Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 2009 S24O Part 2: Camping, Return, and Lessons

I pulled into Hillsdale State Park at about 6:30 PM.

First order of business was to find a site and get set up. Here you see my bike, cooking setup, and tent.

My grandmother gave me this tent for my 14th birthday. It kind of disturbs me that means that I've had this tent more than half my life. It was really a "kid's tent" but since I'm a relatively stout guy at 5'6", I can still lay down in this thing if I do it just right. The blessing is that it is light, packs small, and by all rights holds its own as a solid backpacking tent. Even though there was no rain in the forecast, I went ahead and waterproofed it yesterday morning (forgot to mention that in my "prep"

I guess I also forgot to mention that I brought my camera. That should be obvious by now. I also brought a handheld GPS. I decided since I had nothing else to do, I'd take photos of interesting things near my camp site. This is a small stage for performances and concerts.

From the stage area, I could see the shower houses for the swimming beach.

Volleyball (kinda)

This is Leo from Tulsa, OK. And that's a seriously awesome Vee-Dub. Leo said I was the fourth person to ask to take pictures of this classic. Easy-going, he travels all over the place. He's in town to see a family member's Confirmation. From the time I showed up until I finally called it a night at 10:00 PM, I don't think Leo stopped noodling on that guitar. His riffs and my dad's soun a lot alike. I'm sure they'd have jammed well together.

Darkness is creeping in.

Boiling water for supper

After it got dark, I tried experimenting with the CHDK tools on my Canon PS A530. This is a 15-second exposure through the mesh top of my tent, with a relatively high ISO and then further enhancement to bring out the stars. Unfortunately, it also brough out the CCD noise. One of these days I'll be able to pony up for a decent DSLR.

At about 12:30 AM I was woken up by the bright flashes of lightning and clamorous thunder. Rain wasn't in the forecast, but sure enough, we had storms pop up out of nowhere. This is another long exposure which caught cloud-to-cloud lightning. Without a tripod, I just set the camera in the grass. That's why it looks like it was taken from the grass.

I gathered up most of the stuff (aside from the bike) and brought it into the tent. I put the rain fly on, and then a few minutes later it started pouring. Wave after wave of low-intensity thunderstorms rolled through, each lasting about 30 minutes with 10-30 minutes of quiet between them. I drifted in and out of sleep all night.

By 5:30 or so, the sun was coming back up. I made a quick breakfast (two eggs)

I then cleaned everything up, packed and left. I filled up my water bottles and rolled out at about 6:20.

I obviously took a different route back. I stayed on Old KC Road until 223rd, then darted across K-7's overpass and continued north on Webster to 199th. I took 199th to Woodland, and rode a mix of chip-seal, oiled dirt, oiled gravel and loose gravel to 175th, where this image sealed my camera's fate, completely filling my memory card.

The homeward ride took more than an hour longer than it took me to get out to my camp site. Part of this is due to the wind, which was a tailwind going out and a headwind returning. I was also just plain tired. I set myself on autopilot and let the legs mill the miles out.

Lessons Learned
All in all, this was a huge success. I havent been backpacking in ages. I didn't take anything that I ended up not using. The bedroll was a little off. I slept on the sleeping bag most of the night, and got inside when it got chilly in the tent. I really should have packed a little pillow, though. As far as food goes: Ramen sucks, but it's light and small. Eggs rock, but they're hard to keep safe on a journey like mine was. I wish I'd have brought something awith a little more substance than Ramen. Maybe some canned soup next time. Also, next time I plan on making a long ride like this, I'll see if anyone else has some suggestions of their own. I was glad that I took the time to water-seal the tent, and everything worked out great.

One final note: We're in the midst of an unstable economy, fuel prices are hiking on both increased AND decreased demand and all sorts of freaky signs are pointing to the apocalypse. Example: the people who normally hold signs reading 'The End is Near!' are now holding signs reading 'CLEARANCE! 70% OFF! EVERYTHING MUST GO!' It's pretty surreal to be traveling the countryside on your own seeing no cars for over an hour (on Woodland this morning) while not only carrying all three essentials of life (food, water, shelter) but doing so while averaging 12 MPH over the course of almost 70 miles in 24 hours while using an engine that can convert a staggering variety of raw organic mass into kinetic energy without much fanfare.

Doom-sayers, take note: you should be riding a bicycle.


Jason said...

Very cool Noah! Looks like you had a good time!! I have read about these before, think it would be fun to do!

Revrunner said...

After years of backpacking, I finally learned to appreciate the benefits of freeze-dried! Expensive, maybe, but definitely a plus for those who want to travel light.

melalvai said...

Minute rice worked really well when I went to Omaha. Add a pouch of tuna and some salt. It might not sound fancy but it really hit the spot after a full day's riding.

Frogman said... via is available at WalMart and other places for backpackign specific freeze-dried and such..

Paul in Minneapolis said...

Very cool!, my surly LHT is in the shop getting the bottom bracket un-frozen. Once it is back I'm taking a week off to get lost.... : )
Thanks for the inspiration!!!!

Paul in Minneapolis

Noah said...

You should check out Apertome's S24O accounts then, as they were my inspiration!

Apertome said...

What a fun trip. Looks like fun catching some gravel roads in the process, as well.

I was also going to suggest the freeze dried foods. I have only tried one of them, but it was decent. I got a vegetarian dish because freeze-dried meat sounded like a bad idea, and I didn't regret that decision.

I'm glad my posts helped encourage you to try a trip like this. I'm about due for another one, I think.

The Unabashed Blogger said...

I use a mixture of dehydrated food and high calorie to low weight ratio foods.

Typically on a trip I will splurge on a store bought dehydrated meal for one of my dinners then make my own food for the rest of my meals. There are a ton of websites out there for inspiration.

Store Bought: Backpacker's Pantry Jamaican BBQ Chicken.
Homemade: Couscous and tuna with sun dried tomatoes and spices.

Breakfast: Oatmeal w/ honey
Lunch: Bagels with PB, trail mix
Dinner: Couscous and tuna or rice and chicken.

I cook my meals by adding boiled water to the pre-measured grains in a freezer zip top that I place in a homemade cozy (sp?) I made from insulation used to cover attic fans.

Ya know, I could go on and on and on... but I'll stop here without too many details... I really am trying..

jfrupe said...

If you know anyone in the military you could ask them if they have any MRE's you could have. All you need to heat them up is hot water and they even come with a heater to do that. Some people don't like them but they are filling and some are not to bad either. I know I've ate enough of them.

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