Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dots on the Map

This forest is awash in possibilities. With the races over for a while, there's less need to tabulate hours ridden, feet climbed, or effort expended. No need to spend energy carefully today lest the toll next week be too great. Without focus, the horizons expand. Sometimes the best ideas look crazy.

And sometimes the crazy ideas look good. Now's the time to run your thumb over that sharp edge between epic and stupid. Connect the dots for the big loops, the all-out days. Prove that a bike can get from point A to point B with enough motivation. Nothing like the memory of failure to jumpstart success.

I'm gripped by lines on maps, lines that both denote and create. A dotted line sketched in 1947 by a Tennessee Valley Authority employee-- not reproduced on the newer maps-- in a far corner of the forest. Drawn over a spot where the topographical lines are close enough together to suggest a steeply technical footpath. I have a theory about why it was removed from later maps. But erasing the dotted line does not signify the trail's removal from the mountainside. Who (or what) still uses it? How much of it remains?

Pisgah logging road, circa 1905
(image source)

Trails beget maps, which beget trails, which beget new maps. Pisgah's ridgeline trails were built to accommodate 1897 surveyors, who were making maps to facilitate the building of logging roads, which were then abandoned to become new trails. 112 years later, what has melted back into the vegetation?

The Pinkbeds, and Pisgah Ridge beyond.
Before the Blue Ridge Parkway, circa 1905

(image source)

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