An Impromptu Bikepacking Overnight in Pisgah

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It’s fairly uncomplicated to gather some provisions, lash some drybags to a bike, and disappear into the woods for a couple of days. There is quite a bit of gear built specifically for bikepacking, but a quick overnight can be done with minimal equipment and a few minutes of preparation.

Since getting back from my first long distance bicycle tour, I’ve been anxious to get out on a several day offroad trip. Bikepacking has appealed to me as it seems like an ultralight version of bicycle touring that combines single track mountain bike style riding with self-sustained wilderness travel. I am currently planning a couple of longer journeys, but I made the last minute decision to tackle a big overnight ride this past weekend in Pisgah. And by last minute, I mean less than one half-hour before walking out the door. Not to mention the fact that I called my riding partner, Dustin, halfway in to the drive up to Brevard. Of course his first question involved what was needed to pull this off in such short notice. I assured him a couple of dry-bags, straps, a sleeping bag and a few other sundries would suffice.

So we pieced together some quick kits (mine described below) and contemplated a route that encompasses several of the sweetest descents in the Pisgah Ranger District and an overnight nest at the shelter on Rich Mountain. We set out on the ascent up Laurel Mountain Trail, made some great turns down Pilot Rock, back up and down on the Pilot Cove inner loop and then made the trudge over 1206 and up Mills River to 5 Points.

Luckily, the backpacking shelter on Rich Mountain was available and was a much needed respite from a couple inches of rain that night. We settled in with a single Dale’s Pale Ale, a small box of cabernet and made a quick meal out of a pouch of Chana Masala from Trader Joes plus a can of soup. After marinating for a while in the deep dark forest glow, I fell asleep on a wooden platform hoping a resident mouse of the 3-wall structure would’t try and make a vacation home in my beard.

The next morning we finished out with a climb up Clawhammer Mountain and made the legendary descent down the Black Mountain Trail. The weight of the harnessed tent on my handlebar and the drybag strapped under my seat really didn’t seem to affect the ride. I could see how some specific luggage could certainly help slippage, noise and general ergonomics (not to mention aesthetics), but all-in-all the riding was good. Our total route covered about 26 miles and almost 5k feet ascending.

Bikepacking Pisgah

This guy was crossing a root on Laurel Mountain.

Bikepacking Pisgah

With all of the rain this year, there’s no shortage of thick plant life in these woods.

Bikepacking Pisgah

Sam from Indy picking his way down the boulder field on Pilot Rock.

Bikepacking Pisgah

The awesome view from Pilot Cove.

Bikepacking Pisgah

A strange stand of pines off of FSR 1206.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Rich Mountain

The Black Mountain Trail shelter… 3 walls, mice and Dustin (still asleep in the hammock).

Bikepacking Pisgah

An old hemlock (I think) in the field around the shelter.

Bikepacking Pisgah Rich Mountain

A view of the shelter from the spring below.

Bikepacking Pisgah

The forest through a tree.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Voodoo Zobop

Dustin’s VooDoo Zobop loaded and ready.

Bikepacking Pisgah Surly Junk Strap - Drybag

A drybag sets up well as a seatbag by strapping the closure loop around the seat post. A Surly Junk Strap holding fast.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Voodoo Zobop

Dustin carried an ENO hammock in his ‘Mr. Goodbody’ drybag on the back, and a giant sleeping bag on the front.

Bikepacking Pisgah

On top of Clawhammer Mountain. Everything is wet.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Ibis Mojo HD Bike-packing setup

Hike-a-bike switchbacks on Black Mountain.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Ibis Mojo HD Bike-packing setup
My Mojo setup worked out well. I am looking forward to building a more solid purpose bikepacking rig for bigger trips.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Voodoo Zobop

Dustin coming down Black.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Black Mountain Trail
One of several tricky drops on Black.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Black Mountain Trail

The legendary rock-strewn downhill on the top of Black.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Ibis Mojo HD

Washed out good times.

Bikepacking Pisgah

Nice loamy mud with plenty of greenery!

SORBA Socks

More than happy to get this stuff off my feet.

Bikepacking Pisgah - Ibis Mojo

A fantastic post-ride beer.

Bikepacking Pisgah

Nice rearview on the ride home.

Bikepacking Gear / bike-packing kit

My kit… see below for details. The kit worked well, but I will admit that I am looking forward to getting a Revelate handlebar Harness and Viscacha seatbag.

