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The Wilderness is Calling

There is just something very special about spending time immersed in nature that speaks to the soul. I was able to spend a few days recently camping in Southern Oregon at a beautiful mountain lake called Lake of the Woods. This was by no means hard core camping, we brought our tent tailer and most of the comforts of home along with us including our kayaks and mountain bikes. My wife and I spent some time on the lake kayaking while our son enjoyed fishing with some new friends he met at the campground. We were also able to take the bikes out on some beginner friendly trails and explore around the lake as a family. But the true wilderness was calling and I wanted to answer its call. I found it via the Brown Mountain Trail, 20 miles of beautiful single track trails with technical rocky and rooty climbs and down hill sections that twist and turned for miles. The Brown Mountain Trail makes you really work for the down hill sections, and every mile of trail takes you farther into thick remote forests that the average person never sets foot in. About 12 miles in, I cross a section of the Pacific Coast Trail, I stopped for a break hoping to see some backpack laden individual appear from the woods, but I only heard the wind and the very friendly mosquitos buzzing me. It was at this point that I felt I had found it, true wilderness. I was alone, miles from anywhere, no cell reception, nothing, only trees, dirt, rock, and wildlife. It was exhilarating and a little unsettling at the same time. One wrong turn, rock strike, crash, broken bike could lead to a very life threatening disaster. It was always there in the back of my mind, if something went wrong, how long would it take someone to find me? I always send a tracking beacon through Strava or Wahoo to my wife in case of such a situation, but technology is prone to fail. And it did, 13 miles into my ride Strava gps dropped and did not reconnect, I was unaware as I wasn't checking Strava throughout the ride. It's these bugs I need to figure out as my adventures take me farther from civilization and require additional support needs. Fear and discomfort is what keeps us from venturing out and challenging ourselves to experience what is outside of our comfort zone. It's good to have a healthy amount of fear when doing something that is inherently dangerous, I'm not going to lie, I have a healthy fear of Mountain Lions and pretty much anything that could eat me. When alone in the woods, a snapping branch or an odd noise gets my adrenaline pumping. On this adventure it wasn't a bear or a lion that I was confronted with, it was three very large cows that refused to move off the trail. The standoff lasted for a good 5 minutes, I tried to ride toward them and they became defensive and agitated. I turned and rode back up the road a few hundred feet and we just stood and stared at each other. I wonder what they were thinking? Maybe the same thing I was thinking, what the heck are these cows/human doing way out here in the middle of nowhere. Aren't cows suppose to be hanging out in a pasture somewhere?? Eventually they decided I wasn't that big of a threat and wandered off the trail with their cow bells ringing. I pedaled by quickly, wondering if I would run into more of their friends ahead? When going off into the wilderness remember to bring more water then you think you'll need! By mile 17 I was starting to hurt and I was almost to the bottom of my second and last bottle of water. I was already way behind schedule to return to camp and as soon as I hit cell reception my phone blew up with messages from my wife asking if I was ok. I let her know that this trail was tougher than I thought it would be and it was taking me a lot longer to get through. The last 8 miles felt like forever, I could tell I was getting dehydrated, I was tired, and ready to be done. I rolled into camp exhausted, hungry, and dying of thirst. I devoured some cold pizza, downed some water, grabbed a chair and started to hear whispers in the wind, it took me a few minutes to make out what it was, and then it hit me, I could hear it clearly, it was the wilderness calling!

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