Day 71 – Solo

9.2.2012
Start: Apache Creek
End: About a mile shy of the others
Today’s miles: 47.9
Total miles: 2101.4
Splats: 0
Divide crossings: 0
Wildlife: 7 turkeys and 3 coyotes and a bear

The riding today was some of the most demanding of the trip, I think. A few times I caught myself wondering if I’d been transported back to Canada. I impressed myself at the improvement in my technical ability compared to the start of the trip. There were quite a few times today where I held my breath, knowing that a fall would be bad news. I somehow managed to remain upright.

We’d been aiming to do about 50 miles today. We knew it’d be a difficult day and seeing how slowly I was moving through the morning, I came to the conclusion that there was little chance of me making it to the planned destination. Josh suffered multiple flats so he and Jenny were also making slow headway. We decided that we’d cut 10 miles off the day.

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As the afternoon wore on, I started wondering if continuing to the original destination might actually be doable. Part of my motivation was the realization that I was looking at almost a 70 mile day tomorrow. When I arrived at the camp 10 miles short of the original goal, I found a note that said there was no water at the creek so Josh and Jenny were moving on. I hopped back on the muni.

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There would be about 5 miles of mostly downhill and 5 miles of paved uphill to the area I expected to find the others. On the way down, something caught my eye at the bottom of the slope I was riding on. It was a bear. I stopped to pull out my camera and it started running my direction. I didn’t think it knew I was there, so I started yelling at it. It looked at me, unintimidated by my yelling. It ran around at the bottom of the slope for a bit before continuing up the slope towards the road. It looked at me periodically (usually when I made noise to try to scare it back down), but didn’t seem at all fearful of me and almost interested in coming to say hi. As it got up to the road and my level, I held up the uni in the air to make myself look bigger. The bear didn’t care though and just went about its business. I walked till I rounded a bend and was out of sight before riding on.

The shorter days are really hard to get used to. I remember when I started the sun wasn’t setting until after 10:00. In montana I was often riding until 9:00 or later. Now it’s dark before 8:00. As I rode up the last climb towards the lake where I expected to find the others, I began running out of daylight. Another half hour was all I needed. I was only about a mile or two from the top and our original planned destination when I came across a nice camping opportunity. I decided to take it. It was either camp now with enough light to set up the tent, get the bear line hung and start cooking, or ride to the probably full campground and search for the others just after sunset. I’m guessing it would have been hard to find them because they’d probably have to find a stealth site near the campground.

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