Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bikepacking the CNF

And so it begins: training for Arrowhead 2015

Back at the end of August I sent my registration in to participate in this winter's Arrowhead 135.  As I've done in the past I'll be doing it on a bike.  (You can choose your mode of transport: bike, ski, run)

Why do this to myself?  Mainly because for some twisted reason I want to.  It's kinda like fun, only different.  "Because it's there" seems full of bravado and cliche.  "Why not?" is ridiculous because there are about a zillion reasons why not.

I've thought about it quite a bit - and the more I think about it the more confused I get.  And the more insane I think I am.  But lately the theory that holds the most water (they're all a bit crackpot) is this: I'm a firm believer that everyone (including me) is capable of so much more than they think they are.  There are things that I know I am physically capable of that I have no desire to.  And then there are the things that I'm not so sure that I'm even capable of but have no desire to do.  (Like the Tour Divide - from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells on the Mexican border.  The winners do it in a couple of weeks.  I can't imagine.  When I was in college I spent a spring break in Austin, Texas riding my bike every day (maybe 80 miles a day).  At the end of the week I was ready to be done - I was tired physically and, more importantly, mentally.  Actually I can imagine what this would be like and perhaps that's why I don't wanna do it.  In the Tour Divide, imagine riding 130+ miles a day, getting a cheap motel room (or just sleeping in a tent), getting up early and doing it again the next day.  For weeks.  I like riding my bike...but there are limits.  Don't get me wrong, I have a great respect for those that do it.  But it's not for me.  Anyway I know what Arrowhead entails (I've started 3 times and finished twice 2009, 2011 [part 1, part 2], 2013 - where I didn't finish because of a snowstorm) and for some fool reason have desire to do it.  

I've been wanting to give bikepacking a whirl now for a while - but for some reason have just not done more than a few short overnighters.  So this year I've decided to bike pack my way into shape.  This is very handy because the Cheqaumegon National Forest is a few miles out the door.

 So to that end, I took off to Horseshoe Lake and set up my hammock (the most comfy camping setup I've ever had).  

The view from my hammock (through the bug net)

The view over Horseshoe Lake as the sun went down.
     I had experimented with drying food this summer and so and had stuff I had dried for breakfast.  Rice, carrots, ground turkey, and onions rehydrated over my alcohol stove.  

On the ride back home
A little while later I went for a ride and stopped at an artesian well on some DNR land nearby.

After stopping at the artesian well I stopped by the Rainbow Lake Wilderness Area to do some hiking.  I left my bike at the entrance and hiked in.

On a ride with John (my father-in-law) we rode on the ATV trails in the Cheqaumegon National Forest - more specifically the Iron River Trail.
Yesterday was great weather.  So I rode up into the CNF and set up the hammock and took a break and cooked myself a meal and read a book and hung out for a while.

The colors are starting to turn in the CNF
I love Fireweed.  So does my wife.  So I collected some seed to bring home and plant.

Not all the trees that are turning are maples...but most are - here are a couple.

Old School.  Larry up front and Endomorph in back.  

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