I’ve been thinking of bikepacking for a while and started to collect ultra-light and small items for a few months. With most of the important gear on hand, Saturday evening seemed to be just dandy to get started. With the AZ trail on my mind after following the AZT300 race a couple weeks ago, I decided to start in Patagonia, where one can safely leave the car overnight, and head south to Parker Lake. A not-too-shabby 30 miles each way with 6000 ft. elevation gain. — So much for the plan.
I left Patagonia at 6:30 pm and with sunset at 7:00 pm, my make-shift helmet lamp would have to power me for a while. It worked ok, but in combination with the spot light on the handlebar it was a dizzying dance of 2 ghosts in the night. Note to self: get a wide-beam on the handlebar. The single track section south out of Patagonia starts with quite a few hike-a-bike’s and after 2 hours, I pitched my tent in moonlight. The bike handled surprisingly well, and I didn’t think much about the attached gear. I had only come 7 miles, far short of the 30 miles to Parker Lake. Oh well, tomorrow I would have all day to get there and back.
For breakfast, a bit of cold water revived a frozen-food pouch of Mountain House’s breakfast skillet. Yum! I was surprised how tasty it was – and filling. No need to worry about going hungry with one of those puppies along. With my progress towards Parker Lake happening at a much slower rate than anticipated, I had to find a water source. Having brought my water filter along, I thought I would be just fine at Red Bank Well, listed on the AZT guide website as a reliable pumped-water source. This would be my lesson for the day: There is a big difference between the water that we are used to drinking – and what cows find tasty in the AZ desert. I tried to convince myself for a good half-hour that I could filter the water and that it would be OK, but no luck: I would have to turn around with a measly 40 oz. of water left. The ride back was most pleasant: the sun on my back, mostly downhill singletrack, and avoiding the tough hike-a-bike section by taking a fun 4-wheel drive road, I was back in Patagonia by 11 am.
…to be continued some other week!
Bikepacking gear list:
- GoLite 1+ Season sleeping quilt, fleece, hat : perfect for ~50F in the whee-hours of morning
- Big Agnes FlyCreek UL1
- Big Agnes mummy 2.5″ pad
- Revelate Designs seatbag Viscacha, and handle bar attachment The Sling