The arrival of fall in the high country has always been highly anticipated by both of us. Call us suckers -- the shoe fits -- but we find cool temps, dramatic scenery, uncrowded trails, the anticipation of coming winter, the nostalgia of seasons past, all rolled into one blink-and-you-missed-it package positively irresistible.
And, now, we can roll in the anniversary of our marriage. No real reason is ever needed to coerce us into the high country, but with all of the above considerations it has become nigh on impossible for us to want to be anywhere else this time of year.
A route was discussed. Bikes and bags were packed. Forecasts were checked and rechecked. Friends were invited. And then up we went.
Our batteries have run low from the past 6+ months of balancing (interesting term, considering how bad we are at it) work pressure and stress with sleep, and rest, and spending as many heartbeats as we can outside.
So we set the bar low, choosing to make an overnighter out of what we once thought of as a long day out. Essentially leaving time for a nap, or photos, or doing nothing at all.
Grinding out 3000' of friendly but persistent gradient we're passed by an apologetic guy on an e-bike. He realizes that he's "cheating", but says that it puts a smile on his face. He seems content with that tradeoff, as, I imagine, are most heroin addicts with theirs.
Rounding each bend and savoring each new perspective makes us yet more appreciative that the harsh light and temps of summer are behind us.
Jeny, repeatedly: "Oooh! Oh! I want to go there!"
At a bend in the road where the gradient goes richter just as the surface devolves, we step off the trail, lean the bikes against conifers, don layers and collect burnables, then settle into the space for the night.
Peet and Lulu arrive just as fire is kindled. All present can attest that their company warms the place at least as much as ember and flame.
Night is cold and long, a welcome precursor of the season approaching. Morning sun is sparse and welcome.
Straight out of camp we push, toiling happily if effortfully toward a ridge and a trail that have featured prominently in all of our lives.
While pausing to suck wind we notice snowflakes: Ones and twos at first, then the valleys fade behind billowing curtains.
All are prepared for the temps and moisture, especially when laboring uphill. None of us expected nor could have prepared for lightning. When it appears we are inches from our high point, with the much-anticipated fruits of our labor stretched immediately ahead over the next miles and hours.
A brief pow-wow on what to do is interrupted by a few close flashes, each nearer than the last. The discussion is moot: Down we go.
Thousands of feet of vertical evaporate in moments, each more thankful than the last as electricity repeatedly zaps the ridge we've just abandoned.
Down low brief sunlight intervenes, brightens our moods. And then the next wave, and the next, roll in and shellack us.
Jeny, while riding a river of babyshit to close the loop: "I'm disappointed that we didn't get to connect up there -- with the place, and each other".
Me: "I'm glad we aren't welded to our bikes".
While dodging puddles and aggressive drivers we have the chance to put the weekend into some semblance of perspective: Life is rarely as we expect or hope it to be, and for that variety we should all be grateful.
Thanks for checkin' in.