One Night Stand – Winter Bikepacking in Wyoming

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Winter bikepacking was on my bucket list but I have no idea why. Camping in the cold doesn’t sound like fun to me. After all, camping is about relaxing in a hammock – not worrying about if my toes will freeze and fall off. However, I like the idea of riding till the day is done – or I’m done – and pitching camp wherever I fancy.

A few weeks before the inaugural trip, my partner, Studd Pyles, did a recon in the Wind River Mountains near our home in Lander, Wyoming. He camped at Blue Ridge, the high point on the Lander Loop Road. It sounded peaceful and beautiful and I wanted to try it.

 

 

Blue Ridge or bust? Climbing the switchbacks out of Sinks Canyon. If it looks like I don’t have much stuff it’s because I don’t. Studd lightened my load by carrying the tent, kitchen and most of the food. Even though I didn’t feel like I was doing my part, it was a relief actually. I don’t quite have my mojo back, mentally or physically after my breast cancer treatment, but I’m getting there. I wore my pink wrist band as a reminder on how far I’ve come.

 

“I never go for a walk without my bike.” Fossil Hill on left and Studd on right.

 

Conditions just before Frye Lake.

 

Sometimes I cheated and rode the pavement when it showed itself.

 

We ditched the idea of making to Blue Ridge, forward progress was too slow. Plan B: we turned off the Loop Road onto the snowmobile track to camp at Worthen Reservoir – ending up right where we were supposed to be.

 

Studd Pyles carrying all the stuff that I didn’t, which was pretty much everything. He even brought me an extra sleeping pad. He’s the ultimate adventure guide, he plays music while we roll and puts on a good feed – smoked salmon and peanut M &M’s anyone?

 

Uphill to Worthen Reservoir. One of the things I really liked about our trip is that we didn’t have to get back to the truck at the end of the day. We owned our time, instead of the rest of life, when time owns us.

 

Shortcut?

 

Si, shortcut.

 

Almost to camp. The wind died down, the sun was shining and we were pushing our bikes across the drift-strewn lake. It was heaven.

 

My magic carpet ride, my dream machine: my Salsa Mukluk. Mukluv.

 

Winter camping at its finest. We found a snow-free zone in the trees. In the night we would find out why it was snow-free.

 

Camp cook.

 

Had to pinch myself that this was winter camping. Temps were in the 30’s.

 

Studd’s sexy Surly ICT.

 

I walked out onto the lake to watch this amazing sunset. It felt like a gift from the universe, but it just was… regardless of our little human specks’ admiration of it….in a zeptosecond in time.

 

Crazy peak-dwelling whirling dervishes.

 

Rookie mistake, I left my helmet in the vestibule and both the vestibule and my helmet filled with sand and snow. Turns out that the snow-free spot where we pitched our tent was free of snow because it was scoured by the wind. The wind roared down on us all night like a locomotive and I watched freaky tree shadows dance on the tent under a bright moon. Sometime in the night Studd woke from a deep slumber and mumbled, “I hope we’re not under a widow maker.” Don’t know how he slept through the sound of the wind, but I was jealous.

 

I was worried that a winter storm that was forecast for Sunday night would roll in early, but the day dawned clear and…. windy.

 

When you camp near the beach, the sand and snow mix together and coat everything.

 

Snow-skeleton wind sculpture of our tire tracks from the day before.

 

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Winter bikepack one-night-stand in the books. Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely — if we have another round of temps above 30 degrees! Or maybe I’d do it again regardless. Maybe I’m tougher than I think.

 

 

Bruce’s parking lot to Worthen Reservoir, about 9 miles. Most of the elevation gain (1,400′) is in the first five miles. Perfect for an afternoon-to- afternoon overnighter.

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