Friday, June 10, 2016

Blooming Most Recklessly

A few weeks ago I loaded my bike into the bed of the truck, loaded my dog into the passenger seat of the truck and headed out onto BLM land.
It never fails.
My dog excitedly dances around in the seat for the first five or six miles.
But by mile 7 she begins to bark.
She knows where she is. 
 She knows where Cedar Butte is.  
And she knows that soon she will be released from the bondage of the truck and will be able to run free.
Predictably, by the time I pulled into the huge parking area adjacent to the trail that would either take us up onto the butte or around the back side of the butte (depending on which fork you took) Kory was dancing and jumping and barking wildly in that over-excited pitch that makes my ears hurt.
There was no walking around to the passenger side of the truck to open the door for my dog.
Quickly clamoring out of the truck, I jumped out of the way as Kory squeezed her way past me.
She was already half way down the trail by the time I off-loaded my bike, adjusted my gun, snapped on my helmet and clipped in to my pedals.
I called to my dog. 
We weren't doing this trail on this day.
Instead, I wanted to ride on the gravel road further away from the butte.
That was as detailed a plan as I had.
I would just wander where I wandered and see what I could find that would capture my interest..................

The first thing I found was a cow in the middle of the gravel road.
Hitting the brakes on my bike I unclipped from my pedals, reached for my water bottle and stood straddling my bike for a few minutes, carefully regarding the cow.
Mostly I carefully regarded my dog.
Kory stood in the middle of the road beside me, silently staring at the cow, completely enthralled by this most strangest of creatures.
Off to the left of the trail was a small tree and underneath the tree were a few other cows (both adult and calves), clustered together in the shade.
Still sipping on water I looked at the cows and then looked down at my dog, who was still standing motionless.
Would she chase them?  Would she try to hurt them?  Would they hurt her?  
I did not know for certain the answer to any of those questions, but after a few minutes decided that we would continue slowly moving towards them and we'd just see what happened.
The calves were much bigger than the typical animals Kory relished chasing (cats and rabbits primarily) so I reasoned (hoped) that she would not chase.
And she was a strong and fast runner.
If mommas chased her, she could outrun them.
It turns out that my concerns were unfounded.
Kory understood that these were big animals and stayed close to me, unsure of what she was looking at but sensing that she wanted nothing to do with them.
As we slowly began to close the gap the cows all stood in unison, and began to trot away in the opposite direction.
Turns out they wanted nothing to do with US either..............
The cows continued quickly lumbering down to the end of the dirt road and then turned and hit the dirt road to the left.
Waiting for them to disappear up and over the top of a hill, I pushed my water bottle back into its cage,  clipped back into my bike and slowly headed down the road.
Kory and I passed by the road to the left and continued straight.
Once I by passed the turn, the road immediately became more challenging.
It was rutted out from the snow, the rain, and the four wheelers than had gone this way before me.
After climbing a short, steep hill (use the gears Karin - not your legs) the trail smoothed out again, and opened up to great views of both the desert floor and the mountains in the distance.
It was beginning to get very warm by the time I did this ride.  Soon it would be hot.  Very hot.
But on this day I looked over at the mountains and realized that there was still snow in the highest peaks.
On this day it was still May.
The highest mountains would have snow on them through most of June.
There are trails up there that are only open for two months of the year.
Watching Kory closely, I was gratified to see that she was mostly staying with me.
That was a relief, because in truth (although I love to hike with her) I don't really like bike riding with Kory.
She stops too often.  She wanders too much.  On foot (and in the heat) she cannot travel as far as I can on bike.
But as it turns out, we weren't going to travel too much further anyway.................
No matter where she and I travel on BLM land our small adventures always (and without even trying) seem to find their own theme.
On this ride I had started out biking aimlessly.  Not really sure where I was going.  Not really sure how far I wanted to ride.  Not really sure what I wanted to do or see.
And then suddenly I had my answer.
Along the side of the trail I found small clusters of purple wild flowers.
Braking, unclipping and unceremoniously dumping my bike all in one smooth move, I reached into the side pocket of my bike shorts and retrieved my camera.
 And quickly took these pictures..................
After taking a few pictures of delicate flowers I automatically scanned the area in search of my pup.
She had stopped just down the trail and was patiently waiting for me.
I stood and watched her for a moment, loving my dog and wondering what she must think about the endless world that was laid out in front of her.
The distances were deceiving.
We were both looking at a mountain range that must have been at least 50 miles from us.
There was 50 miles of............nothing..............between us and the mountains.
She loved it out there.
She always does.
She loved the freedom.  Just as her momma did.
In the vast nothingness of BLM land Kory and I were alone with each other, and that was OK..................
Another half mile further down the trail and I again dismounted from my bike, and this time gently laid my bike down in the middle of the trail.
Calling to Kory I headed across the desert on foot just a short way.
I had seen where I wanted to be on this day and it was here.
In this place.
Surrounded by an astonishing amount and variety of wild flowers.
They were everywhere I looked.
Flowers in yellows, whites, light purples, reds, blues, oranges, flowers everywhere I looked in small and large clusters and I was instantly enamored.......................
This is the fourth summer that we have lived in this area, and in all that time I had never seen so many flowers in the desert.
We had a whole lot of snow during the winter, and a whole lot of rain in the spring.
And THIS was the end result.
A desert that was getting greener every day and a desert filled with flowers, some of which I had never seen before.
All of these flowers were located within a half acre of land.
Crammed together in one beautiful and unexpected mosaic of life......................
One more desert treasure that I dragged home with me................
30 minutes after dropping my bike in the middle of the trail I finally circled back to retrieve it.
I could have taken pictures all day long.
Smiling inwardly at my unexpected find I double checked on the insulator that I had crammed into a shorts pocket, scanned the horizon again for the location of my dog, clipped back into my pedals, and headed back towards Cedar Butte.
A short adventure.
But a good one...................

 Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night...............Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer 
Maria Rilke

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