Shawnee bikepack v2.2 -- Friday
So we left a little later than planned Friday afternoon, unless you considered the fact that the original plan had been to leave Saturday morning. In that case we were very early, and though it was 5:30 by the time we started riding, there were only about 5* miles to Cedar Lake. Even with night falling sooner, we had plenty of time to make camp before dark.
(*Or, as it turned out, 7.6 miles. As part of the Kate school of half-assed planning, we also offer classes in vague mileage estimates. Sign up now...don't miss out!)
The climb out from the trailhead was much less terrible than I'd anticipated on the drive down, and then it was a short ride to Alto Pass, where we snapped a picture in front of the (in)famous Root Beer Saloon and then sailed down Cedar Street to the turn onto the singletrack.
|Hey, this is fun.|
We pushed on in the general direction signaled by my Garmin, getting a good lesson in what that little "r2r guess" on my route indicated.
|Pretty sure I'll be hiring the mapper to teach upper-level slipshod routing.|
Chuck: A machete would have been a good addition to our gear for this section.
Once we waded though seas of head-high weeds and made one long uphill mistake (see that little spur at the bottom left corner of the above map? Pro tip: if the River to River gives you a choice between a well-mowed path and a brushy mess, the latter is probably the correct option), the trail actually became pretty rideable, a rarity in my R2R experience.
|River to River paradise. Seriously, I should have spent way more time appreciating the ease of travel here.|
Eventually we had to put on headlamps. I'd brough my good one because it was the first one I'd found, but Chuck had only packed a small one since we hadn't planned to travel at night. The trail along the lake was legitimately fun to ride, but between loaded bikes and low light our speed was highly conservative.
|Discovering that his bean burrito exploded in his jersey pocket.|
Chuck: The coyotes were really cool, and probably the closest I've ever been to a wild one. The few seconds of direct eye contact before they disappeared off the side of the trail had me wondering what they thought of our spectacle.
We kept riding, eventually turning onto doubletrack and riding across an earthen dam between the lakes. With full dark and no good campsite in sight, we threw our tents down in the weeds and made the best of things. Instead of the Mountain House meal I'd brought for dinner, I avoided the bugs and ate a gigantic cinnamon roll in my tent.
|My campsite neighbor|