August 24th dawned clear and warm. It would be one of the hottest days of the summer and perhaps the warmest night of the year. The stage was set for a delightful moon-romp for seven mountain-bikin fools. The selection for this summer outing was to be a dinner run, risqué in the height of fire season. But the spirit of adventure was ablaze as the countdown began to close in on the bike ride. Seven souls launched into the swirling drama of unabashed biking fun. Once the wheels of the delivery vehicles began to roll, the attendants became as flotsam on the huge lake of adventure, helpless to avoid being sucked into the giant glory-hole of the unknown.
Ridge Route Chosen
The route would be the popular county-line ridge road towards Pine Mountain, dipping down for dinner near the lakes below the Jewess mine, then climbing back up to the Red Rocket and on down to Anderson Springs. About twenty miles worth of knobular titillation. With care and lots of water, a safe and fun barbecue could be had. Lindsey jetted in from distant places to be available for the ride. Mike, Shawn, Dave and Morgan jumped in Mikes truck and headed over the hill to Western Mine road, while Lindsey and Jim went Middletown to pick up Eric. Serendipity visited the event by having Austin and Cirrus available to return the delivery vehicles from the trailhead to Middletown, saving a late night car-shuffle.
Religious Altar Observed
The enthused bikers hit the trail about one hour before sunset. The first delightful section of unused jeep road flashed under the wheels at a terrific rate. The temperature was in the eighties,
and would not drop significantly all night. There was a required stop at the altar of the Beautifully Unrestricted Remote Natural Zone Of Nocturnal Euphoria. From this point, the statuesque and awesome presence of Mt. St. Helena commanded attention with her prominence and grace. The sky was absolutely clear of any clouds from horizon to horizon and the wind was nearly calm. Nourishment for the body and spirit were accomplished at this first stop on the voyage across the uncharted sea of this evenings odyssey.
As the pack arose to continue, Morgan discovered a flat tire. Bummer dude! Eric and Morgan stayed behind to execute the fix while the others continued ahead. The sun was approaching the horizon as the stretched out band of unlaws crept across the high ridge. The back-breaker hill offered no resistance. Forces of the night parted to allow safe passage for the bikers. Including the bear who heard the pack approaching and deposited a turd of immense proportion in the middle of the trail. Although no sighting of the enormous bear was ever made, his size was imagined from the huge diameter of the steaming stool, sitting as a hazard, waiting to skid the non-attentive biker into the bush.
Jim and Shawn were waiting at the Pine Mountain view spot for the two slackers. The sun was nearing the horizon and the sky was becoming a passionate purple color. It was teaming with intensity as only a fantastic sunset can do. Eric and Jim looked at each other and said nothing. They were both feeling the same thing: The serene power of beauty intensified by the athletic workout and the camaraderie of the bikin fools.
At the base of Pine Mountain the road dramatically dropped towards the Jewess Mine.
"Are you sure you want to go down there?" Eric asked with some skepticism, knowing that the altitude would have to be regained.
"Aw, shucks," Mike said, "It aint nothin and its still early."
Arrival at Culinary Wilderness Institute
Eric had visions of rides past that took a long tedious time to descend the passable but tricky road. The difference this time was lingering twilight, enough to make out the ditch of disaster that paralleled the entire descent. With the addition of enough light, the drop was flashed quickly and the fired-up crew found themselves at the junction of the other road back to the top of the ridge. At this spot were two small creeks crossing the road. An area near the moistest stream was selected as the sight for the cooking fire. Quickly the seven set about like ants with specific duties and transformed the immediate ground into a fire safe, back-woods elegant dining spot. Small flames licked at bigger wood and soon a blazing conflagration awaited the addition of steak, pork chops, sausage, potatoes, squash, tomatoes and corn on the cob.
The remoteness of the area assured the bikin fools complete privacy and a pleasant lack of concern about authorities or disgruntled landowners. So when the unmistakable sound of a vehicle was heard approaching, it seemed surreal. Disbelief continued until headlights began tabbing through the darkness.
"Holy shit!" someone said as they realized that several bikes were strewn across the roadway. Minor panic ensued as attendees scrambled to get the bikes out of the way and wait for the reaction of the stranger who obviously had access to the locked gate far below towards Middletown. The vehicle stopped and a muffled conversation between the bikers and strangers was heard for several minutes.
Eventually the vehicle with its two adults and three sub-teen kids departed. The intruders were owners of a cabin far up the hill. Not only did they offer no grief; they gave some valuable information about the route towards the Red Rocket. The way was cleared for the next leg of the journey, a venture into unknown lands, into the heart of the L-Factor. Without Travis to actually see the lion, our passing friends assured us they were in the area. We had seen deer carcasses on previous journeys.
The dinner was delightful and enjoyable beyond description. For some reason, any food will taste better when consumed in the environment of camping. In fact Top Ramen can take on superlative gourmet qualities. On this night it would be one long culinary orgasm, with each selection cooked to perfection and seasoned to the precise point that fired off the most pleasure-synapses possible.
With the sumptuous repast sitting pleasantly in the bellies of the bikers, the time to leave arrived. With all packed and ready to go Morgan discovered a missing clip on his shoe. Efforts to find it failed and left Eric and Morgan fashioning a safety wire temporary fix. In this process, Eric and Morgan were the last to leave. Lindsey headed out as if on a mission. He was pedaling with extra pizzazz on this evening. He led several climbs as if possessed.
