Words by Kyle von Hoetzendorff, photos by Daniel Wakefield Pasley
We all know how important water is right? Well if you don’t, let me tell you that it is up there. Right alongside air, energy, and heat in the top tier category of things that you definitely need. It was with this thought in mind that we had picked our night's camp. We had pitched our tents in an area where a natural spring bubbled out from underground. In ideal conditions even the most pasteurized of individuals would be able to drink directly from this clear fountain of limitless hydration, but here, under the wing of the a bird named misadventure, we were not so lucky. Here in the pristine high mountain wilds the aforementioned ranchers had grazed their cattle, and the cattle had peppered our little spring with a heavy selection of excrement in such away that they must have felt it was critically important to get all of their waste into the source of the water. Cow pies lined the little stream and in the small lengths of shore where the cows had happened to be off target we crouched and pumped, siphoning the day’s water rations through our little water filters. You have to trust that they will do the job, you just do, because you can’t go with out water and you can’t have gut wrenching diarrhea / vomiting when you are smack dab in the middle of nowhere. So you remember the packaging and the numbers and the promises and you pump your water, then you drink your water. Then you smash, compress, roll, bind, zip, and strap all of your gear to your bike and head off; or at least that’s what we did.
Wrong turns are going to happen, they just are, and when your route is compounded with semi-out-of-date maps and the lack on any actually previous route experience the chance that you take a wrong turn that costs you most of a days travel is very high. And here is the thing about wrong turns, it only takes one, it only takes one wrong turn to take you up the steepest gravel road you have ever been on in your life. And one wrong turn, just one wrong turn, will lead you on to a road atop a ridge that becomes a string of dead ends. And you tick them off; one road after another in hopes that one of them will eventually lead you down to the camping spot that you had hoped to reach on the first night of your trip. The camping spot that you will not reach by the end of your second day, the camping spot that you will never, ever, reach. You might find yourself pacing and anxious at the end of one of these dead ends; maybe you are scooping the last bit of water out of your water bottle with your fingers and suckling them for nourishment. Maybe you are bickering with your compatriots, the kind of bickering that privileged grown men do, the polite-with-teeth arguing of friends on the fray. Despair, driven off for most of the day walks among you. Things do not look good. One wrong turn and you wonder when you will be forced to eat Daniel. One wrong turn and you wonder if the salt that has collected in his jersey will be salvageable as a seasoning. If not for the timeless technique called bushwhacking we could have wrong turned on one another, lost as we were to that absent spur of forgotten road.