Singletrack Issue 126 | Panning For Trail Gold In Arizona

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Huw Oliver goes searching for singletrack gold in the arid mountains of Arizona. Words & Photography Huw Oliver My fingers yanked on the levers automatically, bypassing the usual thought processes and channels of communication, as if they knew what was needed before my brain did. Tyres tried lamely to bite into the loose, dusty surface, rocks rolled like marbles, and the world did that horrible slow-motion thing that it does when it’s about to do something really horrible to you. My front tyre stopped half a metre or so from the snake that was draped across the trail, apparently unimpressed by my noisy entrance into its sun-soaked afternoon; or unconcerned, it’s difficult to tell when there are no eyebrows to speak of. I emitted a manly squeak while doing the backwards Flintstone-shuffle up the trail a few metres, and started a staring contest that I was never going to win. Annie rolled up behind me and asked what was going on. “There’s a snake.” “Yeah, I can see that. Is it a dangerous one?” “Not sure. You can go and check.” Sitting in the warmth of the sun, the snake showed no signs of moving and seemed to prefer its new role as a Technical Trail Feature. Images of being ‘those’ tourists who fail spectacularly to get on with the local wildlife played through my head, but at some point we were going to have to get past – the food shop was on the other side. There were no...

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