Well, it’s our last post of 2017 and instead of looking back on a pretty crazy year, let’s talk about what the plan is for the New Year! Our amigo, Jeff Price, over in the UK suggested that he’d like to engage in a Bivvy a Month in 2018 and I thought that was a brilliant idea! I immediately started to think about ways that we might be able to share and create an interactive dialogue with all of our readers, where the riding community would have the opportunity to share their Bivvy stories and read about other’s experiences. So I’ve decided to participate in this endeavor myself. I’m also taking a cue from my good friend, Adam Blake to invite my friends to come along on these overnight micro-adventures. This is a quick recap of my first attempt at creating a social bivvy event, a couple of weeks ago. It was called the Gnew Moon, Longest Gnight, Gnome Hunt and Bivvy. That’s one long-ass gname for such a short trip.
I guess this means that I get to go back to my blogging roots and share a story about a fun bike trip. I planned the trip at a spot that I’m pretty familiar with in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. I reserved one of the 3 backcountry shelters along the Ice Age Trail. The shelter is right off of the John Muir Trail System, so we could literally set the mileage that we wanted to ride by choosing which spot to start from. The forecast pointed to a chance that we’d have temps in the 20’s and even a chance of snow. Details about the weather and trail conditions are the key to the Wisconsin DNR keeping the trails open or closing them. I loaded up my bike and rode the green loop out to the shelter a couple of days before the trip, to see how long it would take and it was forty-two minutes to the spot, where an emergency access corridor (mowed doubletrack) leads to the shelter. It’s very important to dismount and walk the bike the quarter of a mile to the shelter. The WI-DNR has a strict rule about bicycle usage and since the backpacking shelters are resources donated and maintained by the Ice Age Trail volunteers everyone needs to pay especially close attention to ‘no trace’ backcountry ethics and respect the DNR’s regulations. The trails on that pre-ride were frozen solid with a trace of snow. Air temps were in the mid-twenties. We should have done the trip that night.
The day of the trip a warm front was moving in and ride time temperatures were forecast for the 40’s. The overnight promised a tenth of an inch of mixed precip and fog. That scared off quite a few people that had showed interest in coming out for the night. The DNR closed the southern loops at Muir, but the remaining trails were open, so JP, Kitty and I met at the Nordic Trailhead, packed up the bikes and headed across the hi-way to the Muir Trailhead. There was still a bit of snow left on the trails. With the south trails closed, our only route to the shelter was only a few miles. When JP and I walked around the corner of the shelter with our bikes, we came upon a full-grown man sitting at the picnic table smoking his pipe. It only took a few minutes of our charming banter to shoo the lone hiker away. When he got up to leave we notice he’s exercising his right to open carry. Maybe he knows about the legend of the Beast of Bray Road (Wisconsin’s Werewolf) and his pistola was filled with silver bullets.
Kitty had schlepped a couple of bundles of firewood and beers making like three trips up and down the MF’r of a goat path down to the road the day before, so we proceeded to get a fire going. I packed in a package of smoked jalapeno brats – with spicy mustard (in a pouch) and pretzel buns. Someone conveniently had left a grilling basket at the site and we fashioned a couple of branches to hold the brats to slow roast over the coals. So we’re hang’n out…making dinner and I see someone coming towards camp with a headlamp and a dog (The Beast of Bray Road?) It turned out to be our friend, Karen and her pup Atticus. She’s training for a metric century speed hike event so she had come down from Bald Knob. Karen packed in some delicious barrel aged beers to share and we welcomed her to stay for a brat, but soon after, she kept on moving and didn’t get back to her car until after 1 am. Sometime during the evening, we heard coyotes yipping their song and we chimed in the best we could. It was the kind of night that’s just perfect for a werewolf story.
The temps dropped down and a weak misty rain came and went. I think it’s called snain. We stayed up until midnight and burned almost all of the wood. Temps dropped into the mid-twenties overnight and it rained a bit. The shelter is big enough to sleep ten people so we had wheeled the bikes inside and each found a corner to roll out our bags. I’m pretty sure that I won the snoring competition.
We made a bunch of coffee in the morning and then packed up and backtracked out of there the way that we had arrived, so JP could retrieve his hat that he’d lost on the way in. The trails were getting a little greasy and JP’s handlebar bag kept on coming loose and rubbing on the front tire. JP successfully recovered his hat and then we rode back to our cars. It seemed to take no time at all.
We hope that this shows that you don’t have to plan a long or grueling expedition and that just about anyone can go out on one of these Bivvy adventures and not just survive, but totally enjoy the hell out of it! I’m, already planning my January Bivvy and I’m looking forward to achieving entirely new levels of ‘Cheekiness’ in choosing spots to bivvy each and every month of 2018! If you want to join in the fun or if you have a bivvy story, send us a link to your blog or type it up and attach some photos and send it to uncle firstname.lastname@example.org with Bivvy as the subject. Give a bivvy a try. I guarantee that getting loaded and staying out all night has a nice calming effect on the human brain.