An Impromptu Bikepacking Overnight in Pisgah
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.
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:
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