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Lost on the way to the End of the World

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by El Explorador, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Cheers mates, thanks for the support!
    #81
  2. Nocturnity

    Nocturnity n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Cape Town, South Africa
    Your ideas and style remind me a lot of Chris from Into the Wild.

    Keep riding, dude! Loving the report and the awesome photos! :freaky
    #82
  3. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Thanks my man. I must admit I do love that story. I'll take that as a compliment instead of a comment on how likely I am to die, eh?:lol3

    The movie's highlight was Eddie Vedder doing the soundtrack.
    #83
  4. RhinoVonHawkrider

    RhinoVonHawkrider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,079
    Location:
    Eastern Pa
    Hmmm Into the Wild is a bit different adventure all together. That kid was a fool who didn't know what the Fcuk he was getting into. Sad waste of talent. Since by all accounts he was educated, but as we all know that doesn't make one smart ;)

    I'll take my street education most days of the week over a smart guy who doesn't know how to get out of a situation or too stupid to make the mistakes Chris made in Alaska.

    My. 02, YMMV

    Sent from celly via Tapatalk 2
    #84
  5. Wimke1971

    Wimke1971 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    76
    AMAZING PICS, nice RR!!!
    keep on posting!
    #85
  6. cyberdos

    cyberdos Easy Bonus Loop ♦♦

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2005
    Oddometer:
    48,641
    Location:
    Queen Creek, AZ
    If someone offers you some pancakes with berries, politely decline. :lol3

    still lurking my friend. Excellent stuff.
    #86
  7. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Today I reach the Grand Canyon. My usual indirect trajectory takes me through Horseshoe Bend, Vermillion Cliffs, Marble Canyon, damn impressive places to behold. With each new sight I am inspired and concerned – this journey is strengthening my wanderlust even as it appeases it.

    [​IMG]

    Like so many places I’ve passed before, the Grand Canyon the sort of place that can only be properly absorbed with long and intimate acquaintance. I decide to see what I can take from it in a day.

    Hours and miles pass; I find myself entering lands quite unlike where I began the day.

    For one thing, it’s cold. I finally get to use the military surplus gloves I picked up in Ottawa. They do a fantastic job of insulating my fingers from one another so they can dissipate heat more efficiently. I knew I was going to regret not springing for heated gear; I reflect to myself as I sip warmth from a watery $2.00 coffee.

    The view from the North Rim tourist complex is impressive. I read about the original explorers, how they could barely wrap their minds around the scale of the thing, and walking out to Angel Point, I understand exactly how they felt. After the dropoff the panorama seems more a painting, my mind failing to grasp perspective against the enormity of the great chasm, lost in layers of depth. I try and imagine a person somewhere in that vast canvas and have to keep zooming in to even envision a body as anything more than a speck.
    Nobody would even see you fall.

    I decide to take some time for just the two of us. There’s a sketchy looking trail to the impressively named Point Sublime that reads “4x4 Only” marked on the tourist map. I’m advised that it’s dangerous and a bad idea to go alone.
    No further encouragement needed.

    Internal debate: I’m feeling pretty confident in my technique after all this riding. Making it all the way to Argentina means avoiding unnecessary (and potentially costly) rough riding... but if I was just going to cruise on highways I would have gotten a bike that was twice as comfortable and half as fun.

    Lost fires up and we venture down the trail, nearly eating it almost right away after deking around a backhoe only to discover treacherously deep soil freshly spread over the road. My experience in Moab pays off with interest as I manage to keep the bike upright and catch up to some 4x4s stopped in a clearing ahead. After a brief chat with the Portuguese tourists I continue ahead of them. The road steadily declines in quality – or improves, depending on your perspective. I’m white knuckled but not wide eyed as baby head sized boulders compete with landslides and washouts to send me careening either off the edge or into the cliff face. As I realize this is, once again, the gnarliest road I’ve ever ridden, I am somewhat relieved to think that at least there’s someone coming up behind me.

