Saturday, September 27, 2014

Broadcasting From the Wilderness

About the last post, where I said we wouldn't have internet for a few days... Just kidding.  Turns out we have 3G from our tent in the "wilderness."  Go figure.  Anyway, here's Sept 27:

After packing up and saying goodbye to Rosemary and Will, our wonderful hosts for the last two nights, we headed to the post office.  We sent home our clipless shoes and a few other things, and though having one less pair of shoes seems like a small change, we both remarked how we felt freer, liberated by one less thing to haul around. I can't express how excited we are to do away with more stuff!
On the way out of town, I saw a bike shop and remembered I wanted to check my chain; I had had it for only about 2,000 miles, usually about half the life of a chain, but I'm glad I checked, because it was stretched over 0.75%: time for a new one.  Riding loaded wears through them fast!  All this took time, of course, and by the time we actually got going it was almost noon.  Our destination: the Three Sisters Wilderness.
We left the city behind and climbed up and up into the Deschutes National Forest.  Even though we were leaving civilization, plenty of cyclists were out and about.  Almost every car that passed had a downhill or mountain bike on it, and we saw a plethora of road cyclists, too, going much faster than we were.  It was a perfect fall day for riding: crisp and clear, but not too cold that going up a hill couldn't warm us up.  We had a whole lot of hill to warm up on: 20 miles and over 3,000 feet of elevation.  From the top we could see Mt Bachelor and the South Sister, their peaks cloaked in clouds and their flanks dusted with fresh snow.
A few miles later we arrived at Devil's Lake, our trailhead, and converted from biking to backpacking.  It was a nice change to be living simply out of a backpack.  We hiked steeply uphill for a few miles through pine forest, each trunk and branches streaked with neon green lichens.  
While walking, we discussed an objective standard by which to measure "good" and "bad."  I have never been able to come up with one definitively.  In a book I recently read, Wendell Berry, farmer and writer extraordinaire, argues that the standard could be health: of people, family units, communities, ecosystems, and all their components.  I agree with him, but it gets messy when considering that one such unit might be harmed by the continued health of another, as is the case with humans and, well, everything else.  And when we have these conflicts, decisions must be made according to personal judgments, which does away with the objectivity.  Maybe there is no objective standard of good; maybe it's "I know it when I see it."  What do you think?
Anyway, by this time the sun was setting and gave us a light show over the trees as we hiked.  
Soon after, we set up camp, ate a quick dinner, and dove in the tent.  It's cold at 6400 feet!

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