Monday, October 31, 2011

Explore Dream Discover

On a very cool and very sunny Saturday morning I drove out to the golf course on the base, easily found a space in back of the parking lot, got geared up and rode my mountain bike for a few hours on a complex series of trails adjacent to the green.
The trails are actually made up of a large combination of ground surfaces.
Some are old concrete roadways from the time when this base was a huge presence in the area during WWII.
Others are gravel logging and access roads.
And many others are wide open rock and branch and leaf filled dirt trails.
Many are rutted out and all are unmaintained and overgrown.
I have not biked this area very often in the past so do not know the area well, but I did remember that there were a series of long main arteries with multiple side trails shooting off in both directions.
In short, trails everywhere................
After spending 20 minutes on an old paved road I turned left onto a gravel road for only a brief time before turning onto a leafy double track that led directly into the woods.
Fall is here.
Fall is a beautiful and grand and sweet season and on this extremely quiet and sunny day I relished the opportunity to be alone in this place.
I had forgotten how beautiful this area was.
10 minutes onto this trail and it dead ended.
I dropped my bike and walked just a short way, looking to my left to see what the wide open space on the other side of the bushes was all about.
One of many grassy power line sections.
A look back the way I had just come...............
And Fall grasses at the edge of the open field close to the trail.............
One wheel of my bike barely visible in the tall grass..........
The straight-aways in this area are very long and mostly flat, and after picking up my bike again I continued further on this secondary road.
I have run these trails a couple of times and biked them maybe six or seven times in all the years I have been coming out to the base.
The vast majority of them are non-technical, flat, open, with few obstacles and little chance for serious injury.
Although I am again running regularly on the mountain bike trails located further into the base, and have biked a couple of times since finding myself back in Tennessee, I still have not found the fortitude to mountain bike the serious stuff.
Running them was overwhelming at first.
To a certain extent it still is.
But every time I head out that way I conquer them a little easier both physically and mentally.
One day soon I will wake up and decide that today is the day.
But until that time I was greatly enjoying my quiet solitude on quiet and friendly Fall trails................
Random thought - we need to buy Jamie a doggie PFD so she can ride in the boat.............
Most of the forest land in Tennessee contains very dense undergrowth.
I have been torn up more times than I could ever count while bushwhacking during adventure races.
Torn up legs and arms and shoulders as we beat trail through the bush.
The people I worked with in Tullahoma always laughed at me whenever I came home from races.
What would I look like when I came back to work?
Scratched up?  Bruised up?  Broken up?
They never knew what to expect and I always received the once over when I walked in the door.
I was surprised when I came across this section of woods and stopped for a few moments to take pictures of an unusually calm place underneath the trees on the side of the trail.............
Something I rarely saw in Wyoming but saw often in Alaska.
Moss covered tree roots in this low lying area...............
By this time I had been biking for well over an hour, wandering along unkempt roads and overgrown trails with abandon, not really paying attention to where I was.
I could hear shooters at the gun range a few miles away so had a good general idea where I was.
Having no desire to back track I kept wandering.
The area was all new to me from this point forward............
I hit a well maintained gravel logging road for only a minute before on-the-spur-of-the-moment turning left again and working my way further away from the golf course and my truck.
I still generally knew where I was but not really..............

This particular trail was my first real experience with "mountain biking" in almost two years.
It began as a flat and easy trail and quickly turned into a leaf covered rutted out, root and branch filled trail that quickly dropped down into a gully and then climbed steeply.
I easily maneuvered the gnarly downhill and just as easily managed the uphill.
A confidence booster to be sure and it felt good to do something even somewhat technical.
It felt very good................
Too beautiful.
An outstandingly beautiful day.
And even though I was out for about three hours on Saturday morning I did not run into even one person.
The gnarly trail opened up to a power line trail and again I dropped my bike so that I could explore on foot...........
LC and I have ridden bikes by these power lines while road riding in the past, heard the hum of the wires as we approached and felt the hairs stand up on our arms as we rode underneath them...................
Reluctantly I headed back the way I had come when I realized that the power line trail was a dead end, and again hit the gravel road.
Continuing further..............
Dropping my bike again when I saw this sign.
Dead ending again.
Moving on.
I was having a really great time exploring and riding and being alone in this place.
My only goal for the duration was to just be outside and to ride and explore............
I had blown by a lot of side roads since first riding away from the golf course.
Some I had taken out of curiosity but more often than not I  bypassed the untold number of side trails that I came across.
When I got to this side road I stopped for a moment to consider.
This one veered off to the right...............
This one continued straight...............
Turning to the right I hit this log pile within 1/4 mile.
I dropped my bike yet again, walked around the log pile and found only a mud pit.
Curiosity satisfied yet again I yet again headed back down the trail the way I had just come...........
After over two hours of riding and wandering and picture taking and exploring many trails that I had never seen before I popped out of the trail and unexpectedly hit this road.
It was all a little disorienting for a brief moment.
For a couple of hours I had been in the midst of dense brush, never ending Fall leaves both on the ground and still on the trees, gravel and dirt and paved roads, downed logs and rocks and mud puddles.
And then unexpectedly I found myself pulling out of the trails and standing directly in front of neat fence and neat green pasture and neat road.
From the feeling of wilderness to the feeling of perfectly manicured...............
Once I hit the road I knew exactly where I was and realized that I was about 3 or 4 miles from the golf course.
I still need to get a battery for my bike computer...........

When I hit the main highway leading through the base and eventually to I-24 interstate I stopped to take these pictures.
A station containing information and maps describing the base trail systems and Woods Reservoir.............
The model airplane field which is surprisingly busy on weekend mornings.............
And finally making my way back to the golf course and my truck..........
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover...........Mark Twain

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