Stoked in Revelstoke!
In all the racing about, from here to there and back again, take time to see the flowers!
Mowing the lawn the other day, I noticed the irises were blooming. Where had I been? Indigo, periwinkle, ivory. The colors were vibrant. Spectacular! Columbine. Roses. Bleeding Hearts. Lavender. Awash with color, how had I almost missed out on this beauty that was in my own backyard?
Fitting in a quick ride after a long day of work, I almost didn’t. The desire just to stay huddled on the couch wrapped in a wool blanket with my schizophrenic cat was pretty strong. Chilled, exhausted, it would be so much easier to just not. But, that berm needed to be built and our tools were already up there and the rain was holding off at least for another day…
Daisies, Lupine, Foxglove, more Bleeding Hearts, Fiddle Heads, even waist high nettles. The trail was abloom with wild flowers. The clear cut burgeoning with new growth. Were there always all of those flowers before the clear cut? Could we just not see them through all the trees? With endings come beginnings. Letting go of the loss of our “deer trail” and rebuilding when the clear cut was finally stacked and burned, has brought renewal in mind and body, and especially spirit. A Renoir field of flowers, baby trees, and new vistas – Rainier, Big Four, Sisters and the Olympics – are what our backyard is now made of – a simple paradise.
Maybe yesterday I was just more aware of Spring. Textures, colors, sounds. A meandering pedal up the trail, placing a shovel in the golden earth, carefully sculpting the new berm. A gazing in wonderment at the surrounding beauty.
Not just a ride from here to there, but a journey of exploration and appreciation for what is and was and will be.
A friend lost her husband the other day. Not from illness, but a car accident. In the blink of an eye he was gone. Life is fleeting. And, just like that, if we don’t take the time to stop and be grateful for what we have, it could be too late. That seemingly insignificant moment lost. Forever.
It seems I can spend so much time trying to get “it” done, fit “it” all in, try to “keep up”, that the finer moments are sometimes missed, they may have even disappeared without being savored, or even noticed at all. We don’t always need to be in a hurry. “It” doesn’t have to be a race to the top. Slowing down to see the daisies, move some dirt, pet the new growth on a fir tree, appreciate, is integral to our well-being, brings depth to our experiences, enhances our memories with the finer nuances, and allows us to be present in body and spirit while escaping and letting go of the clutter in our minds. Those voices in our heads that seem to keep us too busy hurrying up that we forget to relax.
Embrace each moment and bask in the beauty which surrounds you. Drag yourself off the couch and go outside. Inhale deeply. Fill your soul and empty your mind. Be free. See the world with eyes wide open. Let go of worries about time and responsibilities. Find freedom in a bike ride, a hike. Sit in silence, feel the wind on your face, embrace the moment of now, revel in the touch of a loved one. This, right now. Is happening. Don’t miss it. It could be too late.
And, don’t forget to stop and frolic among the daisies. For oftentimes, it is the simple things that we will remember!
trees bend / giants bowing east / swaying, dancing / as dusk settles in
I feel the wind / on my face / tangling my hair / cleansing my spirit
arms raised upward / I embrace it / baptized in this holiness / our backyard paradise
healing flows through me / and my thoughts scatter / I am only here / NOW / inhaling this moment / reverently
I move forward / a walking meditation of sorts / over sticks, looking for stones / each step intentional / as I search / for treasures / in the storm
the tide rolls in / and fog creeps / enveloping me in mystery / sifting through pebbles / grains of sand / so many years ago / looking for bits of yesterday / found in sea treasures / of colored glass / worn smooth by / the ebb of time / softened edges that once were / china, mosaics, shells, magic / capturing the imagination / and captivating the heart
now, much like then / I cannot leave / my path seems random / as I pick through debris / branches and slash / carelessly thrown aside / by "progress"
painstakingly, deliberately / so as not to trip / searching / for that stone left unturned / a gift of the earth / a necessity to trail builders / a foundation / to armor, adorn, anchor / create a work of art
and behold / over there, and there, / amongst what appears to be merely / remnants of the forest that once was / a rock / and another / hidden / amongst ferns and skitter tracks / buried / within the desecration / the massacre / the ruins which lay at our feet
methodically, religiously / we harvest / place our offerings / on the remnants of our forest / to retrieve / another day / our cairns accent the / clear cut / the barren land
trees sway / in their sacred ritual / guarding the ridge / mountains loom / majestically / on the horizon / turning / we face the setting sun / and pick our path / reverently home / looking forward to the return of another day
Oh the gift of those spectacular peaks! Rising up from the gray like a phoenix. Brilliant snow covered glaciers on an exceptional day. The city would come forth from its hibernation and flock outside. A “walking” lunch at the Market, the energy was electric, cold and crisp, all cares would fall away.
