Good Night 2020 Roundup: Five of Our Favorite Campouts
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Good Night 2020 is a wrap! And we’re thrilled to report that thousands of people participated in this impromptu year-end overnighter challenge. After going through loads of submissions, we’ve chosen five favorites for the contest portion of the event. Find each of their mini-stories along with some excellent photos from all corners of the globe—from Tokyo to the Czech Republic, and from Arizona and California to the Navajo Nation…
We were thrilled to see Good Night 2020 morph from an off-the-cuff idea to an overwhelming success in the last few weeks of the year. Well over a thousand people around the world were motivated to set out on one last overnighter campout between Christmas and New Years. We loved seeing all the images and videos on social media, and also had great nights out ourselves. We appreciate all of you rising to the challenge, and needless to say, we’ll be doing it again next year! It was too much fun to only be a one-off.
Part of the inaugural event was a friendly competition where we asked participants to sign up and then post photos and thoughts about their campout on Instagram and elsewhere. After going through nearly 1,000 posts, we picked about 40 that we thought were fantastic, then had a blind internal vote to pick five winners, each of whom will be receiving a new bag from Rockgeist and a few other odds and ends from us. Each of the winners was kind enough to send over their photos and provide a short summary of their trip. Find them all below, followed by a few more embedded Instagram posts that we thought were worth showcasing.
The Navajo Nation recently reinstated stay-at-home orders due to an influx of COVID-19 cases, so we didn’t plan for any outings for the remainder of the year. But after seeing the #GoodNight2020Campout campaign, it was just the motivation we needed to get out for a short S24O to put the indeterminable year behind. Don’t get us wrong, 2020 wasn’t a total stinker for us. We had a lot of good things happen. What we want to put behind us is the virus and the toll it’s taking on our people. Plus, the increasing drought we are experiencing on Dine Bikeyah (Navajo land).
Though we are in a strict lockdown, Tribal executive orders still allow for exercise within five miles of our residence, so we planned a route that would keep us within the bounds of the law. We would traverse Comb Ridge east until we found a place to pitch our tent to hide from the cold for the night. Comb Ridge is a huge sandstone monocline that runs roughly 80 miles in length from northeastern Arizona into southeastern Utah, where it emerges with the Abajo Mountains. Comb Ridge is loaded with storied history, from the ice-age Paleo-Indian hunters, Ancestral Puebloans, to present-day Dine people. There is not a single mile of established trail on the Comb.
From the highway, miles away, it almost looks smooth enough to skateboard. The reality is Comb Ridge is incredibly rugged, with steep broken shelves ranging between 10 to 40 feet that make navigation a challenge. The deep, soft blow sand along the edges of the slickrock also makes fat and plus-tire bikes necessary. The best way to navigate is by following livestock trails, zig-zagging through many washes and small fissures. A half dozen miles can easily take up to half a day to complete. We like this route because every ride we see something unique and intriguing. And the endless swathes of volcanic dykes and plugs embedded in sandstone also make for idyllic scenery.
Good Night 2020 was a special camping event for me, especially because it was my first time camping out with my new Singular Peregrine Mk3. And of course, considering the influence of COVID-19, we decided to camp close to home. Fortunately, there’s a very beautiful beach in the neighborhood, just a short ride away. We spent the night relaxing by the bonfire with a little whiskey, some music, and the sound of the waves. Although I was bummed I couldn’t go on a long bike trip in 2020, at least I got to end it by having good time with friends.
In the early hours of the morning, between 10 and 11 a.m., I began loading up my Fargo, reaching for yet another layer as I desperately clutched a maple bar and hot cup of tea to my chest, shivering in the morning sun. Alright, alright, it was 53⁰F, but that’s cold for this beach bum. In my haste to pack up my yard sale of gear, I tripped over my new camera, which I still had no clue how to use, and watched helplessly as my donut sailed through the air. Quickly brushing off the dirt, I crammed it in my mouth to muffle my cursing of the morning. It was a fitting way to begin the end of 2020.
