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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturdays are for getting lost

Unlike yesterday morning, no bears visited today. I love seeing bears but it's good news that he doesn't think that further diligent exploration will yield food from our birdfeeders. However, we have new, ingenious, bear-proof garbage cans that I suspect that the bear will investigate at least once before abandoning our territory for the season.

This morning, our foursome, two humans and two dogs, started with a hybrid bike and run, on a trail that's so sinuous, with sharp hairpin turns through rock gardens, that running it is probably faster than riding it. The trail wends through a pine forest punctuated by a few moist meadows and gulches. It has more views to the east than any other direction.But, we occasionally saw a towering craggy peak, with couloirs still laden with snow, to the southwest.
When I rolled off to ride solo, I continued my quest to get to know the nooks and crannies of our woods by exploring a new part of our pine forest. I tried to follow an almost nonexistent path that faded away numerous times during my exploration. I decided to explore uncharted territory today because I dislike riding mapped trails on the weekends with the swarms of people visiting from the city. So, I've dubbed Saturday as my day for getting lost. I succeeded today.

Someone has been working on the faint path that I followed and constructed an amusing stick tunnel.The master trail-builder also used a unique trail marker, an elk pelvis and spine, which he balanced upright, pretending that it was a human spine.Most of the trail winds along a tortuous path through dense pine forest, with trees so closely spaced that my handlebars barely scrape between them. This habitat doesn't support many wildflowers. But, the golden yellow Heart-leaved Arnica (Arnica cordifolia) flowers flourished in the deep forest and stood out like jewels in the darkness.Arnica is a 'composite flower' combining outer 'ray' flowers and inner 'disk' flowers. If you look closely, the inner disk flowers look like a sea of miniaturized classic flowers.From the side, the pistils of the inner disk flowers, which need pollen deposited in them by insects or birds for a seed to develop, protrude like golden spikes.As I spun along after investigating the sun-bathed Arnica, the trail occasionally emerged into meadows where lush shrubs and trees lined small streams. From the meadows, I could see the mountains, providing this easily lost mountain biker with a point of reference. I have no sense of direction so I always imagine the headline "Local mountain biker lost and starves to death within a mile of her home". Imagine how embarrassing that would be! Thank goodness for our towering mountains that keep me vaguely oriented.
I also climbed a few boulder piles to peek at the mountains which never cease to be gorgeous to me.
Late in the ride, I found a new trail. Woo hoo, I thought, yet another new trail! But, somehow, it led me back to the trail that I'd taken into the forest. I still don't understand how. Another reconnaissance mission is needed. Maybe next Saturday. I feel fortunate to live someplace where the forests are so vast that I still get lost in them.

On my way home, I swooped along a west-facing trail with storms rumbling over the oh-so-close Divide. I hammered hard on my pedals to win the race home but stopped for a quick photo when the tumultuous atmosphere tinged the mountain snow rosy. The mountains undergo numerous transformations from minute-to-minute, day-to-day, and season-to-season. They wear so many faces that I never grow weary of gazing at them.I'm so lucky to live here, and I won't forget it.


  1. Love the picture of Arnica1 It is a great herb for healing bruises.

  2. I used to love getting lost - "I wonder where this trail goes?" That was back when I was in shape enough to run all day and I didn't have to worry about how I was going to get back. These days making it home is a bit more of a concern!


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