Greg: A model for all outdoorsmen
A couple of years ago, I bought a canoe on a whim. Something in the back of my head told me that I should do some paddling. After a couple of training laps on the Spring Creek whitewater course, I deemed myself fit for surviving some easier whitewater. My older brother, Greg, required little convincing to join me on an early spring foray. We chose the Pine Creek Gorge or "Pennsylvania Grand Canyon" as our objective. Neither of us had ever even seen this gorge before and had little idea what was in store. Just to ensure that we were ready for all possible contingencies, Greg and I watched Deliverance the night before. Burt Reynolds does a wonderful job demonstrating the J-stroke and shooting hillbillies with a bow and arrow. Regardless, we had an absolute blast paddling the 18 odd mile section of the gorge. Upon takeout, we had a local outfitter pick us up and give the two of us and our boat a lift back to our car.
Recipe for awesome
A month later, I was painting my toenails or tending to my camel herd when a new idea popped into my head. How can one be a little more self-sufficient and do that same route by oneself? (A similar and related question would be "How can one with no friends and no money to pay for a shuttle do this same route?") The wheels in my skull got to turning and I came up with a fun plan. I stashed my mountain bike at the takeout in Blackwell and then drove upstream. After putting in up in Ansonia, I paddled the gorge by myself. Upon taking out, I hopped on my mountain bike and rode a path that parallels the creek 18 miles back to my car. Then I just had to pick up my boat and drive home.
Alone on the water
Which brings us to present day. Removing the car entirely from the equation makes the next logical step. More than likely, I will find myself living in State College at the beginning of next year. As soon as conditions permit, I will ride to Ansonia on a bike, boat the Pine Creek Gorge, run back up to where I left my bike, and then bike home. For the boating portion, I will either rent a canoe and leave it for the outfitter to pick up (less desireable) or buy a packable whitewater raft and haul it with me (more desireable). Of course anyone who would be interested in joining me on this voyage is wholeheartedly welcome. I thought through the different components in my head. I have definitely paddled the section of the gorge from Ansonia to Blackwell before. Check. I have run 18 miles before. Check. I hadn't biked 100 miles in a single day before which is the distance from State College to Ansonia. So yesterday, Eric, Jeff and I biked a 100 mile loop. I incurred no big difficulties. Actually it was rather anticlimactic. So..."check".
So is this my Plan? No. It is just a small trial that would let me know if I'm ready to move on to bigger things. I may even be hoping that it will introduce me to someone who wouldn't laugh at my Plan. It will be fun and cool as hell I'm sure. But in all honesty, it is a known quantity. I don't want to ever predict success because I think that brings bad luck, but I know that I can do this. With that realization brings another: that I'm not facing up to the real challenges. The Plan. I'm just delaying. I have a myriad of excuses or diversions to keep myself from getting on with it. And that realization is a bitter pill to swallow.