Mud season is upon us mighty early this year. I don’t run screaming at the sight of a muddy trail, but there’s a big difference between muddy trails and mud-season trails. Like the Green Mountain Club says, I find it’s best to stay off the trails in the mountains during this time of year. But with the early spring, there’s just too much sunshine and warm weather to stay indoors. Time to hit the road, Jack.
It wasn’t until about this time last year that I started riding my bike any more than a few miles at a time, but I got addicted pretty quickly. I don’t have a fancy road bike– just an old mountain bike that I got from Craigslist a few years ago and outfitted with hybrid tires. It doesn’t have clip-in pedals, or drop handlebars, or a very comfortable saddle. It’s a very basic, cheap bike, and it gets me where I want to go. These days, “where I want to go” tends to be 20-40 mile rides on back roads near Keene. Since I’ve been cooped up for most of the winter, it’s nice to get out for some long rides to set my mind straight.
Last year around this time, I was in a bizarrely similar situation. I had moved to a new town, found a job, the job ended prematurely, and then I spent most of the spring biding my time until the summer, when I already had a job lined up. As I sit here writing this, jobless yet again, waiting for the end of May when my summer at NOLS begins, I’m finding the parallels a little worrisome. The obvious reason, of course, is that I don’t want to be in the kind of cycle where I can’t hold a job for more than a few months at a time. In general, though, I’d like to not repeat 2011, which, on the whole, was a very negative year for me. I documented the highlights of it in this blog, and tried to steer away from the unpleasant aspects, because I don’t like to dwell.
There are a few things about this year that are looking up, though, and I’m hoping they bode much better for the coming season. I try to focus on them, because that’s the only way to get out of cycles like I’m afraid of finding myself in.
First, there’s my new business at Guthook’s Hiking Guides. They certainly won’t make me rich, or even provide the income of a part-time job, but considering I’ve barely made ends meet in the past few years, the app sales can’t hurt.
The summer at NOLS will undoubtedly be a more positive experience, as well. The backpacking and canoeing program I led at the camp last summer was an afterthought by the camp, and resulted in constant frustration for me (there’s a long story in there somewhere). NOLS is a wilderness school first and foremost, so I have no doubt that it will be more organized and better supported than what I had last summer.
Last year was the first since I graduated from college that I hadn’t hiked a long-distance trail, and I intend to get back on that wagon with the Long Trail. My plans to hike the LT last year were dashed twice, and who knows what this summer will be like in terms of weather, but I’m still planning that hike for the end of this summer. Just having that on the horizon feels good.
Yep, I’ve been feeling cooped up for a month or two, but now that I can more easily get out for long outdoor activities, life seems a little more cheery. The bike is a little less ideal for me than walking up a mountain, but it gets me away from everything for a few hours just the same.