    About an hour of this later I acknowledge that there is going to be no-one coming up behind me. Those tourists were with their families and would have turned around long ago. I’m not feeling so smug at this point, stretching my skills to their limits just to keep going. After a tight curve the path disintegrates into two ruts, one that leads off the cliff and another that takes me into a small boulder. I pin the throttle and gun it for the rock, unable to pull out of the rut. The speed necessary to make it over is such that my forks bottom out on impact – and then the bike slams back against me, windshield bashing me right on the chin. The well secured full face helmet is the only thing that keeps me from acquiring a permanent lisp right there. Cresting the hill, a new canyon vista awaits.

    [​IMG]

    I shake it off, and park the bike to enjoy the view. A little lizard leads me on a merry chase around the cliff edge and I notice a tempting series of spires jutting out into the canyon.

    [​IMG]

    Survival reflexes have their use, but the psychological and physiological framework we’re built on needs to be serve, not dominate, our consciousness. Most humans can hold their breath for over four minutes, if they can overcome their body’s reflexive protests.

    We default to the safe route; humans are risk averse creatures and there’s value in that. But too often, opportunities are sacrificed for the fear of loss, irrationally magnified against the true magnitude of the risk.

    This is what is going through my mind as I walk again from my tripod to the ledge of the cliff, eyeballing the distance to the next spire over. Ten second timer. I can make it in that time. I know the photo won’t even be that epic, but the important part to me right now is I look at this and immediately know I can do it. There is no doubt – this is well within my power. It is only my treacherous fear that holds me back. I recall my earlier reflections on the canyon. Even if there are people on the South Rim looking directly at this point – no one would even see me fall.

    What good is it to know what you are capable of, if you lack the willpower to make it happen? All over the world I have seen people overcome circumstance and obstacles to manifest their will. Am I to be one of those who will look back, smugly reassuring themselves of all the things they could have done to excuse shying away from new challenges?

    I’ve assessed the risk and my abilities, and made it this far. This is a chance to hone willpower above all.

    I push the ten-second timer on the camera, already moving. The edge approaches, the only thing that can harm me now is hesitation – I commit, fly, and suddenly rock is scraping under my soles and hands as I skid to a stop on the spire. No sweat.

    [​IMG]

    Now how do I get down?

    [​IMG]

    A short scramble later I’m back and unimpressed with the photo. Looks like a condor is carrying me off to feed its young. But the moment it captures is glorious – chains of fear and doubt cast off, fleeting freedom. One day I will live every moment like this, unflinching mastery of the self. For now I drink in the giddy adrenaline high and get back to the main mission.

    Lost and I wrestle our way out of the soft pine-needle carpeted landing and catch the trail that supposedly will take us to Point Sublime. I’m already thinking of it as Point Solitude. Each curve, each tantalizing peek at the precipice, I am sure we’re almost there. But the trail just goes on and on, mud and water crossings and more rocky tracks. Now it’s really getting late... Just one more curve. Okay, that one wasn’t really all that curvy, I’ll turn back just past that corner... alright well wait til after checking out what’s after that bend... I must have gone on for an hour telling myself to give up and head back while there was still light like any sensible person would do.

    Finally, as I am berating myself for not having turned back while I had the chance to make it in daylight, the trees thin out and I find myself on a sandy trail winding upwards and towards the edge of the canyon. Surprisingly, I find an older couple in a 4x4 – Joy and her husband show me a map with a not-so-secret track that leads right out of the park, apparently significantly less rigorous than the one I just survived. They leave me with some peanuts and fill my pots with water, I bid them goodbye with thanks.

    [​IMG]

    The spectacle is mine alone as the sunset turns the canyon a spectacular blood-red. Things keep blurring past just overhead, birds so fast they cut an eerie a hollow sound into the wind.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    After the sun sets I hurry back to camp to set up my hammock and boil my rice before darkness overtakes me. To my delight I find two solid trees about five feet from the precipice, and set up my hammock stepping carefully on the scree. The crows have gotten into my spice packet by the time I get back to my rice, but I finish off what they’ve left with my mostly-cooked meal. This stove seems to be less efficient every time...

