Divide Riding

I’m back bitches.

 

Been a bit since the Colorado Trail. Reloaded and back on the adventure train, coming correct from Grenada, Nicaragua.

 

Recharged the batteries in Vail for a whole minute. It was the longest stint I have spent anywhere since college. Shredded a moderate amount of pow. Made it to Jackson Hole with a beautiful babe. Snorkel riding the entire time. Pretty fortunate on all fronts.

 

Working, hanging with a beautiful lady, Robin, short trip to TX to visit the entire Zimmerman clan (w/ Robin) and finally preparing for Tour Divide.

 

Tour Divide (Wiki):  The Tour Divide Race follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR), a continuous long distance bicycle touring route from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, USA.  As of 2010, the route is 2745 miles (4417 km) long.  In this event, the race clock runs 24 hours a day and the riders are allowed no outside support other than access to public facilities such as stores, motels, and bike shops. The record time to complete the Tour Divide in its 2010 routing is 17 days, 23 hours and was set in 2009. The Tour Divide has been raced and completed on both single speed bicycles and on a tandem bicycle. There are neither entry fees nor prizes in either race.

 

 

 

 

Seed was planted while riding cross country with a couple roudy boys a few years back. I knew i needed to ready my mind, body and machine in order to compete, so that was it.

 

 

On my last tour from MN to Vail I rode through Ft. Collins in hopes to meet up with a frame builder. Black Sheep Bikes is 3 dudes who specialize in crazy sick titanium bike frames that lie somewhere between art and bike. Their bikes certainly caught my eye and i really just wanted to meet the guys and see the bikes. Rolled into the shop on Lanny…the 1987 Trek and around 1000 miles a road grime and he dug it. We leveled and a deal was struck to get me on one of their bike. I was stoked and they seemed to be as well. The part of the agreement that sold me on the ultra high end trail destroyer (a little more Gucci than i am used to), was the part that they were going to allow me to come and build the bike with them. Boom. Done. Sold.

 

 

Spent a few weeks down in Ft. Collins in October living in the parking lot of Black Sheep in a VW van. Van of my roommate, Chris. Got the van in trade for doing a little work on it while i was down there. Tried to learn as much as possible in my short time down there. Black Sheep was in the midst of creating a run of 10 snowbike frames for 9:ZERO:7 out of anchorage, AK. I was able to help out with production of those…at least earn my keep. http://fatbikes.com/2012-907-titanium.html Didn’t mind at all that I wasn’t able to start on building my own frame. I was happy to spend more time in the shop.

 

 

Returned to Black Sheep in early April to start building my own. Turned out sick. Was able to do a bunch of the design, cutting etc. Wouldn’t say that I built it…it’s definitely a Black Sheep, but, apart from welding, I got my hand pretty dirty for another couple weeks.

 

 

After riding their bikes I decided to go with what Black Sheep does best…fully rigid 29ers. I also made it with wide enough spacing to accommodate snow wheels. Went a little crazy and picked up a Lefty front end as well. 3 bikes in one? The drive train is a Schlumpf 2 speed planetary gear that shifts with your heel…no cable…super clean. Also set it up so i can select between 4 single speed options because the snow wheel spacing allows for 2 rear wheels…2 cogs a piece. Each wheel is it’s own double single speed or ‘dingle’. So with the 2 speed planetary gear in the crank it’s technically a 8 speed bike although it only has access to 2 speeds at once. Wanted to avoid a drivetrain with a deraileur/tensioner.

 

FRAME

 

 

FUCKING Bad Ass (snow setup)

 

 

2 speed dingle, another 2 cogs in the front. Tool-less swap with the front wheel with a couple master links

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewed a set of bike packing luggage as well. made from super durable 1 oz Cuben fiber…turned out pretty trick…albeit a little Gucci. The bags a lace up around the bike frame with parachute cord. Spent a few nights up til 4 in the morning to get it all done. Bike with all luggage and gear weighs in at a scant 32 lbs. Doesn’t include a few clothing items, but i suspect that minus food and water the setup should be sub 35 for sure. Stoked.

 

Tour Divide Rig in front of my home outside of BlackSheep.

 

 

32 lbs = Retarded.

 

 

 

 

Machine dialed, i needed to work on me. Plan is: (Moab for a week, then..) fly to Costa Rica…Chill with Vail kids and Robin for a week then ride back to the southern start of the Tour Divide in New Mexico. Build some mental and physical strenth for the impending race. Had a little too much invested in the Sheep to risk riding in though central america and mexico so I gave Lanny the nod and packed up the Black Sheep to be sent to a bike shop in NM where i will switch them out.

 

 scenic routs in CR and hit Ometepe, the vulcano island in Nicaragua. Schedule-wise I am a bit behind to make it back to the US in time to race. In the case that i am in fact tardy i wll skip some of the desert in northern mexico with a bus. The week with Vail crew has been sick. Surfing and chilling and repeating. Left C.R. a couple days ago. In Grenada, Nicaragua now. Riding has been hot, but i can feel myself being broken in. A good thing. Loving the peope and culture here. Caught a few snHate to rush any of this, striking a balance. Trying to hit the century mark more than not. Be back in the states in one hot minute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central America gear. (Minus dog)

 

 

 

Nica.

 

Broke my rack, found a dude that welds aluminium in Rivas Nicaragua. BOOM

 

boat with vulcano

 

20 miles of pavers. Sounds cooler than it is?

 

Grenada

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Be Frugal, be free

“DEBT, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.”  (2)

The American Dream: Graduate high school, go to college, graduate and get career, accrue wealth, marry/kids , buy shit.  Anything wrong? Maybe.

Maybe. Maybe the setup isn’t as good as it could be.  The dream costs. College $$$, Marriage $$, Kids $$$, Buying Shit $$$$.  It’s the inadvertent accumulation of debt that accompanies that American Dream which makes the path maybe not quite as good as it may seem to be.

It was senior year at North Dakota State University. Sitting toward the back of my senior design coarse. It’s a brightly lit stale room with 3 rows of new fake wood finished tables.  Dr. Bob is lecturing on something dealing with how a design process relates to the development of a housing project. Per usual, he has a few slides prepared and is rambling. Most students sit and listen, unquestioning, but I take the ramblings for what they are…ramblings. Everyone just wants to graduate and start their American dream already.  Questioning D-Bob’s lecture won’t get them any closer. As he approaches the topic of housing costs he takes the opportunity to single me out among my peers.
“Mr. Zimmerman, aren’t you planning on moving to Denver?”
“Not Denver, but Colorado, yes.”
I had indeed worked out a deal with Dr. Bob to complete the balance of my course work remotely after completing my study in Fargo.
“What do you know about the cost of housing in Denver?”
“It’s higher?”
“More than double. Buying a home will be nearly impossible. Have you even considered this?”
He takes joy in calling me out in front of my peers for a seemingly hasty decision to move westward before completing my design project.
“I’m renting.” I think I have him. It’s a situation where I am certainly the one on the defensive.
“For how long do you estimate you’ll be throwing your money away on rent?”
“Buying a home might not be right for everyone.”
The dialogue continues to digress until it is no longer relevant to the lecture with neither party as an obvious victor.

It’s an argument that I have thought about a few times since and one of those that where I continually come of with things that ‘I wish I would have said’.

Dr. Bob has a long and impressive resume leading up to his tenure at NDSU.  Over this time it would be safe to say that D-Bob has accrued a considerable amount of wealth. For him, the decision to buy a house is an easy one.  Owning a property does in fact seem like an easy financial decision. A no-brainer.  (The economics of home buying are not really my concern or the focus of this argument)  It’s also a lifestyle choice.  And that is the side of the argument that Dr. Bob fails to see.

When one buys a home, they need take out a loan.  The loan will require a monthly payment to the bank until it is paid off.  If the payments aren’t met, the house will be reclaimed by the bank.  The buyers credit will suck a bag of dicks, not to mention all the other massive stresses associated with defaulting on a loan. That’s not really the point. The point is…

That loan has put you in bondage.  No longer are the options for exploration.  It’s either work, or lose the home and watch your new-found quality of life degrade.  It’s either work, or shitty, shitty things will happen.

Now consider life if the loan hadn’t been taken out.  You will work, most likely, as most people do.  But as soon as a modest amount of savings has been compiled, work, as it was before, is no longer mandatory.  Something new can happen.  Travel. Time off. Search for a new career. Change.  Anything your heart desires. Freedom. Freedom through frugality.

Home buying is just one way to gather debt. There are a bunch.  America has a limitless supply of them. College, Cars, Combines, plus anything that can be put on a credit card.

The debt cycle hasn’t been around forever.  In fact it is a rather recent invention.

“…when Henry Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913, workers simply walked out. …“So great was the labor’s distaste for the new machine system that toward the close of 1913 every time the company [Ford Motor Company] wanted to add 100 men to its factory personnel, it was necessary to hire 963.” (1)

So what the fuck did ol’ Henry do?

“…the only way to get them [early 20th century craftsmen] to work harder was to play upon the imagination, stimulating new needs and wants.  Consumption, no less than production, needed to be brought under scientific management – the management of desire.” (1)

He got them to buy shit. In his case cars, but any kind of debt would do. It was the industrial revolution that introduced consumer debt.  Debt was transformed from something undesirable to something totally acceptable and normal.

“The habituation of workers to the assembly line was thus perhaps made easier by …[an] innovation of the early twentieth century: consumer debt. As Jackson Lears has argued through the installment plan previously unthinkable acquisitions became thinkable, and more than thinkable: it became normal to carry debt. The display of a new car bought on installment became a sign that one was trustworthy. ..a wholesale transformation of the old puritan moralism… “ (1)

Debt is a new thing. It hasn’t been around forever.  It’s not something that has to be endured.  Is living totally without debt for everyone? Nope.  But for those people that have a bone buried anywhere in there body that wants to travel, or make big changes, or simply live freely, they may want to consider living without it.

I see it as timing and mindset.  When you want to buy something, the desire is strong and real.  A new car for example.  At the time you are thinking about pulling the trigger, a lot of reason fades away.  We are masters of convincing ourselves of most anything. It’s easy to concoct a slough of reasons why it makes sense to drive a new car. Reliable for getting to work. Safer. Blue is the new red. I’ll dirve the car for years. Etc. I am certainly really great at doing this myself.  This is mindset.  The timing comes into play when you consider when it is that we will be paying for our debt.  Payment comes when you consider the amount of time you will be living under the weight and bondage of that new-car-payment.  You’ll be required to come of with that money every month for years. Years away from when you made the decision to buy the car.  Not merely limiting your freedom but literally enslaving you.  Maybe not so bad when you bought the car but for the next few years how is one supposed to know what their desires will be.  Staying ahead of debt spells freedom to choose what is is that you most want to do in life when you want to do it.  It’s about considering timing and mindset.

If what you want most in life is a new car than by all means, suck that cooperate cock.  Take that loan and deal with it for the next few years. It’s not all that bad for many people.  But if you want, or might want down the road, something else for yourself besides bondage to a certain lifestyle; avoiding debt is certainly the gateway.

“The advantages of debt have become almost a philosophy. Possibly it is true that many people, if not most, would bestir themselves very little were it not for the pressure of debt obligations. If so, they are not free men and will not work from free motives. The debt motive is, basically, a slave motive.” – Ford

Ford invented it to keep workers working.  Workers enslaved. We don’t have to take the bait.  Debt costs freedom.

“Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal – that there is no human relation between master and slave.”  -Tolstoy

1. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work
By Matthew B. Crawford

2. Ambrose Bierce, debt in The Devil’s Dictionary

3. Today and Tommorow, 1926, Ford

4. Leo Tolstoy

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America 2, Colorado Trail




I was chatting with Sue (mom) on the phone when I decided to pull the trigger on another long trail hike. Was trying to organize a bike ride down the continental divide that involved too much hassle.  Didn’t have a passport, luggage, gps, ride to Canada, or a bike. Sorted most of it out but after a tird sandwich who just happened to be from England, bailed on a craig’s rideshare I was out. ‘Sue, screw all of this, I’m just going to go walking.’

The following morning I was sitting on the I-70 entrance ramp in front of Vail Village.
All I had to do was get my ass to Durango, CO that was it. The CO trail is 485 miles from the SW corner of the state diagonally across the rockies to Denver.  The Colorado Trail Foundation describes the trail as “the most beautiful long trail in the world.”  I figure that if it were somewhere between that and wal-mart parking lot it would be pretty rad.

Plan was to hitch to Grand Junction, spend the night with a friend and probably catch a greyhound down to Durango.  Rides in Colorado came quite easily. Got a ride to Eagle with a knee doctor. Next ride was with a sweet old lady down to Gypsum. Next ride was a really nice dude who took me to Glenwood.  Black guy, almost didn’t believe him when he told me he was born and raised in Aspen.  G-wood Crunk City had a K-mart which stocks an aluminum pot for 7 bucks. Lighter and far cheaper than titanium, boom boom.

A Mexican dude brought me a few more miles west to New Castle. A pretty dead exit, I set a number of 35 cars before I walk down the long entrance ramp to catch cars moving by on the interstate.  Car number 30 was a fancy Lexus truck. A traveling vacuum salesman from Denver. Got along quite well.  Got a nice ride to Rifle, CO. Salesman made a sales call and picked me up where he dropped me off, gave me a ride exactly where I needed to go in Grand Junction. DingDong.

Stayed the night. Visited Wal-mart. Bought a tin of Vienna sausage which made a decent cook stove and I was set up. Bus to Durango and disappear. Bink-bank-bonk.

I arrived to Durango around dark. Bought some eye drops and Clorox which would be water purification and I was set. Walked my way 3 miles out of town to the southern terminus of the trail, snapped a photo and went to sleep. I had completed the most difficult portion of a long trail, getting there.

I hadn’t calculated the reality of completing the hike in the time I had allotted myself but I was looking at an average of 26 miles per day to arrive in Denver for a flight I had 19 days later. Do Work.

20 miles into the first day I had hiked from Durango to tree line and got my first taste of southern Colorado’s monsoon.  Thunderstorms moved in and I reluctantly set up my tent next to Taylor lake of all places. Gorgy alpine lake, first of many.

Felt like a big pussy when an older couple came over the exposed ridge into view from my tent in the middle of the afternoon t-storm.  Was happy to make camp with the gnarly older hikers. Muleskinner, Woodrose and Retro were cronic long trail hikers. Cool to be back out on trail and meet freakshows like me.

I had been gifted a liberal amount of cheeba before starting out on the hike which transformed me into the Colorado Basil fairy.  A really awesome thing for a northbound hiker on the CO trail and I’ll tell you why.  Most who set out to hike the CO trail start in Denver and end in Durango for reasons mainly dealing with the difficulty of the terrain. The southern portion of the trail snakes much above tree line in the enormous San Juans, arguably the most extreme of the Rocky Mountains.  The sections of the trail outside of Denver are decidedly less demanding physically; a good warmup.  Since I was flying out of Denver in 19 short days my hiking direction was a given, but most choose to do it the opposite way.  So strapped with green nuggets, I was in a good position to stage wilderness pow-wows with the ever numerous southbound thru-hiker, and because the devil’s lettuce was a gift to me I felt obliged to roll up fatty J-zzles for anyone who was cool enough to pow-wow. On a guess, ~9% of southbound hikers pow-wowed down.

Just a taste of the San Juans…


booger

My first resupply was in Silverton, Colorado; a short 78 miles into the trail.  Hitched in with a couple southbounders (non-powwow types) with a wilderness firefighter, hit the stupidly overpriced general store and hitched back with a cool couple back to the trail (powwow types).

Spent the next couple days through the San Juans with a dude from Boise. I named him Bones because he was an archeologist and a seemingly talented one at that. He as constantly picking up bits off the trail and dating the surrounding mines based on the most obscure shit.  Definitely a scholar.  We put in a couple 20 miles days which was digging me quite the hole if I wished to complete the trail in a single push.

Bones and I found ourselves in the middle of a afternoon monsoon t-storm while hiking over 12000’ on a section of trail that was above tree line for over 25 miles. When there is no cover and it begins to lightning it get my attention in a real way. I always think about the phrase ‘about as likey as getting struck by lightning.” I also think about another hiker who broke down the “likelyhood of getting struck” into its factors.  Like, most people live inside, or at least around things that are taller than they are at elevations much lower.  When you find yourself as the tallest object on a ridgeline at 12000’ thoughts about what’s on TV that night aren’t the ones that tend to fill your head.

Bones and I decide to make camp on a saddle where the trail in front of us climbed onto another ridge.  A pretty heavy rain was falling, like it did for the first 10 days of the hike, and I was quick to find rocks to aid the pitching of my 1 1/2 man tent.  Bone’s on the other hand was rocking a hammock. A hammock that he was quite proud of I might add.  Hammocks are sweet when there are trees around but in their absence hammocks suck donkey balls.  I made room in my tiny tent and we sat out the storm under 16oz of silicon impregnated nylon.

Driven by pride Bones got out of the tent when the showers subsided just after dark, only to be driven back in when more precip hit us again that night.  Within the period of bones sleeping outside, both of us were awaken by the presence of numerous mega fauna very near to us. The bugles made it obvious that it was a large herd of elk very near to our sleeping area on this exposed saddle.  As the monster mammals made their way by us one caught a glimpse of us through the darkness.  When one elk get spooked they all seem to got nutty and Bones and I found ourselves in the midst of an elk stampede.  I can’t really comment on the scale of the herd of running elk as it was pitch black but it fucking sounded like a lot of them.  Our headlamps only illuminated the last elk running away and their eyes reflecting at a distance.  Really? Elk stampede? Boom boom boom.

bones

Spent the next night with Bones in a backcountry yurt complete with stove and wood burning fireplace.  Almost disappointed because it was the first day it hadn’t rained but that night the water hitting the canvas roof of the structure was like music.

Split from Bones early the next morning. If I were to continue at out moderate pace I wouldn’t be able to finish in time.  I at least wanted the option of finishing the trail if it were to present itself and 20 miles a day wasn’t going to do it.

I hiked hard all morning and stopped for the first time at a campground around spring creek pass.  There was an outhouse and I needed some TP.  I saw another hiker approaching the latrines and I opted for the women’s side. A few seconds later we made each others acquaintance while rolling up our stolen toilet paper.  As I went to put it in the mesh bag were I keep toilet paper I got real sour real quick. FUCK! The mesh bag that makes a sweet place for TP also houses my wallet, phone, and bleach sunscreen etc. Gone. Must have fallen out.  First reaction, “FUCK!” Wait one minute… “oh well.” What’s it matter where I’m walking. Settle down.

Began hiking the 9 miles back to the yurt that I had so gingerly covered that morning.  Had the pleasure of sharing the walk with my fellow toilet paper thief.  A young dude like myself from Decorah, IA, going to school at Carlton College, a short 45 minute drive from where I grew up. Pow-wowed for sure.

Ran into Bones, no sign of the bag.  He suggested that it would have been sitting next to my morning tird…in close proximity to the yurt. 7 more backwards miles away. An 18 mile round trip. Oh well. 2 options, be pist or don’t be pist. Had a bit of difficulty locating my morning bathroom but finally did and there it was, my mesh bag.  Boom.

Pow wowed the yurt and I set off, 18 miles into the day, from where I had woken up that morning.

Hustled back to the latrines at spring creek pass over trail I was now intimately familiar with, 27 miles into the day.  Added another 6 miles that night and made camp.  Didn’t even make it to where Bones was camped. Oh well.

Caught up to bones the next day.  Whatever my new daily average was going to have to be it was big.  Started making some big days.  Next day was a 37 mile day which was quite stout considering the limited length of day.

Passed a couple of sheep shepherds tending their herd high in the San Juans.  Caught one wiping his ass as the other was quite a distance away. Kinda bummed I never got a shot to chat with these crazy assholes.  I had heard that they were from Argentina or Bolivia up here for the sheep herding season I guess.  Was threatened by one of their dogs but an anticlimactic encounter and the shepherding dog made a U turn after some stern words.

Other wildlife encounters were mainly dominated by cows. Shitloads of cows.  Big bulls with big bull boners, momma cows who seemed to be quite aggressive.  All the while walking through area that have been totally ravaged by the animals. The whole public lands ranching seems to have gotten a bit out of control.

Searching for this picture the entire trail, fucking cows

Also got to see a bear. Seemed like quite a sizable bear at a distance that was borderline uncomfortable distance away.  Bones and I also spotted a couple moose as well. Mule deer and elk were very numerous as well.

The next couple days were quite solo over very remote sections of the trail.  I named one section ‘the tunnel of insanity’ because I was always questioning whether I had already been there.  I also saw 0 human beings for a couple solid days adding to the insanity.  The first person I encountered coming out of the tunnel was a mountain biker who had come up from Salida I would guess.  He probably found it a bit odd that I would be so eager to converse.  After him there were a number of others in the much higher use area around Salida and Monarch Pass.  It was a section that I had actually ridden on mountain bike before.  Got slightly mixed up following the bike route from my memory and missing a few miles of the CO trail near hwy 50.

Hitched down into Salida for my second resupply. Old dude with a mini van full of mountain and road bikes along with some backpacking gear. Called it his sports car.

Tried to grab a room at the hostel in Salida but settled for a shower and laundry after discovering that they were full; compliments of a yuppie guided bike tour stopping over.

Had a nice dinner and resupplied at the Safeway.  Walked outside of town and bedded down in a hoarse pasture. Was bothered a bit by raccoons but was happy to be sleeping out for the first time on the trail.

Hit the Wal-mart to steal some TP and hitched back up to the trail to resume the stout pace I knew I had to keep to be in Denver before take off.  Hiking with a deadline is definitely not something I recommend at all.

Made it 27 miles when I was greeted by 2 brothers and a sister from new jersey.  The one brother had lived in boulder for a while but the other 2 siblings were fresh out of the east coast. Awesome trio. They had been doing 10 miles or less per day since denver.  There was no way I was missing out on their company, plus they had a campfire already going.  The Boulder brother had left his piece around 9 miles back on the trail and gave me articulate directions on how to find it…his gift to me. Thanks guy. We pow-wowed and I rolled a gun for the road.

Over the next couple days I travesed the trail through a few wilderness areas including Mt. Princeton, Collegiate peaks wilderness, Mt Massive wilderness.  One day I at the majority of special mushrooms that I had packed out for exceptionally beautiful sections of the trail. Boom Boom. Awesome stuff.  I picked the section from the data book with the highest elevations and it paid off.  Really mind altering stuff.  Ran into a younger hiker mid trip, maybe around my age. I recall that he smelled quite pungent even for a hiker.  He was wearing some sort of rain or wind layer that had a lot of sweat on it and long pants.  Its always been my personal style to hike in shorty shorts and a t-shirt and I don’t like to cast my opinions over another but if you are sweating your balls off in a rain layer…take it off? He also got right up in my grill and started asking all about my gear. Don’t get me wrong, I’m into the whole gear side of hiking as much as the next guy but if the first piece of conversation out of your mouth is about my backpack it’s a bit off putting.  That combined with the psychedelic mind state made me laugh.

Some great sections of trail in the Collegiate Peaks area. Left my camera behind at a lunch spot around 2 miles back from where I set it down for a self timer upping my superfluous trail mileage to 22.

This is exactly where i left my camera

bath time

cooking lunch

On my last bits of food coming into hwy 24, the last option to hitch into Leadville, CO.  Many tourist, no rides for quite some time. Finally got in.  Saw a bumper sticker that read “Leadville, we’re here cause we’re not all there.”  Accurate. Love that town. Checked into the hostel for a shower and laundry and this time around, a place to sleep.  Ended up sleeping at a grow-house with a dude that I met at one of the few $1 PBR establishments.  I got the tour of his operation and in the flowering room he let me choose any bud that I desired. Fucking CRAZY!

ummmm

At the edge of Leadville I made a game time decision to skip the next section of the trail, the one that runs right behind Vail from Tennessee Pass to Copper Mtn. Ski resort.  If I were to leave it as is it would mean an average of 30 mile days until Denver but I wanted to leave to option to hike with someone else toward the end of the hike at less than 30 miles. It would also allow me to fill in the section closest to home versus having to do so outside of Denver. I like to ‘stay true to the thru’ (Lint Hikes) but I would have to compromise just this once.

Ended up running into a mountain marathon above Copper Mtn.  I was sharing the trail with hundreds of marathoners. Slow ones at that. I was able to keep pace with most of them for a long time until the novelty wore off.

In the midst of the chaos I ran into 2 older ladies that had been section hiking the Continental Divide Trail over the past couple trail.  What a delight the two women were. We chatted for about 20 minutes about the trail and lightweight hiking strategies.  I got the biggest kick out of one of the ladies who stopped a marathon ‘runner’ to take our picture. He was less amused than I was.

Sweetest ladies in Colorado?

Busy sections of trail around Breckenridge Colorado. Ran into a couple alternative kids from Portland thru-hiking southbound. We pow wowed and I wished them luck.

The next morning I found myself hiking more superfluous miles after a retarded trail marker sent me miles downhill toward Keystone ski resort.   One big clue for me in deciphering trail junctions is the angle at which trail blazes face.  One blaze should face me and the other should be facing the southbound hiker. In this case, the strategy failed me. Walked at least 2 miles down into a valley before resolving that an error had been made.  26 is now the count of extra miles. Bonus miles we’ll say. Bonus enjoyment that most hikers will never get to experience. Hiked back and carved a more obvious arrow into the trail market post with my chinsey razor.

The trail from Keystone to Denver is relatively mellow but not without its own character.  I spent another day walking without seeing other people.  What broke the unaccompanied stretch was a couple of very interested people.  The first I met in the middle of a long stretch through an enormous cow pasture. Nothing for miles but the two of us.  She was interesting even at a distance. Natty short dreads, died blue, plugs in her ears the sized of 50₵ pieces. It had been raining all day and she was in a big flannel and blue jeans.  A big pack covered by a blue painters tarp.  If I were to see this girl, gutterpunk would be accurate, in the middle of Minneapolis I don’t know if I would have noticed but out here was another thing altogether.  How the fuck did you end up here. Alone. I mean, I’m weird, but I’m wearing a fucking rain jacket?!

I step off the trail and greet her. Keeping her head down she mutters something like a hello and then hikes right by.  Like a mirage.  I looked back after she was a few hundred yards away just to make sure I hadn’t imagined the encounter. Fucking nuts.

Not an hour later I was taking a break from the rain under a thick pine tree when mirage #2 comes sauntering by. Half jog, half walk, I ask him if he’s walking the whole trail. “Nope, I’m running it.” He had an oversized fanny pack on with a bed roll and Jesus sandals on.  Had to wonder if I had imagined him too. Too much.

30 miles a day until the last day when I was met by Zoe, a friend from Vail for the last two days. The plan had worked out well because we had less than 15 miles days until Denver.  I talked her into walking into Denver and figuring out the shuttle to her vehicle when we got there.  I was thoroughly impressed with the last sections of the trail.  Very beautiful and some of the burn sections seemed almost exotic.


Spent the last night on the trail and an epic campsite with a big campfire.

When we got to the northern terminus of the trail we walked out on the road and were immediately picked up by a welder heading east.  Sedalia was a hole in the wall south of the southern suburbs of Denver. Stuck our thumbs out and in under a half hour we had a ride all the way back up to just about where Zoe had parked the truck two days before.  Ex-ski bum like us said his gas was on the company dime. Never under-estimate the power of a vagina when hitching. Another quick ride got us the 16 miles down the country road and that was that.  Boom Boom Boom.

Got a shower in Denver so I could get on the plane.  Couldn’t have worked out better.

Dear Colorado Trail,

Are you the ‘most beautiful long trail in the world’? Hmmm, debatable. But I’d hit it. You are as epic of 500 miles as they come. You made me wet, a lot. You were desolate and busy. Diverse, definitely.  I enjoyed our time together immensely.

Dueces,

Cjell Monee






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America 1; Riding Home

Day 1. Bernie and Sue ride along with me to the edge of town.  With an already delayed start  my now-mind had left me and the slow family pace killed me. Exchanged hugs and took off like a shot. Perfect day. Vail is the destination. Sun is bright. Spinning the pedals is easy. Colorado and the next chapter lay only a few short days away.

Make a few stops in south eastern Minnesota for eats and another time to tighten the spokes. The last bike shop for 1000 miles. Crazy dude. Kept talking about selling high end Trek bikes over the phone. Shop was a real hole in the wall so he claimed that no one could beat his prices on the account of no overhead.  Intense dude. Let me borrow his tools without a question so I wasn’t complaining.  He actually had the same exact bike I was currently riding, out front of his shop.

A 1987 Trek Elance 400d. Lanny. I picked up one of the nicest road bikes trek produced in that year for $50. Gunnar Berg sold me the bike for peanuts fully aware of the care, love, and punishment I would undoubtedly show it. Metallic blue paint covered the old lugged steel frame which all laid under a thick layer of tar. Tar that was no match for gasoline. Scott down at Martins made it rain on me a little bit providing me with new cables and housing and a set of new-old tires. Lanny was looking hot.

Keeping a high cadence I dipped out of Fairmont, MN and found some very lonely country roads a hair north of the Iowa border.  Stole a shower from a county run campground. The hot day was the start of a string of hot days that produced an unruly thick layer of salt over my body. The free.99 shower was key.  Ended up putting on ~130 miles despite the late start and family send off.

Camped that night nearing sundown on the corner of a farmer’s mowed property, just out of sight from the farm house.  The stresses of homelessness showed themselves again but are gradually becoming more and more discernable, witnessable and therefore more manageable. The worst that would happen is a few rounds from the barrel of some angry farmers shotgun…bah.

It wasn’t stress that made sleeping that night difficult…it was a fucking deer.  Some pompous buck kept stamping and snorting around my tent. I would wake up and clap my hands scaring it away only to have it come back shortly after.  That fucking deer must have made 5 visits to my tent that night.  If only I had that farmer’s shotgun.  The sun couldn’t have come early enough. Was packed up and underway before sunrise.

Day 2. Another hot day. Bank clocks showed 97 with later reported heat indexes around 110. Sweated my little nutties off.  Crossed into Iowa and skirted small rural towns on even more rural county roads.  Kept a steady pace crossing over into South Dakota. So hot. Dried the tent out and filled water bottles in rural now south Dakota towns. Winds were light which allowed for considerable progress.  I ended the day in Yankton, South Dakota, around 170 miles from where I had started. Completely exhausted and spent. I couldn’t eat enough salt or drink enough water to keep up with demand.  Broke down like a bitch, on day 2 no less, and got a room.  Sweet guilt accompanied the cool cool AC, felt like a kid watching porn on the internet for the first time.  I was that kid.

Day 3. Crossed the devastatingly flooded Missouri river into Nebraska. If I had done it the day before it would have been 4 states in one day but I will settle for just seeing 4 states in a day. A friend once told me he refrained from doing something because it sounded too much like an accomplishment. I could learn a lot from that friend. Who cares how many states you see in a day.  Bah. Riding makes me a headcase.

Rode with a south Dakotan principal out for his daily ride. An exercise nut minus all the spandex. The candidness and honesty with which he spoke was truly remarkable. He would speak about his kids on a first name basis as if I, a total stranger (with long hair mind you), had met them before. “Well, John, who’s 18 already has a baseball game today. He’s been battling pneumonia for a while now….” This guy’s Midwestern spirit was stee-rong.  Was a welcome change to the fast pace and solo biking that I had been doing up til then. Maybe knocked off 20 miles with the kind stranger.

Rode past portions of the Missouri River that had flooded entire neighborhoods. The dam holding back the giant Louis and Clark reservoir was releasing 160,000 cfs (cubic feet per second?) which my biking partner explain was up from 70,000 cfs, the most the damn had ever previously released in the history of the dam…ever. Over double. The flooding had actually closed a section of the highway down where I was planning on biking. Instead of staying far north in Nebraska, making my way across the mighty width of the state I rerouted towards the south snaking my way down diagonally across the center.

Towards the end of the day landscape changed from farmland to sand hills. Rolling Nebraska grasslands for days. Stopped in the most divey of ranch bars where the bar-man and another man were well into a heated game of cribbage.  Tried to order a chocolate milk and a Budweiser.  Barman told me “this is a fucking bar, we ain’t got no chocolate milk.” Fair play barman. Warmed up do the 2 gentleman over my beer and told them I would be back in a year for a “fucking glass of chocolate milk.”

Camped in the sandhills that night.  Real estate doesn’t seem to be a limited resource in Nebraska. Went without a shower dealing with the thick layer of salt a dirt as I had no other options.

Day 4.

Waking up still feeling like a salt lick. Slept well, no hastles where there’s no people and no pesky bucks. Pedaled the few miles into town. Felt so soft when I mentally commited to treated myself to a cooked breakfast.  The breakfast stop turned into absurd high value when the sweet lady running the place offered me a shower while they cooked my breakfast.  So clutch.

Another day of silly high temperatures turned me very quickly back into a hot salty mess.  90 miles was all I had in the tank. Stopped a few times for naps.  Head winds were expected traveling in the westerly direction but are never easy to deal with. A strong incessant force that forever impedes progress, robbing energy and morale that can never be recovered. Dark questions about why I was doing this, or do I really enjoy riding bike creeped into my head.

These questions all quickly dissapreared when I reached that nights camping.

First thing; found a shower.  Can’t explian how key it is after around 10 hours of straight sweating. It was a state rec area in the fucking middle of nowhere, Nebraska. Not even a large river around.  There were a few campers about. One lent me some soap…so key.

Set up my tent in the vasinity of a few others tenters. A little chatter yeilded an invite to a campfire. It turned out to be quite the sizable family outing. Made an offer to trade a $1000 IOU and an old grenola bar for a beer and was rewarded with many-a-beer and a couple burgers, chips, tater salad, apple pie, etc. Such remarkable kindness that seems to be a theme in the Middlewest.

Day 5.

Breakfast was served from my new friends. Just doesn’t get any better. Hit the road at a decent hour.  The 90 miles into north platte was broken up by only 1 town and a lot of grass.  Headwinds continued to decay my spirit but the good fortune that I received the night before was a great weapon in the mental battle of a full day of pedaling against a swiftly moving atmosphere. Had a close call where I was certain I had sharted on the way into town…didn’t…shocker, pleasantly surprised.  Destroyed a Wendy’s in N. Platte. Rode out of town west on a now familiar highway with skies growing darker.

I rode hard as the inclement weather was accompanied by freak winds from the east. Make hay while the sun shines?…or whenever it doesn’t?

Almost buckled for a room again but paying more that $40 is a steep price for being a giant pussy, so I decided to make more hay.

Pedaled a few more hard miles to the next town of Paxton as the sun set and rain started falling. Made it to a park and an overhang before I got nailed. Rain let up, decided to grab a beer in one of the two dining establishments in Paxton, NE.

Ended up dining with a dude from Vail and his brother who seemed to be oddly connected with the scene in Paxton. He called the barman by name and even the butcher who cut the steak sitting in front of him stopped over to say hello.

Turns out the dude runs a restaurant in the rockies and makes a run to Paxton once every three weeks to buy his beef. “Some of the most tender in the world.” The butcher turned out to be quite a special man as well. Mr. Henke ran the oldest family run grocery store in the state and had quite a reputation for his steaks. After 1 beer turned into 3 Henke told me to stop by the gorcery store the next morning. What a night.

Day 6.

Woke up in the city park. Killed an hour waiting for the oldest grocer in the state to open for bussiness. Not really sure what to expect I was pretty certain it wasn’t going to be bad.  Mr. Henke came out from behind the deli with a bloody apron and proceeded to make it rain harder than one can imagine after only some smart words were exchanged in the bar from last night. Fruit, suasage, cheese, chips, gatorade. I made him stop when I was certain I had exceeded carrying capacity on the bike. After our super market sweep he sent me out the door and wished me luck.  A seriously beautiful and wonderful man.  Nebraska is now known to me not only for there amazing beef but people as well.

I had big goals for day 6. I rode in to colorado before in the AM which renewed my energy. The headwinds remained at a breeze and I passed the old haunts of Ovid, sedgewich, Julesburg. My third time through this area.

I weirded out another couple I encountered touring on their bikes. Crossed the road and inniciated conversation. This was the second encounter with touring cyclists in almost three thousand miles of riding. The first will never be forgotten as the homeless man on a walmart schwinn was all too epic three years ago.

These two seemed quite dry, riding from salt lake to chicago. They kept mentioning how they were either ahead or behind their schedule. I felt bad for them. Not that bad because they were getting it done on bikes and headed with the day’s wind but trying to keep a schedule is a terrible place to be. After we parted ways I sprinted back after them and requested a couple patches as I had run out and had no way to repair a flat tire.

100 miles in for the day, Sterling, Colorado’s dollar store and taco bell were raped as dark clouds moved in.  The westerly gales that kicked up where too much to resist so I set out into the most desolate portion of the ride, the Pawnee Grasslands that stretched over much or north eastern colorado. A lot of wheat and then just nothing.

I made it 20 miles before the ominous skies condensed and released rain. Heavy rain.  Day turned to night with the super heavy dark clouds blotting out the sun and blue skies. Spotted a ranch in the distance and pedaled my ass off.

Made it to the ranch without getting struck down by lightning. Rested underneath the overhang of a machine shed. Made my way over to the farm house to make my presence known to the proprietors.  Figured it would be the least awkward move at that point.  Wasn’t really expecting to be invited in but gladly accepted when I was. I refused dinner as taco bell still sat heavy in my stomach and felt I was really the definition of imposition at this point.

The storm didn’t let up until dark and the elderly man and women that had taken me in insisted that I take a shower and sleep there for the night. Didn’t decline that offer.

Ended up repairing two flat tires that evening that I had picked up in the driveway of their place. Had just enough patches to get it done!

Day 7

For the third day in a row I was treated to a royal breakfast and sent on my way. Luckiest kid alive? Maybe.

Kept a decent pace across the grasslands until the Rockies finally came into view. Cha-ching. Feels like home, looks like home…

Eastern Colorado was long  yet amazing, just the way I left it. Made it to Ft. Collins early in the day which was nice. Any time that 100 miles goes by and the sun is still high it gets me all jacked up. My string of inexplicable good fortune continued in Fort Collins. Met with a bike builder there and was presented with a most unbelievable opportunity.

The climb from Fort Collins was formidable but barely noticeable under the circumstances. My high brought me all the way to Estes Park.  Sitting at the base of Rocky Mtn. National Park, Estes park is a full blown shit show, crawling with midwestern gaper tourists, tooling around in Ford tauruses and mini van’s galore. Keep your eyes out for bicycles dad.

Killed the last little bit of daylight in front of a safeway feeling very homeless.  Camped on what seemed to be the tallest hill in town setting up my tent in the dark as a serious lightning storm hit.  The hill had only a few short trees on it.  My mind went wild with thoughts of being struck as the inside of my tent became illuminated many times a minute.  Was taken away with a rush of insanity and got out of my tent in the pouring rain and ran for lower ground.  Talked myself out of the foolish antics halfway to the grocery store and returned to the tent. No lightning strikes.  A week alone on the bike makes me a real headcase.

Day 8

160 miles lay between camp and Vail.  A huge day in the Rockies but home may be an even huger motivator.  Started the long climb into the national park early.

The park is known for the most gnarly of highway that climbs from 7500 ft at estes park to over 12000’.  It’s not a normal highway in the fact that it climbs up into the mountains for no real purpose other than to expose tourists to the highcountry.  As a result, the road climbs like crazy and stays at a high elevation for some time before descending.

Stopped and had a couple tourists snap a photo of me.  My camera had gone temporarily defunct so these would be the only photos of the trip. But if you’re gonna have just one picture this one would do.

poop

On one of the longest decents I have ever ridden I passed a few bikes and a few cars.  One lady on a bike yelled at me, “You’re mad!.”  After spending the entire morning pushing around the tall gears of an old steel bike, fully loaded, up the county’s tallest highway there was no way I was hitting the brakes. No speedometer but I would venture a guess that I rarely dipped under 40 mph, probably better than 45 for many many miles back down to sane elevations.

Willed the pedals around with thoughts of being home by nightfall.  Saw more cyclists on those Colorado highways than I would have ever thought possible. There was a yuppie group out of Boulder that were doing some ultra long 5 day ride. All I noticed was there lack of gear and poorly tuned shiny bikes.  In the 40 desolate miles from Kremmling to Dillon I encountered triple the number of touring cyclists (not counting the yuppies) than I had seen in the last 3000 miles of riding this route. Moved over to the opposite shoulder to converse with all of them. Turns out I had found my way onto an Adventure Cycling Association (authority on touring in the USA) official trans-america route.  The most memorable of these were three gorgeous ladies who had riden from seattle.  I can’t be certain but these were real live knockouts, wasn’t just seeing them through my tired bike goggles.

Once I made it to Dillon I knew there would be no way I would be denied Vail by dusk. Was actually going to arrive well before dark.  In Frisco I called a few friends and invited them to the top of Vail Pass to join me in drinking down some celebratory champagne.  Bought a bottle and started climbing the last pass of the day.

Was met at the top by the Liberty Skis Van/bus blasting some dubstep from it’s stupid soundsystem.  My best buds hadn’t forgotten me in the last year.  A perfect reception.

Miles: 1025

Avg: ~130/day

Max: 170

Min:90

Max Temp: Balls

Min: Cold as shit at 12000’

Most wonderful man: Mr. Henke

Flat Tires: 2 (same time)

Largest Cities Visited: Albert Lea, Yankton, Ft Collins, North Platte

Good trip. Glad to be home.

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Asia 13, Deuces

This note comes to you direct from New York City. I last updated just before I arrived in Sumatra, the largest island of Indonesia. Asia 13  will be my best attempt to fill in the gaps there-in.

The 45 minute flight from Kuala Lumpur to Medan, Indonesia’s 4rd largest city felt more like 35 minutes.  Hanging around the check in counter before take off was as creepy as it was fruitful.  Found the most incredible Egyptian man to mule a few files and grinding stone for me from Malaysia to Indonesia. (I have a thing against checking a bag, so either I throw the large metal files of pay a price greater than their worth to check them below or..) I find a mule to carry them for me.  A small miracle led me to asking a younger dreadlocked  north african straight from the Oreville commune in the of india.  His rastafarian appearance was 1/10 as interesting as his stories. From the extreme worldview that only a true functioning commune can cultivate to the stories of traversing the far reaching untouched lands of the Himalaya in Kashmir and Jammu, everything about this kid peeked my fascination and ultimately my adoration.  When we arrived in Medan I was more than obliged to spot him the $25 USD required for purchasing a visa on arrival. I got to hear more of his stories as we left the airport in search of a money changer that would accept indian rupee.  Medan was certainly a number of rungs beneath Malaysia (or thailand) on the development ladder.  Dirtier, noisier, way way more honking. “Hey Mister!” seemed to be the first and possibly only english words taught in the country.

Finally found someone to take Rupees and my new friend and I parted company.  Final destination was a certain Nias Island off of the opposite coast from Medan. On the surf guidebook’s suggestion I made haste to the center of Sumatra to a place called Danau Toba.  Would encourage fact checking here but Lake Toba joins only Yellowstone on the list of world’s super volcanoes. Absolutely magical collapsed volcanic lake the has a big mountain tip island surrounded by it’s unfathomably deep waters (near-pun acknowledged).

No sooner than had I arrived in Medan I was gone on a bus bound for the lake. Distinct memory: staring from the bus window and at an attractive young indonesian women breast feeding, wasn’t totally turned on but took far more than a passing glance…acceptable?

Got a considerable rush when the bus made the final turn revealing an amazing view of the volcanic lake. I imagined in my head a helicopter shooting film for some crazy Imax production.  After flying at great speed from the tight confines of the jungle road the copter-cam passes fast and tight over the slow moving bus (me) and the super-blue mammoth lake explodes into view as the all foreground imagery like the bus and mountain side vanish behind it. Even minus the dramatic chopper camera work the panorama was breathtaking.

Side note; all photos from this note were taken from Google Earth. Fucking lost my memory card approximately 2 days before returning to the US.

 

Toba ended up being an interesting place. At one point it time it was obvious that the lake experienced much more tourism than it currently does.  There seem to be approximately 1000X as many rooms in the area as available guests.  The situation creates a lot of aggressive behavior and general demeanor from many of the local people there.  Still a intensely beautiful place.

One day took a moped trip to a couple mountain side hot springs. Hot pools from sweet vistas, check.

The next day I sampled some of the local psychedelic fare.  Mind blown. Moon visited.  Sat down to gather myself in the meditative position and didn’t move for 3 hours.  Mountains moved.  Palm trees floated.  Every exotic sight and color, flora and fauna reintroduced itself to me only now with emphasis on the weirdness of color shape and texture. Tropical jungle brilliant greens contrasted the super deep blues from the lake.  I could have written and essay on blood flowing in my body, I swear I could see it happening.  Anywho…good time.

Shipped out after a couple days. Was hell bent on getting to the ocean and finding surf and since all three branches of my personal government are me, me and me, I did just that. On the quite short yet impossibly long journey to Nias Island off of the SW coast of Sumatera I ran into another fellow that was making the same journey I was.  I was a little surprised to find out that he was traveling to the same small island, but when I came to find out that he was a fellow Minnesotan I was a lot surprised.

Journey probably covered less than a couple hundred miles but exceeded the 24 hour mark. Was visited by a rare case of car sickness as the bus (minivan really) weaved through the pathetic jungle road. A 13 hour overnight ferry followed by around 5+ hours on inter-island transit made for a long day.

End up sharing a double room with Minnesotan for the next week as we both did our best Midwestern impressions of surfers.

Place was around $3 per person. Had a good view of the wave from the hammock outside my door. Fell easily back into the surf-and-recover lifestyle.  Surf until I am no longer physically capable, lay in the hammock, eat and repeat.  It is absolutly a wonder that I remain quite a terrible surfer.

Wave was amazing. These are the words of the largest surf forecast website…”It’s been called many things including Nias, Lagundri, Sorake and most often just The Point, but whatever name is used, it always ends up in the world’s top 10 waves.” Not my words but seemingly accurate.  Nasty barrels in some of the worlds warmest turquoise water.

Besides the wave, the island was a tropical paradise. Ended up losing my memory card with only a couple days remaining on my entire trip. Sheeeeit. Again, photos stolen off of google earth.

Sheeeeit

Ended up setting up a deal with the family from the village that took care of me.  Paid around $12 for my bed and 3 meals a day. Pretty sweet little setup. Read a lot. Am getting pretty nasty in the hammock. Decent way to spend a 30 days.

After a month of hanging around the tiny surfing village with surfers (some of the driest individuals to walk the planet) and locals (some of the most forceful salespeople i’ve encountered) I was ready to leave. Not only ready to leave the island, but ready to leave the area, the country, the hemisphere. I was ready to go home.  Ready to surround myself with people that love me.  Felt like a good time to go, so I did.

Checked a few flights back home…expensive. Over 10 million Indonesian Rupiah. Ended up scoring a buddy pass off of a friend in one of the most benevolent maneuvers I can remember.  If Karma is real then I should def run out and give a monk a handjob cause I am running a huge deficit.

Kicked it an Bangkok for a few days before completing the journey. Bought a whole bunch of shit. I am now the owner of pants (2 pair) shoes (3 pair), a shirt with sleeves on it and even a computer. Not too sure how I feel about the last one but here I am…sitting on my new Thai keyboarded laptop, typing away, checking my facebook, staring at porn, like any responsible god fearing american should.

Digging myself further into Karmanic dept, my standby flights from Bangkok to Tokyo and Tokyo to New York turned themselves into first class tickets.  Full reclining bed, sipping on wine, eating a surprisingly palatable tenderloin…made the journey a treat more than a chore.

Excited for the next chapter.  Visiting the closest thing I have to a brother here in New York. Still glad I don’t live here but it’s still a pretty nifty place.  Family-and-friend stop on MN to catch up with those who really count and then back to Colorado.

Asia, deuces.

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India (+Nepal) 4

Treats:

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ys-B576_JSU

2. Taking this entry analog. Hit me with your address either here or FB and I’ll get you on the limited edition Cjell Monee post card list. To be fair i’m not putting anyone who is not old, female, and a long time member of calvary baptist church on the “A” list but you are gaurenteed at least one.

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India 3. Himalayas


MOUNTAIN EXPERIENCES….

Met a few friendly dudes at a hot spring. Hemant and Vikram. Mountain boy and a Delhi boy. An odd couple to say the least. Hemant, a more reserved guy coming from a small village nestled high in the mighty Himalayan mountain range. Small in stature, of Tibetan decent. Vikram – a loud and loveable dude.  always smiling. More sizable than hemant with dark indian skin. He thinks in his next life he will be born an american with fare skin and blond hair.  Hemant quickly invited me to stay in his home where his well-to-do family took very special care of me. Always a special breakfast and dinner served to us on the floor of the bhuddest decorated, two story home. Hemants precious mother insisted on pouring Ghee all over everthing I ate. Ghee = fat extracted from milk through some long, labor intensive process  of sieving and fuck-knows-what. It’s supposed to be a very precious commodity. Admittedly and expectedly the pure fat drizzled over their local Tibetan mountain cusine, tasted like sin on toast. Delicious.

After a few days kickin it with their homeboys in another mountain city Hemant and I said goodbye to Vikram and hitchhiked to the hills for some walking. A couple days hiking, brought us to a hindu mountain temple for the lord shiva. smoked some hash with a friendly man who lives in a tent nearby. Supernice dude. Test my long untested J rolling abilities and i was fairly proud of my work.

Descended in the spectacular Parvati valley. A deep dramatic gorge cut deep into the mountain terrain capped by classic Himalayan snow covered peaks. Villages with foot access only dotted the valley walls where a glacial river tore through the center. A few travelers had described their euphoric feelings as rolled hash from the abundant marijuana plants, sitting smoking and just being in that valley. Fucking cool spot.

Almost tried to buy this kid's shirt but thought it looked too good on him

A few days later I strapped all belongings to rudy and hit the road back to Delhi to meet up with Austin. Was resolute in taking as much time as need to fully enjoy the ride home. The roads selected cut through valleys even more remote than those I had selected on the journey up to the mountains.

Night one was spent in a very small mountain town. I was a little cheesed that I had to pay $5 for the room but i calmed down. Walked around the one town road. People stared at my cracker ass but fine enough, I was a bit of an anomaly.  I sat down in one sweet shop for a treat and some chai. I was quickly invited to the back room where a few cabbies chilled smoking spliffs. One spoke a bit of english and the others less. I enjoyed just hanging and smoking. they offered me some to take with..of corse no charge for their new fare skinned friend. Genuine dudes.

The following morning I was out searching for some superglue to patch my down coat. A shop owner invited me in. Sat me behind the counter on the dim shop.  He rolled a few spliffs then gifted me a large chunk of hash. super nice dude. his son was over the fucking moon when i gave him a USD.

That day I crossed Jarorirote Pass. A climb that lasted over 10 miles the last 3 or 4 of which was mud. I spent a few hours standing up on the bike in first gear. I made it was rewarded with a small village at the top. Chai with some dudes. One of the cabbies was up there and i returned the favor and used my supply of hash up. such a beautiful place with genuine people. a good spot to spend an hour or 2 while rudy chilled out.

Later that day I can across 2 guys on a bike. big smiles. We pulled over and one of them rolled a spliffle. We smoked and talked. The one offered me some of his hash but I declined. Extremely nice guys that were really happy to meet me and me likwise. I gave my camera to the one riding in the rear and he took some footage and photos. They later stopped and paid for my dinner. Super nice.

I arrived in Narcanda, a small mountain town at the juction of a few mountain routes. I asked a man that looked like he knew what was up if there were guest houses in town. I instructed me to wait in town for his help. The man arranged for me to stay in a friend of his place. My bed at in the corner of a large empty room shared with another old old man that painted signs. the man explained to me he had been painting signs for over 40 years. His work was meticuous and immaculate. Very high quality gibberish hindi script was tranfered from his delicate brush to the bright sign. I cat and watched with work as the sun rose from behind the mighty snowcapped mountains that were the skyline. He rolled spiffs and gave me and gifted me a large chunk of charas. Amazing.

Bad ass dude

The man that helped me the day invited me to his mountaineering school for dinner and breakfast. His young indian students poured over me. Part embarrassing but kinda flattering? I spent over a half and hour posing for photos. a few of the girls where gorgeous but alas my time here in India remains celibate.

The next night I stopped at a mororcycle shop in another moutain town. This, Solan, the larges i had been through the entire time. I help the one man working there polishing a motor while his friends sat around, smoked, laughed, drank chai, watched the whiteboy working as they do. I was happy to offer the small supply of charas I had. They inquired as to where I got it stating that it was very high quality. thanks sign man.

One of the dudes went a long way out of his way to find me a room in town. paid 2 bucks for a bed in a truckers dorm. Good shit.

The last day I hustled back to Delhi covering mileage equal to that of the last 3 days combined. Big roads, plains and more of a sense of urgency brought me quickly back to the chaos that is delhi. A few more days here and then Gav and $ attack the north and maybe nepal, tearing ass on out trusty enfieild motor chariots.

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