It took two hours for me to get warmed up to where I could find a flow, without twitching my fingers within an inch of the brakes on a downhill. I snacked at outcroppings just for an excuse to gawk into the valley. The rattlesnake was nowhere to be seen.

The horrible part of this loop is that there is more climbing than descending, especially since I parked too far down the fire road, which drops to the river before it climbs back up to the trailhead near where I parked. As a rule, climbing is much more painful on a fire road than on singletrack – based merely on Fun Factor.

I wore myself out in the most satisfying of ways, but the best part is that this fervor, which had been laying dormant, has been stirred.