Standing Ovation

The rider was coming down Mills, a typical and normal, everyday sight. This rider was a little different, though, or at least the way he was pedaling down the street was different; front wheel high off the ground in that delicate balance of weight, gravity and forward movement. I have called Claremont home for quite some time now and from that very first year here, to this one, there has always been this white-maned rider who has presented the appearance of complete stoke on the bike whenever we pass one another. And it has always been that way - passing one another in opposite directions, so I have no idea who he is; far too frequently we pass one another while I am driving, and he has this look that says "wouldn't you rather be doing this."

Anyway, the rider this morning was not that rider, but the look was the same, and it said that life just could not get any better than it was at that moment. As the wheelie rider came closer, and then close enough to recognize, or not, I realized it was Sean Heck, of Sunset Cycles, and very probably on his way down to the shop after a morning spin through the canyons. Sean posts some amazing photos from the local hills on Instagram and, though I have never been a "insta" person, I do get to see a few shots when they are posted to Facebook. As Sean passed on down the road, and I continued up, I had a renewed sense that today would be an amazing one.

the oaks above the cut bank which fell away during some massive winter storms
a number of years ago are still holding on

water tank in Little Palmer canyon, and the thickness of forest beyond

So, things do not always work out the way we hope. As I climbed further up through the shaded depths of Cobal Canyon, along the sunny upper reaches, detoured to Coyote Howl Point, and then along the Evey-Palmer, my energy drained from me like the sweat now soaking my kit. Potato Mountain was the goal, but today I would get no further than Little Palmer Canyon and its faint trickle of water. I was satisfied with that small consolation, but  upon turning around and, just before rejoining the Wilderness Park loop, I found myself suddenly in the midst of a swarm of dragonflies. I had never seen so many all at one time, and I realized that I had, in fact, found that amazing moment I was looking for, just not quite the one I was expecting. 

These dragonflies all appeared to be pretty drab looking rather than the colorful, stained glass type you always see in photos. We all know of the aerial acrobatics of dragonflies and you have, probably, watched individuals speed, bank, and suddenly hover, at one time or another. To stop in my tracks and watch for a few minutes, this many performing all around me brought me to the brink of a standing ovation. 

In case you were wondering, and I checked when I got home, a group of dragonflies feeding together is called a "static swarm", as opposed to a "migratory swarm", although I agree with one author that a "glimmer" of dragonflies is much more poetic.

yon distant bend in the road was the extent of my reach this morning

road to the end of the world