Hey everybody! Hope you all are having a great first part of 2017. I know I am! I thought maybe as a little goal for this new year, I would try to get a post done every month…how does that sound? I mean, don’t hold me to it but I will try.
OK, the pressure may already be too great. I dunno..we’ll see.
So a little over a year ago I did a blog post about my oldest son Nolan, leaving the nest to live and go to school up in Seattle, Washington. I was sad to see him go. But it was something he really wanted to do. The post was about the fact that I didn’t really feel like I took the time I could have to ride with him as much as I possibly could while he was here with me. It was a painful realization for me.
Anyway, he has come down to visit a few times since he’s been gone. The visits are usually around a week long. Not too long to get in the way of school and work but long enough to plan some fun stuff to do. They have all been great visits. But we haven’t really had time to ride during the past visits for one reason or another. So that kinda sucked.
This last visit was different though. It was a perfect storm of a situation where I was able to not only plan a ride, but introduce him to bikepacking. I live really close to Chino Hills State Park. It’s an awesome place to ride. One of my favorites. I have been riding there for a little over 20 years. It is also one of Nolan’s favorite places to ride as well.
We literally could not have picked a better few days to do a multi day ride. The weather was perfect; it was clear and sunny with a very mild temperature. Just perfect.
I am just going to re-cap and tell the story of the trip. Cool? Cool.
So off we go.
I actually got Nolan’s personal steed all tuned up and ready to go. It’s an old used Specialized Rockhopper frame that I bought for him when he outgrew his other bike. It is riddled with a hodgepodge of parts thrown on it from my own personal parts bin.
He doesn’t care what gear is on it, how much it weighs or that it is “old technology”…he just wants to ride. And like I said in the other post about him riding…he just gets it. Anyway, he’s had it for awhile and he just really loves riding it. I love that about him.
By the time he arrived to the house after being picked up from the airport by his baby brother, Bryce. I had decided to ask if he would like to ride my Surly ECR instead of his own bike. He was excited about that! I had sent him pictures of the steed while I was building it up last July as well as shots of it while I was out on rides. I knew he would probably want to ride it. We were both so excited about this adventure together.
So, come Sunday, January 29th, we packed up all of our stuff for Nolan’s first s24o. I ended up taking my Surly Long Haul Trucker with my large Sackville Shop Sack filled with camping goodies and pulling my BOB Yak Trailer with the Yak Dry Sack full of stuff as well. The ECR was all loaded up as well. We were ready to go!
We rode from the garage on some paved trails to get to the back side of Chino Hills Regional Park. This park sits directly next door to the State Park and is a good way to get a few miles on the books before entering the State Park.
The State Park was actually closed because of poor conditions due to the really crazy amount of rain we have been getting…but the campground was open. So I talked to the Ranger and they said we could chance going through to the campground but to be careful. Once we got onto Telegraph Canyon Trail we did see some damage caused by the past rains we had been having, but nothing crazy.
Like I said earlier, we couldn’t have picked a better few days to ride. The park was so beautiful, everything was so green and lush…not the typical multi-shades of tan. After a slow, nice, fun, chatty ride, that actually took a little longer then I thought, we got down to the campsite. I actually had a side wall blow out about 1/4 mile away from the campground and had to push the Trucker the rest of the way. That kind of sucked. It could’ve been worse sure, but it still sucked ass.
We limped the Trucker to the campground and picked our site. It was a perfect site for us. It had a nice, kinda flat spot that had a tiny incline for the tent and a spot for my hammock. Perfect! We set up camp and took immediately to relaxing. My wife, Maria surprised me with our tradition of having a celebratory “arrival to the campsite” beer. I enjoyed that very much. I drank the beer and relaxed in the hammock before I tackled the repair on the tire to make sure we can get home the next morning.
