There’s a full moon grinning down at me as I push a 45 pound bike up a mountain in the dark. I imagine that’s kind of a funny thing to see. The path is narrow, rocky and steep with a big drop off on the down mountain side. I’m bleeding on my left calf from slamming my pedal into it so many times as I trudge up the mountain. All I can see to my right is a black hole, I should probably put the bike on the downslope side but I’m not an ambidextrous pusher. We’re headed for a backcountry campsite in Lory State Park, outside Fort Collins. I would camp anywhere at this point but there’s not a scrap of level ground anywhere.

The plan was to get there before dark, so I have a handlebar mounted light that’s pretty good in town or on a lonely gravel road but totally inadequate on the expert level single track we’re trudging up. That’s right, the sign told us this trail was rated expert which made us feel very bad ass while we were riding it with our loaded bikes in the day light. I’m not feeling the bad ass thing right now. We decided that this section is about 2 miles long and we’ve pretty much pushed our bikes for all of it.

I’m on my first bike packing outing with my SIL Nathan. IMG_1123[Sidebar; it’s pretty damn cool that I have a son in law that will do sh*t with me.] We’re only out for one night so the bikes aren’t crazy heavy. I’ve got a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, clothes, water and dinner. Speaking of water, we were about halfway up the mountain when Nathan remembered he forgot to fill up his water bottle at the park entrance. Like a bonehead I filled all mine up at home and have been lugging them the whole ride but that turns out to be a good thing. We talk briefly, .25 seconds, about going back down to fill it up before we decide we’ll get by with what I brought.

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We do make it to our campsite which turns out to be right on the top of a ridge so the wind has a completely unobstructed shot at freezing our asses. I decided to only pitch the fly of my tent, leaving the body of it behind, to save weight. I’ve never done this before so we struggle for awhile figuring out how to do this only to end up with what looks like a flipped out umbrella. A few adjustments later and we have a roof over our heads! Hot food and some sipping whiskey made everything better. No fires allowed, plus too windy for one anyway, so we head for the tent after we eat to get out of the breeze. I take off my down coat and boots and climb into my bag wearing everything else. Typical night on the ground, lots of tossing and turning. One bonus of having minimal water, a little dehydration keeps you from peeing in the night!

Turns out we have just enough water for breakfast, what planning! I’m supposed to be home by 10 am so we start back down as soon as we can get everything repacked. Pointed down in the daylight, the trails don’t look nearly as intimidating. There are still plenty of places where we have to dab or dismount but most of it is rideable. We both marvel at how capable our bikes are. IMG_1126I’m riding my trusty Salsa Fargo and Nathan’s on his new Surly Ogre. The Fargo’s done Cirrem, Almanzo, Trans Iowa and now she’s my beast of burden. If I only had one bike, this would be the one.

Bike packing is just as much fun as I knew it would be and with the Fargo, I can pretty much go anywhere I want. I will definitely be scoping out some longer routes and I’ll start out a little earlier in the day.

Thanks Nathan!!

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