im - 6/08/2009 02:21:00 PM
Friday’s weather was perfect for a bike ride and an overnight stay by the river. I packed up the Long Haul Trucker with full panniers and the woodstove and attached Noah’s Burley Piccolo to its Piccolo-compatible rear rack.
On the way to our campsite, we happened upon two spots where mama snapping turtles were laying their eggs along the trail. They seemed too busy tending to their motherthy duties to really care about us. I told Noah that we should put on our fuzzy duckling sock puppets and wave them in front of the turtles’ faces to entertain them while they labored in the dirt, but he wasn’t buying it.
The sun was getting close to the treeline, and coyotes were howling nearby as we agreed on an area to leave the trail and look for a place to make camp for the evening. As I was setting up the tent, the little dude’s eyelids began to droop. A full day of school, riding 25km, and bushwhacking had wiped him out. After I got his pad inflated and his quilt laid out, he said he was “just going to take a little nap”. Noah fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. I tried to wake him for a late snack. No dice. He was out for the night.
Before retiring to my air mattress (Big Agnes Insulated Air Core…thumbs up), I spent the evening in a reflective tarp lean-to…set up to block the north wind and bounce heat back at me ... stoking the wood stove, cooking food, sipping tea, gazing at an almost-full moon, watching fireflies, listening to the critters, and thinking about stove improvements and primitive shelter designs.
The rain started early Saturday morning. Our roomy shelter, a floorless single-pole GoLite Hex 3, allows us to camp rather comfortably regardless of the weather. We cooked and ate breakfast, packed up our stuff, and played ‘Go Fish’ in the tent while we waited for the rain to stop. Realizing it probably wasn’t going to let up, we prepared for the weather at hand. Noah doesn’t have good, dedicated rain gear…yet, so I layered him up in a combination of his clothes and my clothes and hoped it would be adequate to keep the rain out until we got home.
We started off in good spirits. The trail was soft and slow, but we made decent progress as the rain continued. Three more mama snapping turtles were on the trail doing their thing that morning. After 12 kilometers, Noah was starting to suffer from the wet and cold conditions. He wasn’t going to last another 13k in the continuing rain. But I knew that we could duck under the freeway bridge about a kilometer down the trail. To keep him going, I did my best to assure the wet rat that we were close to some relief from rain.
When we reached the bridge, Noah helped me get a fire going. I usually let him start the fires now, so he can practice using the fire-starting tools…waterproof matches, butane lighter, flint/steel, or magnifying lens…from his ever-evolving survival kit. We quickly removed his wettest clothes and got him into some dry socks and a dry sweatshirt. The frowns quickly turned into smiles as he warmed up by the fire, sitting on a broken wooden chair, while waiting for his noodles and hot cocoa. Appropriately, we also made a hobo pie, on the fire, for dessert. Two hours passed under the bridge. We were warm and relatively dry, and we had some calories in us. Plus, the rain was letting up a bit. It was time to make the final push for home.
Energized from our layover, we enjoyed the last leg of the ride. Noah and I arrived home about an hour after our departure from the bridge…wet, dirty, tired, and happy that we’d made the decision to play outside while most of the city hid from the elements.