So the evening was fast approaching and we had the campsite all set up. We were starving and so excited to heat up and eat the soup that my wife had made for us the morning of the day we left. But we decided to just snack on some raw almonds and walnuts and hang out until it got dark before we heated up and inhaled the soup.
Once night fell, we bundled up a little, broke out my little kick ass Trangia stove. And commenced to heat up the soup. We were excited…we could barely wait.
There are rarely any open fires allowed at Chino Hills State Park as was the case for this trip. The reason being that it has been so dry here in Southern California for so long that this park, which doesn’t really have a lot of tree coverage to speak of, is perpetually dry. So dry in fact, that it often feels, especially in Summer, that it could, at any moment, spontaneously catch fire all by itself. Needless to say…we couldn’t stay up and do the fun camping tradition of smores and fireside chats. So we hung out at the picnic table a little longer and talked about stuff that fathers and sons talk about, made each other laugh and enjoyed each other’s company like we always do when we are together. It was pretty epic and felt really special.
We both were pretty exhausted and decided to hit the hay a little on the early side. We got all comfy and took to some more talking, we read our books tossed and turned, talked a little more…all the time making more awesome memories. On three separate occasions through the night, about 15-20 coyotes (I’m guessing), did some really cool, stereotypical coyote yipping, yelping and howling. It was loud and sounded pretty close all three times. It was very cool. At one point in the evening, say 10pm, I was lying there and decided to unzip the tent and do some star gazing only to find a good size coyote hanging in our campsite, about 10′ away form the tent. He didn’t seem dangerous and I wasn’t really feeling any fear, so I hurried to grab my headlight to shine it on him and get a glimpse just in time to see him scurry away.
Well it seemed like a long night. We both woke up around 6:30 am Monday morning feeling surprisingly pretty rested. We both estimated we got somewhere around 4-5 hours of constant sleep each with a boat load of tossing and turning. We also decided we were hungry. And I had just the ticket. It has come to be something of a morning treat that I have had on the last three camping trips. Believe it or not it is delicious. It’s light, small and easy to pack away on a trip like this where weight is a factor. It is the Mountain House freeze dried Biscuits and Gravy.
But first things first…coffee (hot cocoa for Nolan). I used to use the Aeropress to make my campsite coffee. I found something that I like a little better. It’s made by a company called Cafflano. They have two great products for making consistently good campsite coffee. One in the Klassic, a grinder, stainless steel micro-filter and a pour over kettle all in one. Their other product, the Kompact is the one I use the most. It is like the Aeropress put more compact and easier to use and easier to clean. If you get a chance check them out.
We packed up camp after we ate, checked up on the rear tire repair, and moved out. We decided that with the Trucker’s rear tire in a bad way that the ECR would be a better choice to pull the trailer home. Nolan could handle it, he’s a strong rider with solid skills.
The trail out was in really bad shape due to the rains. The trail looks to have actually became a river approximately 4′ deep….it did a lot of damage. We got through it though after about 7 sloppy creek crossings. The tire repair held up through all the crappy trail conditions and actually made it home. Which was a good thing. We had a lot of fun, the BOB Trailer really kind of disappears behind your bike and Nolan was charging and cleaning everything he attempted.
I am so glad that Nolan had a great time. I seriously had a wonderful time doing this with him. We have always ridden bikes together, it really is one of our favorite ways to spend time together. And although this was no different, at the same time it was vastly different. Maybe because camping is a stripped down way to enjoy each other. You feel so close to the wild, even when it’s not that wild. There are no distractions to take your attention away from your immediate situation, or the people you are there with. Sleep (when you do) feels deeper, food tastes better and conversation seems to have the potential to be more meaningful. Just being outside does this for me. I have always loved it. Camping with a loved one(s) has always been one of my favorite things to do as well.
It was an epic adventure. Seriously epic. The camping, the mountain biking…beautifully simple. And priceless time with my son. Time I will never forget.
Now go grab a loved one, get outside and ride your bike.
Thanks for reading peeps.
See ya next time.