Reading, thinking, biking, sharing…

Worth a thousand words October 6, 2008

Filed under: adventure,arizona,happiness,life,love,mountain biking,Nature — onarete @ 3:10 pm

I will write up a report on TOWM soon, but first I want to share some pictures from the last several weekends of biking.

This is a picture of the McDowell’s on a hot summer morning.


Sweaty but still smiling.


 BB at a beautiful lookout in Prescott before we started descending.


Lovely little pool that we ran into late in the afternoon.  I stopped for a snack.



Going through a tunnel blasted through the rock.  This was in Flagstaff. 


Riding through the aspens; moments of joy.


Catching up August 4, 2008

As usual, the last few weeks have been a whirlind.  Finally, a moment to take a deep breath and rewind.

STP:  KD came to visit and we rode Seattle to Portland with another of her friends.  200 miles in 2 days, crazy fun.  Here we are at the finish line (pic stolen from KD).

Idaho:  I went and visited my family in Idaho Falls for close to two weeks.  The highlight was an epic mtn bike ride with my dad from the Kelly Canyon area to Driggs.  We rode up and over Garns mountain at 9,015 feet.  Not only was it fun and beautiful, it was awesome to experience it with my Dad.  It is a day I will never forget. 

 I also got a fun, if impossible, ride on the South Fork trail with Blair.  One of the most beautiful places on Earth.  Other than mtn biking, Dad and I went on a killer road ride.  I also got in some fun cruises around town, an overnight float trip on the South Fork, swimming at Heise, lots of good cooking by Mom including homemade ice cream, fantasy Tour de France, and most importantly lots of love.  My family means so much to me!

Road trip:  Blair and I drove back to Mesa in a rental van with all of his stuff.  The first day we drove to Zion National Park and arrived by mid-afternoon.  We rode that Pa’rus trail and then the road into the canyon.  At the lodge, we locked up the bikes and went for a hike to the Lower, Mid, and Upper Pools.  Zion definately counts as one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been.  We also went swimming in the river; I thought I had died and gone to heavan. 

The next day we drove to Flagstaff and went biking in the Shultz Pass area.  These trails were fun, fast, and we loved biking through the pines.  We had planned on camping overnight but a monsoon hit us, and we drove back to Phoenix in the downpour.

Mesa:  Now I am back at work and back in Phoenix.  I didnt realize how much this seems like home to me, until I went away and came back.  I love the dessert and the sun and my life here.  Blair is here with me now too, which makes it that much better.  We’ve gotten in four rides since being back–Hawes, another Hawe’s ride (this one at night), S. Mountain, and the McDowell’s. 

All and all, life has been pretty darn good.


Solo June 16, 2008

I love the look of shock on people’s faces when I tell them my plans.  I am going to the movies, to dinner, on a hike: alone.  Some people worry about my safety, some feel pity.  Often both.  Last week, I had a friend respond to my plans with an “I’m sorry.”  Don’t be.  Everybody has times in their lives where they are on their own; I just choose to make those times adventurous ones.  I’m not going to sit at home and watch TV just because I dont have anybody to keep me entertained. 

And so, this weekend I set off on a road trip.  Alone.  Gasp.  And it might have been one of the funnest weekends of my life.

Saturday morning I loaded up the rental car with my bike and camping gear, cup of cofee in hand and radio dialed.  I cruised up Highway 20 to Gold Bar where I stopped at Wallace Falls State Park to bike.  The route was a 20 mile out-and-back that took me to Wallace Lake and then the Upper Falls.  The falls were lovely but the mountain had developed a cool cloud-cover and I hammered downhill all of the way to the car, ready to head over the Cascades. 

The pass was breathtaking; so much prettier than Snoqualmie Pass.  Beautiful, jagged peaks greeted me around each winding turn.  The sun was out and the river was flowing high and my spirits soared.  Not far from the pass, I turned off the highway towards Lake Wenatchee State Park where I had a camping reservation.  After setting up camp, I spent the afternoon sprawled on the lovely beach, alternating between reading and basking in the sunshine.  The lake is long and narrow, surrounded on both sides by an impressive mountain pass and the Cascades in the background. 

The rest of the day I spent exploring by hiking and biking.  I cruised around in my Tevas and baseball cap, following lovely forest roads and fields of thousands of lilacs.  I passed a YMCA camp, laughter and screaming floating in the wind.  As darkness neared, I crawled into my sleeping back and enjoyed the family next door singing camp songs around the fire.

Sunday morning I called my Dad to wish him happy Fathers Day and headed down to the Lake to read.  The best thing about being an early riser is getting to experience the world without all the noise, without all the people.  I always feel like I am getting a glimpse of something special, a little secret God has shared just with me.  The beach was empty and I watched the perfectly still water, the early morning sun slowly illuminating a lone kayaker gently carving his way.  I breathed in and breathed out.  I was alive.

