One of my favorite short stories of all time is Jack London's "To Build a Fire." Anyone who spends a bunch of time outdoors, in the boonies, alone -- should read this story, and keep the moral of the story in mind. The moral is basically: humans are fragile; nature can be brutal; humans don't always respect these two truths.
One of my biggest inspirations, as with many other riders I know (and don't know) is a fellow named Kent Peterson. It's likely that if you're reading this, you already know Kent and the amazing riding and writing about riding that he has done. If not, follow the links and learn.
Sometimes when I'm riding and I'm really cold or tired or both, I think of the moment in "To Build a Fire" when the main character finally realizes he's toast. I also think, "What would Kent do?" He'd keep riding. Find a mantra and keep riding. Thanks to Kent, I made the choice to keep riding north on a cold and wet Friday afternoon in April. Thanks to Jack, the following morning I chose to cut what was to be a three night outing into a single overnighter. I was cold and wet and about 75 miles from home. It was snowing; I wasn't fully prepared. I decided to turn home.
I didn't take many pictures.
Here's a map. Detail isn't much to write home about. Basically, Hiway 2 most of the way. HW 2 sucks -- in nice weather I'm going to figure out a back way up to Newport that doesn't require HW 2 -- there are lots of options. One nice part was taking "Fertile Valley Road" up to Sacheen Lake and then hookin up with 211. That was a very nice stretch.
I stayed at "Pioneer Park" campground in the Colville National Forest. Pioneer Park is on the Pend Oreille river right on the Idaho side of the Idaho/Washington border. The park was not open yet; the road leading into the park was gated. It's times like this when I love being on a bike. I scootched my bike under the gate and rolled down into the empty campground. To my surprise, there happened to be a campground host watching over the place. I asked him if I could stay the night. "I don't care," was all he said. I found a spot on top of a hill overlooking the river. It wasn't a camp spot, but it was a gravel trail, so I figured I couldn't hurt anything by pitching my tent on the trail and using the signage as a lean-to for my gear. As if planned, the rain stopped for about an hour as I set up my tent, took my self-portraits, and cooked dinner on my little pepsi-can stove. Just as I was cleaning up, the rain came. It was about 5pm when I got into the tent for the rest of the night.
Some thoughts from this ride: