August 17, 2018
Two years ago, I finished my 11-day Pacific Coast route ride with Bike The US For MS at Elk Prairie Campground in Redwood National Park. This year, we ended my first day of a 9-day ride with the same group at the same campground.
Two miles into the ride out of Crescent City this morning, we had a five-mile, 1,500-foot climb—a nice hello for the legs and lungs. One of the great things about five-mile climbs is the five-mile descent that follows. We celebrated by stopping at Trees of Mystery—a mix of kitsch and natural wonder, in equal measure—outside of the town of Klamath.
Two more climbs waited for us, climaxed by a five-mile descent through a redwood forest. The first time I rode through here, it brought tears to my eyes. This time, I knew what was coming and didn’t cry. But I couldn’t help smiling all the way down.
After setting up camp, showering, and fixing dinner, one of our group came to tell us that he’d just been out near the highway at the entrance to the campground. He said that a small herd of elk were grazing in the meadow. We rode our bikes to the entrance, and there they were—seven bull elk, calmly grazing along the camp road. I was within 10 yards of one of them.
Magnificent creatures. Reminders, like the big trees, that we are part of a living, breathing world that is far greater and more vulnerable than our work, our politics, or any of our worries would have us believe.
This is one of the great gifts of these journeys that are at least partially off the grid. We are given the opportunity, by changing our rhythm and cadence, of seeing and being seen, touching and being touched, in ways that our normal tempo makes extraordinarily difficult to sustain.
So, it was my great good luck to have had seven bull elk and thousand-year-old trees come to me as teachers and talismans, welcoming me on this journey—the 9-day bike ride, and the life-long daily sojourn.
A good beginning.