Tour 2019 – Day 20

Sent to a Master of Silence on White-Tower Mountain

Knowing you’ve returned to White-Tower,
I gaze into mountain distances, late skies

clearing. Mind tranquil in a stone house,
moon-shadow lingers across frozen lakes.

Thin cloud feathers into scraps and away.
Ancient trees fall and dry into firewood.

Past midnight, who hears stone chimes?
The cragged summit on West Peak is cold.

-Chia Tao
translated by David Hinton in Mountain Home

We’re bobbing on the surface
It was already warming up when I left the Campground on Brooks Lake Creek Falls. I had some downhill road riding to do below the rocky crags, but then I turned off onto a dirt road and cross the Lava Creek. Quickly the route turned uphill and climb for 4 miles through a forest that had been ravaged by fire. There was a lot of AATV activity here but most riders were courteous and would slow down to pass avoid kicking up dust. The top of this climb reaching just over 9000′. I would spend the rest of the morning riding over 8000′

Hills behind the burnt out woods

After the high point the road descend just a bit and then went up and down through numerous river valleys. Lots of people out camping and the aforementioned ATV activity. After a decent interval in mountain wilderness I descended to around 8000′ into ranch land. There right at a junction in the road was an bluff overlooking the Wind Creek and people gathering for a wedding.

One of many creek crossings

The route began to climb again and it was now hot afternoon. Up steep, loose gravel, with logging activity going on, in the heat this was a tough climb. It topped out around 9700′ and overlooked this magnificent basin. An alpine meadow there were snowy peaks to the southeast and ragged rocky ranges to the north and west. This was a moment to just stand there and become absorbed in. I rode across alpine and subalpine and into high mountain forest always above 9000′. I actually descended to Union Pass at a bit over 9200′ and frankly I missed it until I looked at them a and the next major junction.

There was again river valleys I’d descended into and climb out of: Strawberry Creek and then Raspberry Creek. Climbing out of Raspberry Creek I was in a rut on one side of the road and as I attempted to move out of the rut my front tire hit a rock and the tire sloughed off the rim. Thus ended my front tires tubeless adventure. I tried to reseat it but it was no go. So a tube went in and I was on my way. But one a long days ride that delay pushed me late. When I arrived at the “informal campground” near mosquito lake I found no ready water source there. Already late I decided to press on for Whiskey Grove Campground.

Alpine Lake near Union Pass

This was a descent down to 8000′ and the road was very rough. All big rocks, washboarding and loose dirt. It was all downhill and I made it through in reasonable fashion. Down in the valley below the road got a bit better and I moved right along. Until I came to the bridge that was out. I’d been seeing signs and warnings for this all day, but they noted it was closed to motorized traffic and I figured I could ford the creek need be. I was able to ride across it turns out, it was a temporary dirt structure at this time. A USFS guy watching the bridge hassled me a bit, but only jokingly. He set me off on my way and I made the last few flat miles to the campground. Arriving late I managed to setup and have dinner before a thunderstorm rolled in.

Following the way
rocky slopes
crossing green rivers
meeting calamities
big and small
lost in awe at the
of it all
every moment
what needs doing

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