I will admit that as much as I love bikepacking, and camping in general, I don’t get out that much. In fact I probably do as many bikepack races as I do regular bikepacking trips. There are a lot of factors in that equation, but mostly it comes down to time. I am aware of that deficit and I am working on getting out more whenever I can make it happen. Thankfully I got to do just that this past Sunday evening, Grandma was coming to town and we hatched a plan to get me out!
I spent Sunday morning getting my gear in piles, my bags on the bike, food prepped, in between doing a few chores and hanging out with my family. Finally I got the bags packed, bottles filled and at 4:30 in the afternoon I started out of town and climbed up into the sunny sage covered hills. It was fairly hot, but the breeze was blowing and it felt great to be pedaling. I took it easy, and kept reminding myself to keep taking it easy, as I climbed higher and got farther away from town. Signal Mesa was quiet with only one motorcyclist passing me along a stretch of dirt road, he was super kind and even held a gate open for me as we leapfrogged briefly.
After just 2 hours of pushing and pedaling I was getting into the aspens, most of our spring riding season we are kept in the sage for wildlife closures and it is always special to get up into the forests. Flittering in between sage, aspens, and dark timber, is a magical zone that I cherish. There was water flowing, a few patches of snow in the deeper trees, barely any human tracks to be seen. Elk jumped away at the sound of my shuffling feet, grouse fluttered and grumped as the sun slowly set. I had no where to get to, no destination in mind, I was just wandering about loosely looking for a place to camp. I walked about watching the elk and then moved on, giving the elk a bit more space, finding a nice spot in a stand of aspens.
I built a small fire, cooked my dinner and listened to the incredible quiet of this place. It was so fantastic to feel so relaxed. No hustling, no sleep deprived pushing to get “somewhere”, no where to be but here. I find myself often missing the call of adventure and the drive to race, but I also often forget how perfect just being outside, traveling under my own power can be. After eating my simple dinner, I remembered that there was a lunar eclipse happening! I went for a short stroll just as the moon slipped out from behind a cloud. It was so freaking cool. What a show! Watching the light and color change on that giant rock made me feel so small, so lucky, so grateful, and also made me think deeply about so much all at once. I later crawled into my sleeping bag with many thoughts to digest.
In the morning, I made my coffee and breakfast in the comfort of my bag. Without any thought about speed or urgency, I had my gear all packed up, my fire totally drenched, and my little camp erased of my occupancy. I took the longer, slower way home wandering about, taking roads I haven’t been on in a while. I took lots of pictures. I felt awe at how beautiful this world is, how wonderful it is to have such an expansive backyard. I also felt a bit of shame in my humanity, and wondered are we really going to destroy this incredible planet we call home? It is a deep and loaded question and I often am confronted by the potential reality in it. I want my daughter and her possible children to have this opportunity to explore and marvel at this amazing world. I really do wonder if the selfishness of us all is going to change all that?
Eventually the roads and trails led me back to town and my driveway. It was great to be home with my family. I drank more coffee, ate more breakfast, and shared tales of my time in the woods. I can’t wait to head out and do another quick overnighter, it was so incredibly satisfying. I also encouraged my wife to make plans to do something herself, as well as scheming on how to pull off taking my whole family out there on bike. I would also like to encourage everyone to look for opportunities to get out there, under your own power, without any huge goals or destinations, just go. It is so good for your brain, mind, soul, and is fantastic practice for bigger and perhaps loftier goals. It is also a great chance to reflect on ourselves and our place in this world, I know I have much still to digest. Happy Trails!