By Lukas Brinkerhoff — You could say I was seated but that would signify I intended to end up where I was. I guess I did. I mean I planned the whole thing, but I didn’t mean to be right there, right then, seated where I had more or less collapsed into the dirt. There was a picnic table about thirty feet away, but for some reason falling down next to a rock in the dirt is where I ended up. I had my Mooseknuckler Cycling Alliance flask on one side and a bag of Dorito’s on the other.
The Ponderosa Pines towering over my rock provided the perfect relief from the sun that had been boiling my brains for the past hour or so as we climbed the last six miles to camp. Six miles and 2000 feet of up can make you tired. It can also make you do things like fall down next to a rock and not move for a couple of hours. There was also a little breeze that kept everything just this side of warm or in other words heavenly.
I couldn’t have imagined anywhere else that I wanted to be.
As a child, I always struggled to imagine what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was smart enough to recognize that no, not everyone can be whatever they want. I spent a lot of time contemplating that question and couldn’t ever decide on a profession or, in reality, anything that I felt I could dedicate my entire life to. It just wasn’t something that existed or that I could fathom. I knew what I liked to do, but I had no idea what I wanted to do.
Over the years I’ve met the occasional person who without asking I knew what they were all about. There was no question. Their passion was what they followed and they did so with such fervor as to remove any doubt as to what that passion was. There entire life revolved around this one thing. If they worked a job, they did so to save money for that one thing they were doing. If they had a family, the entire family either accepted that this was who they were or was so enthralled with that passion that they were swung completely into the dream as well.
I’ve met precious few people that I can place in this category.
Oak Grove Campground is not a place that you would write home about. Or at least, it wouldn’t fall into the category of places that you should make a huge effort to ensure you see before you die. It’s pretty. It sits at the base of Pine Valley Mountain and provides some relief from the summer temperatures on the southern side of the state. If I was going to be honest, and I am, it was only our destination because of those three characteristics and its proximity to St. George.
We left from our doorstep. The plan was simple, pedal for as long as it took to get to Oak Grove. Camp. Maybe do some hiking if we felt up to it. And then pedal home the next day. We packed everything that we thought we would need except the beer. The beer was going to be brought up by a friend. I mean, carrying a cooler on your bike can be a bit heavy. But everything else was packed, tied to or jammed into our bikes.
We knew the hard part was going to be the last climb up to the campground. Six miles, 2000 feet. For some reason, we always seem to forget that to get to Oak Grove you have to pedal the Turkey Farm Road which climbs from town and keeps climbing for the first 14.5 miles. Then drops for a mile or so and repeats the climb back up eventually finding a pinnacle just above the turn off that would take us to our end destination. Meaning we pretty much climbed all day before even getting to the turn off that we were all worried about.
That last hill was a beast. It was worsened by the heat and lack of shade. Said heat and lack of shade made my head boil. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a boiling head, but it’s uncomfortable. So much so that it will make you remove your helmet and pray for a headwind just so you can get cooled down. And in extreme cases, you might even find yourself jumping into frigid streams just to find some relief. Luckily, there was a frigid stream that we could use for said purpose on our last climb of the day and like children we splashed and played in the water.
It’s a simple question. That one we are all asked as children, what do you want to do with your life?
If we were all to follow our passion, it would be simple. The input would equal the output. Our passion, that one thing that we truly believe in and will give our left nut for, would be easily identifiable in everyday life. The problem is that for most of us, it’s not. We wish it were, but we spend more time tweeting about our passions than actually doing them. Maybe it’s the culture or maybe it’s the fact that following your passion can be scary. It’s kind of like playing with fire. It’s easy to get burned and most of us spout off passions like first graders with no concept of what it means to follow them. And then we sit in front of TVs pretending that we have lived.
I don’t claim to be one of those people whose passion burns bright and no one questions what they are about. No, I don’t think that is me, but as I sat propped up against a boulder being shaded by pine trees, there was no doubt about what I wanted to do with my life.
Lukas Brinkerhoff blogs about mountain biking and life at mooseknuckleralliance.org.