I like my pink Ellsworth in large part because I can never lose it in the forest. It stands out, doesnt it?

I like my pink Ellsworth in large part because I can never lose it in the forest. It stands out, doesn't it?

It was the first time in a good long while that my main man and I had the same day off. Naturally we decided to spend it on mountain bikes, and scouted out a route in a new area. He’s got a terrible sense of navigation and I am pretty good at map reading, so it was pretty much me who planned the route. However, I also have a pretty bad tendency to underplay the severity of the terrain, figuring that we’ll just deal with it and what’s a little hike-a-bike, anyway? Usually this all works out just fine, and rather than get all dramatic on you I’ll just come out and say that it worked out just fine today too. We had a nice day out, with lots of climbing, some hike-a-biking, some ripping descending, some random bouldering, and generally good times spent outdoors.

Random bouldering break.

Random bouldering break.

Still, though, it wasn’t an uneventful day. We took a scouting trip out to check out a trail as an out-and-back, which was really about 90 minutes of straight, hard, grandpa-gear climbing (Gearguy on his singlespeed even had to walk a fair amount) which paid off with the five minutes of ripping downhill we got as we returned on the same route. We passed so many sandstone boulders and cliffs that we were simply forced to stop and climb some of them, bike shoes and all. Hey, sandstone holds really do break when they are wet, by the way.

We then had to plod uphill for about 1/2 mile, over big rocks and super steep sections, difficult even to walk the bikes, to get to the next rideable section. This section rocked! We were stoked! Until we got dumped out onto a gravel road, indicating a rather disastrous wrong turn. We had missed the correct trail and were now 500′ below where we needed to be, with only 90 minutes of daylight left. Gearguy was OK with it, but I’ll just say I was straight PISSED. We were so far out of position that we had to bail, lest we get caught in the woods after dark with no lights. I also really wanted to ride the loop we had planned, and I knew that I’d have to go through all that uphill hike-a-bike AGAIN someday just to do the loop. So he philosophically mused, and I tantrummed, and we agreed that given the late hour we had to bail. So we did.

I only fumed for about five minutes after that, and then forced myself back into a decent mood. If we hadn’t taken the wrong turn, we wouldn’t have had spectacular ocean views for our snack break. We might have ended up with too ambitious of an objective, and found ourselves in the woods after dark. It’s not like the trail was going anywhere. We could always come back later and it had been such a fun day, it would be a shame to end it in a bad mood. So I shook off the mistake and we finished our ride in peace.

Ah, hikeabike.

Ah, hikeabike.

Once I shook myself out of my funk, the day’s events got me thinking. Wrong turns and goofed-up routes really get to me. It feels like a lost opportunity, a squandering of something precious. As if this was the one time it would have all come together…the one chance to ride that trail, climb that route, see the sun for the last time for months, whatever. If I miss it I feel really let down and actively have to try to steer away from those kinds of thoughts. Sometimes I suspect that I would not make a very good high altitude mountaineer because of my inherent focus on the objective. On the other hand, this makes me a very tenacious and reliable partner. I am hard to dissuade from a goal once I set it. This can be a positive trait and it can also ruin your day when you make a wrong turn.

What do you do when your plans go awry? Are you bummed? Do you look for the silver lining? Or do you take it as it comes?

Or do you stop and admire the trees? Guess which one I do.

Or do you stop and admire the trees? Guess which one I do.