The final gem of the weekend was my Sunday ride.  I was tired and didnt really feel like biking but I had spent hours earlier in the week looking at forest service maps, checking trail conditions, and mapping out a ride.  It spent me a good half hour just driving around the maze of forest service roads looking for FS6001.  No signs anywhere.  Finally I found the trailhead, in the middle of nowhere.  Suprisingly, a car with mountain bikes pulled in moments after I.  The young couple chatted with me and shared their bug spray.  They had lived in Arizona for 4 years and we talked about mountain biking and this particular trail.  They gave me some pointers and took off; they were the only other bikers I saw all day.  The trail started off pheonomenal, and it stayed that way.  It was a motorcycle trail and had all of the tell-tale signs: woop-doo-woops and bermed turns.    I saw a few guys on their motorcycles and they were all friendly, slowed down to pass and said hello.  Other than that, I was on my own.  The trail had it all: steep up and downs, gently rolling sections that propelled me forward, stream crossing that required wading, sunshine, and shade.  I had a blast for 4 and a half hours and by the time I got back to the car I was out of food, out of water, out of energy.  I couldn’t have been happier.  What an amazing day. 

And I did it all on my own.  Nothing bad happened, I wasn’t lonely.  I just was alone.   Having alot of fun; having adventures and irreplacable life experiences.  That is the moral of this story: I’d encourage everyone next time you’re bored and alone.  Go do something.  Anything.  As long as its lots of fun.


Sun worship May 5, 2008

Filed under: adventure,desert,happiness,life,love,mountain biking,Nature — onarete @ 7:57 pm

Photo Credit

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”

Fed up with the rain, I flew south for the weekend.  It was a releif to feel the heat on my skin, the sun on my face.  My apartment was intact and my car started despite the remnants of 6 weeks worth of dust storms on the exterior.  After getting some blessed sleep, the singlespeed and I headed out to explore the desert.

Saturday I rode at Hawes; Sunday in the McDowell’s.  I love riding in the desert.  The rocks, the dirt, the mountain ridges for a backdrop.  I share the trail with all sorts of animals: small lizards, snakes, jack rabits, and roadrunners.  There is always another ridge to ride along, a long sweeping trail, a beautiful sky as far as you can see.  I am alive in these wide open spaces.

I only ate Mexican and ice cream; swapped out water with margaritas after retiring on the porch for the afternoon.   I played in the pool and went to bed early.  Two books were easily devoured.  Now I’m back at work, skin burnt, lips chapped.  I might be at a cubicle, but my soul is roaming through the desert; my heart is climbing the singletrack.  Some people like the rain; give me the sun.


Mud, mud, and…..mud April 8, 2008

Filed under: adventure,Black Diamond,Japanese Gulch,love,mountain biking,Nature — onarete @ 3:15 am

Did I mention the mud?  I got two mountain bike rides in the last couple of days and both were the muddiest mountain biking I have ever done.  I got my butt kicked by it!

Thursday, I rode Japanese Gulch after work.  These trails are perfect because they are literally right up against Boeing property.  Five minutes into my ride I ran into a washed out section of trail that was unridable.  The steep and muddy hillside forced me to hike-and-bike.  I would make it two steps, fall on my butt, and slide three steps back.  I couldnt even hold my bike up.  Then I found a tree in the middle of the trail.  I had to crawl under and then pull my bike under after me.  From there on out my ride consisted of me biking a tenth of a mile coming around a muddy corner and and sliding out.  Then riding another tenth of a mile and hitting some wet roots and falling.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Saturday, Blair was here and we drove down to Black Diamond to ride.  These trails were a blast.  I’ve never been to a trail system with so many teeter-totters, bridges, and other obstacles.  I would never ride any of it, but I was fascinated.  Again, I must have fallen half a dozen times.  My whole body is covered in bruises.  I nursed my wounds at Dairy Queen with a mint Oreo blizzard and my great company. 

I have a feeling that more mud is in my forecast for the week.


Back to earth March 22, 2008

Filed under: adventure,knowledge,life,self-discovery — onarete @ 3:25 pm


 These past few weeks have been some of the busiest, most exciting days of my life.  First I went to Florida, then I moved to Seattle, then I spent the last week in St. Louis and now I am back in Seattle in a new job and a new environment.  I’ve never been good at change, so this has been a test of my ability to adapt.  I seem to be handling it surprisingly well.  The upside to all the chaos and adventure is the opportunity to learn more about myself and to develop the skills to live the good life.

