Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ophir Gut Check

I was happy to see Mike continue on past McGrath, and even happier still to see that as of this moment (6:30pm AK time), he is heading out of Ophir. Though no mountains of mancakes are tempting him there, it is 'gut check' time, as he wrote in 2008:

Do yourself a favor--open up an atlas [or check the tracker's map -- SM] and check out where Ophir sits. Not much around, right? Takotna and McGrath sit ~40+ miles to the SE, and then waaaaay to the north is Ruby, and way to the WSW sit Shageluk and Anvik. Unless I turn around now, at my *best* rate of speed the next hint of civilization I'll encounter is at Ruby, and that's at least three solid days travel away.

Think about that for a second: When's the last time you left somewhere, anywhere, and knew that you wouldn't, couldn't get anywhere with a roof and four walls for more than three days?

Shageluk and Anvik are a similar distance away but positively unreachable--no one goes there from here, not in 'even' numbered years anyway.

Any phrase I choose will come off as cliche, so I'll just say it the way it comes to mind: Leaving Ophir is gut-check time. Have your mental shit in a pile or you'll lose it completely on the way up to Ruby. I dallied a bit while crossing the makeshift runway the dog folks use just west of town, mentally checking everything I needed off of many errant mental lists.

This year he did not have the down time in McGrath where tent parts, stove and other odds and ends were new additions to his kit. So perhaps his 'errant mental lists' are a little shorter and less numerous than 2008 when he new additions to his kit from his downtime in McGrath.

That downtime was almost 24 hours. Yet still his split times show him a day behind 2008's pace. It looks like he has been riding most of the day, with some slow spots of (likely) bike pushing. I think the pushing may be due to fresh snow, and perhaps things are looking a little like this:

(photo from Mike, 2008, just outside Ophir)

I'll leave you with the rest of Mike's words about the Ophir 'gut check':

I knew that I had all I needed--I wouldn't have made it this far if my gear or fortitude had been lacking. But still, the threshold between 'I am here' and 'that's way the heck out there' is slap-in-the-face obvious on the edge of Ophir. Somehow walking made me less anxious as I punched through that invisible wall and committed to heading north toward Ruby, so I strolled a few minutes until the lights, sounds, and woodsmoke were no longer sensible.

Despite the warmth of the night I caught myself shivering with anticipation. I reached down and flicked my headlight up a notch brighter, the better to see through the steadily increasing snowfall, then remounted and pedaled out into the darkness.

--Scott Morris


  1. Awesome stuff Mike. Love your work. Keep it up; one step (pedal) at a time. You'll get there.

  2. Damn this is good stuff. Go Mike!

  3. Amazing! Great stuff.
    Keep it up Mike! You'll make it!

  4. Good stuff Jill and Scott. I'm looking forward to MC's words on the trip too.

    Can't wait to hear what the "Big Trip" is. Been hearing about that for a couple years now it seems.