Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Going camping

Well, it's time to bite my bottom lip and plunge into the deep end, head first. I had the day off today as my obligatory "Thanksgiving" work holiday. I spent most the morning doing laundry, scrounging up food from our woefully empty cupboards, gathering camping gear, sorting clothing and stuffing my sleeping bag in its stuff sack. That last chore was a particularly evil beast. Either I am going to have to get much better at that, or I am going to have to allot a full hour and about 200 extra calories each day during the Ultrasport to sleeping bag duty.

The plan is to leave the house around 5:00 p.m., when the city is already shrouded in darkness, ride 30 road miles out to the glacier trail, and continue to ride, probably by doing out-and-backs on the glacier trail, until I am ready to go to sleep. I will then crawl into my sleeping bag/bivy combo, sleep as much as nature will allow, and then get up and ride home. That's the plan. I hope it works out as something similar. The forecast tonight calls for clearing skies and lows north of the Mendenhall Valley in the teens. In my camping spot, with the wind wafting off that big glacier, I could find local temperatures near 0. Hooray!

This is the food I will be carrying: Five assorted power bars, baggie of Wheat Thins, six fruit leathers, random old airplane snack and a thick peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Carbolicious!

I'm not going to take a stove, because I'm not sure whether there will be snow out there or not. Instead, I'm taking my filter bottle and planning to drink out of streams. I'll sleep with the empty bottle in order to keep the filter from icing up. The top picture shows my bike completely packed up for the night, minus the Camel Bak I will be carrying with little more than water and a camera. That, for the most part, is nearly everything I hope will serve me well during the Ultrasport, minus, of course, the stove, extra clothing and food. But everything else is in there: -40 sleeping bag, bivy, sleeping pad, entire change of base layer, two pairs extra socks, extra hat, extra mittens, aforementioned food, eight batteries, tube, repair kit, tire levers, pump, multitool, knife, lighter, first aid kit, chemical hand warmers, camera and cash. I have to say, those frame bags that Epic Eric makes are amazing. Time will tell if this is the stuff I want to use in the race, but the pursuit of knowledge is the reason I'm heading out tonight. That, and it's going to be lots of frosty fun.

Wish me luck! And have a great Wednesday/Thursday.


  1. Look at those tires! Jeezus...

    Are tents/tarps provided then? I didn't see that mentioned on the packing list.

  2. Nice rig, it will serve you well... i'm still working on mine, hope to have it rolling by this weekend. I really love the main triangle frame bag (did you send them a cardboard cutout to get such a custom fit?


  3. Holy crap your nuts! Or is it adventurous? Anyway, good luck and have fun.

  4. Any idea what the bike weight is loaded? or just your gear?

  5. Sounds like a blast! I remember camping out without a tent up in Minnesota. I used two sleeping bags. It was -40F. Didn't sleep much.

  6. Don't you worry about being a snack cake for bears ?

  7. Sounds like fun to me. Personally, I'd get as much practice with stove as possible, nothing worse than not being able to get it going when it's -30.

  8. Jill, Here's what I've learned winter camping: If you can't get things into a stuff sack indoors with warm hands and no gloves on, it will be 10 times harder once you're out in the cold with gloves on your hands. Even harder with cold fingers and no gloves. Also, it will be nearly impossible to get your things out of that stuff sack if your core starts to cool and your hands go numb. My suggestion, divide the things between more than one stuff sack.

    Two things I consider survival equipment are my sleeping bag and a stove. If you get into trouble those two things could save your life. You need to be able to get hot liquids into your system to warm yourself.

    A water filter can freeze up anytime when the temp is below freezing, even when you keep it warm. You need a back-up plan...that would be your stove!

  9. Jill, I love your blog. been reading it for a couple of years now and it is never boring.

    Are your bivy and sleeping pad in the picture?

  10. Michael ... no tents and tarps in the race. There are a few cabins and lodges along the way that racers can make use of, but for the most part we have to learn to do without. Tents and tarps are heavy.

    Lance ... the person who designed my frame bag had made one before for a 16" Pugsley, so he used that pattern. He's great. His link is in this post.

    Joe ... I think with the gear I need for an overnight, the bike weighs 55 pounds.

    Hunkahunka ... it's stored in my happy memories.

    Anon ... the bear thing. I could be a snack cake for bears. I also could be abducted by militant cultists. Neither is very likely.

    Skifit ... I agree. But first I need to buy I stove I plan to use in the race. I still only own one that uses gas fuel.

    Doug ... I agree about the stuff sack. I need to buy a bigger one. All it has in it is the sleeping bag. And the stove is important, but I was packing last night for my situation. I was going to a place where there was no snow (no snow at all, bare ground) but where I knew I'd see plenty of running water. I already had iodine tablets. All the stove would have been good for is boiling water, which, with the tablets, seemed moot. But I will travel with a stove whenever I am doing snow camping.

    Joedell ... bivy and sleeping pad together weigh 18 oz. They're stuffed in the frame bag.

  11. Jill, Idodine tablets don't work effectively below about 50 degrees.

  12. That is the most freakiest bassass looking bike ever; how can you even pedal it? You need to put some tricky bike pegs on it.


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