What I’ve discovered:

  • Forget what other people think of you.  A girl told me the other day that she can’t imagine ever eating or going to a movie solo:  “All those people would think you have no friends.”  Forget what other people think; live your life fully.  And always do the right thing.
  • Find solitude.  As long as you are constantly surrounded by noise, you will never have the ability to contemplate who you are and where you want to go.
  • Be honest and open.  I’ve realized the more honest I am (ala this blog), the more I can just be myself and accept my flaws.  Being honest also gives you the opportunity to better yourself.
  • Relax and accept life as it comes.  Planning can only get you so far.  Most of life’s great opportunities are presented to you when the time is right.  Take them up and don’t be too distracted by anxiety to notice when they come.

I’ve also become acutely aware in this transition of some of my shortcomings and have decided to work on them.  Most of these are interpersonal: be less judgemental, be more open and friendly with new people, and forgive freely.  It won’t be easy but I am determined.

I’m dedicated to living the good life.


Lessons learned (in the snow) March 16, 2008

Lesson #1:  If it is 38 and raining at sea level, it is probably snowing in the mountains.  If it is snowing in the mountains, there is probably a lot of mud and snow and slush.  And if it quits snowing and warms up a few degrees, all of that snow is going to start melting and dripping down onto you.  This snowmelt will be cold.  And very very wet.

Lesson #2:  Wear booties and waterproof gloves.  Your feet and hands are going to be the first things to suffer if it gets cold and wet.  And if you have a beanie and chemical hand warmers in the car, by all means, bring them.  You can make room for this extra gear by leaving behind the two heavy slime, thorn-resistant tubes you are carrying.  If it is snowing, you can bet there probably aren’t any cactus.

Lesson #3:  In non-desert climates, feel free to sleep in.  There is no reason to leave the house early, particularly if it has been snowing the night before.  In fact, sleep in, read the paper, and mow the lawn.  (Poor Seattlites, they must have to mow the lawn year-round, huh?)

Lesson #4:  If you are going to be doing alot of climbing, stop eating so much.  This one doesn’t really have anything to do with the snow.  But if you are going to do long, sustained climbs,  it is time to lose those 5 extra pounds.

As you’ve probably guess by now, I did a mtn bike ride this morning in the snow.  The day after I did a road bike ride in the rain.  Saturday, I rode the entirety of the Burke-Gilman trail and added in a little bit of road just for good measure.  The tally was about 40 miles in just over 2 hours.  Shocker!  That might be the fastest I’ve ever gone solo.  Might have something to do with the fact that the whole thing was flat, flat, flat and there were only a couple of spots where I had to stop for traffic.  The ride followed Lake Washington for a long while and there were plenty of trees and vegitation.  Not sure this will become a regular road ride for me, but it did seem like it would be a good launching pad for other road rides.  By the time I got back to the car, I was wet and my feet were cold.  My poor bike was all muddy.  Living in Phoenix, it has never seen a drop of mud in it’s life! 

 The important lesson from yesterday was that wool socks are necessary.  I went to REI last night and bought a couple pair.  And thank goodness, because they were definately needed today.  After yesterday’s flat ride, I was in the mood for some climbing today.  I thought riding the gravel roads at Tiger Mountain would be a good plan.  I quickly realized my mistake as I passed through Issaquah and saw the quickly approaching snow-capped peaks.  Then the snow wasn’t just on the peaks.  It was on the highway.  The Tiger Mountain parking lot was a mess of snow, rain puddles, and slush.  I decided to give riding a shot anyway.  It was pretty miserable.  The road was slushy and the trees were dripping rainmelt down onto me.  I never got really cold, but it was a pretty thin line keeping me from it.  It was, however, beautiful and an adventure.  The vegitation in this area is so dense!  I’ve never lived anywhere like this–trees so thick that you can’t see more than a few feet ahead.  Lots and lots of streams passed under the road and there was one bridge crossing over a larger stream with a small waterfall.  I am sure this is heaven–in August.  By the time I got to the lookout, I was in pretty deep snow and in a huge fog bank so I couldnt see anything.  It was time to get back to the car.  Suprisingly (or not so suprisingly if you have more forsight than I), the road was significantly better on the way back and when I got to the parking lot, it looked like it might be a nice afternoon.  I decided to ride the other road heading right out of the parking lot, but turned around after a couple of miles when I realized my feet were just too cold to continue on.  All in all, I rode for about 2.5 hours and maybe about 19 miles.  And quite a few feet of elevation change.

 It was a pretty mellow weekend for me time wise on the bike, and I almost feel a little guilty (especially since I know I won’t be riding much the next couple weekends).  But I also have to realize that it takes a little while to learn a new area.  It is better to allow yourself to have some adventures and see what happens.  Live and learn….