    [​IMG]

    I think of New Orleans with a smile as I clamber into the hammock, dislodged pebbles skittering over the edge and into space. Don’t get out of the hammock and die... The canyons focus and echo an airstream that howls ever louder as nighttime settles, rocking me slightly in my hammock while I visualize the simple slipknot suspending me. If I were to fall on this slope, cocooned in my mummy sleeping bag and hammock, I wouldn’t even have time to free my arms before sliding helplessly over the edge, screams reverberating through the dark canyon walls.

    Sweet dreams!
    #87
  8. Honkey Cat

    Honkey Cat Tailights Fade!

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,438
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    great pics, thanks for the RR
    #88
  9. RideDualSport.com

    RideDualSport.com Zut alors!

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,197
    Location:
    Texas / France
    Your one post alone, entitled sublime, gave me an incredible adventure rush.
    Way to go dude!
    #89
  10. Knoen

    Knoen Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Oddometer:
    38
    Location:
    Tokyo
    Great stuff! You've been missed mr Explorador!
    #90
  11. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Got some down time so I wrote up a bit more, good to see people still read this thing :)
    #91
  12. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Wild creatures rise with the sun.

    I pack up my gear in near darkness, sit again to listen to the canyonwind lullaby, watch the sky lighten. I realize I want to spend weeks here. I need to spend weeks here. This whole part of the world, it soothingly overwhelms my wanderlust with its endlessly layered wonder and beauty. I feel love for the earth and the world that surrounds me, empty of tainted minds and petty desires.
    Sometimes you just need to be alone in the natural environment to be reminded of the beautiful simplicity of being; shed the layers of abstraction placed on the daily imitation of life.

    [​IMG]

    I have lots of time to hone these thoughts – inflating my tire back to 32 PSI takes about 375 pumps with my tiny handpump. I’m doing this after escaping Point Solitude the easy way. There’s frost on the fields, alpine flowers covered in crystals ablaze in the morning sun.

    I had originally planned on passing through here in a day. It’s going to be a hard ride to California, but apparently Nevada is just endless desert and no cops. Might be a fun place to play on the way back, but at least getting through quickly won’t be a problem.

    Ah, I can be such an optimist.

    Racing past the majestic Vermillion Cliffs, the gut-wrenching sound of grinding metal announces the next chapter of my adventure – mechanical troubles in the appropriately named Bitter Springs. I had adjusted my chain before leaving the Grand Canyon. Guess I overtightened.
    A native lady happens by in her truck and tells me I need to go to a town called Page for a new chain.

    Too many people lead lives directed by default – unexamined fear of the unfamiliar. Grotesque serpents lurked in ancient maps, “Here Be Monsters” at the edges, where lazy cartographers insisted the world ended so they could declare their work done. It seems this attitude has survived the test of time, where people see monsters lurking in any unknown. Maybe this is an ancient survival instinct, back when there really were monsters in the dark.

    You find yourself really trying to get into the heads of people when hitchhiking.

    I sweat next to my lamed steed with my thumb out. Occasionally a car will pass by, and I try to flag it down – no dice. In the intense heat the minutes feel like hours as car after car plays it safe and decides to speed past me. I’m less perturbed by the fact that I don’t get a ride than that nobody even stops to ask if I’m okay. I knew this would take a while, but it wears at my faith in mankind that self-concern keeps anyone from making the barest of efforts to extend at the very least an offer for a cell phone call to a tow truck. Then again, I am in a state where regular citizens carry firearms to protect themselves from one another.

    Whatever, I’ll hike if I have to.

