Recently, a few E-bikes (electric power assisted) have appeared on the trail and we mountain bike purists are just a little chagrined to have lesser athletes pedaling effortlessly beside us, chatting while we gasp for breath. Truth be told, we’re probably just a little envious. I’ll probably get one when I turn seventy, or seventy-five. But for now, I’m content with my Intense Carbine that goes only as fast as my sixty-five year-old legs can pedal it.
That said, I’m not ashamed to hike with Sadie, my organic E-dog. Sadie is a German Shepherd mix, about 5 years old, and an incredible athlete. It’s almost impossible to tire her out, so to equalize her energy with mine and Molly’s (a three year-old Border Collie mix), I harness her and allow her to help pull me up the mountain trails.
Today, we hiked Momyer Trail, out of Forest Falls. We were accompanied by about 156,000 gnats who swarmed around our faces and courageously made forays into any unprotected orifices. During a brief rest stop I tried to eat a banana and was forced to reduce their numbers by about a dozen, or fourteen if you count the ones I ate. The survivors continued to support the adage that there’s no rest for the wicked, encouraging us to continue the climb to escape them. Sadie valiantly short-roped me up the steepest sections until I finally took pity on her and set her free. We made it to the San Gorgonio Wilderness border, only about three miles and a bit less than 1,800 feet of elevation gain before my legs suggested it would be wise to turn back. As we descended, a light breeze began gusting up the canyon, reminding me that I was hiking in a virtual tinder box.
The “drought”, which is now considered a permanent condition of climate change, has brought devastation to the pines. Weakened by drought, they’ve been attacked by a spruce beetle and they lie in great piles of dry wood or stand naked against the sky waiting for the next wind storm to take them down.
The oaks are hanging on but this gnarly old guy is suffering.
It occurred to me that if a wildfire started in the canyon below, I would be toast. Spurred on by that thought, I quickened my pace, much to the discomfort of my well-worn knees. As luck would have it, we reached the canyon floor without mishap and we all enjoyed a dip in the stream. I dipped my feet into the icy water while the girls plunged in with abandon.