That geographic immensity is hard to contain in the imagination so it remains an abstraction, a blurred assurance that on the ground it keeps going and so might you.
The miles wind and snake and gritty crunch, achieving a clip and breeze until the balance tips and we can feel the sweat under our pack straps telling us that winter is someone else’s thoughts now.
Thread of dirt like the path of unusually ambitious and purposeful cows through brush, the Lime Kiln Trail. Push the bikes up to a sharp crag ridge, then a short fast drop and it’s dusty and snaking through rolling brush, mountains in the distance, a scene from a dozen Westerns and we open it up.
A trail that is a half finished sculpture, the figure’s pose clear enough but all the cuts merely confident drafts, a roll over a tree bowl here, thread through fresh hack there, soft soil or sand trap.
Brought a small duffel of essentials and attached a Tangle, seat bag, top tube bag, and harness. Switched the bottle cage to a fork mount and borrowed another for the other side.
Leaves and moss and sucking bogs and wind, the grey that cracks to sunshine and then the mosquitoes that figure 8 curve back and again on me, the tannic rivers and the suggestion if not reality of cold, ambient glow at 3am
For a month long bikepacking trip in Sweden and Norway in June/July I rode my main expedition wheel, a modified 2010 Surly Pugsley.
I can’t hear what my companions are saying unless they’re up close. The hiss and knock of the drops on the gore tex whirlpool sucks all of our shouts down, and then the cold slows the light itself.
Edgeless days, us and the sky forward. Tonight we’ll belt mouthfuls of Jameson from a .5l plastic bladder that I refill at the wine monopoly government liquor stores in the bigger towns a week apart, but not if we’ve rolled through late. And the talk wanders, floats on thermals from our camaraderie.
The settling serenity is that it’s lost the instant after it comes. What’s left is analog, elemental substance: brown bog grasses, hillocks, snowpatches, refracting droplets, stone.
Lost in a watercolor smear between hilltops and sky until every shard was just a tighter spiral of repetition to a grey singularity. Windblow enough to not be able to hear what’s said, but the cadence and tonal shape is enough, the absence of reference points and yet we’re still here.
This southern central part of the country isn’t mountainous, but the hills come bright cymbal crashes to our tired legs again and again.