Monday, September 8, 2014
The Boy and the KVR
My son joined me on his very first bike packing trip and experienced in less than one hour just about everything that a trip like this can offer. Bicycle mishaps, feeling the cold waters of the Kettle River. encountering wild animals and riding through entrancing scenery.
Within the first fifteen seconds of riding bikes loaded with camping gear we managed to crash into one another. Leaving the gates of the campground at Rock Creek, I noticed that my bicycle computer wasn't working. I stopped to readjust the small magnet on one of my spokes. A jarring crash brought my attention back to the road. It seems that Chris was having trouble shifting and was also looking down to see what the problem was when BAMM!! into the old man's bike. Other than a chainring tattoo on his shin, I'd like to say no harm no foul. Except for some choice expletives from my boy.
A few kilometers down the trail, I had just gone through a farm gate when the boy mentioned that just up ahead, the bushes lining the trail were being thrashed about by some unknown source. Moments later, a browney-golden bear shuffled onto the trail, intent on scooping berries off the bushes. Acting quickly, we hustled back behind the gate and locked its chain firmly into its slot and hoped the gate would offer protection from the bear.
We shouted at the bear and banged large sticks together to scare the animal away. Giving us an uninterested look while it pooped on the trail, the bear went back to harvesting the fruit. We had some choices. Ride back the way we had come and find another route or wait for the bear to finish eating. Chris came up with an option that we spent some time evaluating - push our bikes down to the Kettle River and wade close to the shore and past the bear's location. The question was "Would we be far enough away so as to not disturb/anger the bear?"
I earned my own chainring tattoo when my water-shoed foot slipped on a slimy rock and the bike and all its weight slammed into my shin. Chris was ahead of me glancing frequently over his shoulder expecting to see the bear charging down the riverbank ready to devour two hapless intruders.
After sloshing through the clear and cold water, we decided that we were far enough away that the bear wouldn't pose a threat. Lugging our bikes up to the trail, we rode double time to the next farm gate. Above the gate is a highway bridge and riding on it were two cyclists who pointed in the direction we had come and shouted "Don't go that way! There's a grizzly down there!!"
The smartass in me wanted to show them my still bleeding leg and casually tell them that we had already met the grizzly.