Gravel roads, loaded touring bikes, & approaching nightfall
Friday evening, Jeff "Spotted Zebra" Carlson, Eric "Seven Fingers" Durante, and I set out with loaded up touring bikes and a simple plan: have an adventure in our backyard without a car. Since Jeff has a real job, we waited until about 6 to take off, making it into Rothrock State Forest around dusk. Our bikes handled the gravel ascents and descents of the fire roads neatly and we eventually found ourselves making a stop in the dark at Detweiler Run. Our friends, Clay Chiles and Peter, Jess & Sacha Buckland, were camping there for the evening. We stopped and said hello and as a reward, Jess gave us malfunctioning glo stick bracelets that ended with me looking like a glo in the dark cheetah. Since we still had about 20 miles of riding in the dark left that night, we bid them adieu.
Ridgerest = bikepacking crashpad
By about 10 o'clock we made it to the parking lot by Hunter's Rocks where we cooked up a delicious dinner of tortellini before finding a campsite along the Link Trail. The next day we took all of our stuff over to the Powercut climbing area where I bouldered, Eric went hiking, and Jeff sought out the best vantage points for meditation (or was he just sneaking off with the group whiskey supply?).
Jeff, the upper crust of society, holding a boxed wine and string cheese party for one
I managed to claw my way up some familiar problems and also give some pointers to other folks. I was impressed that two guys, Dan and Davey, had driven all the way from Gettysburg to get in about 8 hours of bouldering at Hunter's and the Powercut. Unbeknownst to us, Eric got to see an enormous hawk migration from an adjacent ridge. Concluding an evening bouldering session later, Eric and I were delighted to see our friend, Tor Nordmark, appear through the trees.
Eric, myself & Tor
Tor had stopped out to do some hiking and to check up on our condition. In fact our conditions couldn't have been any better. Our camp that night was situated on a ridgetop with stellar views off of the surrounding rocks. A convenient fire ring (well that and a few nips of whiskey) allowed for us to stay nice and toasty on a night where we could see our breath. And against common belief, there were adequate flat, rock free spots to house our tents.
The next day, Eric and I parted ways with Jeff. It wasn't a mutual disgust of each other's fireside flatulence or adolescent humor (of which there was plenty), but instead we had another climbing objective whereas Jeff wanted to keep riding. (It turns out that Jeff had some climbing to do of his own as anyone who has ridden northbound on 26 over Pine Grove Mountain can attest!) Eric and I rode further south to Donation Rocks. Of course a rope and harnesses were among the items strapped to our bikes so we were able to enjoy several hours of toproping. Then began the business of riding 30 odd miles back to town before nightfall. Not following Jeff's lead, we rode back through Rothrock and had a longer albeit much more gradual climb than he did.
The definition of "fully loaded touring"
"So, whoopedydoodah, you spent a weekend riding your bike around like you always do and climbing in the same places you always do. What an adventure!", you might say with a rolling of your eyes. Eric, Jeff and I could not disagree with you more. I think we could all agree that we had an exciting and unusual experience. Yes, we were familiar with a lot of the elements of the trip. But when you descend Bear Meadows Rd in the dark with a fully loaded bike, it is a whole new ride. And when you're pulling climbing moves with just your foam sleeping pad under you instead of a cushy 6" crashpad, it's a whole new problem. And when your legs and not your car carried your tent, food and malfunctioning glo stick bracelets out to that ridgetop, the campsite seems all the more sweeter.
So like the title says, adventure is a state of mind. I think many of us (and I include myself here) get too caught up in making grand schemes that rely on lots of money, time and preparations. Instead of doing what we love, we spend our time making money, building up vacation time, or ordering a new mapset. Finding a new way of doing something local or familiar can bring adventure and fulfillment just as much as a "big" trip. I may venture to say that I had more fun this past weekend than when I went on a three week roadtrip out West this summer. In the end, don't hold yourself to lofty goals that may only end up in preventing you from doing anything at all. If it is "an exciting or very unusual experience" no matter the scale, seize it!
Author's note: Does this mean that I am abandoning all of my grand, stupid, far-reaching plans? Hell no.