With no small amount of luck I made it to the Old Coast Road, the more rugged predecessor to Highway 1, which served as the only access point into Big Sur before the now iconic Bixby Bridge was completed in 1932. I dropped into my granny gear and began the first 1,000-foot climb, rapidly leaving behind the temperate coastal climate for a surprisingly arid chaparral forest of small shrubs and scattered cactus. The Pacific Ocean spread out beneath me to the west as the Santa Lucia Mountains rose up to welcome me from the east. I love this climb. It’s a long grind, sure, but the sound of the dirt crunching beneath my tires and the strength of my legs and lungs to carry me ever upwards is an everyday sort of magic I never tire of. Just as I began to question that extra layer I grabbed, the road began its downward pitch into the canyons of lush, old-growth redwoods. These groves hold an old kind of magic, a culmination of over 1,000 years of strength, resilience, and wisdom, and with every meeting I am humbled by the magnitude of their presence. I sat with this grove in quiet reflection for a long time, welcoming memories of grief and triumph, as tears from pain and joy blurred together.
I tend to plan my trips around big mileage and remote, faraway places, but staying local for a 20-miler and camping at home was a perfect way to close out this year; with a deep appreciation of all those little things that are too often taken for granted. So, thank you for the life lessons 2020, but may we never meet again, and cheers to the warmer days ahead!
I’ve been going on a nearby overnighter for several years after Christmas. So, when the Good Night 2020 challenge was announced, I was thrilled to join the worldwide bikepacking community and spend the night under the stars together. We set off in the smallest possible group. Only two friends. We waited until the last minute to select our destination for the night. We needed some rain to raise the water level in the rivers. Yes, we did a winter bikerafting trip.
We were lucky and it rained a little. We planned an easy route upstream on a small but magical river. The first part of the route led us through forests with dozens of old ponds. Many streams and canals flow through these forests. And fish have been kept in these ponds for hundreds of years. We camped at one of them for the night. A storm blew through overnight and the morning sunrise was breathtaking. There was no other person far and wide. It was so great to be at that place, away from everything. The way back involved several hours of cold paddling on the river. The calm lowland river spun in many meanders. Shrubs and trees sometimes formed tunnels above the water. Without the leaves, it looked strange. A few problems presented themselves in the form of fallen trees in the river. Carrying around the shore was strenuous but quite adventurous. With the last remnants of daylight, we got back on our bikes and pedaled the last kilometers back to a dry and warm home. Our Good Night 2020 Campout was a wonderful way to close out the year!
The weather this time of year in Tucson, Arizona, is anything but frightful, so long as you don’t get caught in your shorts and t-shirt after the sun sets. The seasonally temperate weather made it easy to explore the Sonoran Desert on a couple overnighters to say goodnight to 2020.
First, a mountain bikepacking trip on the Ripsey Ridge section of the Arizona Trail. I strapped my bags to my mountain bike and met my friend, Otto, a seasoned thru-hiker and first-time bikepacker, at the AZT trailhead just north of Oracle. The stoke was high and our first day was full of glorious singletrack with one memorable gnarly climb. We pushed and pedaled our way to the top just in time to enjoy a golden hour cold one. The sun set as we switchbacked our way to our campsite. The next morning we rode back to our cars. Good conversation and gummy worms made the uphill miles a little less tedious. In the end, we were both excited to be done and excited to do it again.
Second, a gravely overnighter in the Buenos Aires Wildlife Reserve. It was really special to ring in the new year bikepacking in our backyard with my partner Colleen and our adventure buddies Brad and Kate. While riding, I decided to do some on-the-fly route alterations when I saw a “short cut” on the map. The sandy wash technically did save miles, but not time. We didn’t turn around, we just pushed our bikes and laughed it off. It’s such a treat to be with a crew that gels well. Even a flat tire didn’t dampen our spirits. We decided to shorten our day and set up camp before sunset. Once settled, we cracked open some beers, boiled up some water, and made dinner. We raised our cans to friendship and the end of 2020 and hit the hay early. The following morning, we started off the new year right — with a full day of riding. The gravel roads we pedaled back to our cars wiggled through the Sonoran semi-desert grasslands, washes, and ranges along the border.
#Goodnight2020campout was a call to adventure to get out the door at the end of the year. Ours succeeded and I’m excited to continue camping and exploring from my front door.
Many thanks to all those who participated in this year’s Good Night Campout. Rest assured, we’ll do it again next year! In the meantime, make sure to browse through all of our related content, including several trip reports, a Reader’s Rig, and a recipe at #GoodNight2020Campout. Also, you can browse more participants’ posts using the Instagram tag. And, last but not least, find a dozen more submissions that we loved below. Enjoy!