We had a big trip planned here at AJ HQ for back in March. A swing through the Utah desert, some singletrack riding, plenty of gear testing, story brainstorming, and a whole lot of sitting silently and staring at the stars. Seems charmingly naive in retrospect, to imagine the week before we called the trip off, just days before California instituted shelter-in-place orders, with us still thinking the trip could go on.
Now, a bit more than a month later, the idea of hopping in a car and lighting out for unknown hills, stopping in small towns along the way, eating in new diners, buying gear in familiar but new-to-us gear shops, bellying up for a cold pint in a hamlet’s one pub, all seem impossibly distant, reachable but for a hazy fog. And oh, so appealing.
Campgrounds are closed throughout the West, so adventures for many of us have been of the hyperlocal variety. Right now, a blue jay is waging a small territory battle with a feral cat in my backyard, a reminder of the nature that we’ve woven our modern lives into. I’ve discovered trails near my San Francisco home I’d left untrodden, many winding through lush green hills painted orange and purple with poppies and lupins. The surf for us is still accessible, as are many biking trails. This is not a bad place to be at this particular, never-ending moment in history.
But the mind wanders to what’s over the next hill and the mountain after that, and the desert still beyond.
How great does it sound to head out for a river adventure in a strange new land, followed by a celebration with friends at a local watering hole?
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Photo: Mike Erskine