"Were headed straight up the road." Mike yelled to the four deaf ears just getting ready to leave.
Finally with the shoe fixed, Morgan and Eric headed up the hill. Immediately a possible right turn occurred.
"The dudes said something about turning right." Eric said.
"You think they went that way?" Morgan queried.
"Dunno." Eric said.
Somehow they decided to take the right turn. For a hundred yards or so they continued until Eric said: "This doesnt seem right."
They returned to the other route that was completely leaf strewn and impossible to discern bike tracks. They proceeded for a hundred years or so until Eric said: "Maybe we had better check the other way again with the light to find tracks."
They retraced the optional right turn for one hundred fifty yards, got out the light and searched carefully for mountain bike tire tracks. None existed even in soft earth where they would have to be. Finally with some conviction, Morgan and Eric started the long climb towards the Red Rocket Ridge. As the altitude increased and the road came out of the woods, Eric finally saw signs of tire tracks. A few yards further, the rest of the group waited quietly for Eric and Morgan to get their act together.
Split in the Road
The next act of navigation came with some confusion. The map indicated a road splitting from the drive. Yet there appeared to be two choices. With some scouting, one road was eliminated and the other remained the prime suspect. Shawn scouted uphill. Found nothing. Eric wandered down into the dark on the unknown road. At first it went in a seeming wrong direction. Soon, however, it turned and headed diagonally up the bowl of the mountainous terrain. The rumble of the Geysers could be heard in the distance over the hill. The un-traveled, deteriorated road continued to go in a proper direction. Several times when the crest of the ridge seemed at hand, another distant ridge appeared. Each time the low throbbing report of the geysers grew stronger. Finally when the last ridge was surmounted, the giant power plant appeared as a huge space station for aliens from a distant galaxy, a place to refuel their inter-galactic voyages. The bikers could identify with that.
The unimproved dirt passage turned to pavement. From the top of the ridge, the gang hit the big chain ring and ripped at warp speed downhill. The knobbies sang the hallelujah chorus as the bikers headed into the bowels of the giant power generating facility. Huge, four-foot diameter pipes ran beside the road. Occasionally the pipes would curve upwards into a thirty foot, sideways C Within the pipes, tremendous forces could be heard surging and rumbling. After a mile or so, a junction of roads appeared in the midst of the extensive power-generating complex. There was a trashcan at this intersection that the bikers took advantage. All of the trash from the gourmet dinner was deposited along with several beer bottles. This would look bad for the power plant employees.
Travis would drool
The Ridge Road was selected and the sortie headed towards more adventure. Soon a large, freestanding rock appeared in the middle of nowhere. This 20-foot high behemoth of a stone stood as a strange sentinel in the area of the geysers. With straight, sheer sides, it begged to be climbed. Mike led the ascent followed by Morgan and Jim. The funnometer was straining into the red zone.
When it seemed as though much more adventure was not possible, the crew jetted downhill at an electrifying rate. Suddenly an imposing, well-lit security checkpoint station with a gate appeared. All of a sudden, a potential bust loomed. Eric watched the riders scatter for cover. All but Morgan took refuge in the shadows of the big pipes. Morgan, seemingly unaware of the situation ripped across the open area under the huge floodlights, caught air off a bank and seemed to be having a great-unabashed time. The group, huddled in the dark considered the options. Finally it was decided to dyno through the narrow opening in the middle of the massive gate. The well-lighted gatehouse, upon close inspection, appeared to have no one at home.
Just out of sight, Shawn and Mike pondered the map. It was determined that, at some point, a left turn had to be made to place the bikers in the Anderson Springs valley. For a mile or so the gaggle made excellent time down the steep, smooth road. Finally, the last power plant appeared in a position that didnt seem quite right. Another session with the map determined that, as fate would have it, the bikers shredded past the obscure dirt trail turn-off and found themselves at a much lower and obviously wrong place near the Bear Canyon power plant.
Dreaded late night climb
An agonizing climb back up several hundred vertical feet was undertaken to find the turn. Shawn had seen the obscure road on the descent but couldnt get word to the front runners. Dave was out of water and had begun to get severe lizard mouth. At the top of the climb the bikers entered a less traveled area of the remote wilderness. The immense, low frequency rumbling of the steam wells faded as the crew descended from the area of the power plants. The road switched back and forth as the altitude decreased. Several lights began to appear in valley below.
It stinks around here
Finally, the bikin fools began to smell the strong odor of sulfur. The hot springs were nearby. The group paused for an attempt to locate the remote and private hot waters. Yet, with fading energy in the wee hours of the morning, the search was flagged off and the bikers reluctantly continued the ride towards civilization. Almost immediately the bikers found themselves in the back yard of a house with no apparent way out except to jet right past the back door and out the driveway. No dogs and no Winchesters objected. Pavement appeared to mark the end of the wilderness experience.
So Cool, it should never end
The seven weary bikers pedaled into the small community of Anderson Springs. They stopped at the community swimming facility in the hopes that a hot pool might exist. There was no such luck. Dave found a hose and drank a gallon or so of water. From that point,
the group pedaled the final few miles on pavement to Middletown where the vehicles awaited to transport the enthusiasts back to the civilized world. The bikin fools would return to normal, to await the next chance to venture out at night under the watchful
and kind eye of La Luna, creator of Life, Levity, Lunacy, Lumens, Laughter, Legends and Liberation. It was a ride of epic proportion.