Something along those lines were the words that Evan from Mission Workshop said to me three or four months ago. Enthusiastically I agreed and had visions of endlessly flowing singletrack while artisanally made cocktails were served to me at day’s end.
As the weeks and months passed, the story of what we would attempt developed.
The plan was to traverse a 120 mile long stretch of singletrack through the Siskiyou Mountains of the State of Jefferson, which sits in the far reaches of Northern California.
It should also be noted that there wasn’t clear intel on whether or not this length of trail was passable, but at the outset most signs pointed to ‘probably’.
The members of the team were picked, and an assortment of emails between us were shared as we went about planning what was either going to be the best trip of our lives, or a complete nightmare.
As it turns out, it dipped its toes in both ends of the spectrum.
For the sake of conciseness, I’ll break the trip down thusly- We were dispatched to engage in an epic adventure, while giving Mission’s new line Acre Supply a punch in the wazoo to see how it fared. Then between illustrator extraordinaire, Chris McNally, and photo documentator DWP from Yonder Journal, with Mission’s backing we would combine our skill sets to release a finished project detailing our little trip.
We all met up, made final adjustments to our gear, and set fourth on what very possibly was one of the most physically, and mentally challenging five days of my life. The extreme contradictions of the trip were at times almost too much to take. Absolutely breathtaking vistas, sleeping under the stars, and the camaraderie of friends, countered with numerous wrong turns, endless uphill slogs, repeated mechanicals and days spent spun out of our heads while a quiet desperation wore us down.
On one hand, there we were in the middle of hundreds of square miles of nothing but rugged wilderness riding barely existing trails that have most likely never seen the tires of a mountain bike, but then later would find ourselves lost in a hopeless maze of thick Manzinita and thorn bushes, wondering if this was the point when we would have to abandon our bikes and search out help by foot.
The final day found us walking our bikes for fourteen and a half hours across two individual mountain ranges which may have held a trail at one point, but certainly doesn’t now.
The dichotomy of our daily existence left me feeling as if I were constantly in a drunken haze, which I only later realized was the effects of adrenaline, exhaustion and probably a pinch or two of fear.
There was genuine joy and excitement as well as profound frustration and distress that was shared between us. Certainly a trip of a lifetime and as it grows smaller in my mind’s rearview mirror, an experience that I both wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, and simultaneously would never want to do again.
When everything has been said and done however, we all emerged from the other side in one or two pieces with solid bonds and stories that we own forever, which nobody could possibly believe.