    Fortunately, as I’m considering unpacking the bike to switch gear for just such an event, my ride arrives. I’m glad to have sweat it out to run into Troy. He’s going to what he claims is the most desolate and untouched part of the United States, a confluence of canyons, days into the wilderness by foot. He gives me his card, on it a quote by Everett Ruess, whom he calls my kindred spirit:

    “Though not all my days are as wild as this, each one holds its surprises, and I have seen almost more beauty than I can bear”

    I’m glad to have had to opportunity to meet this fellow wanderer on the road; he kindly takes me right up to the moto shop where they hook me up with a new chain that I slip into my jacket before heading back out for the next Trial of the Indifferent Highway Travellers. Remembering the previous attempt, I pick up some hydration at a gas station and decide to start walking in the direction I need to go. Should I hold my thumb out the whole time or just try and shoot out my hand when I notice cars coming? It would be easiest if I walked backwards but that’s so slow. If I face ahead I can’t try to make contact and guilt them with my eyes. You’d think I’d be better at this by now...

    After a walk that probably wasn’t nearly as long and tortuous as it felt, a sweet girl named Aquilla picks me up. When I tell her where I need to be she takes me to her mom’s so she can meet me and approve. It’s a welcome respite from the road – next thing I know they’re serving up some delicious home cooking and showing me her mom’s fossil collection. They identify a cool rock I found in Moab as a jellyfish fossil; I decide to leave it for her. What am I thinking, carrying rocks around anyway? They come to the conclusion that if I want a ride I’ll have to cough up $40 in gas to cover the distance and suggest I hitch to save money – no hard feelings. Aquilla makes a cardboard sign for me that reads “Bitter Springs”. Apparently that’s what all the cool hobos are using these days.

    [​IMG]

    Aquilla leaves me out by the road and in no time (relative to the last couple) a native couple in a large pickup offer me a lift – the lady says she saw my motorcycle already when I tell her where I’m headed. She and her son Alex tell me about Dine, The People, as the Navajo call themselves. They try and explain their philosophy, living under the ideal of “walk in beauty”.

    We talk about native art and its influences. They confirm that the famous geometric weavings are indeed a reflection of the world around them, and as such a skilled eye can tell where a weaving is from just by the pattern. Their idea of the “spirit line” intrigues me – once finished a weaving, they will weave a line through it, breaking the pattern. This is the spirit line, the catharsis that allows the energy that goes into the creation of something so consuming to be passed back out from the piece. Keeps them from going crazy, Alex tells me.

    Bob, an older gent on a DR650, stops by as I finish putting on my chain and offers to help. I think I’m done, but the engine refuses to turn over. He helps me try to pushstart the bike several times, and we pore over the damn machine until for a couple of hours until by a stroke of luck my good man Jimmy stops by and loads the bike into his truck. No photos, as it was his employer’s truck and he’s technically not supposed to be helping people out like that, but that’s just how awesome this guy is. We shoot the shit out by the dealership, which is of course closed; talking bikes and listening to Bob unravel the strings behind the housing bubble. The United States is fascinating, so many layers to consider.

    Eventually Jimmy heads out and my good friend Bob offers to camp out with me overnight – I think he is getting a kick out of this. I get a can of salty edible stuff from the gas station across the road and he gets a sandwich. The stars are sharp and bright from inside my hammock; life is good.

    The next morning Bob heads out after sharing a banana with me. Good man, I definitely appreciated the company. The garage lets me roll in my bike and says it’s cool if I store it there and fix it up. Top notch, guys! The kind lady across the road lets me use her computer and the KLR forums lead me to the culprit – the chain cut the stator wires. I walk into town, musing my options.
    I’m surprised to discover couchsurfers in this small town, and even moreso to secure a shower and place to crash for that same night. On my walk in from the outskirts of town a car driven by some native ladies stops and a really pretty girl gifts me a water bottle and tinfoil wrapped “Navajo Taco”. I’m touched by the unexpected kindness. Thank you just doesn’t cut it, doesn’t come close to describing how good it feels to share food, how relieved to meet people concerned for others after withering under the indifference of the highway and the sun all day. Also, the taco is delicious.

