When we were in the Black Hills, we spent a night camping at the “Wrinkled Rock Climbers Campground”. This guy Bill started chatting with us as we made dinner. He introduced himself as a climber and asked us about the biking. He said that the “last place he lived was Wyoming”. (It’s complicated: he’s a traveller.)
He looks like a guy who has lived his life outdoors. Tough, fit. He’s probably older than he looks.
He said he didn’t have anybody there to climb with on this trip and said that the place was “superlative”. As he said he didn’t have a climbing partner, his eyes when to the horizon and there was a tiny catch in his voice. The conversation kept flowing until a group of younger climbers came around and started loudly making their evening plans. The sun set and things faded out.
I’m pretty sure that Bill’s climbing partner died.
Yesterday I was trying to ride this monster loop in Missoula, on Blue Mountain. It’s a pretty big ride. I took Blue Mountain Rd up the mountain to get onto Deadmans Ridge Trail. I think the climb was 21km long and 3600′ vert. Just around milepost 7, I started thinking about Bill, and his friend. It’s funny how a person’s life can send out ripples, and we don’t know what effect we’re having.
The road switchbacked left and crossed an icy stream and then a guy came bombing down the mountain in a white F150 and I kept spinning up the mountain.
The trail was mediocre: too dry, too loose, too many dirtbikes. But it was hard not to be happy up there on the mountain, anyways.
Total time: 04:20:42