"Just around the next bend." It's an ongoing joke with my wife, Karma, and me. I have this insatiable curiosity and drive that always pushes me on to the next bend, turn, curve, ridge, what have you, to see what is there. I love exploring on my mountain bike as it provides an outlet for this urge.
A couple of weeks ago, while spending a weekend in Island Park, Idaho, I was mountain-biking with my good friend, Rick. We were stopped, contemplating the snow-covered logging road ahead of us. It was only a hundred yards to where the road curved through the trees. I so wanted to push on and up through the trees to see if the road might possibly clear and permit us to complete the loop we had hoped to ride.
But we had already portaged several sections of snow, as well as a few hundred yards of forested terrain where there was no road. The rational side of me said the snow would be constant for the next few miles, but I still yearned to push on, just a little further, to see.
Above Publisher Dave rides towards another bend while wife Karma leaves her rational self behind at the cabin.
This time, rational thought finally prevailed. More because of soaked feet and clothes, and the steady rain that had been falling, than because I responded to my rational self. So Rick and I turned around, and headed back to the cabin to warm up, dry out, and sack out.
Rick is a great companion. Whether hiking or biking, he is the one person I can rely on to want to keep going just as much as I do. That explains why so many of our rides finish well after dark. We can always count on each other to want to ride "just a little bit further."
So, it was no surprise when Rick and I were a little late for dinner the next day. We had ridden from the opposite end of the loop we had wanted to do the previous day, before the snow and rain finally forced us back. Again, we portaged several sections of snow before we were finally turned back by an unending blanket of snow over the road ahead.
When heading back, we decided we had time to squeeze in a side trip rather than head directly back to our cabin. We followed a gravel road to where it crossed a creek. Off to the side of the road was a bulldozed berm, a sure sign of an old logging road that had been blocked off.
It was now time to head back for dinner (which I had promised to help prepare). Nevertheless, "Let's just go up a little way to see what it's like," I suggested. As expected, Rick readily agreed. To our pleasant surprise, the road tunnelled for several miles through the pines, next to the deep, clear creek as it meandered along. We followed moose tracks in the road, hoping to catch sight of one foraging in the forest stream. No such luck today.
After awhile, we stopped briefly, and I mentioned to Rick that perhaps we should now turn back. After all, I was supposed to be back in time to help prepare dinner, and we were already running late.
"Let's just go up and around the next bend," Rick said. Bless you, I thought, and off we went, curious to find what pleasant picture would present itself next.
We finally did turn around, even though this lovely little canyon beckoned us onward. Arriving at the cabin, we found everyone had already eaten. Our wives were kind and forgiving, though, and we were allowed to have dinner.
Our discovery of this new trail was a real treat. It inspired us to take our wives back the next day to share in this scenic setting. We rode to where Rick and I had ridden the previous day. At that point, Rick and his wife had to turn back, but I was hoping to go "just a little further".
So I was pleased when Karma, much more the responsible, rational person than me, also wanted to wander on. We continued on till the road was suddenly blocked by a littering of fallen trees that looked like a forest god's game of pickup sticks.
Still compelled onward, we parked the bikes and worked our way over the trees to where the narrow canyon opened up into a wide vista of hills that rolled on up to the ascending mountains.
As we contemplated the grandeur spread before us, I was still compelled to push on, to follow this creek that continued to wind through the rolling landscape before us to its source.
But we were already behind schedule, and Karma does have some influence over me. So we turned around, and headed back to the cabin to pack and return to the responsibilities back home.
Robert Frost speaks of returning to the road not taken, only to realize "Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back."
I left that next bend in the creek, and the continuing curves to the springs
that feed it, for another day. Unlike Frost, I will return to this trail, to
ride my mountain bike, that marvelous machine, and to follow this creek to
the springs that give it birth.