Sunday afternoon while Eric was in mega-veg mode, the phone rang.
Yo Eric, Morgans voice said, Hey dude, want to do a moonride tonight?
Eric thought only briefly. His body and mind were in total collapse from two previous moonrides and Lindseys birthday party. Trying to be polite and not wanting to disappoint Morgan, Eric replied; Oh, maybe. He was really thinking that he would rather watch TV for the rest of the day, then drift peacefully off to slumber land.
Morgan was insistant. Well, Im going to go to Boggs and would sure like to poach the local facilities up there.
This statement put the burden of responsibility on Eric. He knew the way. Hoping Morgan would flake out, Eric went back to the TV and veg mode. Just about the time the Raiders game was starting, Morgan appeared. It was early, around five oclock. Eric stalled and tried to talk Morgan out of the concept. It didnt work. At some point Eric decided that he had done nothing all day long and that an abbreviated ride would actually pose some benefit.
After feeding the duo her dynamite chili, Tanya generously drove the two up to Boggs Mt. The Gifford Springs option was selected to give Tanya a slightly shorter drive back home, and it would put the two high in the demonstration forest and access to a variety of routes. The least painless route would be to contact road 500 then simply descend to the object of the ride, a soak in hot water.
Morgan began to whine early. Dude, he complained, Were riding on jeep roads when we could be on single track.
Sorry, man, Eric tried to explain, Well shortly be on single track, and dont forget Tanyas generosity in saving us a late night car shuttle.
Morgan grunted up the road. After a couple of miles, after the Boggs Head campsite and after passing the two guys shooting large caliber guns, the duo contacted High Point trail. From there the two began to ride the single track in earnest. High Point eventually dumps out near Bear Bones. Morgan was in the process of contacting the zone. His eager expression began to show signs of out-of-control euphoria. Eric was thinking more about getting home and going to bed.
Bear Bones is always fun. Part way down the hill, the sun appeared as a brilliant orange ball through the trees. It was a sight that froze in the mind, a moment of transcendence. At the bottom the two had to decide which way to go. Morgan argued for the half-way to Oregon option, while Eric tried to steer some sensibility into the equation. The two dropped down to Buzznards, Thinners, the campground then pedaled up the steep, challenging Gails trail. At the top of Gails the two took the unnamed trail towards Berrys.
The Sun's last push of orange
The sun had set and the lingering light of the day nicely illuminated the trail with a soft light that remained viable across Berrys, Crew and Johns trail. Darkness began to set in as the two descended the Big Springs trail. Morgans energy seemed to be growing by the minute. He cleaned the difficult, first technical section of Big Springs. The two continued in the fading light. It was during this section of the ride that the full night riding experience took over. At one point the light was so slim that only the faintest hint of the trail could be perceived. At some points one could only contact a force beyond sight to continue.
Azul always knew where the trail was. Often the rider could benefit by simply following the dog, when they could keep up. Big Springs was a planned stop. But since no fire was going to happen, it seemed more appropriate to travel a short distance further and ride around the front of the mountain to an area that is exposed to the rising moon. At that point, the two took a safety break and pondered the rest of the ride.
Dude, Morgan said with gently force, We totally have to do the single track.
Um, dunno. Eric resisted. I think Id rather shoot straight home and go to bed.
This lame answer was definitely not what Morgan wanted to hear.
Dude, He argued, I thought the whole reason we came was to take that trail.
Eric was unconvinced, but began to feel like the spoiler for not matching Morgans enthusiasm. After pondering the situation, and unable to counter Morgans unyielding drive to take the west ridge route (with Chutes option), the two began to descend the road.
Eric warned; Watch out for the Grand Canyon a little way down this road.
Previous winters and hard rain had washed out much of this part of the mountain road that hangs precariously on the very steep mountainside. It was much worse than before. Now several sections had rutted so badly, that it became difficult to cross the huge ditches. The first obstacle had only an old culvert pipe. Morgan performed a Cirque de Soleil act by walking across the shabby pipe. Eric found an uphill, through the brush avenue for passage.
At one point someone had placed a very shaky, rotten 2X6 across the twelve foot deep ditch. The sides were so steep it would be impossible to climb through, one had only the flimsy board. Morgan, carrying his bike, stepped gingerly on the board and inched his way out. It was only a miracle that it did not break. Making life harder, the board on the other side was stuck into near vertical ground. Now on the other side, Morgan gave his Guardian Angle fits by slipping and sliding somehow to safety. Now Erics turn. Morgan was able to receive Erics bike, making his passage relatively easy. A slip would have been a spectacular slide for life.
The edge of the abyss
Once past these adrenalin producing spots, the road continued rough but passable. At the bottom the two took the uphill option, forever dashing Erics desire to go to bed. The road up Daryls driveway went quickly. The two made the Chutes turnoff and rode the tricky sections to the Chutes. Morgan opted for the full Chutes experience while Eric took the lower option. Morgan managed to drop the hazardous, overgrown Main Chute without need for 911 assistance. Part of Erics concern about this route was the possibility of overgrowth. As the two proceeded along one of the nicest single tracks anywhere, the fear was unfounded. The trail was perfect. It had been trimmed and the passage was not only easy, but fun and invigorating.
The Tea House trail was long in coming. At one point it seemed that maybe it had been missed, yet Eric had a good recollection of the area at the turn. When it seemed confusing, finally the obvious turn appeared. Eric parked his bike at the suggestion of a safety break. There was a hilltop just nearby. This beautiful setting offered views all around. The 10:10 jet had recently passed. The moon was now high in the sky offering brilliant illumination.
Upon the conclusion of the break, the two set off downhill with Eric warning that the trail is sketchy in places. Sure enough, in a short distance the seemingly obvious trail simply vanished into an area of non-navigable woods. It was very strange. The two retraced their steps until a very stealth, subtle turn was discovered in the creek bed. The descent to the valley continued. The trail was difficult to ride, but easy to follow for the most part. Towards the bottom there was a sign that indicated a split in the trail. The two were a little uncertain but made the correct choice and continued. When proximity to the goal was achieved, it was time to strip down, tie up the dog and indulge in a soothing, relaxing round of assorted tubs.
Hummm.... which way to go...
The water seemed especially rejuvenating. Many people populated the different venues. It was delightful. The steam room was hot, the cool plunge thrilled the nerves and the hottest water fried the skin. There was no visit from Becky. All was good. Morgan and Eric eventually returned to the stashed bikes and dog. He wasnt sure about all this and started barking. Soon however he recognized that this was just another weird event, one of many that he has been forced to participate.
The dog ran so fast on the pavement there was no waiting, not even on the steep hills. The two stopped at Store 24 for electrolyte replace beverage. At Erics place the two drank beer and rehashed the highlights of the evening. Morgan had managed to force a reluctant Eric to play and have a great time under the direction of the sweetest lady of the night, La Luna.