Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Circling the edge of the neverending

Wow ... it's been four days since I posted last. The truth is, I haven't been doing anything. Well ... that's completely untrue. I haven't been riding ... or hiking ... or running. That's a true story. And now here I sit on the eve of the eve of my third annual Golden Circle tour, something that I am completely undertrained for. But that doesn't really matter. That's life. And right now, it's the kind of life that's really best just to roll with.

I've been digging through last year's Golden Circle posts, hoping I'd convince myself the ride was easier than I remember it being. I came across this paragraph from Sept. 24, 2008, that struck me, for both its parallels and its premonitions:

"When Geoff told me he registered to run the Bear 100 this weekend, he said he mostly just wanted a good, hard effort with the alone time he needed to think about his future. I told him that's the same reason I wanted to ride around the Golden Circle again. Now he's backpacking in the desert and I'm still planning to pedal into the Yukon, a vast amount of space in which to think, and a vast number of miles to ride on less rest than I should have given myself. But I look forward to all of it. I leave soon to catch the 12:15 ferry. Wish me luck."

September 2009 has been a big month for me. Huge, in many ways - the elevation I've climbed, the new places I've traveled, the intoxicating awe I've experienced and the new relationships I've forged. Planning this bike tour is a big way to end a big month, and it means something that it's the first non-solo bike tour I've planned since 2004. That thought occurred to me when I was sitting on Grandchild Ridge, talking about alpine euphoria with my friend, Dan, when my cell phone surprisingly caught a connection with the outside world through that beautiful, vast space, and it was my friend Keith in Banff calling to plot summer 2010 adventures. My friend Christina called later to say she had read my Mount Jumbo column and wondered if I'd climb it with her. My friend Abby and I have been plotting (although not yet executing, for me at least) monstrously long runs. Now I've convinced my friend John in Connecticut to endure an epic flight just to go on a weekend tour of the Yukon. For so long, I feel like I have been on a solo journey, and suddenly I am sharing these deep and lasting experiences with other people. And it's not, or at least it doesn't feel like, a desperate attempt to stave off loneliness post-breakup. It has been a genuine forging of deep connections with others who see the world the way I see it, with wide-open eyes and the glee of a child. (And, yes, I am aware of Geoff's latest post, and that is what got me thinking about all this. He and I, despite our general lack of communication these days, still share common views of the world.)

I guess I have him to thank for both of us expanding our perspectives.

Sean and I hiked the Treadwell Ditch Trail on Saturday. He wanted to walk the whole length of the thing, something I have never been interested in because I viewed it as 13 miles of tree-shrouded monotony. But on a rainy morning, I finally committed to traipsing through the forest on a muddy, deadfall-littered, badly maintained strip of trail. We pushed through misty thickets, traversed green and gold muskeg, crossed swollen streams and paused to check out the moss-covered remnants of long-ago mining ambitions. And as we approached Douglas, and the first downtown buildings came into view through the spruce branches, I was amazed at the distance we had covered. It felt like we had walked a mile. And part of me had to wonder if the Treadwell Ditch was really so interesting, or if maybe ... it was just Sean.

Now I'm looking ahead to a number of paths, and I have no idea where they lead, but I'm genuinely OK with that. In fact, I'm excited about it. Even wandering around in dark woods has led me to some amazing places. And I'm excited to push my overused, undertrained body around the Golden Circle again. It's a vast amount of space in which to think ... and to share.


  1. Have a great adventure. I'm excited to see all of the pics and hear about it.

  2. Happiness only real when shared.
    -Christopher McCandless

    There's something to that.

    Ride safe.

  3. Undertrained body!!! Hardly. I hope you enjoy your next adventure and all of those to come.

    It's good to share your passion with others.

  4. Bring that undertrained body (ha!) over to our place Friday night and I'll show you what *really* undertrained looks like. I'll send you an email with our ph#, but Sierra and I will sort out what to do with you when you arrive. Looking forward to seeing you. Fingers crossed for dry, sunny weather.

  5. someone's hooked a new BF!


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