Back then, working the 8-5 job in the city, I didn’t realize how much the darkness and those shorter winter days affected me. I was busy commuting, drinking my daily lattes (now double short Americanos), and being caught up in the rat race. But those days, when the rain would stop and those glorious mountains would come out? Majestic! Looming above the Sound in all their glory!
My dad would call and we would head for a humbow, enjoying the brief reprieve from the overcast skies. And then, back to “reality” and paper shuffling, getting home after dark – yet still the brisk walk from the bus stop – revitalized until the weekend and maybe a hike with dad. Exploring the Pacific Northwest on foot or snow shoes. Getting back to the car just at dark. Stopping at the Sultan Café for a donut or Rotten Ralphs for a famous milk shake.
I don’t think I realized the full impact of those excursions. The elation of hitting the streets for a quick lunch, the grandeur and mystery, joy and relief, that being lost in the beauty of the Olympics brought me on those wintery days when they made their appearance. And a possible exploration on a Saturday of those mountains and their trails.
Until now. We are so lucky. Surrounded by open space, the mountains are outside my living room window, the trails in my back yard – to hike, and bike, build and maintain. The days are short, but the possibility of a walk in the woods is a part of my routine. I understand the call of the outdoors. It is a powerful force in my life. I used to call my dad the “mountain man in the city”. He would have loved a walking lunch here at Huckquarters with us. I think we would take more than the designated hour and gone off adventuring, looking for trails unknown. Coming back sometime around dark, with a half empty thermos of hot cocoa and cracker crumbs.
I understand now. It has become my constant solace, my therapy, my passion. Cheers to you dad!
Mountain man in the city / faraway look in your eyes / I too hear the call / and feel the ache in my heart / the desire to escape / to slip into the unknown mountains / and faraway reaches of my mind
Mountain man in the city / chained by responsibilities / break free / and live your dream / if only for today / Tomorrow you can return / with memories. - 1/22/89 Heidi Klippert
D is for Dirt. D is for Delight. D is for “get Dirty”. D is for Drop. D is for Dig. D is for Dusk. D is for Desire and Dance and DISCO! It is for Vitamin D. Sunny D. D is for December. D is for…
Remember when we used to play outside until Dark? We got Dirty? We were Delighted in staying out late. We would play in the dirt. Our moms or dads would call us in when the street lights came on. We would moan and begrudgingly head home from our games of kick ball, riding bikes, playing cops and robbers, using walkie talkies, just hangin’ out at the end of the driveway watching the cars go by, or walking the fence like a balance beam. A hot bath or shower would be waiting and then bed time. We were unplugged. No cell phones, maybe a dial up with a long cord for privacy, or heaven forbid a “party line” and our phone numbers started with letters? EM*-****!
I remember learning to ride my bike in the driveway. With Margie. All the neighbors came out. We were so proud. About 5 or 6. Cheers from the parents and various on-lookers. And then we crashed. Into each other. Bloody shins. Scraped knees. Tears. But no training wheels. Band aids and probably a glass of milk to ease the pain and then we were off again. A new sense of freedom. Banana seats with gold bling, cards in the spokes, ape hanger handle bars, bad ass. And again, that sense of being free. A little wobbly at first, but able to hit the neighborhood 7-eleven, the park, the school yard, the lake, even just ride the hill – that seemed so steep – in front of the house – after school, before dinner. Cones were set up for the obstacle course to practice our mad bike skills. Riding on the grass, or gravel, or pavement. Through puddles, up hills, dodging cars, and cats and dogs…and then we grew up. Jobs, college, marriages, kids, responsibilities, life. Biking was just a thing of the past. Carefree, fun, something kids got to do. A distant memory.
