Pilgrimage or Different Ways to fight Pre-Ski Season Malaise
|Is it possible to grow tired of this view?|
It sure wouldn't suck to find out if it did.
I guess this interaction reminded me once again about how I just seem to be a magnet for people looking for directions. In my last SummitBrew blog, I explained how, inevitably, every confused hiker at the trailhead seems to seek out my guidance. Apparently that carries over into bars. Now, the question is, did he ask me because I looked like a local, or I looked like someone who frequents gentleman's clubs? I’ll go with local. After all, isn’t what all of us want is to be a “local”, someone who lives in someone else’s favorite resort town? I’m enough of a realist to know that living in a town like Ketchum wouldn’t be all that it’s cracked up to be, maybe the desire to be a “local” is more a product of just not wanting to be perceived as a “tourist”?
The thought of being a local and living in the mountains of Central Idaho had already occurred to me earlier that morning while driving north on ID-75. The morning’s drive completed a 350 mile, spur of the moment, “pilgrimage” to my favorite mountain bike trail. (If you know me, or know mountain biking in Idaho, you already know the trail). Looking to my left and right, seeing thick pine covered foothills, pure flowing streams and majestic mountains with craggy features, I wondered, would this place be as special to me if I shared a zip code with Sun Valley? Would the views still inspire me if I saw them every day? Would I feel the same sensation of escape and lightness while venturing deep into the Sawtooth National Forest boundaries? Tough questions to answer? Save for the greatest snow on earth, my life in Salt Lake City holds very little sway over a Wood River Valley lifestyle. But these are probably pointless questions to answer considering I’m too old to live the life of a 20-something resort town free-agent scraping by on numerous seasonal jobs and struggling with the cost of living. The idea of a “pilgrimage”, making an impractical journey to visit a place that is special, distant and outside of your routine, appeals to our need to elevate our lives above the mundane, work-a-day humdrum of our everyday lives. If I lived in Ketchum, where would I find that pilgrimage? The distance to my mecca, stretching from the Timmerman Hills on the northern edge of the Snake River plain to the Salmon River mountains on the southern boundary of Idaho’s vast River of No Return Wilderness, seems to add sanctity to the locale.
|White clouds over the White Clouds|
I took a mellow approach to the ride, mainly because I was alone and that’s no time for going argy-bargy. The casual pace was also because now that I’m 5 hours from the trailhead, I only get so many trips on this trail. Savoring what could be the last mountain bike ride of the year was the order of the day. I rode the trail twice last year and that had come after a 4 year absence, so even an annual ride is tough to make a reality. As I crested the climb and the end of the forest road, the burnt, rolling hills around me came into full view and I felt proud for getting up here so late in the season and making my pilgrimage.
My preference is to be alone on any trail, but for practical purposes, it’s good to have some company, even if they are strangers. I like trails popular enough that if you did get in trouble, crawling for days just to make it back to the trailhead wouldn’t be a legitimate concern. However, I also don’t want a trail so popular that you feel like you’re riding the Wasatch Crest. Plus, considering that my last ride here involved an encounter with a freaked out bear, crossing paths with a dirt bike, only a few miles from where I encountered said bear, didn’t bother me in the least. (A side note. In all honesty, dirt bikes have never really bothered me on this trail. While they are part of the motorized nuisance crowd, they have a tendency to be on you and gone, disappearing as quickly as they appeared. Unlike ATVs which approach with all the grace and serenity of Shriners on go-karts in a 4th of July parade. The slow rolling armada can usually be heard long before they ever reach you, and after passing, the drone of their engines can usually be heard well beyond until they decide to turn right back around and pass you again; seemingly with no purpose to their journey other than to risk the lives of their helmetless children and raise a din in the outdoors.)
As I finished my ride on a descent that opened into the Sawtooth Valley and presented the breathtaking panorama of the jagged peaks to the west, I felt so good; not only from the ride, but also from the good fortune. The weather gave me just enough of a window to finish my ride before resuming its fall drenching. Within 20 minutes of loading the bike into the Outback and heading back to Ketchum, the rain had resumed. With my prescribed ride out of the way, I was free to head back into the resort town during slack season. The only thing on my agenda now was to drink and write-- in a place where Hemingway did the same thing.
|Post Ride Reward|
|"No, I said 'WHITE' not 'WET'!"|