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Posts tagged ‘Fort Collins’

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.

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Master Naturalist Training

Earlier this month, Anna was very excited to learn she’d been accepted into the Fort Collins Master Naturalist Program! The program provides 60 hours of ecological and interpretive training. After completing the training and giving two trial presentations, she’ll become a certified Master Naturalist. Anna will then volunteer to lead field trips and informative nature walks in the Natural Areas around Fort Collins.

Training began this week with classes in the ecology of the Rocky Mountains, taxonomy, life zones, aquatic invertebrates, and the shape and speed of rivers. The teachers and other trainees are awesome. Everyone is passionate about the natural world and each participant brings their own expertise. Anna will likely come away from the training with new friends in addition to new knowledge.

Instructor and student looking for insects in the Poudre River

Looking at insects we found in the Poudre River

Yesterday’s class took place in the middle of the Poudre River, where she practiced dip netting and identification of aquatic invertebrates. So much fun!

Anna will learn much more in the coming month of classes, including:

  • Geology of the Front Range
  • Plant Ecology of the Shortgrass Prairie
  • Mammals of the Rockies
  • Riparian Native Trees and Shrubs
  • Night Sky and Nocturnal Animals
  • Birds of Fort Collins
  • Interpretation and Outreach Techniques for Different Age Groups

Though we won’t write about all the classes here, we’ll make sure to include pieces of Anna’s newfound knowledge in our future hiking posts.

Roots and reflections in the Poudre

Roots and reflections in the Poudre

 

Reflections on 2013

2013 was a challenging and eventful year for us. The year was filled with a mix of emotions–anticipation, joy, frustration, and excitement. It wasn’t the year we had planned, but it was full and that’s how we like it.

Our PCT book in the window of the Roads, Rivers, and Trails store

Our PCT book in the window of the Roads, Rivers, and Trails store

The most memorable events were:

  • Completing our book Pacific Crest Trail: A Journey in Photographs. Before the book was finished, a friend told us that publishing a book was like giving birth to a baby. We were skeptical when we first heard this comparison, but there is truth in it. Our publishing experience was emotional, painful, and hugely time-intensive. It feels like a part of us is embedded in the book. Once it was printed, we were simultaneously proud and nervous to send our creation into the world. And of course, the work isn’t done. We must constantly support the book and find new people to love it as much as we do.
  • Hiking 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Each day introduced us to new sights, people, sounds, and smells. We love the simplicity of living in nature. Our hike was cut short by a terrible case of shingles, but that did not diminish the unique experiences we had on the AT.
    Anna crossing a creek on the Appalachian Trail

    Anna crossing a creek on the Appalachian Trail

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