Mountains Calling – Tour 2019

“The Mountains are calling and I must go”
-John Muir

Shortly after this post goes live I will set out from beautiful Whidbey Island to Seattle to catch Amtrak Empire Builder Train 8 to Whitefish Montana. From there I will embark on a month of riding in the Rocky Mountains following the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail.  Taking this bikepacking route that utilizes gravel and dirt forest roads along with some single track and the occasional connecting paved road, I am answering the call to get deeper into the mountains.

I will attempt to periodically update this blog as I go along. Due to the remoteness of this tour I expect to be out of internet range frequently. There are enough little towns in the Montana section that I should be able to update every 2-3 days. I’m aiming for more periodic updates than trying for daily updates.  I also will have to be a lot more frugal with my power usage, so while I may occasionally put up photos onto my Flickr account, more likely it’ll have to be post tour.

I’ve done a lot of changes in the bicycle and my gear for bikepacking purpose. The two short trips into the mountains I did in recent years gave me enough insight into how I’d like things to go.  The main change I went for is knobbier tires running tubeless. The tubeless setup allows me to runs lower pressure over gravel and such without fear of pinch flats. I’m running Rene Herse Pumpkin Ridge tires which so far I’m loving how they handle on gravel. Last year I had a stem riser put on to get my bars closer to where I like them. The NFE is a great bicycle, but not enough steerer tube to get the h’bars as hight as I like.  I changed up my bags with an Ortlieb frame bag and Swift Industry front panniers.  The Swifts are less capacity but most importantly lower profile which I’ve found better for trail riding.  I changed up my cooking setup to a smaller, lighter kit and I’m using a backpacker tent that is both bigger, lighter and packs smaller than my previous tent. For sleeping in high mountains I had to get a new sleeping bag with a lower temp rating than my previous bag. So truly I have changed out vast amounts of my long running setup.

The gear is all for the purpose of getting one into the mountains. The mountains for me are a place of inquiry, discover and contemplation. It is an important part of the practice of my life. The mountains are calling and I am on my way!


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