Tour 2019 – day 5


Far off to the south are
peaks like Pine-Needle and Nest-Hen,
Halcyon-Knoll and Brimmed-Stone,

Harrow and Spire Ridges faced together,
Elder and Eye-Loft cleaving summits.

When you go deep, following a winding river to its source,
you’re soon bewildered, wandering a place beyond knowing:

cragged peaks towering above stay lost in confusions of mist,
and depths sunken away far below surge and swell in a blur.
–Hsieh Ling-yün, 
translated by
 David Hinton in Mountain Home

Into Green Mountains

It is cold at night at 4000+ feet but overnight the three-quarter moon illuminates a magical realm. It was a continuation of yesterday’s climb and as I approached 6000 feet amazing views just opened up. Down into the valley below, green, beyond green fading into abstraction. On one side these barren rocky peaks now loomed over me. Nearing the summit of the climb I turned onto single-track.

On the Swan Divide single-track.

This is basically a hiking trail that you can ride on and was rocky at times, sometimes hugging the cliff face, but never too technical. I’ve never been on single track like this. The basin below was awe inspiring. There was a point you could hike a bit off the trail and look down into the east basin which receded endlessly into the distance. But directly in front of me was that rocky peak and you clearly could just walk down into the valley and up to the point where you’d need climbing gear. I just sat there for a spell and let it all merge with me. This is why I’m out here.

Mountain Gazing

Then it was all crazy downhill for miles on the single track, which required a lot of attention as it was rocky and there were dips and other hazards. All the time spectacular would pull at your attention. Then down gravel forest roads. There had clearly been a forest fire in these parts and it was all blackened burnt out husks of trees. Finally the descent ended and I went off route to the town of Seeley Lake.

Down the valley

I had to resupply and do various housekeeping tasks which kept me in town for hours. But I had more riding to do, so it was back on the trail as the day wore on. This wasn’t too hard of a stretch, through logging lands and along lakes and rivers. The descending sun cast a warm glow over everything. I ended up camping along the Montour River at a USFS camp that was mostly used by horse folk.

mountains walking
into open mind
winds blowing through
as if
there was only
and from nowhere
the strangest call

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