Our First Bike Camping Trip

We don’t own a car so we walk and bike everywhere in town. Biking is fun and it keeps us in great shape. There was even a cool article in Bicycling Magazine recently about how Chris inspired a co-worker to start biking to work. Basically, we love bikes!

As readers of this blog, you already know that we love spending time in nature. We’ve always wanted to combine these two loves, bikes and backcountry camping, into one trip. This is the story of our first bikepacking trip. Not everything went as planned, but we definitely came away with good lessons we can apply on future trips.

On a Friday night in August we pulled out all our normal backpacking equipment, minus the backpacks. Instead we packed our gear in panniers. Then we added some additional bike-specific items: a mini pump, tube repair kit, tire lever, spare tubes, a multi-tool, bike water bottles in place of our water bladders, mountain bike shoes for easy walking and good traction, padded bike shorts, bike locks, and helmets. We also included a full 10-liter dromedary since our destination wouldn’t have any water sources.

Saturday morning we were filled with excited and nervous energy as we headed out for a new type of adventure. We rode north on the Poudre River Bike Trail. It’s a paved, flat path with great scenery. We were off to a good start.

Biking along the Poudre River
Biking along the Poudre River

Crossing one of the bridges on the bike trail, we met a cool multi-species team out for their own Saturday adventure.

Pony and dog pulling a small carriage
Pony and dog pulling a small carriage

After 7 miles on the bike trail, we turned left onto County Road 23. One and a half miles later we made a right onto County Road 25. The rolling hills in this section had us working harder, especially with the added weight of the camping equipment and water in our panniers. We considered the extra challenge a good excuse to pause and look at the rock formations and birds around us.

Biking to Lory State Park
Biking to Lory State Park

One of the first bike camping difficulties we noticed was that our cameras, stashed in our panniers, were hard to access quickly. We ended up using them less than we would have on a hike, where they’d be close at hand on our backpack hip belts. Instead we took lots of phone pictures, since our phones were always in our pockets as we rode.

Teton Crest Trail Day 5

North Fork Cascade Canyon to String Lake Trailhead (11 miles)

We scrambled up onto a large boulder overlooking our campsite and ate breakfast. We packed the remaining food into our now almost empty bear can, just enough for our final day in this awesome backcountry.

Campsite in North Fork Cascade Canyon

Chris’s altitude headaches and fatigue from previous days were completely gone. He was thankful to be back to normal.

A storm loomed in the forecast, so we packed up a little earlier than usual. We wanted to make sure to cross Paintbrush Divide, our high point for the day, before the storm broke loose. Marmots basked in the sunlight as we set off.

Marmot

Lake Solitude, though early in our day’s walk, was so nice that we opted to stop and and enjoy the view for a while. The water was clear enough to watch fish moving in its depths.

Teton Crest Trail Day 4

Sunset Lake to North Fork Cascade Canyon (8 miles)

The fourth day of our honeymoon backpacking trip greeted us with a glorious sunny sky once again. We ate and packed up. Chris was feeling much better — not perfect, but definitely improved from yesterday’s altitude headaches and fatigue.

We left Sunset Lake around 9:30 and headed north on the Teton Crest Trail. Today’s scenery remained impressive. In fact, we think it got better. Just 5 minutes into the day, we walked through an amazing wildflower patch. Anna was beaming.

Walking through a wildflower patch on the Teton Crest Trail

We climbed, pausing to take photos. Or maybe photography breaks were an excuse to catch our breath.

Climbing away from Alaska Basin

As we neared Hurricane Pass, the Grand Teton poked out dramatically over the ridge.