Today was a classic fall wake-up call telling us that winter is almost here. It was in clanging contrast to the warm and sunny day that we had yesteday. For most of yesterday, the deep blue sky with golden aspen leaves against it mesmerized me.
Unfortunately, the unmarked trails had been changed fairly dramatically, with lots of new extensions forging off in various directions. I followed several of them, all of which were steeply downhill, before realizing that I was going the wrong way. Then, I'd have to laboriously pedal back up the very long hills, while trying to suppress my coughing spasms. Eventually, I realized that I'd been riding for much too long given my illness and pain so I decided to use a "bail out" off-trail route that I've employed in the past.
Well, I got disoriented during my bail out. I had a GPS with me, and I pulled up the topo map on the screen with a little red line that showed all my movements. It became clear that I'd done the classic "lost person's spiral", going in circles while I was disoriented.
I forced myself to stop and think. I stared at my GPS, and my illness-addled brain managed to interpret the map so that I could point in the general direction that I wanted to go. From the GPS and looking around me, I even had some idea of what route would be the least steep. Then, I climbed up on a rocky outcropping that had a good view, and the panorama of the mountains on the horizon confirmed my impressions from the GPS.
So, I headed northeast and looked for familiar markings on my off-trail route. Soon, I was in the groove - I'd found my familiar bail-out route, and I descended it happily. I still had a technical and rocky trail to ride across to get home. But, I made it, albeit with a fair bit of coughing.
The moral of the story is that it's best to sit still and make a plan when you feel lost. Otherwise, you're likely to wander in circles, wasting energy (especially if you have no sense of direction, like me). I'm glad that I sat still to make a plan yesterday!
Today would've been a far worse day to be lost. It is cold with wet snow falling periodically. This morning, as Shyla and I did our daily ride, it was thundering and snowing at the same time! That's a rarity!
Here's what the surface of the puddle formed by the spring looks like. Yes, the aspen leaves are falling. They're so thick on top of the puddle that it's hard to tell that there's water under them.