Friday, March 16, 2007

Butler Valley/Maple Creek

Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places, like this week when a guy called me a “fucking pussy” and threatened to kick my ass.

It happened on U.S. Highway 101 near School Road late Wednesday afternoon. Some idiot had veered off the freeway and flipped his Mustang over in a drainage ditch. I arrived on scene – shortly after the CHP – to take photos for the newspaper.

The driver of the vehicle asked me who I was, so I identified myself. He then threatened to “press charges” if the photos were printed. That was such a dumb statement I wasn’t sure how to respond. I held my tongue and politely explained how things work. Apparently he didn’t like what I had to say. He had a little fit and walked away.

After I got my photos and interviewed a CHP officer, I started to leave, but not before being confronted again by the driver.

He told me that I was making him mad and that he wanted to punch me and kick my ass. My first thought was that I should probably just leave. That would be the smart thing to do.

But before I could do so, he gave me an ultimatum – leave NOW or the punching would begin.

Damn. Them’s fightin words!

I pointed out to him that there were two CHP officers standing nearby and that it would be interesting to see what would happen if he started punching me.

He replied “Fuck you!”

I said “Why don’t you go for it and see what happens.”

Then he declared that I was a “fucking pussy” and reiterated his threat to punch me.

There were no punches forthcoming. He didn’t even step forward in preparation to fight.

At this point I was relieved because he appeared to be all talk.

I then suggested that we immediately walk over to the CHP officers and discuss this issue. They might be interested to know that he was threatening me with bodily harm.

“Let’s talk to them right now,” I said. I gestured in their direction and took a step forward.

Suddenly a surprising thing happened. The guy looked away, took a couple steps back and lowered his head. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked deflated.

I told him that I would do him a “favor” and not tell the CHP about his threats. He was silent. At that point he probably just needed a big hug and a shoulder to cry on. I would have felt bad for the guy if he wasn't such an asshole.

I walked away happy as a clam. His car was dragged out of the ditch. The cause of the accident: DWS (Driving While Stupid). He couldn't even blame this one on booze.

The next day I woke up for a real ass kicking – the Butler Valley/Maple Creek ride. I had first heard about this route from my friend Casey, who knew a guy who incorporated it into his bicycle commute from Eureka to Arcata. (The guy must have a few screws loose.) Then, over the weekend, I read that the Bigfoot Bicycle Club was planning a Butler Valley social ride last Sunday. I couldn’t make Sunday’s ride, so I decided to do it Thursday. Club member Tim Daniels was kind enough to e-mail me the particulars.

I loaded the bike with a ham & cheese sandwich, chips, Baby Ruth, a slice of cranberry bread, a canteen of coffee and lots of water. I was pedaling out of town by 10 a.m.

Murray Road

I went up Murray Road, above, and over the hill to Fieldbrook. I got concerned at that point because my legs were still sore from the day before, when I pedalled 18 “commuter” miles.

From Fieldbrook I pedalled to Blue Lake, then Korbel.

West of Korbel

The photo above is just west of Korbel. I would have to climb those mountains in the distance.

Indian Arrow Tree

On Maple Creek Road I came across the Indian Arrow Tree. I have no additional information about this event other than what's in this photo of a wooden plaque nailed to the tree.

View from Maple Creek Road

Here’s the view from Maple Creek Road. It’s spectacular. You’re pretty much alone out there except for the cougars and sasquatches. That valley below is the Blue Lake area.

East of Kneeland

My legs were sore. Really sore. I thought about my legs when I looked at the mountains above. This is the backside of Kneeland and I would need to climb up and over them.

The Neanderthal’s words from Wednesday rang in my head: “You’re a fucking pussy!” Well, I guess I was about to find out if that was true. Maybe he was right.

It was a grueling ride to the top. Everything hurt – my hands, my arms, my legs, my knees, my ass. When I got into a bad funk or felt like stopping, I just told myself “don’t be a fucking pussy.”

Up and up it went. It took a lot longer to get to Kneeland than I thought it would. Finally, somewhere above the Kneeland Post Office, I hit the top. I coasted downhill and was relieved when I reached Old Arcata Road.

I slogged my way home mile by mile. I felt like a hundred-year-old man.

After my ride I checked my mileage on google. I thought for sure it would come in at 75 to 80 miles, but it was 57 miles. I suppose the 3,400 (unconfirmed) feet of elevation gain is what made it so difficult.

Although difficult, this was one of the best rides I’ve been on. I was completely unfamiliar with everything between Korbel and Kneeland, so it was a real adventure.


Blogger Fred said...

I used to live out on some property in Maple Creek. I was a caretaker on a ranch of sorts. I was only out there for a year but I'll have to say, Maple Creek is God's Country.

6:34 AM  
Blogger OrangeElmo said...

Awesome achievement, Jack. That is one hell of a climb. You are really getting tough! And I loved the tale about the DSW driver. Ha!

11:41 AM  

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