I finished with Mom’s ginger snaps, and transfered my peanut butter fudge into the tupperware they were in. I left that on my dresser.
Today I went to calculus. When I came back, something leapt off my dresser; it paused on the windowsill and I saw it was a squirrel. Then I saw this:
Luckily, I seem to have chased it off before it was able to get to any of the fudge. However, probably some fudge disappeared while it was in the box that Nana & Papaw shipped it to me in. I didn’t keep that closed. That’s Grinnell.
Let’s listen to a tale of Rock Creek. [Mostly excerpted from my journal directly after the fact] After I made that last blog, I put on some longer clothes, failed to get a Maid-Rite (they were closed; I had to have a sub instead), and started biking. It was a very different ride by daylight. There seemed to be a lot fewer hills now that I could see the whole hill each time. It was tough going when it was uphill, because I was fighting the wind too. But I got there in good time.
I started off at the same place I was last time, which was, it seems, a mooring dock for sailboats and stuff, but it was out of season. I eventually found a place to get water, which I needeed, because in my hasty non-planning I didn’t bring a water bottle. It was a well, and I had to kneel down to drink out of it, but that was fine. So then I set off to find good krokay. The trail around the perimeter of the lake is nothing llike straightforward. I kept getting whisked away from the shore whenever I got close. However, I did find a couple good spots. It looked like I had come to a dead end, but then I found the “Multiuse Trail”. It wasn’t a short trail from one point to another, I discovered, but rather a long ad spderwebbing trail with more ups and downs than a roller coaster, and steeper too. Frequently I found myself hurtling into an invariably mud-filled low point in te trail. This was often filled with sharp rocks for no discernible reason but to make me nervous about my tires. Just as often, I had to power up a 45° incline, which was often also muddy. I only kinda kept in view of the lake. I found a few good krokay spots, but realized that it would be ridiculous to bring krokay equipment this far just on foot. I mean, that stuff is heavy. Ovvasionally, – two or three times – the trail dumped me out into the collective back yards of a lakefront neighborhood. I also ran into a few more dock-type things. The last neighborhood had a large, wavy field behind all the houses, and te field was covered with Canada geese. There were probably 300 of them. I was getting worn out frm the ups and downs, so I moved onto the paved road instead. It took me up to a gravel higway. THe sky was getting darker for the night. As I biked down that road, I realized I’d gotten pretty far afield of the lake. Finally I saw it off in the distance, at the bottom of a big giant hill. THere was agracel loop that went to it – or so it seemed. It was actually just a vantage point, and got nowhere near the lake itself. I moved on, looking for a better way to get to the lake. But the road just moved farther and farther away. I turned around and went back to the gravel loop. There was a chain around it, but I was determined to get back to the lake, so I lifted my bike over and rolled down a hill all the wy to the shore, tall yellow grass smacking me in the face the whole way. But, skirting the shore, I had found a trail. Yes. So I followed that around the shore. I had realized long ago that I would circle the lake, or most of it (there’s a bridge that crosses it – sort of like a long pier that goes all the way across, at a narrow part). From the view I got I was a little more than halfway done. I had miles left, probaby. But I kept going. It was pretty smooth, and the trail was pretty good for biking at least compared to the trails earlier. But it never seemed to end. And it never came near anything that wasn’t forest. I was getting exhausted. And it was getting hard to see. The trail had lost sight of the lake, but I kept turning right so I knew I must be following the shoreline at some remove. Still, I could now see nothing but the trail a little ways ahead, and even that was getting dim. I stopped and caught my breath, took off my zip-off sleeves. I was hot. I had been biking aong this trail for what seemed like a half-hour, surely, and probably all of one – I wasn’t checking my watch. There were no lights to be seen, except one, which, as I got closer to it, turned out to be totally out of my way. I couldn’t see the road, couldn’t see anything but trees. I didn’t know if this trail led anywhere. For all I knew, it was taking me to the middle of Iowa via a route that crossed no roads, but it seemed to be following the lakeshore at least very vaguely. I had no water, and I was really exhausted. The lactase in my spit was forming crusts on the sides of my mouth. I had no cell phone, and even if I had, I didn’t have any way to place myself for search & rescue people or whever I would call. I could be out there all night, especiall if I got a flat.
I could die.
I had nothing to recharge my rpidly dwindling energy. I might have been able to find food, but it was dark, and a pretty sparse Iowa ecosystem as well. My only choice was to keep going. Backwards would kill me; I knew I was so far already. I would gladly ask help of the next person I saw, but I saw no one. I got back on the bike and kept pedaling. It was pretty much night. The trail started getting more erratic, taking on those unreasonable peaks and calleys I’d left behind earlier. A few times, I felt myself biking over rocks. I planed through mud frequently, barely keeping the bike upright. Once I had to wade a mud puddle. I considered ditchin the bike, but realized that was a “mega-dumb idea”, as I said out loud; it was helping me, no matter if I did have to walk it uphill sometimes. The forest was closing in more now. I rounded a bend and ound the trail vanishing into obscurity, or perhaps behind some stacked sticks, in a sickly field. I began walking my bike, occasionally sinking into an area of soft ground made by I didn’t want to know what. But: I now could see the lake.
The trail rematerialized. I followed it along the shore; it was getting more definite. THere were lights visible on opposite shores. W H A M. I ran into a chain blocking the trail. I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to hit one of those at top speed. It just stopped me, that’s all, and not gently. I lifted the bike over the chain and found myself on paved road.
“Thank you, God,” I said. “I am not going to die in Rock Creek State Park.” I biked along and found two guys who had stopped their cars as they passed, and were having a conversation about hunting. They told me where there might be potable water, but it was too dark to find it, so then they both gave me a bottle of water and pointed me in the right direction. I biked down the “pavement”, he called it, and found the bridge over the lake. I couldn’t find any water at my original entry point, because the well had vanished into the night, so I went without. Then I started up the hill, to Grinnell.
On the way, I fixed my fender. A screw had come out, and it was flopping around, so I replaced the screw with a twig; amazingly, it worked. The wind was at my back now, so I made it back to Grinnell in what seemed ridiculously quick time. Then I had a giant meal at Subway, which was mercifully still open. I’m sure I appalled them with my absolutely filthy bare feet, one with a previously acquired wound on it that I’d reopened on the trip. But no one said anything. I filled up. I had an appetite for the ages. I ate every bite and could’ve eaten more.
The rest of the night, I think I was justified in siting at the computer. Before I did that, though I took a long, hot shower.
I need to be better at the wilderness. I need to be able to know that I won’t die if I’m in this type of situation again. Ideally, I won’t be. Well, at least not until I know I can live.