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slower than you
1,363 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I watch the rocks.

Each day, for years, I’ve watched the rocks of Mount Elden, Flagstaff’s lesser landform.

So little has changed.

And again today, as it always has since I’ve known it, the mountain compels me: Come. Yet I cannot, not today. Fluttering yellow cordons and obtusely-worded government regulations block my way.

For the past two-and-a-half decades, I’ve ridden somewhere on its trails almost every day, covering mile after mile of boulder-covered, dacitic, woodsy singletrack with both formal and informal names like: Oldham, Nightranger, Spring, Tree, Fat Man's, Heart, Little Bear, Sunset, and Forces of Nature.

Along the way, I’ve sat near small trickling springs and watched birds, butterflies and bees drink and fight and fly away home. I’ve watched long, complicated rain-borne waterfalls form and dissipate, both in the short span of minutes. I’ve taken refuge beneath overhanging rocks and huddled in too-narrow pockets while riotous storms roiled and lightning flashed close by.

Climbing aimlessly among its cracks and crags, I’ve found mysterious ancient glyphs and dark caches strewn with smoky potsherd.

And, once, I saw a lion there with her kit.

It was on this mountain that I truly learned to ride. Through years of earnest but productive struggle I have become well versed in the techniques required to ride its rocky flanks, traverse its wind-scoured ridgelines, and descend its dark, verdant slopes.

I’ve acquired a layman’s grasp of the nomenclature of its geology, and squeezed through dark, confining passages deep in its innards.

This oft' overlooked mountain and I possess one another. I’ve bled there many times: abraded an acre of my skin on its rocks, sucked in lungfuls of its dust, and borne home, embedded in my flesh, its gravel and scree.

I’ve broken helmets, derailleurs, chains, rims, seats, sunglasses, shifters and entire bikes upon it. It has shredded my shorts, shoes, tights, gloves, socks, pants, jerseys and most importantly my pride.

It’s penalized me for my boasting with a thousand flat tires.

Despite the many years I've spent upon it, I still have not taken in the view from every aspect of Mount Elden, nor have I ridden each and every one of its wild trails. I have not peered into all of its countless crags, nor have I sat contemplatively atop each of its innumerable jointed columnar rocks. Much of the mountain remains a mystery to me — undiscovered country right in my backyard.

But I can say this: I am glad to have known Mount Elden so well, to have watched it year after year, to have had the chance to ride its trails so regularly, to have formed in my mind this increasingly complex, joyful tapestry of inarticulate map-like memory of it. It is good to know such a mountain well, or perhaps as well as one can anyway.

And still for today, though I know I cannot go there, the mountain compels me: Come.

3,525 Posts
Nice RC.

I've been enjoying the Little Elden trail area this year. I've really gotten to know that side and feel intimately connected to it now. The wildlife and history in that area is pretty darn remarkable. There's a lot of "ghosts" out there and they whisper to you if ya listen.

I even talked to a mountain lion last week.
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