript trail that I was in search of. I found it a year ago on another adventure-in-the-woods. It’s a totally unmapped and unmaintained trail that happens to give an awesome back-door access to the Tam MacArthur Rim. I locked my bike to a tree, waved a few Mosquitos out of my face and charged onward, now with trekking poles in hand. And boy did it feel good. I love hiking. My body and mind was instantly happy, eager for each step. I felt my lungs expand and any aggravated thoughts subside. Cherry on top, indeed.

A few miles later I was cruising along the rim. On a Monday, few people venture up there, and I had this spectacular place almost to myself. Alpine lakes, volcanic cinder cones, snow-swept peaks. Too good to be true. And indeed today was. As I was in the midst of lunch, lounging back and settling my gaze upon the Three Sisters, a bird swooped in overhead and disturbed my peace. I then looked in its direction and immediately saw a huge thunderhead making progress toward me. Not wanting to mess around, I cut lunch short and charged back up the trail. It turned out it wasn’t as bad as it first looked. Nonetheless, I headed back across the alpine beauty, down through the forest, reclaimed my bike and began pedaling back towards Bend.

I have to say, time flys when you’re riding downhill. It was almost entirely downhill, despite the ba-gillion miles that it may have seemed like when coming up, and I have to pat myself on the back for having such determination for having made it there in the first place. I’m a novice rider at best. And as I rode, I had a few comical moments to myself. The first which will always describe a thru-hiker’s mind in its true form, which takes the root from a joke we thru’s have come to know quite well. It goes:

A day hiker comes along and sees a M&M in the dirt. He looks at it, considers it and keeps walking. A section hikers comes along and sees a M&M in the dirt. He looks at it, picks it up, eats it and keeps hiking. A thru-hiker comes along and sees a M&M in the dirt. He looks at it, picks it up, eats it and then begins digging around for more.

Today, despite the fact that I am months post-thru hike and in the process of contemplating my next move, I found myself just as much of a thur-hiker as ever. I found cheese-it’s. They were crushed into the dirt road, with one lonely intact square, and I decided it was best to pull over and enjoy an afternoon appetizer. It complimented the sip of wine I had just had, and after savoring its small surface area, I deemed it as being the low-fat variety and decided to forgo the remaining morsels. I know, I spoil myself.

After pondering such good-luck, I pedaled my way downhill, through the forest on a fairly maintained 4X4 road. In route it started to rain, so I pulled over beneath the limb of a lodgepole pine. Anyone who knows their trees will know there is not much girth to such a tree, but I managed to find a dry patch of ground nonetheless. Waiting out a short shower, I resumed pedaling and at the next road section my chain popped off. I was busy getting my hands dirty when a truck pulled up beside me. That’s when I turned around to a forest service vehicle and immediately fell in love. This man, Joe as he introduced himself as, was intrigued by my adventure. I’m a girl, alone in the woods, and seemingly aware of my whereabouts. And there I am, totally oblivious to my general stature as my legs are chalked with dirt and my shirt unbuttoned and hanging off in either a very unkempt fashion or some not-trying-to-be but totally sexy, unadulterated woods-woman-y way. I have a ball cap on beneath my helmet, which intrigues this beautiful man even further. It sports the sticker “hiker trash.” It spurs the conversation of what hiker trash means, and eventually, in my attempt to describe it, I reveal that I have walked many a mile. (To view some cool stuff my friend has made about hiker trash visit We Are Hiker Trash In the end we had a great chat and he recommended that I come out and volunteer to work on the trails. I was happily willing. No romantic dates are planned, sadly on my behalf, but he did give me his card. Maybe the stars will align.

As I resumed pedaling I couldn’t help but laugh, thinking that he must have thought I was completely out-there and happy-go-lucky-in-love-with-adventure or that he too was totally starstruck with love. I’m pretty sure he thought I had fallen of the wagon…

And now, hours later, after a soak in Tumalo Creek, I am camped back at my “hobo” camp. As short as my weekend may have been, it was a pleasant one indeed. Many good memories, many good laughs, and a surplus of exercise my body has been craving.

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2 thoughts on “MORE MILES THAN EXPECTED

  1. Yes! I loved this Mary. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Finding cute boys in the wilderness is the best. Especially when we flabbergast them with how dirty and happy we are even though we are “girls”. So much fun!

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