Memories of Chile.
The descent through the Andes was much easier than the ascent. The pot-holed surface improved marginally, there were fewer blind corners, and of most relief to me, the road had widened from just a very narrow single lane to something like one and a half lanes. The breathing space was appreciated.
Down further went the road, a thoroughfare built using dynamite and sweat to blast away the stone so that I could pass.
And then I reached a broad valley, the elusive sun shining upon me. Clouds created dramatic shadows on the surrounding hills, horses roamed free, and I had not seen a single vehicle for three hours.
That stretch of the Carretera Austral, perfect in every way, will be mine forever.
When it's 80 degrees on Christmas Day, the first thing a rider thinks is, "Perfect weather and everyone is at home, the roads will be empty!"
My wife and I took advantage of a beautiful Christmas Day to blast into the local mountains. Thank you, dear!
Not a day goes by that I don't think about you and the lessons you affirmed.
Resilience, determination, mental toughness, perseverance. Such qualities only come about from contending with great struggle, from overcoming adversity and from mastering one's ability to triumph over environmental challenges. Luxury and safe decisions can never provide these virtues, and self-sufficiency cannot be born or nurtured when others remove obstacles on your behalf.
I aspire to consistently dodge the still calm of life, and to never forget that hardship breeds strength of will.
Someday, I will return.
Elevation 11,955 ft (3644 m).
I've yet to climb a pass in the Sierra-Nevada that didn't make me earn it. Oxygen choices must be made. Yet all of them are worth every gasp, every wheeze, every grunt.
Perhaps my favorite: the ascent to Muir Pass is awe-inspiring and challenging. At its peak, it is humbling and magnificent.
And the view down into the distant remote backcountry is mesmerizing.
It was the rotten boards at both ends that gave me pause.
While I sat there pondering if this was a good idea or not, a small dog ran across the bridge, happily wagging his tail.
So, of course, that reassured me that it must be perfectly safe. 😂
For most of my life, flat empty regions of land consistently failed to capture my heart or inspire my imagination. All I ever saw in places like the Australian outback or west Texas was bland nothingness for as far as the eyes could see.
Patagonia changed that for me.
I was parked on the side of a remote dirt road in Argentina, eating a sandwich with ham sliced so thin, it only had one side. The air was impossibly still and from no direction was there the slightest of sounds.
The epiphany was sudden and clear in its obviousness; I instantly went from disdain to appreciation. Whether it's thick alpine forests, remote mountains, or yes, even wide open prairie scrub, I realized that any broad region that has dodged the stain of humanity is most definitely a place to savor and enjoy.
I sat down in the dirt and leaned up against the bike, spending the next hour in silent gratitude for the absolute isolation and privacy.
How can that not be glorious?
The Grand Canyon.
Few places on earth can rival its spatial grandeur and massive spectacle.
And while the views from the tops of the rim are staggering indeed, a backpacking trip down to its bottom will unlock wondrous, hidden vistas.