Day 53 - July 29th
Total: 2171.4 miles
Moving Avg: 7.1 mph
Overall Avg: 5.1 mph
Today the trail gave us a special treat. It was beautiful for once. I am, of course, being facetious. Much of the trail is beautiful, it just happens that today felt like the beauty I set out to see.
We woke early to tackle the 2600ft climb before us. The guidebook described the trail in a manner which ached for us to opt for the easier highway route, but cyclists didn't speak so negatively on its difficulty. So, after quiche and coffee, we began the slow arduous ascent up and around Richmond Peak. We were facing five to six percent grade with warnings of washed out roads and downed trees.
The first fourteen miles slid past almost effortlessly. The grade was a little steep, but our strength was replenished after yesterday's semi rest day. We didn't need to push at all on the gravel roads, and only pushed when we hit the single track route near the top. It, however, had such a beautiful view that it would be a shame to ride through. One of the problems with single track riding is that you are so focused on path finding for your wheels that you don't get a chance to absorb the nature you are passing through.
So we pushed.
And we looked at the steep ridge lines and plummeting valleys. We looked at the striations in the rock, and how the vegetation crept up the seems of those cracks. We looked at dense green valleys fed by the watershed, and the rich variety of plants found here. We looked at the burnt trees, and the fire weed that has grown to restore the sole pH. We looked at the trees scarred by Bark Beetles, and the mixture of living and dead trees.
Sometimes my eyes wandered too long, and I would overlook a stick jutting into the single track. It would scratch my leg and remind me that I needed to watch the path before me as well.
After the climb, we had a long descent to our destination of Peck Lake. The trail dropped down to warmer air, and sun helped bake the surroundings. Our rests fell in shade patches, and once we hit the Swan Highway we were ready for a soda. We cycled past our turnoff to get soda at a nearby restaurant. Rather than backtrack, we followed the highway a little further and took a turnoff to reconnect with the trail to Peck Lake. The views from the highway were fantastic, as it ran along the Swan River in the valley between the Swan Mountains and Mission Mountains.
We rode back up to the trail, which is carved narrowly through the trees. This offers few views, but instead gives us the long green tunnel effect.
When we arrived at Peck Lake, it was a little more like a murky Lily Pad covered bog than a lake, and the whole place gave us the hee bee jeebies. We opted to move on to the next available site. Half a mile later we hit a stream with a roadside site being used by some RV campers. We introduced ourselves and asked to camp near them, and they obliged.
Shortly thereafter our warm salty skin was in the cold fresh stream, our bellies were filled with food, our bear bag was hung in the tree, and our tent beckoned for some prone rest.
Live life at a slower place.