Fast forward. 20+ years. Our story begins. Life reinvented. Version 2.0. The re-introduction of the bike. A boy. A girl. Balancing life’s responsibilities. Jobs. Parenthood. Catching trains. Meeting deadlines and schedules. Being “grown up”. But, the bike. Wobbly knees-again-and dirt and helmets and trees and trails, oh my. And mud puddles and rain and the wind in your hair and, and, and…
Playing outside. Nothing else mattered(s). The trials of the day become the trails of the evening. And we ride. We Dig. We laugh. We build berms, huck drops. We challenge each other and ourselves. We let go of the brakes. We FLY. We are young and wild and free (lyrics from Bryan Adams or Snoop Dog depending on your musical genre) and taking risks. Because, if we don’t, we might lose ourselves and our sanity in the day to day. And that’s not okay. We search for balance and flow – synonymous if you ask me – in our quest to be centered. In the moment. In the zone. We are one. With the bike. In mind, body, and spirit. And life is good.
This time of year, of shorter days, longer nights, more rain than sunshine, we, especially in the Pacific Northwest are Vitamin “D”-ficient. There is even a name for it. SAD. Seasonal Affect Disorder. And, while the sun may not be shining and the skies may be gray and full of wet, remember, there is no off season! Find your own D supplement! Get outside. Get dirty. Hit those Drops! Pick your line. Dig Deep. And then go even Deeper. Don’t settle for the tip of the ice berg. Search inside yourself. Because beneath the Duff, the organic Decor of moss and fern and frond there is a mine of gold. Waiting. For your true essence to be Discovered. To be free. To live.
Biking isn’t just for kids, but I guarantee you will feel like one.
D is for “Do it”. It is for getting Dirty and being Delighted with riding through mud puddles. It is for the Drop you are going to conquer and the Digging you are going to Do – even in the Dark, to make that Drop or berm or Drainage even better. It is for December and riding anyway. It is for Drinking good beer. It is for coming home after the street lights come on and it is Dark. It is for the shower and hot Dinner that are waiting you. It is for unplugging and being in that Divine moment. It is for Desire and our need to Dance through technical sections.
Sure, we might crash and maybe need more than a band aid or two. A glass of milk might be traded in for a cold IPA or a swig of Fireball, and our bling is a bit more high tech than a card in the spokes, but that sense of freedom is there. Riding on a trail, at the bike park, on gravel, or even road. Through puddles, up hills, Darting amongst the trees, flying…and we are grown up. Jobs, college, marriages, kids, responsibilities, life. Biking is our present! Our Vitamin D. It cures all that ails you. Carefree, fun, something we get to DO! So get outside and Do it!
See you on the trails!
“How do you go about flagging a trail?” we were asked over delicious PRBs at Kulshan.
“You figure out where you want the trail to start and where you want it to end and then you must figure out how to connect the dots in between. So, you hike a line, you hike it again, you drop some flags, you move some flags, you have discussions to voice different points of view, you talk about purpose, you visualize, you ride the line in your mind’s eye, you…” Those are all the concrete ways you flag a trail. But what about the unspoken, unwritten, instinctual, innate, intangible, unexplainable sense that is the true essence of the trail.
Perhaps that is why at times it can seem almost political – there can be so much at stake, but not really. The identity, the belief and depth of individual purpose that is wrapped up in the planning and flagging and then the sense of accomplishment as the beauty of the zone unfolds before you. From start to finish you see your dream take shape and the creation that lies before you, once inside your head and heart and soul, now lies before you in epic beauty and it is a tangible, touchable experience, from beginning to end. It is personal.
For the beauty of the earth, feeling the essence of the land, the nuance of even the slightest undulation of the ground beneath your boots, the golden earth, the packed berm, space planning and strategizing, the sweat and laughter and banter, and dirt caked shoes, and eye hoes and gloves, the lush foliage and ferns, imagining the line with your rake “handle bars” in hand, glorious stumps and local history, the energy of teenagers and friends and family, young and seasoned, all one with nature, sharing communion with hot dogs and IPAs, and then, seeing the beauty and progress accomplished in less than a day. Not replacing existing, but working as one with nature. Merely enhancing and clearing so our feet and wheels and even hooves can embrace the journey into destinations to be discovered.
