The Mill

Today I did everything to start the week out on top. I went to bed on time after finishing the last book of the Mistborn trilogy, and slept in a bit before taking Elder to school. My Whoop showed I was fully recovered, and I wanted to check my performance against a run so I went on a 2.5m run. It was my best time yet, an average of 9m45s. Then, as promised, I took Younger for a bike ride on the easy trail over by the reservoir.

We got there around eleven or so, and she was a trooper. The easy trail is about 1.5m, and she handled it without much issue. We stopped a few times as she had a bit of uncomfortableness, but it wasn’t anything like the whining and complaining that her older sister gave me when we went. After the short trail, I wanted to take her along the outer paths like I had done with her sister, but we didn’t make it very far.

The Mill, as it is known, contains a man-made reservoir system that serves drinking water for the county, in addition to the bike and multi-purpose trails that run through the woods, there is also a series of high-voltage transmission lines that cut through a part of it. There are also horse and what appears to be tree farms as well. And there are numerous paths that crisscross through the woods, carves by large machinery with large wheels that leave ruts in the mud two feet wide and six inches deep. I had wondered what sort of activities went on back there, and assumed it was some sort of logging. I was wrong.

The multipurpose trails that run through the area are use by horses, droppings are everywhere. The bike trails can also be used for hiking, but I’ve yet to see anyone walking back there. There are three trails, the first novice trail is a mile and a half, and dumps out at near a 3.5m intermediate path. There was no way I was taking Younger, but I had taken her sister around the outer perimeter of the multipurpose trails, and there was some good riding back there, including a short run near the back that was gently sloping downhill that one can build up some good speed on, so I had planned to go there. Instead of following the gravel road from the exit of trail A the mile or so past the entrance to trail C, where the aforementioned run was at, I usually followed some cut throughs made for these large machines. That’s where we ran into some trouble.

After we left the gravel, I started noticing that there seemed to be a lot of horse droppings around. A lot. After a few dozen yards into the woods I noticed that it was everywhere. I couldn’t avoid it. It didn’t seem like droppings, it was too … runny, like big blobs of mud. It started sticking to my tires, caking to the tubes and picking up pine needles and everything else, like some sort of dirt frosting around the rims. Then Younger got stuck.

And did I mention the smell? It wasn’t great. I laid my bike down, carefully, and went back to help her, hoping to push our bike through to the main path, but it got worse. It was sticking to my shoes, despite my best attempt to avoid it, and Younger was not having a good time. I finally reneged, pulled my bike out of the woods to one of the access roads, which was also covered in the muck, which I now assumed to be treated waste. I went back for Younger, letting her piggy-back ride as to avoid stepping in the mess in her tennis shoes. We made it back to the main access road, which was free of the … stuff, and tried to catch out bearings by a field.

We saw one of the trucks appear, a large machine towing a trailer, which I could see was filled with more of the muck. I considered pushing forward, but the road was still half covered with the stuff, and I figured I had tortured Younger enough for the day. I tried slamming the bikes on the ground to remove some of the stuff off of the tires; the last thing I wanted to do was take off at speed and risk the muck flying off the tires onto our backs, so we carefully made our way back to the trail entrance and our parking spot near a fishing area.

We came across a pickup truck leaving a side road, and I approached the driver as he got out to close a chain across the path. “What the heck is going on over there?” I asked him. It wasn’t sewage, thankfully, but just waste product from the water treatment. Sediment from the reservoir, with a bit of fish shit, apparently, but it wasn’t human waste. Apparently it was dumped into the large machines and then sprayed out into the paths in the woods, miles and miles of gunk sprayed out into the woods.

We made it back to the parking lot, and loaded the bikes back up. Once we were home I sprayed the tires down with water to get the mud, or muck, off of them as best as I could. Thankfully our shoes weren’t too bad, and nothing smelled.

I had hoped to bring Younger on an adventure, but it didn’t turn out to be quite the one I had in mind.

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