This past weekend Trish and I went on our first bike camping trip together. We had a site reserved for Saturday night at Jay Cooke State Park, which is about a thirty mile ride from our house. Thirty miles seems to be about the perfect distance for an overnight trip. I guess the only real drawback with going a shorter distance is finding a way to kill time before leaving. I think we actually got more tired from futzing around while we waited to leave than we did from the ride.
Packing for the trip wasn't that difficult. We pretty much just packed the same things we would take on a backpacking trip. We are by no means ultra light campers. Including the weight of the panniers, I ended up with just under 40 pounds of gear, distributed evenly front and rear. Trish carried about 25 pounds on the rear. We would love to be able to get the weight down a bit, but we do want to be comfortable. Replacing our 8 pound, 4 person tent would probably be a good start. I'm sure we'll get more ideas on how to save weight as we do this more.
We left a few minutes before noon Saturday. The temperature when we left was in the low 50s, and we had about a 10mph tail wind to help us along. It didn't take very long to get used to riding with the extra weight, although I did have a little bit of heel strike on the rear panniers.
Our first bit of excitement on the trip was getting to see this American Bittern just off the side of the road. We've seen and heard one before from a distance, but have never seen one up close. They blend in very well with their environment, and will stick their neck up and sway back and forth just like the reeds they spend much of their time in.
We passed a couple of houses with some very cool art in their yards. These two guys along with three others nearby were in a field along the road.
Once we got to Thomson, we stopped at house having an outdoor gear sale. The owner let us ride up an access road that went across his property to the east side of the reservoir. If only we had our kayaks with us.
One of the locals.
We arrived at our campsite around four. It turns out we didn't have to reserve a site as the campground was mostly deserted. Better safe than sorry.
After setting up camp, we went down to the park office to get some firewood. But before picking it up, we had to stop and take the requisite swinging bridge and raging river photos.
This is where I planned on putting the picture of me carrying the bundle of firewood on my bike had we done that. We had done enough riding already and just decided to walk and carry it.
One of two fires that evening. It started to rain around dinner time, so we took refuge in the tent until it passed.
We turned in about nine and slept relatively well. The temp got down to about 40 degrees, which is what my sleeping bag is rated to. Trish was warm in her bag, but despite my being head to toe in wool and wearing a jacket, I was a bit chilled. You'd think living in northern Minnesota I would have a warmer sleeping bag. I was going for light weight when I bought it. I may have to rethink that.
We woke up before 6:00 and after having a quick breakfast and coffee, packed up and headed for home.
This is the trail that connects the Munger Trail to the campground. It's about a mile long and is pretty much all uphill on the way out. It was the only section of trail we rode on the whole trip.
Other than a little shortcut we found, we rode the same route home as we took to the park. The scenery was still just as good.