    That evening I meet with Korey, who is awesome enough to not only offer me a place to crash but feeds me succulent baked salmon with sweet potatoes and spicy tangy mayo. I shower off the accumulated grime from my latest adventuring and uncover the skin above my ankles, raw and cracked from the abrasive grit on the road getting in my boots. I smear it with polysporin and get some welcome rest on Korey’s couch.

    [​IMG]

    The next morning he has to head out, he’s going on a trip with his girlfriend and I’m ever grateful for his generous offer to let me stash my gear in his shed while I sort my situation out. I fail miserably at fixing the bike by pigtailing the sheared stator wires together, proving once again that enthusiasm is no replacement for experience in the world of motorcycle repair. I’m not going to make it to California on time to get Lost’s oil burning problem fixed. The only important plans I had are in shambles.

    [​IMG]

    The motorcycle community comes to my rescue once again; thanks to endorsement by the exemplary Wyman Wynn I shortly have the entire project organized to take place at another community member’s garage in Flagstaff. All I have to do is wait for a replacement stator to arrive. I’m feeling enthusiastic, as bad as these past two days could have been they turned out into excellent learning experiences and I’m not doing too shabby, all things considered.

    So begins my week in Page and the unexpected adventures in this tiny town.
    #92
  13. nicola_a

    nicola_a Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Melbourne, AU
    Although short and not often updated (how they should be, really - the writer should be too busy adventuring), this is one of my favourite RRs.
    What camera do you use Explorador? Your pictures are stunning.
    #93
  14. blake716

    blake716 nine toes

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    16,085
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, La.
    Subscribed. Great ride report!

    I wish I would've seen this thread a long time ago and known that you were going to New Orleans.

    Now you've sparked my interest. I'm going to Jazzland (Six Flags). :evil
    #94
  15. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2001
    Oddometer:
    2,004
    Location:
    in The Cloud
    Travel safe, my friend. Your pix and words are amazing.:clap
    #95
  16. E-Bum

    E-Bum Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    755
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Great writing. Your polarizer has made your landscape photos stand out. I am also curious what camera + lense set up you're using.
    #96
  17. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Nicola, Thanks, that's exactly how I feel!

    In these photos I was using a t2i with sigma 10-20 (loved it) and a canon 50mm 1.8.
    My current gear is a Canon 5dMKII an 17-35 lens. Open camera bag fell off a cliff and sent my 50mm into the river, and smashed the 24-105. Hopefully I can at least find a used 50 here in Guatemala (yes, the report is very, very far behind haha).

    Blake - Go there, it's a surreal gem that won't last forever. Careful though, they're supposed to come down hard on trespassers (if they actually catch them)


    Adventure Poser - Thank you very much, I worked hard on them :)


    Thanks E-bum. The polarizer helps but lightroom is the real trick to getting the hazy distance to sharpen up, the blues tend to fog up these distance shots.
    #97
  18. Kevan Garrett

    Kevan Garrett Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    731
    Location:
    Benicia, CA
    Hey LX.

    Absolutely loving your ride report. :clap

    Great pics, stories and philosophy. Keep riding. Keep learning. Keep sharing with us and all the wonderful people you meet.

    And above all please be careful. I don't mean "quit climbing everything" but don't get caught up with pressing because of arbitrary schedules. It's easy to get summit fever and press on when you should stop and rest. Be safe. Most things will still be there when you get there.

    Peace

    Kevan
    #98
  19. WHYNOWTHEN

    WHYNOWTHEN where are the pedals?

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    closer to Baja
    Awesome!
    More please
    #99
  20. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Hey Kegs, love the advice. Don't worry though... I left on July 28 2012, and am currently in Guatemala. No summit fever here, I'd rather have figured out how to grow wings before I get there, jejeje.