September 7: While riding up the steep hill at the end of our Tiger Mountain traverse, a blog came to me. Of course, it slipped away as I reached the top, of another false summit, on the wrong road, gasping for breath, thighs burning.
October 24: While riding/hiking up the steep fire road, towards the top of Predator, a multitude of thoughts ran through my head. How much further? What is the trail going to be like? Will there be any pig left at the camp when we get down? Is it beer 30?
September 7: A week of stormy weather, hail storms, and power outages made this morning’s ride questionable. Laying in bed, listening to the torrential rain made the possibility of a “down” day enticing, inviting, and we pulled the blankets up around us as we checked minute by minute weather on our cellular device.
October 24: Jumping out of bed at the first snooze we finalized preparations for our trip down south. A big day for Huckwagons, we didn’t want to be late. Letting Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance (EMBA) use ourSweet 16 bike trailer to shuttle at the grand opening of Predator was a big deal for us, EMBA, and DNR. The trailer would get to be out on the road and we would ride bikes for the day…with about 400 other dedicated shredders!
September 7: “Rain all day”. “Rain ending in 8 minutes”. “Last time we rode there it rained and we got so cold”. The warmth of the covers beckoned, but the lure of the unknown trail and a day of adventure called our names. Sore and well used from trail work the previous day, we slowly pried ourselves from our haven and got ready. Fully loaded oatmeal, coffee, and a suitcase full of riding gear options, we were on our way. No coffee stops or sausage muffins for this road trip. Just three of us and a trusty trail dog. It was good to be back in the Previa, too. Our musty road trip rig of seven years. With her new engine, she is a beast again and will get us anywhere!
October 24: Out of coffee? No peanut butter? Time to hit the road. Another suitcase full of riding gear options, a cooler with Inversion IPA and pepperoni sticks and we are on the road to meet our other travel companions. Exit 199 for Americanos and Sausage Muffins are our breakfast on this fine morning. No time to waste. We have riders to shuttle and trails to ride!
September 7: Pulling in to the upper lot at Tiger Mountain, the air was cool, and damp, but not wet. Layering would be the answer to stay warm – and extra gloves. It was our first time at Tiger and we had been warned about the grind to the top. Glad we layered, we stopped to take off our jackets and continued upward. Even pedaling in the mist, we stayed warm.
October 24: The upper Tiger lot was blocked for vendor parking and setup. We needed to get in there! Four wheeling in Chez Prev to get over the rock garden we were Rubicon. Monster VAN! Excitement filled the air. Riders lined the parking lot and road leading to the EMBA tent. The pig was on the spit. Anticipation. A shuttle day? We don’t have to pedal up?
Well, okay. We did pedal. To lower Predator. We would do that for our warm up and take the next shuttle. Little did we know, the line would be thrice as long. Good thing mountain bikers are a good group of people. Talking, joking, shivering, we waited. And waited. And then? Shuttle rigs galore – and, the HUCKWAGON! At the front of the pack. With a warm van to sit in! Gary in the passenger seat. Heat controls at his finger tips. And, all was right with the world.
September 7: Trails for the day? East Summit Trail to OTG (Off the Grid) to Fully Rigid to Silent Swamp to the Powerline road from Hell.
October 24: Trails for the day? Lower Predator THEN East Summit Trail to OTG to Upper and Lower Predator
September 7: Muddy with wet roots and rocky gardens made for a technical, flowy ride. Amazing workmanship and challenges physically and mentally. Definitely will do it again with a beer at Issaquah Brewing to end the day.
October 24: Hero dirt. Roots, rock gardens, gnarly steep single track, flow. Even more amazing workmanship. Definitely will ride it again. Dinner at the new McMenamins in Bothell. Good thing we were driving Rock Crawler to find a parking spot.
How was the pig? All gone. But, we had our pepperoni sticks and IPA in our cooler so, all was right with the world – STILL.