Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Enumclaw is for lovers.

Day one slides away, leaving me safely nestled in my tiny pup tent, watching the stars while I listen to the nighttime songs of the neighborhood dogs and cows. I'm camped in the back 40 of ThunderMountain Middle School's voluminous recreational fields, surrounded by Enumclaw farmsteads.

My first day was a good one, despite a continuous headache. The scenery was lovely, and I was thrilled that KC keeps a segregated recreational path parallel to route 169. My scariest moments came while leaving Renton on 169, before finding the trail. Nasty truck traffic. The trail follows the Cedar river, so offers many opportunities to dip. I took a swimming break where I met a friendly swimmer named Chris with all the signs of a chronic meth habit. He offered that he's lived his whole life in the area, and kept up a constant stream of chatter about the history of that particular swimming hole, wild ferrets, his broken truck, his BMX bike. I would have swam longer, but frankly I was afraid of leaving any of my gear out of site around him, friendly though he was.

Renton was a pleasant surprise. I have always thought primarily of Renton as "that place where the Ikea is," but its downtown still bears the vestiges of quaint small town charm. I enjoyed sweet doughnut peaches at its mid-week farmer's market.

I covered a bit less distance than I'd hoped, only 36 miles. According to my bike computer, I peddled for under four hours today; even with all my breaks, that seems questionably low, but hopefully I'll soon hit my stride. At least I'll get an early start tomorrow. My top speed today was 43.9 mph going down a hill, and I can not truly impart to you the terrifying thrill of doing highway speeds while dressed in thin bike clothes with a hundred pounds of wobbly gear at your back.

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...says a small hand-painted sign, affixed 15 feet up a cedar tree.

Minutes later I round a bend to a view of the sun pouring gold over a broad expanse of green fir. Further up the darkening road, a narrow window frames Mt. Rainier, dressed in lacy streamers of purple and white.

While I'm blogging this, another biker, whom I passed at the GO HOME sign, puffs up, asks if everything's all right. We commiserate about the heat of the day. He's overheated and can't cool down; I've had a headache the whole damned day.

What a blessing it is, after four trips to Burning Man, to stop and enjoy the scenery.

King County did not anticipate me.

King County maintains an excellent recreational trail along the Cedar river through Maple Valley. I've been enjoying it since Renton, and have stopped along it to swim and nap. Unfortunately for me, the southern end turns to gravel. The overloaded beast doesn't handle at all well over gravel, nor do my cleated shoes when I'm forced to push it up gravelled hills.

Here in this photo, I've reached a gated exit. The gate has a baffle to allow pedestrians or bicycles to pass through ... Except my bike, which is too wide and has gotten stuck in the baffle.

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Pathfinder Clayton Scott

From the Clayton Scott memorial at Renton muni airport:

"Paging through Scotty's flight record logbooks reveals one exceptional experience after another. How can a pilot survive a failed-engine landing in breaking surf and high wind among ice floes, far from rescue without communication? How does a pilot use a forest to break flight, shear the wings off and land without loss of life? These are the journals of a survivor."

Damnation! This guy's the very stuff of legend! Where's the movie of his life?

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Renton has an airport?

First 10 miles, equipment check, and a good omen.

On the hog.

Nice day for a ride.


The hardest thing to leave behind? Keys, and all that they represent. Other people are holding mine now, and I have locked my own door behind me. This is the only key I will need in the afterlife.

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My last act.

I'm amazed by how much work it takes to step outside my life; handing over professional projects, informing friends and family, planning for my pets... just generally extracting all the useful information from my brain and responsibilities from my shoulders. I imagine that this is what it would be like to die, assuming that I had foreknowledge and time.

My last act before leaving this world is to brand my mount with my tribal sigil so he can find his way to the home of my ancestors. (Thinking about it this way fills me with a short wave of sadness; missing my dad in a way I haven't in months.)

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