Good Night 2021 Roundup: Our Favorite Campouts (Part 2)
Nearly 1,000 of you answered the call to pedal out for one last local overnighter as part of our Good Night 2021 Campout, and now we’re sharing another look at some of our favorites. Find the second batch of photos and mini trip reports from getaways around the world in part two of our roundup here…
Header image by Sarah Conlin (@_sarahkathleen)
For the second year in a row, we were delighted to see bikepackers around the world take on our Good Night challenge to spend one last night sleeping under the stars between Christmas and New Year’s Day. We watched as folks pedaled out for a final local, self-supported overnighter overnighter of 2021 in dozens of countries and shared photos and videos via the #GoodNight2021Campout hashtag on Instagram.
To wrap things up as we make our way into the new year, we’re sharing an assortment of our favorite Good Night 2021 campouts, and you can find the second and final group of them below. Everyone who registered their campout and tagged photos was also entered to win one of six prize packages from Big Agnes, Rockgeist, and Ultradynamico, and we’ll be announcing the randomly selected winners in a separate post in the Dispatch reel today. Thanks again to everyone who joined in on the fun by participating this year. We’ve loved following your campouts!
Seattle doesn’t get heavy snow often, but with the recent climate crises, it is no surprise these days. We got record cold temperatures the few days after Christmas, and it finally snowed, covering the whole city in a blanket of white flurries. Since our city’s infrastructure isn’t really set up for snow days and plows, our steep hills become a dangerous hazard for driving and walking. Many of our streets become huge sheets of ice after all the melting and refreezing overnight.
I saw a small window of clear sky and “okay” temps hovering around 20-30ºF and thought we might try to make it out to Bainbridge Island for Good Night 2021. Especially a week of not being able to ride due to ice and snow everywhere. Our friend Zach let us borrow his fat bike and Clem with studded tires, and we were able to safely make it to camp without crashing!
We caught the evening ferry over to Bainbridge Island and rode the rest of the way to Fay Bainbridge Park in the dark on sheets of ice. We were so grateful for traction on our tires and took it super slow. We arrived at the park and had it all to ourselves with a beautiful glow in the sky from the city, and we woke up to a beautiful blue clear day as we took the route along the water back home. It was truly a memorable overnighter and worth all of the slippery roads!
It was almost 10:30 p.m. when I finally decided to go out for an overnight bikepacking trip with my girlfriend Joanna (@joannakarc). We packed all the necessary things and pedaled off for a 40-kilometre trip to the nearby forest.
When we have arrived, we set up a hammock for the two of us and enjoyed the peaceful, quiet night as we fell asleep. The cool winter morning temperatures didn’t encourage us to leave our sleeping bags at first, but hot coffee and the first rays of sunshine came as the rewards of braving the cold night.
After a small breakfast around camp, we started packing our bikes and caught some of December’s last rays of sun as we rode back toward home. It was the perfect way to close out the year. So long, 2021!
With an extreme cold snap forecasted, our Good Night 2021 Campout didn’t incorporate a backcountry route and tents but instead embraced a route along one of the most beautiful parkways in Canada paired with an off-grid cabin. We chose the Icefields Parkway, with its stunning mountains flanking the snow and ice-covered road, as it provided us with the security of rescue by drivers if the conditions got too cold or risky.
With the thermometer hovering around -37ºC (-34ºF), we jumped on our bikes, each decked out in layers upon layers, pogies, heated gloves, and socks and soles. The three of us had never ridden together as a group, but we immediately felt bonded by the absurdity of what we define as fun.
While our destination was a mere 30 kilometres away, we’d have to gain over 700 metres in elevation gain to climb to the top of Parker Ridge. The climb was exhausting, but thankfully we weren’t windswept, as is often the case in this area. We overshot the small snowy path to the cabin, and with the sun setting, we followed a secondary path we’d spotted from a snowbank. Hairpinning down the slope, crisscrossing across knee-deep snow and pushing our fully loaded bikes, we made it to the cabin eager for warmth.
We spent the evening hanging out by the heater, “tumble-drying” our clothes (juggling them in our hands), melting snow, and getting to know one another over some warm gin. We retired to our bunks, feeling accomplished with our day, knowing that tomorrow would bring an easier ride back to the start. A bikepacking trip like this, regardless of whether it’s with old or new friends, leaves you feeling connected—a great way to end the year.
Our Goodnight 2021 bikepacking trip was the perfect way to cap off 2021. It was the very first year my partner Sagar and I took on bikepacking (and actually, biking!) and pursued it wheely, wheely earnestly (bad pun intended).
