Sunday, January 18, 2009
The Roads Less Traveled By
We'd been buried in snow a few weeks ago and then we got the warm rains. This weekend promised sun, but an inversion layer locked all the car exhaust and woodsmoke in the low places, so our plan is to go higher. This time we are Mark, Matt and myself. Other candidates for adventure are otherwise engaged. This will be a short trip, an afternoon to put some miles in our legs, some grit beneath our wheels.
Taylor Mountain Forest is always a bit of a mystery, never adequately mapped, a park in process, more primeval than polished, a public bit of green and grey with a mysterious center. Someone didn't sell their land and the park surrounds a very private compound. Signs give dire warnings and I tell the others of my theory that if we trespass, we'll be hunted for sport.
The park trails are closed, but we are not on trails, these are the roads. Roads less traveled by, now that trucks no longer switch-back up the mountain to bring the trees in pieces back to town.
The inversion layer has inverted things, we climb into something almost like summer. We hike where we cannot bike, carrying our machines when they cannot carry us.
We stop and eat beneath old trees and study how wind and water still shape this land. We follow maps and memory, both of which are imperfect, towards a vague notion. If we knew for certain we'd be home by dark, would that be an adventure?
We ultimately figure which turn is the wrong one, and return to a world where the roads are clear but the air is hazy. Wheels roll smoothly on the pavement but we are already thinking of the next trip on roads less traveled by.