(and back to regular continuity of being a month behind on posts)
Partly because I used a picture from a google image search that has since disappeared from its original place, and partly because Lake Willoughby is such an awesome place, my original post about visiting Kingdom Trails and Lake Willoughby is my most popular post by a LOT. Plans were made very early in the summer to take a return trip to Kingdom Trails, this time with even more people. I hadn't biked much, but was still excited to make the trip, more for hanging out with friends and visiting the lake again afterwards than biking.
As the weekend got closer, weather forecasts got worse and worse. Soon, it appeared that it was 100% going to pour all night Friday night and 60% or so through nearly all of Saturday. While I'm all about the YOLO lifestyle, camping and then biking in rain is not what I want to do. SO, I decided to head up Saturday afternoon/night when all of the rain would be done, and just make Sunday epic with a bike ride and a visit to Willoughby.
It rained a lot Friday night, but according to Kevin, not much up there. And it was ugly on Saturday, but generally didn't rain at all. You can watch some sweet video of their Saturday riding on his blog. So, I missed out on Saturday, but still made the 3 hour trip up through the White Mountains early Saturday evening and met them at the camp site. When I got there, I only saw Kevin, Adam and Jake. "Where's Dustin and his crew?" I said. "This is it" they all said. This trip that was originally going to be at least 9 people ended up just being 4. Circumstances beyond some peoples' control was the reason for some, and not wanting to ride in shitty weather was probably the reason for everyone else. While I can't blame anyone, it was a bit of a bum out to see only 3 people there waiting for me.
But you know what, that just meant more quality time with each other. Let's party.
We cooked up some hot dogs and random stuff Adam brought (like pasta) and drank beers, listened to music, and, other than Kevin being a raging asshole when I questioned his DJ decisions (playing Bjork), generally had good times.
Early on, Kevin was possessed.
And later got way more intense. (That's him playing butt guitar to Piebald)
I had bought a new camera a few days earlier, and this weekend would be the beta test for it. I found out that it has a setting that takes 2 pictures and combines them- not like an HDR, more like a time lapse. It made for some quality results. Adam's face!
This is our table- I don't know what the hell happened here.
And here's Jake in a rasta colored hammock.
Look at his eye!
The night got weird and sillier, and I was already very happy that I had decided to make the trip. Kevin got better as a DJ too.
creedance aaaalll night
As always, people went to bed very suddenly and fell asleep pretty instantly. These guys are pros, and they know exactly the moment to capitalize on drinking a lot then finding their bed to zonk out in. I, on the other hand, am terrible at it. I didn't drink that much and was trying to go to sleep on a mattress pad in a lean-to, exposed to the night with 3 people surrounding me, several hours before I normally go to bed. Oh goodie. I still felt confident that I'd be able to fall asleep soon though. And then Adam started snoring. Last year on the night I decided to sleep in the lean-to, Jake surprised me by snoring a lot, but he eventually quieted down and then slept in his car (weirdo). Adam was the last person I would expect to snore. He has 0% body fat, and snoring is usually attributed to a fat guy sleeping on his back. Sure enough though, he was on his back with his mouth wide open, and he was out of control. It began to infect me, and the noise of his snoring was all I could think about. I put on headphones and tried to blast loud but calming noise into my ears to knock me out, but it just sounded exactly like what it was- Sigur Ros with snoring added in. What followed was one of the longer nights of my life- falling in and out of sleep, realizing I had finally fallen asleep only because an album or song ended (which then woke me up again), not being able to get comfortable, and just the endless noise. If Adam stopped, Kevin would shift on his mini cot, creaking super loud. Awful night. But biking and Willoughby would come soon enough.
By the time everyone woke up and settled into the morning, it turned out that I was the only one who wanted to bike. They had biked a solid amount 2 days in a row and felt that they got their money's worth. I wasn't surprised Jake was saying that since he isn't the biking behemoth that the other guys are, but Kevin and Adam, freaks of nature who could probably ride 50 miles a day without sweating NOT wanting to bike? WTF?
I didn't argue too much though. I had been nervous about the weekend, since I was going to be riding with people who don't ever get tired. I hadn't ridden much and was nervous at just how tired I would get and how much I would hold them up. Truthfully, I was ok without biking. I mostly just wanted to go to Willoughby. In hindsight, once I saw Kevin's footage, I'm pretty bummed out we didn't ride. That trail looked so awesome and I wish we had done it. Oh well.
We headed to Willoughby in Jake's car, and it was just as beautiful as I remembered it.
Here's a panorama I took. Click the pic for the big version.
I decided that since I had such an epic mullet (what a great feeling to reveal it to Adam and Jake when I got there), I needed to take some pics of it with the greatest backdrop ever. Here are the best photos. Yes, apple people, I'm wearing the apple shirt that promoted the release of the first iphone. OLD SCHOOL.
the mullet formed this lake millions of years ago
the perfect side view. good god.
This one is real weird (how weird is my body?), but it shows just how horrible my mullet was. I had this thing for like 3 weeks. How did I not get beat up every second?
The skinny guys had swimming stuff but didn't seem to want to get in.
