Photo: Matt Miller
It was on our way back to the truck, the second time hovering over a knife’s edge of rock, where the compressed tectonic came to a dramatic finale, that I realized my adrenaline was depleted. I really don’t like heights or the vulnerability that comes with a long fall below. Part of this route was shoddily planned by myself, but oddly, the back route hike up to Grays Peak had little information compared to almost any other trail in Colorado. It was July 4, and we wanted to do something other than mountain bike and try a spot that could be less crowded.
So my wife and I continued. We’d made the ascent on Grays, above 14,000 feet; a challenge even if you have a paved path. This was more of a trace along a ridge line that required all four limbs touching the ground to navigate it safely, at least for 2-3 miles of the 6-mile trip. What should have been a shorter trip to the top took much longer than the longer traditional route because of the technicality.
On the drive back down I was physically and mentally depleted, but soulfully satisfied — the kind of satisfaction that comes from pushing yourself through great discomfort. I hadn’t felt that way after a bike ride in quite some time. I wondered why I don’t hike more often.
There’s a common phrase amongst my mountain bike colleagues lately that have tried an e-bike. “This is going to ruin me for regular mountain biking.” The notion is that because you can climb faster and ride farther with less effort, we’ll lose interest in motor-less mountain bikes. It’s kind of like going back to green beans after you’ve already eaten a brownie. As a brief aside and refutation, I haven’t found that e-bikes have yet spoiled me for motor-less bikes.
But, I have found that in my life, as I’ve mountain biked more, my interest and participation in hiking has declined and bicycles have completely overpowered the tug of war match with hiking, like a mastiff would a Maltese. It seems that most of my mountain bike friends choose wheels over boots for their on-trail activity as well, at least according to Strava.
So what does hiking bring …….