Part I (Friday & Saturday)
After two cold, windy days of riding out on the roads of Michiganderburgh last week I decided to skip riding on Friday and take shelter from the cool winds with a hike in the woods of Deerfield Park. It was nice to be out and enjoying the sunshine and crisp spring temps without having to be layered up in several moisture wicking layers of Lycra and wool. Still, it wasn’t riding.
The landscape of Michigan is pretty much desolate at this point. Everything is brown, tan, khaki, burnt umber and ochre. In other words, it looks like someone threw baby, dog, cat, human and elephant shit against a white wall and called it central Michigan. I am unimpressed.
But, that is what early spring is. As much as I accept that, that doesn’t mean I have to like it. If for no other reason than shades of shit make for shit photos; there is no depth and no color. Aside from the occasional pine tree, everything is brown, crispy and dead. It’s hard to look at, and harder still to try to get a photo worth looking at. It’s like trying to coax shit colored blood from a rock.
I opted to focus on the little things that can be seen while on a hike in the shit brown, March woods of Michigan.
After Friday’s short three-mile hike at Deerfield, I told myself that I would get out on the bike on Saturday, at least there are barns and cows on the dirt roads. Something–anything–not shit brown.
Then Saturday came, and along with it came continued winds and cold temps out of the north. So, after watching footy in the morning, I said those two, sweet little words that I have come to master over my forty-three years on this planet– “fuck it!” And opted for a another hike, this time a 7 mile out and back on the North Country Trail out of White Cloud, Michigan.
I cursed myself for hiking again, as well as the continued shades of shit that Michigan is offering up right now. What I didn’t see coming was the amount of snow that the NCT still had on it. Hey, at least it wasn’t brown!
Much of the trail had long sections that were bone dry. Other sections were covered in snow, but had portions to the left or right (I prefer the left) that made for good walking. Other sections were calf deep with unavoidable wet, slushy, melting spring snow.
Despite the lack of good photo opportunities, it was nice to be outside in the sun. My friends here in Michigan always complain about the lack of sun here, but unlike me, none of them have ever lived under the gray/white skies of western Pennsylvania. Right now we are on fifth or sixth day in a row of mostly sunny, blue skies. While it’s still cold and I sure as hell miss PA, my friends, family and the hills and mountains within its borders, I do NOT miss the depressing sky that looks sort of like a combination of dirty dishwater and dead skin 98% of the time.
Since there was a real lack of anything worth taking a photo of, I opted to focus on the little things that can be seen while on a hike in the shit brown, March woods of Michigan. This may have worked, but probably didn’t.
I did see some pretty nice mittens along the trail. I am used to soiled panties and spent liquor bottles along the roads and trails. This year has brought an unusual amount of mittens and gloves. Of course I was reluctant to get too close, thinking that they may have been used in lieu of toilet paper.
After more than ten miles of hiking in two days and time spent with my D3200, I was done. I dig hiking, but every single time I do it I think to myself how much more fun I would be having if I was on my bike. The same goes for running, power walking, skipping, crawling, thinking, and driving.
Part II (Sunday)
Sunday I woke up to another day of brilliant sunshine streaming into the Chamber of Farts, but I knew there was no way that it was warm out. In the back of my mind I figured I would just ride the trainer. I have no reason to go out and freeze my ass off. This is supposed to be fun, not a jag off show and tell of how I’m riding in cold temps and you’re not (you surely are, and riding way more miles than me). At this point in my life I don’t begrudge anyone for not riding if the temps are even below 50˚. Having said that, I spent a good deal of my 2014/15 winter, miserable as fuck riding in cold ass sub 10˚ temps, so today’s 32˚ shouldn’t have been too bad.
And it wasn’t.
I thought I would just do a Better Than The Trainer Ride™, but as I pedaled on I became more and more at ease with the nipple hard temps. So, I opted to take on an extra ten miles and see what happened. What happened was nothing. Sure, I got a bit cold and yeah I didn’t take enough water and got surprisingly parched by the end, but it was all good.
The gravel is in PERFECT condition right now; it’s dry, mostly packed down and void of the deep spring mud pits that I am so used to this time of year. Yeah, an extra ten or twenty degrees would have been nice but such is life. It was good to be out.
The week ahead will be spotty for riding and “doing stuff,” because along with waking up to see brilliant sunshine today, I also awoke to see a text from my brother saying that a cousin of our’s lost his battle with cancer last night. So, at some point this week I will probably be making a super quick trip home to WPA to pay my respects to him and his family. Always sad to think about all the friends, family and neighbors that my family and I continue to lose as we age. To quote my late grandmother (yet again)– “It’s hell getting old.”
BUT! Before any of that happens, I have a date with a dentist tomorrow to get a wisdom tooth pulled
and get two fillings. All I can hope for right now is a large script of pain pills and a sale on vodka at the local supermarket (I’m joking).
While the coming week doesn’t look promising for “doing stuff,” it is a reminder of how much “doing stuff” like riding, and even hiking, can add to a person’s well-being and mental health. It’s also another reminder of how things can always be worse.
Cheers to crispy brown hiking trails, dry dirt roads, sore legs and memories.