If Idaho was an experiment on how wide the idea of a bike adventure could be stretched, then the Elkhorn Crest Trail was an experience of the essential: two big days of riding and one night camping at close to 10,000 feet in mid-October. Our path would take us along gravel roads, single track, and what we’d later identify as a boulder waterfall. We expected to see mountain goats. We’d make a fire and that fire would be essential for warmth. We’d ride, hike, push, and pull our bikes. We’d fall asleep under dazzling star-filled skies and wake to a night of breathing crystallized on the inside of our tents. If you were to make a board game about bikepacking, this route would be the game board.
But why consider this trip the essential form? After two years of traveling the globe we’ve had the chance to ride diverse terrain in unique places on an assortment of bicycles. With this battery of experience under our belts we feel empowered to hazard a hypothesis. It would seem that after comparing the various elements of this Elkhorn Crest Trail ride with our other trips, its length stands out the most. In two years of Dead Reckoning we had yet to do a proper two day trip! We have completed a number of three day adventures, but until this trip we had yet to get home in under 48 hours. The Elkhorn Crest Trail ride broke this barrier and left us to ponder what is essentially a weekend getaway.
“Since the the five day work week was codified in the early twentieth century the magic of the S. days has been enshrined in our minds.”
The weekend is a critical and necessary disruption in the linearity of our labors. Even those of you who have managed to subvert the the five day workweek11Or been subverted by either an alternative schedule or six/seven day workweek. must reckon with the fact that the majority of your peers, cohorts, and interactions are with people who have no choice but to venerate and uphold the tyranny of the weekend. It is a large part of how we organize our internal and external timeline. It is what we dream about and plan for. It is a favorite topic of conversation, second only to discussions of the weather. The weekends can be discussed across many cultural lines, an acknowledgement that the total sum of an individual is not what she/he does for work. It follows that weekends have become the boilerplate upon which our recreation is transcribed and as such they occupy the majority of our recreational memories. Throughout the course of our lives we have tested the parameters and limitations and possibilities of the weekend over and over again. This call and response with the weekend has created a feedback loop that demands even more value and esteem be placed on our weekend activities. And it seemed that the fates conspired to makes sure that Dead Reckoning accounted for at least one weekend trip.
With a 48 hour framework foisted upon us, our considerations for the trip were kept within the confines of an intimately understood parameter and we were able to tick the boxes of what we expect and hope for in a bikepacking trip against the weekend model. You read the intro paragraph, right? We experienced exotica fauna in their natural habitat. We rode desolate dirt roads, fine threads of singletrack, and a outsized boulder field that followed the vestiges of an a long-retired road. We set up camp admist the purple twilight of alpenglow in the bosom of a box canyon. The night was cold and clear but we had a fire to warm us and a lake from which to pull water and the stars glowered on us from the heavens as if ashamed of our unexpected voyeurism.
“So yeah, this trip was amazing. I know that word is overused these days, but it this case, for this trip, it’s the only word that works.”