It's a rainy afternoon here at 8,680 feet above sea level, as it has been for the past week or so. Monsoon season has hit the high country. The pattern is consistent – sunny skies in the morning, then thickening clouds, then thunder and rain as the afternoon progresses. July is, according to the recording books, the wettest month in this neck of the woods, and this year is proving true to form. It's a nice time to be in the hills.
I only skied three days last week and am feeling content with just sneaking a few more in. The woods are incredible right now and the dirt and pine smell delicious. I've been taking Stella to some of my old haunts lately, mountain bike rides with long climbs and winding singletrack descents. Getting up at the crack of dawn, when the air is crisp, and going uphill, past the still sleeping campgrounds that dot the West Mag area. By the time I come back down the mountain, the woods smell of bacon, as those same campers have crawled out of their sleeping bags and are grilling breakfast. I'm out of there before the heat of summer hits. It's a good way to start the day.
There is a trail in the area called Roots that is probably my 2nd favorite climb in the hood. As it's name would suggest, it's full of roots running across an eroded out old jeep road. The trail itself is ho-hum, but the woods and meadows that surround it are stunning, especially in that morning light where the shadows run long. In my entire life, I've ridden it, from bottom to top, without dabbing (mountain biker speak for dropping a leg to the ground) one time on a singlespeed. And while I am nowhere near that level of flow right now – and I do think it's even more eroded than it used to be – I'm pleased that I can get up most of it without exploding. It's a good gauge.
There is a feel in the air of mid-summer, but also an anticipation that fall is right around the corner. If you blink now, the leaves will be yellow, and before you know it snow will be falling again. By skiing so much, I've basically shortened summer to two months, and that's long enough for me.
Well, it looks like the rain is clearing. Elaine and I are going to head out, on a little hike up by the lakes and the deepest woods we have…a little exploration if you will. To be in nature is the finest thing there is. When I was a little kid, my parents used to subscribe me to a couple magazines – Ranger Rick and World – that opened my mind to the world of wolves and bears and mountains and all the living creatures. I feel fortunate now to live in a place where the woods are out my backdoor, to have the health to go explore it, and my best friend to explore with.