I went right in though, and it was just as cold and crystal clear as I had remembered. It felt AMAZING. The skinny guys eventually made it in, then stood around and shivered while I swam around. We played catch with my gopro, which I had hoped would be pretty cool footage, but after already posting a very weird video featuring lots of underwater footage, it just wasn't worth putting any of it together.
We changed and headed back into town to get a sandwich at the corner store. I had gotten a turkey club last year which was easily one of the greatest sandwiches I've ever eaten, and I wanted it again. It wasn't to be though- they didn't have any homemade bread left. My heart broke. So I got the same thing on panini bread with high hopes, but it was surprisingly not anything special. I was bummed out, especially since everyone else got thanksgiving sandwiches that looked incredible. We got some weird sodas though,
then said our goodbyes and went our separate ways- Jake back to Vermont, Kevin and Adam to Sanbornton NH, and me to... Franklin Falls!
mighty chicken trail
I went back and forth with it the whole way home, and eventually decided that I needed to ride. I had had my mind set all week on riding that weekend, and I had missed out. I still swam in Willoughby and had had an awesome night with friends, but I didn't bike, I had a horrible night of sleep, and I didn't get my sandwich. I needed to make the weekend better, and this would be the start of it all. After fighting sleep for the last hour (and stopping in Plymouth for soda because I honestly didn't see how I was going to make it back), I pulled in to what has become my favorite place to ride, suited up and went for it.
It was HOT. I was absolutely pouring sweat when I finally stopped for awhile. This was humid riding though, and that's my favorite kind. As my luck/fat guy curse has played out this year though, I managed to get a flat tire at the absolute farthest point away from the parking lot. And as I'm still an idiot, I still didn't have my new pump attached to my bike. So, I got to walk all the way back to the parking lot. I hate myself.
In the parking lot, I called Kevin for some advice on what to fill my back tire to, and ended up having a 15 minute conversation with some random old dude in the parking lot who was new to mountain biking and loving it. I got my bike all ready to go and put the stupid pump on my stupid bike and decided to go ride again. I had hours left of daylight and wanted to make this trip count. I hit up a trail on his advice (Rogue trail) that I've never ridden before, and it was incredibly awesome. I got a nice instagram of some sweet trees,
then ended the trip in my favorite way, riding down to the dam and hanging out as a way to cool off. Rogue trail had been awesome, and my lack of sleep and temperature and humidity mixed with me riding really hard twice made me pretty exhausted. My back started tweaking a little bit when I was taking pictures of the insane clouds, so I lay in the middle of the road and just stared at the sky, completely alone on a beautiful day, surrounded by insane skies. Needless to say, it was a very nice moment. Here's the view looking down the road towards the dam from where I lay:
And here's some absurd skyporn- sun rays were shooting out everywhere from cartoon-esque clouds. It was awesome.
I got the hell out of there pretty quickly though, since the sky was definitely taking a turn for the worse. I wanted to swim.
This was a great stop, since it was the first time this summer that I really felt like the pain was worth it. I finally felt good on my bike, and wanted to attack trails and ride new ones. It was just one of those days where I remember how awesome mountain biking can be, even though it's pretty much the most painful thing I do.
I made it to my post-franklin-falls-riding spot, Webster Lake, without the sky exploding yet, so I jumped in and washed the stink off. I was in the water for only a few minutes before it started to rain though, and I ended up changing right on the beach since everyone was getting out of there so fast. I got in my car right as it truly exploded. I guess this was the rain that was supposed to be happening all weekend.
I took a long exposure shot in my car of the road- it was poooourrring.
And then 15 minutes later, the sky was beautiful again with a double rainbow.
I hadn't seen one this good in a long time, and I was psyched to be able to get an HDR of it/them. While I wished I had been able to swim more, the experience of lying in the road for as long as I did and taking in the sky was more than worth it. I got to experience quite the show.
I then headed north to make the day even better with a calzone. My bad luck continued when AHOP didn't have power (of course telling me AFTER I ordered- why wouldn't you answer the phone with that? morons), so I headed all the way back to Plymouth to get Manny's Downtown Pizzeria (formerly Toms Brothers). Never question my commitment to getting a calzone or pizza when I really want one. Also, never doubt my commitment to making a day be as awesome as possible, no matter how much driving is involved.
I stopped in at the PE Center at Plymouth for my thousandth shot of the sky that afternoon. It was quite the changing sky.
Manny's delivered. Not as good as AHOP, but these guys know what's up, and this thing was absolutely humungous.
I then drove back to my place, half unloaded my car, unloaded the sandwich I ate earlier, and hopped right back in the car to Newington to go see a movie. Rich and Josh were doing a double feature of Total Recall and The Campaign, and it turned out that I would be just in time for The Campaign. It wasn't good (actually quite bad at times), but it was still quite the way to end the day. In less than 24 hours I had driven to Vermont, partied with friends, camped out, swam in the most beautiful lake ever, ate lunch at a sweet little country store, rode my bike more than I had yet this summer, swam again in a different lake, sat and watched an insane thunderstorm, took in ridiculous skies, ate a delicious calzone, and seen a movie with separate friends. LOTS of driving, and not everything turned out how I wanted it, but I seized the hell out of this weekend (once it stopped raining :))
currently listening to: Man Overboard- Self Titled