What Mornings are Like During a 700 km Bikepacking Adventure
By: Evan Wishloff
This is part 4 of the KVR Bikepacking Adventure Recap.
I’m usually a morning person. But it turns out even I have limits. Set an alarm for 5 am for a sunrise hike? No problem. Set an alarm for 5 am every morning for a few days after turning myself inside out on a bike? Not as much of a morning person anymore, it turns out.
I had a few days under my belt of the challenging bikepacking adventure and I was sleeping soundly in my Nemo tent, dreams dogged by tired legs and memories of flat tire mishaps the day before. My alarm went off, and I settled into my routine - letting the air out of my comfy Tensor sleeping pad so I wouldn’t be tempted to snooze for just five more minutes.
Groggy mornings are turned doubly so with the added fatigue of bikepacking, so coffee becomes doubly, scratch that, triply, important. Wanting to get on with it, I grabbed my MSR PocketRocket DLX stove, screwing it onto a propane canister.
It was tiny, light and dependable, the perfect companion for this ultralight endeavor. Sure, that’s all nice and all, but my favourite feature? The push-button ignitor! It may sound frivolous, but not having to scrounge around for matches or a lighter, and just being able to fire things up with the push of a button is a luxury I recommend any backcountry camper try!
Watch the MSR Pocket Rocket DLX in action below
Once the PocketRocket is going, it boils 1 litre of a water in 60 seconds flat, which meant I could literally go from unzipping the tent to brewing coffee in minutes. Having dialed in the routine over the last few days, this final morning was particularly fast. My alarm went off at 5, and I was eating piping hot oatmeal by 5:05 am as my pour-over coffee finished brewing. Efficiency!
Back on the bike by 6, it was off for what would be my final day of this little bikepacking adventure, and it was going to go out with a bang. The day started with a 40 km climb. The day was to be one of tunnels on the old rail trail, leading through mountains instead of up and over them. My Petzl headlamp came in handy more than a handful of times, but what came in handy even more was my raincoat.
The weather on this day was something as random and disjointed that I have never experienced before, and likely never will again. Partway through the climbing for the day, thunder boomed in the distance, although all I could see were calm, white clouds above. Strange, I thought to myself, as I rode into a pitch-black tunnel.
As I exited the other side, it all made sense. It was like the tunnel had been a portal to another, much stormier dimension. Torrential rain poured down all around me as I put my head down and continued to pedal towards another tunnel on the horizon. At least I can take shelter in there to put on some warmer layers, I thought.
Wet trails were the name of the game. Sometimes.
I pulled into the mouth of another dark tunnel, quickly dug out my raincoat and a warmer pair of gloves, and continued on. Out the other side of the tunnel, I exited into…
Blue skies, sunshine and warmth!
I stopped, peeling off the rain layers and enjoying a quiet minute of reflection. We live in a beautiful country!
Back on the bike and it was back into yet another train tunnel. Into the darkness I pedaled, and came out the other side into… more darkness?
It was another portal into a stormier dimension. I stopped and pulled my rain jacket back on before continuing into the black clouds. The rain turned to hail, starting as tiny ice pellets that only kind of stung, then started to grow into dime-sized chunks. Ouch!
I took shelter underneath some of the thick forest lining the trail to wait out the storm, laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. If I could just muscle forward to the next tunnel, I’m sure I’ll be met with more sunshine and blue skies on the other side.
It only took a few minutes before the hail subsided, returning to a wetter, less painful form of precipitation. So again, onward I went, and again, every train tunnel acted like a portal into the opposite extreme of weather. Sun. Rain. Sun. Rain. Sun. Hail. Sun. Thunder. And on and on and on.
Finally, the weird weather changes ended, and it was mostly downhill to Castlegar, my final destination.
I rolled into town exhausted, sweaty, sore and hurting, but with a smile on my face. I went from never having bikepacked to having completed 700+ km solo, and although I likely would have fared better if I had eased into bikepacking, there’s something to be said for jumping headfirst into a new adventure. I’m glad I did!