Ghost Falls Trail, Corner Canyon
Racing for 2009 is done. The riding, of course, will continue. But with no immediate end in mind, that riding becomes more deliberate, recreational, and perhaps with that, more enjoyable. The focus and narrow-minded lucidity of training has given way to a wind-tossed indifference about how many miles or hours on the bike I can muster. That is not to say that I am not harboring grand ambitions for 2010. On the contrary, I drift off to sleep at night with a repeating scenario of possibilities running through my mind. And of course, those scenarios all play out with ostentatious grandeur. What place is there for reality in the realm of dream-making?
And in the meantime I wait.
For what? The snow, of course. And while I am still taking those first, tepid steps into the backcountry, I find myself looking forward to the continuation of that journey. There is a stillness to the mountains in winter. And being in that stillness while watching the sunrise from a frigid ridge someplace in the Wasatch is well worth the sacrificial sleep, the cold, dark hike, and the huffing and puffing of a morning skin. Skiing through the powder, and down the hill after putting so much effort into walking up it is a gratuitous, self-congratulatory, excess that seems altogether and thoroughly exorbitant and indulgent.
After all, what goes up, must come down.
But for now, I wait. I ride my bike. And wear my ski boots around the house. I click over to backcountry blogs more frequently, and watch the creeping snowline – like the shifting front lines in a game of Risk – fight off the sun and the still lingering autumn. At some point the skies will open up in an unrestrained expression of righteous anger, leaving us all buried under the white manifestation of another year coming to an end.
But until then, there is leafy singletrack to ride. The dust and ruts of July have evolved into the tight, tacky, damp dirt of October. Covered intermittently with a layer of crunchy leaves, the trails right now are in prime form. The low hanging clouds and the filtered light of fall make every evening a post card in the making. The light, crisp air is a constant reminder however, that though the trails are pristine, it is that time of year to ‘get it while you can’. It won’t be long and that perfect dirt will become the gooey mud of December, and the icy crust of January.
And so I wait.