Stub Stewart: First bike camp of 2014!
(Or, an exercise in being wet:)

Rain? What rain?

Despite a forecast that looked pretty crappy, this weekend I was determined. I’ll be taking a 3-week trip through Utah later this month (more on that later!:), and before I go it seemed prudent to test out my new bikey camping setup–since I’ve never really traveled without a trailer, I mean, and I wasn’t sure if two panniers would actually cut it for the kind of bike adventure I have in mind.

This weekend is when I had two consecutive days off, so for a test run this weekend it was, weather be damned.

bike overnight camping setup(The setup. Yeah, I know, not a very informative picture, but still:)

The perfect place for a test camping trip? Stub Stewart State Park, of course–it’s only about 47 miles from my door if I take a detour to the Beaverton Farmers Market (which I did, of course, for some fresh provisions:). It has a super awesome, incredibly peaceful hike/bike-in campground that only costs $6 per night in the off-season. (If I’d really wanted to stay dry, I could have instead rented a cabin–but those are something like $45, and they wouldn’t have given me a chance to practice my wet-handling abilities:).

Also, while I was at it I wanted to go running, and there are miles and miles of trails there. Perfect!

camping setup stub stewart(Home, sweet home)

The tarp in the above picture was a fun, last-minute experiment inspired by the weather forecast. It was actually really nice, since it provided a dry staging area to pack up my stuff in the morning deluge. But other than the tarp, I tried to bring about the same sorts of things I would bring on any longer trip: extra clothes, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, food, water filter, extra shoes. Even though it was only overnight, I brought a lot of stuff–in part because I wanted to have lots of dry things (I hate being perniciously wet!) but also because I wanted to try to emulate a longer trip to see if I could actually carry everything.

I think I can! I’ve been nervous about only having the one rack in the back, but also loathe to deal with another rack and set of bags right now. It turns out I think I’ll be able to fit everything I need into my two bags plus some stuff strapped on top of the back, no front rack or extra bags required. If anything, it’ll force me to be super judicious about what I bring, which is always good.

Also, biking with panniers (rather than a trailer) might be my new favorite thing. I’m still getting used to the fact that my bike when propped up will not necessarily balance the way I think it will, and I’m a little awkward at putting the darn things on, but I love the feeling of everything on my bike instead of trailing behind me. I feel so self-contained!

stub stewart(the horse area of Stub Stewart as seen from my hike, mist-erious;)

As for the rain? There was a lot of it. Happily, it let up by the time I got to Stub Stewart, so I could set up in the dry and was even able to take a long evening hike without getting more than misted on. It was cold, cold, cold–more so because of the damp–but I was pretty cozy in my sleeping bag. And despite being drenched all day today and bringing home basically everything wet (as we speak, my tent is re-set up in my basement to dry; my other things are spread everywhere for the same reason)–despite that, it was a lovely time. And I’m feeling good about my upcoming longer adventure with this bike.

So I’d say this was a great way to kick off the bike camping season of 2014:)

Oh, and the moral of the story? If it’s only an overnight trip anyway, any weather is bearable:)

2 Comments:

  1. Fun! (Well, maybe not all the rain.) Good to see that the Double Cross is treating ya well. If you are looking at a way to add a li’l capacity to the bike, you can get a small frame bag along the likes that Jandd or Revelate make. I’ve got a small Jandd one and am thinking about getting a slightly bigger one.

    Last week I just went camping for the first time in 2014 as well. But I managed to luck into a 100% dry camping experience.

    • I was thinking of you while I was out there, actually! I was thinking of how rad it is to be the only person camping in a usually-fairly-popular place–it seems like your experience was a similar one:)

      Hey, and thanks for the bag recs. I’d seen the Revelate ones (which are soooo expensive!). It seems like Jandd is a little more reasonable:)

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