Thursday, February 04, 2010

Past The Gate

The gate is less than an hour's ride from my house. Not far past the gate, the pavement ends. The road goes up. A bit further on a creek has washed away a chunk of the road and the way across involves balancing on the rocks, using the bike as a crutch. I scramble up the other side.

My friend Mark, who has been with me here many times but not today, has told me things his GPS and computer have told him. The average grade from here to the ridge top is 7 percent but there are tenth-mile sections of 15 to 17 percent and some that are much worse. I have a map with dense contour lines and a compass and legs and lungs and bicycle that tell me these same things in other, non-numeric ways.

My map and compass comfort me and affirm the instinct that tells me to take the rougher road, the one that heads higher.

The roads are here because the towers are here and the towers are here because this is a mountain and these days we mark our mountains with towers to cast our words and pictures and bits and tweets and American Idols widely into the world.

I crawl up these roads, roads where I only ever see white service trucks go. And I bring my own bits, stamping photons into electrons, images into memories, pictures from the wide, high places squeezed into silicon circuits, bits acquired trudgingly to be blasted back at light speed, through wifi and 3G and gee-whiz, bounced back up off towers and blogged and tweeted and interneted in a web that never quite captures...

What it's like to pitch a tarp just as the light is fading, just as the rain is starting.

The rain falls and the wind tugs at the tarp but these are the things I have come here to test. The goal is not to recreate every warm comfort of the civilized world, 3,000 feet below. I'm here to learn if I've brought just enough comfort, if I'm comfortable with enough.

The rain doesn't last as long as the night. In the morning I leave the bike and hike higher. There is snow in the high country.

A lake shines in the distance. I won't hike there today. I've come far enough, for now.

I return to camp, pack up and roll back to Issaquah. It's not quite right to say I'm rolling home, it is more accurate to say I'm rolling through home.

There is more home to explore and I will keep rolling.
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