Left on a S24O on Friday afternoon with a bunch of friends. Plan was to camp by the river under the High Trestle Trail bridge, cook some meat over a big bonfire and enjoy a beverage or two. Everyone met at Kyle's Bikes in Ankeny around 3 and we headed down the trail towards Madrid. A few beverage stops later and we found ourselves inside of the Flat Tire Lounge for another beverage or two. We wanted to make the camp site before it got dark, so we finished our drinks, hit the store for some grub and made our way to our camp area.
Five of us rode (or walked) the steep gnarly descent under the bridge and started our firewood gathering. Meanwhile, the sound of the chainsaw, or an eagle eye tipped off the county sheriff to our presence under the bridge. A short conversation was had and soon we were pushing our bikes up 13 stories worth of hill to find another campground. A brief rainstorm during a flat change on the way back to Madrid left me soaked since I forgot to bring a rainshell with me. :(
We called a friend's coworker who lived in town and ended up camping in his yard, rather than ride another 3 miles to the closest campground. Thankfully we made a quick side trip to a convenience store before hand. Campfire wood was soaked, so I grabbed a package of ramen and two small bags of smoked almonds. After we arrived at our "campground" I set up my tarp, bivy and bag, then proceeded to pull my supercat stove out and make a hot Snowpeak cup of ramen while I munched on the almonds. While others in the group opted for a couple more drinks, I slipped into my sleeping bag so I could get some rest.
Sleep was mostly good, if a bit restless after 4 AM or so. About 7 AM I finally got up, cleaned my cup out, and fired up the stove and made a cup of coffee after crawling back in my bag. We broke camp steadily, if slowly, then pedaled downtown for breakfast before heading back down the trail for the 90 minute ride home.
Some miscellaneous thoughts:
- I brought both my tarp/bivy setup and my hammock to sleep in, not being completely sure of how the area below the bridge would be for bivy setup. I ended up not using it, and carrying a couple of extra pounds for no reason.
- The tarp/bivy combination worked out fairly well. I was dry and warm the entire night. Running my tyvek ground cloth through the washer, as suggested on Bikepacking.net, really helped to soften it up and make it a lot less noisy. The poles I took were hard to pack, and I had some issues with the grommet slipping down overnight since the tarp I'm using isn't really designed to be used in this way. I'll keep using this setup for a while before I invest in lighter, smaller poles and a lighter purpose built tarp.
- My $3 reflectix autoshade was awesome for helping keep me warm. It was the only thing between me and the ground other than the bottom of my bag and the tyvek. I think that next time I will put it inside of the bag or the bivy so that it doesn't move out from underneath me.
- Not bringing a rainshell was a completely boneheaded move. I had plenty of room in my seatpack for it so there was no excuse other than just being dumb.
- Events of the evening reinforced my opinion that I should pack my stove, cup and fuel for any trip. Without them, I would have gone to bed colder and hungrier tan I would have liked.
- Bike w water, food and gear was 52 lbs. Plenty of places to cut weight though. Removing the second sleep setup, cans of beer and the flask of whiskey will help a lot.