Not every year, but maybe most, there seems to be a single day where you can definitively say that summer has ended and fall has begun. Often, but not always, that change comes in on a wind. Summer gets blown out as fall is being pushed in. Or so it feels.

For us that day arrived a few weeks ago. Heavy winds brought down metric tons of pine needles in the afternoon, blowing out the last of the smoke, and us follicly challenged folks wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without a toque the next morning. Nor any morning since.

Sharp mornings, mild mid-days, and delightful afternoons have followed. It is such a stunning time of year to be outside soaking it all in.

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Seed feeders that have been sparsely attended the past few months are suddenly filthy with siskins and nuthatches again, while deer, turkeys, (nice) marmots, chipmunks, squirrels, and elk meander through and hoover up that which has spilled to the ground.

Jeny and I set out yesterday with the goal of simply being outside. If we could close a loop with some new-to-us trail? Well, that’d be the gravy atop the taters.

Hours of climbing unspooled beneath our wheels easily, courtesy of mellow-for-Idaho grades and a complete lack of traffic. We shared the duff-covered ascent with quail, grouse, cerulean skies, and no one else.

I’m certain that I’ve never ridden anywhere with a similar composition of maple, scrub oak, ponderosa, manzanita, aspen, fir, and old-man’s-beard. Neat.

A monolith within an old-growth grove greeted us at the high point, silently tolerating us clambering all over her in search of the sweetest smelling spot.

And then we swooped and carved, shucked and jived, manualed and surfed, savoring the breeze on our cheeks until there was nowhere left to descend.

We need to replace our furnace, split and stack a cord, and lay up a winter worth of kindling yet. We are — in the same moment — both excited for and not yet ready for winter.

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But after this one exquisite fall ride, I couldn’t be disappointed if it ended tomorrow.

Read more from Mike Curiak at his website, LaceMine29.


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