One of the great things about a trail ride is that even if you’re lacking motivation, you’ll rarely regret it if you push yourself off your ass and get out on your bike. Another great thing is that you never know when something truly incredible is going to happen.
Sunday wasn’t looking good. My wrist and thumb were aching from some mysterious injury. Minor muscle spasms were threatening to wreck my back if they got worse. I didn’t know of anyone headed out for a ride, and the trails were melting fast. Fortunately, Heather—yes, the one who’s always flipping me off—was ready for a ride while The Huber recovered from a day of that funny game in which people chase a little black disc all over a big sheet of ice.
It was a gloriously beautiful, sunny day. And then, as we rolled down Speedway singletrack, a big lynx calmly walked across the trail, right in front of me. This is a rare and thrilling thing.
I stopped to alert Heather as she rolled up from behind.
Then two more lynx (or lynxes, if you prefer) stepped out of the forest and onto the trail, following the first one through an area with plenty of snowshoe hare tracks dotting the snow. In the 13 years I’ve lived in Alaska, I’d seen a total of two lynx, and one of those was just a furry rump diving into the brush. Now I had three of them just a few yards away.
And then a fourth one stepped into view. It turned left and walked 10 or 15 feet on the trail right in front of us, then stepped off and followed its friends. We ditched our bikes and moved forward on foot, managing to get a couple of brief sightings as the foursome walked through spruce trees, making their way southward.
I don’t know what the odds are for for something like this, but I’d put them in the “damn unlikely” category. When she learned of this encounter, my friend Bev replied that during 31 years in Alaska, she’d never managed to spot a single lynx. And I’ve never heard of anyone seeing two or more at one time. I never even bothered to pull out my camera, because I thought each lynx I saw was going to be the last.
My wrist still hurts. The ride probably didn’t do it any good, but there's always ibuprofen.
It was worth the pain. Because I could have skipped that ride. And, chances are, I’ll spend the rest of my life in Alaska and never see something like that again.