Hitchhiking Letchworth State Park
Over the past month of June I worked a mere three or four days with actual Tandem numbers aside from the occasional sport pack. The murky weather, low ceiling, squirrelly winds and rain made me lose my mind. I hate being stuck. I start to get emotional, but my spirits changed after a short trip to Letchworth State Park.
I mentioned hitchhiking Letchworth State Park to a tandem instructor at the drop zone and his home happened along the way. Quickly closing the last few containers I ran to my room and packed up my backpack, grabbed some tubes, and a jug of water. Then I put my bike in his trunk. He gave me a lift to Geneseo where I followed 63 South until I noticed signs for Letchworth State Park. Hitchhiking to Geneseo shaved off much allowing me to arrive in the park well before dark, however, the entrance deceived me, much like last year. 14 miles to Letchworth Falls put a damper on my mood, but I pedaled the small grades, while walking up the steep ones, as the sun slowly snuck away beneath the horizon. The mileage did not seem like much, after all, just years prior I pedaled 2,600+ miles from Delaware to Colorado, but my body took adjusting to long distance bicycle touring. My knees ached, quads spasmed, and legs locked from lack of potassium. Much of the hills I waddled up like a penguin, leaning on the handle bars as I pushed Virginia Red along, with her little bell and cheap frame glimmering in the light.
For 34 miles of cycling, I took fucking forever and I felt disheartened knowing I arrived just in time for sunset at the facade of the upper falls. I wanted more time to bask in its beauty with the sunlight simmering down across it. My ignorance did not know about the stadium lights projecting their rays out towards the falls. The mist peeping up from the undertow tickled my brow as I savored the gleaming radiance from the water cascading over the rocks. It’s soothing sound felt like a lullaby slowly phasing me to sleep, but first I sought shelter under the nearest tree. The tall brush full of skunk cabbage left a pungent aroma in my olfactory glands. I chopped down a small, circular section of brush and dug a tiny pit into the ground, throwing stray twigs, dead leaves and branches into a tepee for a hobo fire. Reaching into my pockets I pulled out aluminum foil and two potatoes for a festive dinner by the falls, full of carbs and energy for the next day’s journey homeward bound to Albion.
I awoke early to a raccoon rustling through my campsite and enjoyed the breeze on my downhill journey to the Mount Morris entrance of the park. My tires spun freely without movement from my legs as I sped down hill after hill meandering turns along the gorge with beautiful overlooks of the Grand Canyon of the East. St. Helena, Wolf Creek, Gardeau Overlook, and Inspiration Point all offered scenic views of the breathtaking canyon walls lining the Genesee River, but the most satisfying moment of the day happened so suddenly that I basked in its presence afterwards.
Rounding a bend, with my fingers gently touching the brakes I peered out down the road to an animal amongst the path. Its tan fur shimmered in the sunlight as it swayed its hips gracefully in its own world. Its tail wiggled back and forth until I inched closer unsure of the creature before me. It turned around ready to pounce its massive paws any which way and I caught a glimpse of its whiskers, a mountain lion stood before me and whilst fumbling for my camera it jumped into the woods, plastering a huge smile across my face which stayed for the rest of the day.
I hitched a small 8-mile ride into Batavia after helping a man gather his tools from the road, falling from the bed of his pickup truck. All 57 miles home was worth every drop of sweat and ounce of pain to see wildlife in its true form, the wild. I even made it back in time to jump and pack some rigs. I find myself happiest when I’m goin’ with the wind.