September 27, 2010

7,165 ft

Around 8am this morning Bright and I (Daniel, because I never blog…) hopped on my electric motorcycle and headed for the mountains.  I had no real plan other than I wanted us to make it to the top.  Rain was imminent, testosterone was high, and adventure was a guarantee – more so than I expected.

There’s lots of mountains all around our city.  Our apartment sits at about 6,212 feet (according to Google Earth, my favorite program ever) and the spot we wanted to hit was right at 7,165 – almost a 1,000 foot climb.  As we approached the base of the mountains I was looking for a saddle or finger that we could make our way up.  I eyed one and we just started making our way to it.  Before I realized it, we were driving through a turret factory.  Turret, as in they were making turrets for tanks there.  We were well into the place before one of the guards stopped us.

Ok, we’ll be going to jail now – I thought...  I played the I-have-a-white-kid card and explained that my son has been wanting to go to the top of the mountain and asked if he could point me in the right direction.  He did just that.  We continued on through the turret factory, out it’s back gate and onto a mountain road.  It was really muddy so we couldn’t go very far because my electric bike barely goes on the road much less up a mud slide.

We pulled over at a little shack where a little man quickly put a leash on his extremely old dog as if it was going to eat us – I took it as a gesture of hospitality and we parked there.  I asked him how to get up the mountain and he simply pointed up…  Thank you sir...  I figured we’d take the road till we found some sort of trail, but these mountains are straight up and the road was loaded down with the standard issue huge blue dump trucks that billow exhaust and have horns so loud they pierce your soul.

Truck after truck let us know we shouldn’t be there, and starting to think I shouldn’t have my son here… Until, one of the trucks stops and the passenger door flings open.  YES!  Why would I not hitchhike in this situation?  The driver and I were soon fast friends.  He was an extremely nice guy and graciously took us almost all the way up the incredibly terrible road.  Suddenly, up ahead I saw a great spot to get off and make the last few hundred feet to the peak on foot.  So we hopped out and were within striking distance of the summit.   

Bear Grills always says you never know how steep something is until you rub noses with it.  And there’s a reason why he’s famous and I’m just some guy with a child carrier on my back trying to hitchhike up a mountain.  It was a lot more serious than I thought, but Bright took it like a champ.  The last thirty to forty yards were too steep for me to hold his hand and help us climb so he jumped into the carrier to finish it out.  We came up the back side of the mountain, walked over the top and saw our city below.  We had done it!

Just then two goats jumped up from being bedded down and scared the crap out of me!  I raised my fists as if they were going to punch me or something.  Bright and I stood in wonder of the “mountain goats” – actually quite regular and tame goats but because of the context how could I possibly tell him we hadn’t encountered some wild animals?  We stopped to enjoy some water and Bright’s first Snickers bar, with the goats lazily staying nearby.  We were men together, we had braved the mountain, the goats, and we celebrated.

On the way down it poured on us.  Bright was back on my back and we were under an umbrella though seriously soaked.  He said, “I like the top and the bottom but the middle of mountain climbing is kind of difficult.”  I agreed.  Back on the road again, we were headed down.  Except now the road had become an ankle deep stream with all the runoff water.  It was awesome.  The trucks were lurching up and down the mountain so slow that we were making almost as good of time as they were, until I stepped knee deep into a mud pit with Bright still on my back…  Way too much fun, Bright loved it.

Soon another kind man, this time in a red dump truck, was kind enough to take us down the mountain to the man with the very old dog that was once again put back on his leash for everyone’s safety.  He sent us away with some fruit and a smile.  I had already said goodbye when I realized my motorcycle wasn’t working…  I think some rain ran down into my throttle because I was showing a lot of juice but getting nothing when I pulled back on it.  So we pushed it through the ditch, onto the road, and coasted down the mountain.  I tried two different repair shops – the first of which was low on staff probably because they were asleep…  the second of which were more than happy to take my bike apart but were not able to actually make it work. 

Finally I gave up.  I pushed it down the road for quite a while and pulled over to a man who was smoking a cigarette out of a huge bong thing they use here.  He was elated to see us and loved the idea of me parking my bike there.  As I was explaining the problem to him my bike suddenly worked!  Questionable?  Yes.. rain water in an electric motorcycle.  But I didn’t want to leave it with cigarette man, so we chanced it, and after it cutting in and out for a few hundred yards it ran perfectly all the way home for a shower and lunch.  As we drove off I turned around and pointed up to the top, which was still covered in rain clouds, “We climbed that Bright, you and me.” 

“Yea, Daddy, we did.”