My quick overnight kit:

  • Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 (in fast-fly setup)
  • In green drybag: Big Agnes Air Core sleepng pad and Big Agnes Pitchpine sleeping bag.
  • Cooking: Trangia spirit burner; Esbit screen/stand; MSR stainless 1 liter pot; Snowpeak titanium mug; Snowpeak titanium spork; small plastic bottle of denatured alcohol
  • Straps: 2 Sea-to-Summit accessory straps; 1 Surly Junk Strap; 2 Salsa accessory straps
  • Tools: spare tube; tire lever; Crank Bros multitool; zip ties; Leatherman Juice; Trail Map of Pisgah Ranger District; tire pump
  • Other: emergency whistle; line (for bear bag); mountain money; Black Diamond headlamp; Iodine tablets; Mountain Hardware rain jacket
  • Not shown: Fuji x100 camera; spare tshirt, underwear, socks; Osprey Raptor 18 pack
  • Wish I had: Revelate Handlebar Harness, Framebag and Viscacha Seat Bag

Notes and Resources:

Tags

  • Vance

    Cool overnight trip! Since you go to Pisgah frequently please come down to Greenville and catch up, we don’t want Ed’s feelings hurt

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Brevard is just a hop, skip and jump.

  • Michael Viglianco

    I bet that tent smelled nice. I suppose that would be a good situation for a pint of mezcal considering how difficult it would be to carry enough beer.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Probably not as good as D’s hammock. Whiskey’ll do in these hills!

  • Michael Viglianco

    I was thinking you guys shared the tent before I read his packing list.

  • D$

    The two of us in a tent, that sounds awful for everyone involved. Especially Logan and we all know why.

  • Nate

    Jesus Logan you’re taking it to the next level. Lots of good procrastination material here. The reviews are solid, too, especially the photo of the Long Haul Trucker. She’s doing well, by the way, in her semi-retirement.

    The bikepacking stuff is pretty inspiring, too. Great idea.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Nate! Don’t let her get too dusty! Yeah, I am enjoying the blogging platform. How are things back in normal world?

  • Joe

    Hey man,

    I just picked up a Viscacha and Handlebar Harness from Brandon at The Hub Cyclery (http://www.hubcyclery.com/)….they’re running a 10% off on bikepacking stuff and had some old harnesses around and threw one in at a nice discount. Not sure if you know of him – he’s “Mary” from Ride the Divide’s husband.

    I’ve taken both out on fitting runs in the rain and will have them out ‘for real’ tonight at the Pisgah campground.

    -Joe

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Very nice! I just got my Handlebar Harness and Viscacha in the mail 2 days ago and I’m itching to get back out there! Let me know how they work for you…

  • Cass Gilbert

    Great post – I love the soulfulness of the pics.

    I think you’re going to have a long of fun with your handlebar pack and seatpack. As you say, strapping stuff on works ok short term, but well-designed bikepacking gear lets you forget about the bike, and just enjoy the ride.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks for the compliments Cass! I have been having a lot of fun with my X100 lately. Definitely looking forward to doing another light overnight or two on my Ibis with those bags… but I think I’ll need a steel triangle to also fit a framebag for an upcoming longer adventure…

  • “CHIEF”

    I just got through a hut-to-hut adventure from Durango, CO to Moab, Utah. I’m local to Pisgah and know all the spots mentioned and pictured above and have experimented with similar overnight set-ups. I ride a custom FortyFour Bike and suggest that you take a look at their website (44bikes.com) as the owner builds purpose-built adventure bikes. Well any type of bike I suppose, but you get the point. Also, fortunately for me I was able to procure some prototype front and rear bags to test out in CO and they worked well. Seeing how he’s venturing into matching custom bags to his bikes, especially if you look at his Flickr feed, and supports what you’re setting out to do yourself, it seems as if the two of you would be a good fit. Bike, bag, or just conversation. Whatever. Look him up. His name is Kris Henry, nice guy, and tell him Chief recommended him. I really don’t think you’ll be let down and chances are you’ll end up learning some cool tricks too.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Chief. I’ll definitely check him out!

  • Lucas

    Hi Logan,

    I’m looking to get in touch with you regarding a contribution to Bunyan Velo but I don’t have a Facebook account to message you. Can you send me an e-mail at bunyanvelo@gmail.com?

    Thanks!

    Lucas

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Lucas, Thanks for getting in touch… check your inbox!

  • Jack Nolan

    Well done. I like that you use what you have. The surly strap works! I’m also glad to see you using a FSB. I’ve been trying to tell myself it will be too heavy, but I’m just going to suck it up and do it.

    Thanks for the great article.

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