S24O 3-22-13

1

It was an overcast, misty, NE breezy, 49 degrees when I rolled out after work. The forecast said 30 percent chance of scattered showers for Friday night and Saturday morning. For those of us in north Texas, the 3 year drought-learned response to a weather forecast like that is…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!…going campin’!

2

Riding out to the camp site was a little head-windy, but pleasant. Apparently, I nailed the clothing selection.

3

I arrived at the site just a little before sundown. With the heavy overcast skies, I was rapidly losing light. So, while I could still see, I set about diligently setting up camp.  I scoffed at the short-lived sprinkling rain.

4

Sleeping quarters were established just as it was almost too dark for a no-flash photo.  With weather protection in place, I turned my attention to campfire contentment and dinner.

5

Maybe I was just in a nicely protected area. But it seemed like the wind relaxed just like I did as time passed. Food and wood was consumed. Dinner walked a pace just right for shifty tongues of flame and flickering light. Coyotes kicked up a ruckus, and I thought I’d hear them all night. But they suddenly became suspiciously silent.

6

When the food was gone, the flames shrunk in size and my eyelids dropped.  With the cloud cover the temperature had only dropped to 46 degrees. I had packed well, and would be quite comfortable.  It was a good night in the woods.

Rain woke me at 5:30am. It was a light rain, I was comfortable, and I figured like last night this little shower would quickly pass. It only took a minute to drift back to sleep.

At 6:30am, I woke again. It was still raining…and harder. So I pulled out my phone to look at the weather radar.  Manipulating the little device from the warmth of my bag, I thought about the irony of such technology pressed to service while laying on the ground. Rain was everywhere, and some of it heavy. It was clear there would be no avoidance. I’d run out of food before I’d run out of rain. No lazy camp coffee sippin’ today. There was nothing to do but face the elements.

In the pre-dawn darkness, gear was packed-up wet. I cinched up the pull cord on the hood of my jacket, and set off for another hour and a half riding in the chilly wetness back home. With the rain dripping off my nose, I knew I’d look back to this moment on those dry, dusty, 100+ degree days, and I’d be glad for the experience.

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Lunch at the Lake

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Riding east across the dam

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Channel downstream of the dam

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East end of the dam looking northeast

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Underbiking

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Morning on the trail

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Green/orange contrast

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Pleasing proportions

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Quiet lakeside spot

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Woods wandering

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Rocky shoreline

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Trail with a lake view

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Red dirt roller

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Good spot for a lunch break

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Mmmm…samichy

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Bud time

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A. Homer Hilsen – “Ludere quo velis birota permittit agrestis”

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Homer does singletrack

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County road, leaves later

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If Rantwick had a spring tree contest

Exploration

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Normally, weekend rides start from home. But today was about exploration, and burning 3 hours in to/from mode would have been too constraining.

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Exploration focused on the trail system at the Isle du Bois unit of the Lake Ray Roberts State Park.

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These trails are labeled as equestrian trails, but they also allow bicycle, and hiker use. Some portions are rocky, which require careful line selection and speed modulation.

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Some portions consist of deep sand, especially portions south of park headquarters. Often it seemed “equestrian trail” might be a technical term meaning long, narrow, winding sand pit. Perhaps most folks, not on a fat bike, walk here.

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Of course there is also a significant amount of firm, smooth single/double track trail across open grasslands…

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…and in the midst of dense wooded areas.

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There were rugged moments spent pondering suspension, and walking moments spent pondering fatter tires. But not a second of willingness to trade the A. Homer Hilsen for anything.

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The trail meanders along the edge of Lake Ray Roberts. The water is often obscured by local terrain, trees, or distance. When visible,  however, it demands attention on a clear winter day.

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Beaver activity was evident. These tree trunks were all at least 6 inches in diameter.  What are those critters building that would require such massive beams?

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Not only did today’s outing provide for several hours of new trail exploration, it also resulted on the identification of several fantastic camp spot options for the next S24O opportunity.

Success.