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An old friend

Point Six is an old friend of mine.  Tonight as I spun up the last segment I was thinking about the friends that I have climbed it with.  The last time I was up here Jill and I were riding together. But I am not going to blog about specific friends and their specific qualities.  That would only land me in complete trouble.

Tonight it was Mo and I taking on the 4,000 foot climb. I can equate each item I like about this mountain with each of my friends. As for my current climbing companion I have been sworn to secrecy. She has however, decided to stand in as bike model, mountain Sherpa (hint:: she carries all the crap), and creative consultant.

It’s the colors that struck me the most tonight. Like my most colorful friends who without could render my life completely bland. It is the colorful friends that spice up life.

I spent only moments on top of the monolith tonight but managed to snap off a couple images. The smoke in the valley was thick but couldn’t hide the beautiful bowls in the rattlesnake.  Some of my friends are like that. It seems that through all diversity they are always maintaining their best side.

And then there are the ones who I consistently give shit to for being late. When in fact they make it “OK” to take off on journeys “later in the day”. So I will just come out and say that it is I who is always running “un motivated”.  But this is why I see the most beautiful things.

So many times I have descended this mountain late. Like the time a friend turned to me and explained that it was fabulous to “feel alive” just moments after announcing her fingers were frozen. Which could have been adverted if my damn soup I carried through the snow late that night would have been warm.  But now the sunset was warming my heart as I rocketed back down the mountain.

Speaking of descending. This mountain is a consistent grade.  So much that you can expect your ass to feel like it is going to fall off on the climb.  But point the knobbies down and it is a hour long speed fest.

I can remember some descents I have had that were not so much fun. Like that time when a friend and I descended in pouring rain.  I thought for sure I was going to die from hypothermia. This mountain can be a cold bastard.  Tonight is was a warm friend.

Yea, the one thing I really miss about Missoula is the Point Six Climb.

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Odd things that kill

The horror was happening again an I fully blamed myself. When I was a kid I was doing the “odd thing” and pulling my dog in a wagon down main street Roundup Scotty bolted from it. All because another dog charged from the sidewalk. Scotty was struck and died in my arms as the driver looked on in horror. I killed my dog!  And now I went off to do a “odd thing”, seeing if I could catch my friend after going a “little farther” for 10 minutes. She was no where to be found.  Oh no! I panicked a little more and switched on my headlamp.

Then there was Marcy.  It was my fault.  I was more interested in my own “odd thing” that is riding for 8 hours straight and then basking in the glory.  I knew instantly she had internal injuries and there I was half way between Butte and Missoula holding her and screaming out my pain.  I killed her, another dog, another friend.  I was now thrashing so fast down the single track I wondered if I was going to injure myself in my panic because I couldn’t find my riding partner. The day started out so positively. We were having so much fun .. maybe to much fun.  I wondered how “safe” it was to bring beers along on a serious mountain bike ride. Surely I should of caught back up by now. Tears started coming down my face.

I replayed the day in my head, trying to gauge our pace and trying to remember where I was exactly. Was I getting close to the car?  The sooner I could get back the sooner I could validate that I have, in fact, lost my partner.  We started out on rocky terrain going along the Clarks Fork near St. Regis.  The trail went through meadows and cedar forests.  It climbed and ran along steep cliffs.  It was actually a really beautiful ride.  Too bad this has happened. Why was I so “odd”?

There was that small chance that my mind was playing tricks on me but the facts were stacking up against me.  I only enjoyed swooping and gnarly single track for around 12 minutes before I turned around.  I rode back to where we spit up as fast as I could to discover I was fading and my speed was slowing.  And then the sun disappeared and turned dark. Now I was nearing the trail head and I flashed my light down the last ravine we had ridden just 2 hours before. Nothing. Why did I do that “odd thing” and go out further then everyone else?  Why do I do that?  Do I want to be alone?

And there was no way I was not going fast enough to catch up … right? My friend had a light that was so inadequate and mine was bright.  Did a mountain lion attack?  So many cliffs in the dark!  I felt I needed to make a deal with some “god” to turn my luck.  I whispered a plea … I didn’t want to loose another friend.  Just then I saw a small flicker at the bottom of the last hill.

“Where were you? … I waited up many times”

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Micro trash

San Fran Bay

We were done hiking and my friend wanted to show me something interesting on top of Mount Tam.

“This would be a cool place for a cross race”, I announced. “I mean, look at all the obsticles, pavement, and there is a cool run up over there”, I pointed to a dirt mound. It could of been a bunker back in the day. The place had been leveled.  At one time this part of the dual peaks was the higest part of Mt Tamalpais. But it got shaved off to build a military installation.  Now it was abandon. “We could call it MicroTrash Cross”.

I turned and looked across the bay. I was taken away by the golden dry grass in the foreground and the blue backdrop of San Francisco.  I wondered to myself what my partner was doing, probably shuttling old cycling farts around down below.  I sure missed her.

But that was a week or so ago and now I am headed out the office door to go see her.  It is Missoula or bust.