Reflecting on the diminishing sun I shook my head, amazed that it could be happening again. All of the essential elements were there, and clearly. I staggered up from a nap, groggy and exhausted after consecutive weeks of travel. I just wanted to escape the work scene and explore a little singletrack on Jake Mountain before dinner.
The thought of backtracking was enough to summon the little tickle of fear that comes when you know you have done something dumb and a price must now be paid. To backtrack was a guaranteed dark finish. Not to mention my fellow social work colleagues would mount a rescue bigger than the search for Eric Rudolph.
My rational mind wasn’t worried about death or injury, just inconvenience and frustration. I wasn’t feeling so great to begin with and now I was facing a mighty trudge through steep hills of sticky clay in the dark with little water and no food.
Been there done that. (note use of common cliche!)
Once again, the map and the ground did not match up. I needed Forest Service Road 28,but it just wasn’t there. I saw a tree stand and decided to think it over from an elevated perspective (and maybe see the road?)
I considered what was needed in the circumstance. To turn back would require resolve- resolve to climb the rutted out downhills of wet clay I had descended to the bottom of the cut, where the sun seemed so far away. To turn back was a guaranteed hour or more, and definitely some darkness.
To continue in what felt to be the right direction, despite the conflicting information on the map required courage- courage to succeed or face the consequences.
My weary bones compelled me to gamble on courage. Thirty more minutes of deep woods slogging and I breached the road! I was five miles past the intersection I anticipated, and about eight rolling miles from the van, maybe not epic, but when you are weak it all seems epic.
This riding, with no hope and no energy? This is my secret talent.
I own the ride of the hopeless. I am its patron fucking saint.