Friday, November 21, 2014

It's been said...


"THE only thing to fear is fear itself..."

Seems like a simple enough statement for a rather large and complex issue.

There's fear of the known and the unknown.

Fear of what's under the water, fear of flying, fear of what we may find around the next corner.

Fear of failure, fear of success?

Don't confuse this with caution or respect or even common sense, those things are a different kettle of fish. 

Castle Creek rd Walker's Gulch connects to Buckhorn road.
When I am motorcycling the back country I respect it greatly.  I know the planet didn't set out today to kill me.  I know my skill level, my machine, my environment and it's hazards.  I plan and take precautions like letting Judy my neighbor know what my route is, just in case.



I know that there is always the unexpected lurking about, a simple crash at low speed on a Baja hillside for example, or a flat tire on the freeway.  There's always the "Murphy" factor to contend with.  That's a given, but even so we always have choices.

Do we do this or do we pass?

Castle Creek rd
In my riding career I've passed many times.  I remember trying to find my way several years ago across country along a deep sand wash, with a sore shoulder.  I turned back due to the pain and lack of strength I was feeling.  NO biggie, I recovered from that and went on another time to complete that route.  Other times, I weigh the challenge in front of me, compare it to what I have already been through and decide which way to go, ahead or back.  I don't feel any shame at all in turning back.



There's other times when I feel good both physically and mentally and will accept the challenge in front of me.  I get off the bike, walk the gulley or hill, see what's around the next corner.  Sometimes like the other day, I may do this every 1/2 mile as obstacles present themselves.

Castle Creek Road(?)
Last year I was in just such a predicament.  After twice missing completely the trail that showed on the map, I found it finally, unmarked and camouflaged by a small rise that looked nothing like a road.  I knew by looking it over on Google earth both maps and overhead what the general lay of the land was and it certainly didn't seem intimidating.  For example, the elevation was well below my trip through the Bradshaw's three years ago, the back way to Crown King.



I knew that the Wagoner road I was trying to reach was only 5 miles away, but after traveling 2.5 of those miles, I came to a very rocky, loose boulder-ed wash, with a tricky downhill crossing the stream-bed and a rocky uphill that turned 120 degrees left and continued up with loose rocks all the way.  It didn't look particularly daunting but it was getting late, my wrong turn detour had used up over two hours of daylight, and it was still a long way to go.  My shoulder was sore and I decided at that time to say "hasta leugo" and try it another day.
Castle Creek rd "Jeeps Only"

I thought about the short connecting route going north from the inverted U of the Cow Creek/Castle Creek roads, and the bottom of the U the five miles to Wagoner road that I was trying to reach.

Over the course of the year, I scoped it out on Google maps several times and was convinced I could do it if the weather hadn't wiped out the road completely, which in the desert is entirely possible.  Heavy rains or spring run off can seriously erode the surface of the earth and change entirely what was before.  There had been massive rains in Arizona this summer.  I honestly didn't know what I would find.  Asking questions at bike shops or from park officials and other users is usually a waste of time.  Most dirt riding here is on marked and mapped forestry trails, whereas this is actually a public road and off highway vehicles are not allowed on them legally.

Far as I got on the connector last year.
Not that anyone would know but still, most recreational riders stick to the trail networks. I can usually run much of the day without human contact of any sort.  You can always tell when humans have been about by the empty shell casings and litter people leave behind...



Using the Google tools I was able to map the route including actual distances, this no mean feat in itself as there are literally hundreds of unmarked trails going every which way out there.  I had rigged up a lighter socket as an emergency charging system for my GPS, printed maps and direction, bought a compass before leaving last year and was 93% confident I would make it this time round.

My turn back point.
Water packed, food packed, saddlebags containing warm clothing extra bungees and even tie downs straps packed, of course there is literally no way to get a rescue vehicle in here in any case.  About all you can do is call for a chopper...











I was on my way.













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