Sunday, November 10, 2013
Falling into place
Shadows lengthen, the days shorter and cooler, the trees burning with a dying fire. Autumn is my favorite time of year. I tolerate the summer, but it is the fall that I live for. I've been hip deep in the demands of teaching, so like most years, my outings are restricted to a weekend day here and there, the thrill of a short bike commute or the occasional longer run down to the college, although I'm growing tired of that ride, mostly because of the illegal dumping and garbage along the second half of the ride. Let's face folks, Bakersfield is pretty much a dump. Once I'm out of the mountains, the riding is good, but the scenery blows. I'll continue to do this 45 mile mega-commute once and a while for the exercise and the little thrills it can give me, but my heart isn't always in the game.
At long last my injured finger seems to be tolerating some genuine effort and strain, so Jodi and I have been hitting the rocks. I found that I've been benefiting from more regular weight training in my little home gym in the garage. We've had some incredible weather this year, so even in November, I've had some workouts with the garage door open, shirt off, slingin' weights like the middle-aged fool I am. In fact, I was in mid-workout on Halloween when three kids--the only children I would see--came over from across the street, a girl about 8 or 9 years old leading her younger charges. She was dressed as Hobbes, her little brother as Calvin, so I was down with this crew. Probably the scariest thing she did was cross the street towards a half-naked 6'4" tall man in dark glasses pushing weights! The uncertain look on her face was classic! I was delighted and ran to get them a few candy bars. The good stuff, too: Kind peanut/chocolate 1 percenter bars, I tell you what. They left, and I reveled in the bright evening sun on the mountains. The kids were out early, for sure.
The rocks. The rocks. The rocks. This is a deep, old addiction for me, one that got its claws into my soul back when I was 15. Virtually all of my friends have long since dropped the sport, moving on to other things. Jodi is my main climbing partner, and this activity has been central to our relationship in many ways since we first met. I did, after all, sell her a pair of crampons for the Sierras when we first met. Yeah, she was hot for a shop boy. Now, if I don't climb with Jodi, it has been with some young lads, over thirty years my junior, who tie into the other end of the rope. It's a sad fact that most men of my age are on the accelerated path to sedentary and fat. I read today that the average American eats 150 POUNDS of sugar every year, much of that in the form of high fructose corn syrup, of course. GAH! Imagine three fifty pounds sacks of sugar. Grab a spoon. Dig in, dudes.
Where am I going with all this? I have no idea. I'm addled from too many essays, a beer heading too close to empty, the setting sun on the mountain. We climbed well the last couple of days, feeling that old joy of the push and pull, the bite of fear and overcoming. We have some great adventures in store that I will record here for the handful of readers who stumble in. We will ride our heavily laden trikes from Lone Pine, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, over ten days ending on Christmas day in Vegas. We've done this ride before, although never precisely this way. First, we've never cycled directly over Towne Pass from the Panamint Valley, usually taking Wildrose Summit. This time, we'll go direct. Then, instead of heading out through Death Valley Junction, we'll head due south from Furnace Creek and then over Salsberry Pass to Shoshone. We've never climbed that pass from west to east before. Should be some good, hard triking and a few sub-freezing nights for sure. After the first, we're bound for the outrageous rocks of Cochise Stronghold in southern Arizona for a week or so of vertical hooliganism. I've got some ideas for tech articles, too, so check in occasionally. You never know what you might find.
Get out, get out, wherever you are!