Wednesday, April 8, 2009

On and Beyond

I rode into the Rourke Ranch Site, expecting to find a closed and locked gate, even though the topo showed a road continuing upriver. There was a gate, but it was open wide. So I rode on through. I expected to find in short order a fence, probably announcing that the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site did not welcome my exploration.

But this did not happen. After winding along in the canyon bottom, the road I was riding curved right and headed up into a little side canyon:

Hmm, purty. Might as well keep going--you never know until you know.

I climbed a windey little ranch road until I reached the top, where the road sloped back down toward the river again:

My heart began to pound, just slightly. Oh my goodness. Look at this. And no locked gates, no private property signs. Goody goody goody! So obviously I continued.

It just got prettier and prettier. And no locked gates, no trespassing or private property signs, no evidence that I was on the maneuver site.

Oh dear, the time. It started getting close to 3 PM. I left the tPOD at around 8:30. Sure, I had stopped to take many pictures and check out many features. But still, I was out there. And the cold wind was still blowing good and hard. And I had been traveling mostly with that damned wind all day. I know the pictures make it look like it was a nice day, but I doubt it ever got much warmer than low 40s, and the warmest part of the day was over. I had a good light with me, and lots of clothes and food. But it just did not seem to be a great idea to get farther on out there. So I reluctantly turned around.

This is how far I got according to my gps (the little yellow diamond is the ranch site, I continued south and west from there):

Check out that little place just across the river from where I stopped; Parmeña Gap. That could be the way to get across the river, then up into the Chacuaco Canyon, a major side canyon that goes and goes south. And the OV Mesa, which is a beautiful red thing. Topo maps show a dotted jeep road skirting all the way around, just above the sheer red rock. And you can see that road with Google Earth. 

But the day was cooked. It was time to get going if I was going to get back to the tPOD by dark.

On the way back, just as I approached the Rourke Ranch, there in the middle of the road appeared a very large, brown bull. His neck was twice the thickness of his head. When I saw him he was probably a little over 100 feet from me. His head was low. He was making a very odd low kind of moaning moo. Total and complete eye contact. I stopped. We stared at each other for several tense beats.

Perhaps this guy was just feeling a little lonely, and wondered if he and I might make some beautiful music together. But I'm thinking his motives were a bit darker. I think he wanted to stomp on me like I might stomp on a grape. Squish.

Finally I moved about two steps to my right. This prompted him to begin walking toward me.

There was a long shed, what would around here be known as a "loafing shed", open on one side. An old dilapidated corral was on the side of it not visible in the picture. The bull was in the road to the right of the shed (as pictured). I needed to get past him, but did not want to get squished. So I did the bravest thing I could think of: I picked up my bike and ran away, stepping through a gap in the corral fence, jumping on my bike and riding quickly through the corral where I was hidden from his view, then I rode around the far end and headed for the road as fast as I could. I looked back and saw that he had followed me around the other end of the shed. When I appeared at the other end, he looked back at me. Thank goodness for adrenaline. I used it to come up with some power and I headed for safety as quickly as I could pedal to it.

Yes, I lived. I did not get stomped. My large brain triumphed. Sweet.

I emerged from the Withers Canyon Trailhead at about 5 PM. I was greeted by wind. Oh my God cold friggin' wind. I put more clothing on and prepared myself for a slog upwind and uphill to where I had left the tPOD.

To summarize the next two hours: it sucked. I was tired, the cold wind roared in my ears, and I had nothing to do but deal.

It was a big day, big adventure, great exploring. My first 9+ hour day of the season, first long day on the Voodoo. Gotta go back and figure out the rest of that thing...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You were in Picketwire Canyon which is a federal area. I thought bikes were disallowed. Crossing the river would put you on private property. Did you intend to get permission. Just curious, not critical.