Our first year of bikepacking included a comedy of errors, as we fumbled through Arizona’s Fools Loop on our gravel bikes for our first bikepacking trip last January; explorations closer to our home in Alaska in the temperate rainforest of Prince of Wales Island (a bikepacker’s paradise) in June; magical hot-springs and tundra rambles along Nome’s insular road system in September; and, for Sagar, a butt-breaking journey from Prudhoe Bay back home to Anchorage in July. We learned through trial and error which bag to put which thing into, how to consolidate our food items and other “smellies” into a singular bear bag when traveling in bear country, and how incredibly awesome caffeinated goos are when biking with numb fingers and toes in cakey mud into a headwind of freezing rain.
Our Goodnight 2021 trip followed a variation of the beautifully researched Sky Islands Odyssey loop to fit the time we could take off work. We dropped our gremlin chihuahua at a friend’s house, drove to Patagonia, Arizona, and started a multi-day loop up and out of town, passing quivering cottonwood trees, schools of quail, and trickling streams. The days riding were sunny and brisk, and the early nights and cool desert temperatures enticed us into our sleeping bags at dusk each night after ooh’ing and ahh’ing over the spectacular sunsets. The loop includes passage through a number of different state, federal, and private lands, and it was fascinating to compare differences in land management depending on the agency’s mission. The loop also travels fairly close to the U.S. border with Mexico, and we frequently sighted border patrol agents on the less-traveled gravel roads.
What was most rewarding about the trip was the prevalence of the Sky Islands themselves: a series of isolated, forested mountain ranges that the route weaves in and out of, providing essential habitat for an astonishing amount of biodiversity. Initially, each sky island was an unknown entity on the horizon, but as we rambled in and around each island, it was incredibly satisfying to be able to point to a range in the distance and recall biking through it just a day before.
We ended our trip riding into a staggering headwind back to our car in Patagonia. Stripping down to our skivvies on the main street of town, dusting the dirt off of our sock lines, and slipping our sore feet into flip flops we had waiting for us in the car, we laughed about our deep dive into our inaugural year of bikepacking and gave thanks for all those who provided us information, advice, and encouragement to take the plunge. Cheers to many more bikepacking adventures ahead in 2022!
“That sounds ridiculous…of course, I’ll come!” Those were my initial thoughts upon being asked to join a bike and snowshoe overnighter to a mountain hut for Good Night 2021.
With the added romance of leaving right from home, the four of us set out on an unseasonably cold morning. Under heavy packs, we lumbered awkwardly on our bikes up the first climb in stark contrast to the gentle beauty of the freshly fallen snow that blanketed everything around us. After two hours of spirited riding in search of elusive traction on icy terrain, we’d gone as far as our bikes would take us and made the switch to snowshoes. We quickly fell into a quiet, gentle rhythm, ascending through old-growth forests hanging heavy under snow. Arriving at the hut, we brewed the day’s last coffee to warm us before darkness set in. The only responsibility left was to try and coax the pellet stove into heating the hut to a sleepable temperature by bedtime.
The following morning, we were greeted with clear, cotton candy skies in those liminal moments right before sunrise. After fueling up with oatmeal featuring a heavy-handed portion of chocolate chips, we made quick work of the snowshoe descent, at times blazing our own trail down the mountainside, back to our bikes.
The return ride featured an extended snow-packed frozen downhill that required a fair amount of bravery as we held on tightly, riding with feet out and ready to fall at any point. We were back home by noon, which allowed the opportunity to comfortably thaw out and reflect with gratitude upon this special trip and the friends who encourage these memorable outings. If interested, you can read more about our trip in Miles’ piece here.
Coffee Tea Trip
This year, I took up the challenge of saying goodbye to the old year together with my friend Mariusz. There was only one date that suited both of us, Christmas night. According to forecasts, it was supposed to be cloudless, so we chose the best place we know to watch the epic moon, stars, and sunrise, White Mountain, not far from my hometown.
Unfortunately, those same forecasts spoke of the first concrete frosts. We were riding in temperatures -11°C (12°F) and a gentle breeze. We couldn’t squeeze the water bottles after half an hour of riding, but it was worth it. There were too many stars to count, and a beautiful moonrise illuminated the river. We hung up our hammocks and warmed up with Jägermeister by the fire. We talked about the past year and looked at the fire and the stars until late into the night.
In the morning, we admired the beautiful sunrise that woke us up and the view of our frosted bikes and tarps. We quickly prepared a hot meal and coffee to have the energy to set up our camp and ride home. It was one of the prettiest campsites last year, and it was certainly the coldest. We are very pleased that even though we came from different cities, we managed to get together to say goodbye to the old year, which we consider a good omen for the coming one.
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