Friday, 30 September 2011
Saturday, 24 September 2011
Saturday, 17 September 2011
In North America wildness is so very close at hand and there are so many things to scare the living daylights out of you. You’re always on guard in case of an encounter with a grumpy bear and always scanning the rocky outcrops above as you cycle by. These are the preferred launching pads of mountain lions which, we are told, have come to consider mountain bikers as fair game! Then, of course, if you need to pop into the bushes for a pee, mind you don’t step on a rattlesnake!
But what of the howling on that moonlit night? Most probably it was a pack of coyotes which we’ve seen in the fields and forest margins. But maybe … just maybe …
Friday, 9 September 2011
Yes, this blog is about trees as there doesn’t seem to be anything else in my life at the moment!
It’s hard to believe but we are only about 300 miles from Seattle. As we’ve cycled across the States, people have constantly stopped us for a chat, asking “where are you going” and “where did you start”. When we tell people now that we are cycling to Seattle, they are all pretty impressed. But when we tell them we started in Boston … Boston, Massachusetts … you could knock them over with a pine needle!
The landscape this side of the Rockies couldn’t be more different to the high, empty plains of Montana. There are trees! Billions of them! I love the Ponderosa pines whose rich, red bark glows warmly in the morning and evening sunlight. But my favourite trees are the graceful cedars. We took a detour from our route, cycling deeper into the mountains up an impossibly steep road in the unrelenting heat of summer, to visit the 500-year-old Ross Creek Giant Cedars. These wooded behemoths grow in the twilight in an eerie, swampy, primordial forest where you expect to see a stegosaurus grazing in the undergrowth or a couple of pterodactyls gliding overhead. The primeval ambience was completed when I happened upon the “missing link” as a hairy individual, knuckles scraping along the ground, approached me on the trail and grunted two words – “big trees”. Yep, I thought, that pretty much sums it up.
Of course in North America where there are forests, there are bears. We continue to practice meticulous bear-aware camping techniques. Nonetheless, lying in my tent at night I dread a twig snapping nearby or the rip of nylon as a big bear’s head appears in my tent and says “hey, have you got chocolate in here?”
More photos on Flickr.