The way we use our bikes is always evolving. Technology, design, and an ever-expanding trail system are allowing us to do all sorts of new things on two wheels. I often find myself thinking, “Who ever thought we’d be out doing this on a bicycle?” My favorite thing to do on a bike these days is go camping. Thanks to the latest bikepacking gear, mountain bikers are able to haul their overnight equipment on the technical off-road trails they normally use for recreation.
Video from our recent overnight trip:
We recently did a Sub-24 Hour Overnight (S24O). The great thing about an S24O is that they’re easy to make time for, and they don’t require a lot of planning. You leave in the late afternoon, ride to your campsite, then ride home the next morning. While the logistics are easy, these outing are not short on fun or without an authentic outdoor experience. Another great thing about an S24O, is that you need less stuff than if you were going out for a longer trip. I was able to go without a backpack for the first time, leaving just enough extra gear and food behind that all my stuff fit in the packs on my bike. For the riders that didn’t have all the specialized bikepacking gear, the short distance and minimal packing list allowed them to just wear a backpack and strap a few bulky items to their bikes.
We met in town at 5PM, and made our way up the trails into the mountains. It was a lot of work hauling all the gear and water uphill, so I just put it down in the granny gear and took my time crawling up the trail. As we wouldn’t be camping near a water source, I topped off a liter bottle when the trail crossed Ash Canyon creek. I’d treat the water later with a UV Light pen. The sun was going down as we arrived at camp, a nice overlook above Carson City. The city lights began to twinkle, and then the moon came up, colored red from the smokey air. All the hard work was now behind us. It was time for dinner, a beer, a long nap, then some fun downhill in the morning!
The Carson City area is surrounded by dirt roads and trails leading into Forest Service and BLM land, which allows for Dispersed Camping. Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere OUTSIDE of a designated campground. This means there are no toilets, picnic tables, trash cans, treated water, fire grates, or other amenities. You just find a suitable place to setup camp out in the backcountry. On the plus side, the camping is free, quiet and away from the crowds, and you get to camp in some pretty cool places.
Dispersed campsite guidelines:
- Check a map to ensure you are on land that allows dispersed camping, e.g. Forest Service or BLM. There is no camping on city or private property, which includes much of the land immediately around the foothills and trailheads of Carson City.
- Camp away from designated campgrounds, picnic areas, or trailheads.
- Pick an existing site if possible to minimize impact.
- Camp on bare soil if possible, to avoid damaging or killing plants and grass.
- Do not camp within 200 feet of any water source.
- Bury any human waste at least 6″ deep and 200 feet from any water source.
- Practice Leave No Trace: Pack it in, pack it out. Pick a site that doesn’t require alterations to the landscape. Leave the site as good or better than you found it.
- It’s up to YOU to know about any current restrictions regarding closures or campfires. Check with your local FS or BLM office if you’re unsure.
I’ve gone bikepacking from my house before, but this was the first time I could actually see my house from camp. It had taken several miles to ride to camp, but I had slept barely 3 miles from my bedroom as the crow flies. It doesn’t take a big distance to have a lot of fun! And true to the S24O style, I was home early enough to head out on a hiking trip with the family.
Music in the above video courtesy of Carson City’s Hick’ry Switch.