Capitol Forest is a lovely 150 square-mile chunk of mountains, trees and streams a bit over a hundred miles (as the Turtle rides) from my home in Issaquah. Since the forest includes over 500 miles of gravel roads and more than 150 miles of single track, it's just about the perfect place for me to practice for the Tour Divide.
My practice consists of going slowly, testing what I have to see if it is enough. I have too little gear to be taken for a bike tourist and I'm going far too slowly to be mistaken for a bike racer. I fuel at bakeries, cafe's and mini-marts. When asked where I'm coming from, I fall into the randonneur's white lie -- telling folks the last town I passed through rather than the place I left this morning. Too much distance is too much to explain.
My eyes see more than my camera, but an eagle on a branch or a coyote running in the low scrub make me try to lock these wild creatures down in pixels. And I'm still a sucker for small town pride, history packaged in parks and odd bits of roadside Americana.
I sleep in a green place and listen to rain falling on the trees and tarp.
Morning brings every kind of weather and I climb into fog and hail and more snow than I thought I'd find here in April. At the fork in the trail, one route goes higher. I think it goes over the mountain but water has seeped onto my ink-jet map and the way up is indistinct. I add a better map case to my list of items to procure back when I'm in the world of men. I take the downward fork and roll toward the lower country, where the sun is shining and machines are busy making coffee.