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Start – Stop: Sun Valley – Frenchman’s Bend Campsite
Distance: 12.7 mi
Elevation Gain: 1610 ft (and 6062 ft of Descent!!!)
Riding Time: 1:30
Time Awake Spent in Pursuit of The Trip, Roughly: 8:00
Day 01 Objectives & Points of Interest
If you’re going to pack up and equip bikes, Sun Valley is the place to do it it. There were like three bike shops, three breakfast places, and a grocery story all within a few blocks of our hotel. How easy is that?
Breakfast at the Kneadery: where the kitsch is good but the coffee is not.
There are many appealing campsites along Warm Springs road. We settled on the closest available site to Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs and suggest you do the same.
There is firewood to be had, but please scavenge with consideration.
When going to Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs don’t even bother with the upper spring, it’s not worth the soak—too hot and too slimy. Even if the lower/main spring is populated, just kindly introduce yourself and slip into the water. It’s a hot spring after all.
Good Morning Sun Valley
The ol’ pack-and-prep in the motel parking lot move.
The Moose waddle Hahn is fondling is known as a bell. The real question here is will Hahn wash his hand after fondling it?
Seen here: Alex and Jess hot off a Yellowstone backpacking adventure. You can tell they're wearing the best examples of Yellowstone camouflage.
Before this trip Jess had never gone bikepacking. If my facts are correct, she had only even gone mountain biking once. How did she handle it? Stay tuned to find out. P.S.: Jess is looking for a job with NASA but she'll need to work remotely as she travels with Alex as he races in things like the Tour de France. If you have any leads shoot us a note an we'll pass them along email@example.com
If you believe in wine then believe in the bota bag. Two bottles of vino easily fit in this little bladder. Just remember that it's going to get really really cold at night. So the question you need to be asking yourself is, "Will my little bladder make it through the night?"
Strap, cinch, stuff, batten, wrap, shove, and pray
For a in-depth look at Hahn's bike and packing set up, head over to the Lord Nerd Beta section of this trip. We get deep.
I'm pretty sure Sarah woke up packed and prepped. The Swallows 100,000% know how to bikepack.
That pile will eventually make its way onto my bike. Those Vans, however, will stay inside the mothership (aka my as of this moment still new to me 1994 Toyota Previa All Trac. It's silver and looks like a mercury cloud or a giant armor-plated kidney bean. It is beautiful.)
Alex Howes: whistle specialist, PROfessional cyclist, tracker, truck lover, gentleman, scholar.
Jess = Dialed.
Like all of these expeditions there were a few false starts before things truly got underway. Our crew knows how to make the most out of these sporadic, quiet moments.
COME ON! Here's what I know: Benedict should be damn glad he wasn't on this trip, because if there is one person the camera likes more than Bene it could only be Hahn. The man cannot take a bad photo.
Okay, so maybe the first-gen SWAT bibs should be worn with an overshort. But if Hahn had done so in this case, the world would have been deprived of this image. Reasonable isn't always right folks.
Kelli borrowed this bike from the inimitable Chris DiStefano. CD, as he's known in the trades, has been around the block a few times and just knew that setting Kelli up with a Fuse was the right thing to do. Of course he was right. Thanks CD!
Warm Springs Road
Arduous, unending, beautiful. It was one of these things.
Alex: getting that 'gram. Jess: unfazed. Tom: wondering how he got himself in with such a wonderful crew!
Ok so that spot is obviously taken.
These two characters were always getting into some sort of mischief.
Sometimes even Mr. Picture needs to get that capture.
Hard to believe that later tonight our water would freeze inside our tents. It being October and this being the Sawtooths, we had a fair bit of trepidation about the weather heading into this trip. Internet research, friendly inquiries, and various calls to various government offices in the months and weeks leading up to our excursion all yielded the same bit of information: “It’s a crap shoot.” It had already snowed a few times in the weeks before our arrival, but on our day the sun was out and what snow there was had melted from existence. Still, when we found ourselves riding in the valley’s shadow a laden and aching cold engulfed our crew, a cold that would fully express itself later that night. But while the sun was out we rode, stood, and laughed in it and the temperature could not have been better.
At one point we thought we had found the perfect campsite. But, as experienced campers, we did our due diligence and rode another mile or so up the road to see if there was something better. There wasn't. However, Daniel got this shot out of the deal.
Kelli is SO PSYCHED about our camp spot!
Would you look at the bundlers on that man? Gorgeous.
With the bulk of our riding done for the day it was time to set up camp.
As soon as you stepped into the shadows, frost began to expand across your body.
As it happened Tom and Sarah wound up with the best spot. But then again, they're season pros.
Feel the Soak
Getting familiar with Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs.
Already thinking about pulling that ripcord Alex?
We were all curious as to what kind of wolf would come calling.
The stunts have only just begun.
It might not be possible to get better than this photo. Mr. Picture strikes again.
This is the upper pool and we can't recommend it. Users should treat it as the overflow pool and only go bathe n it if the main pool is grossly over-populated. No one told us this, and we had to find out for ourselves that this pool is uncomfortably hot and too slimy. You're welcome for the heads up.
We toughed it out for a while, the heat and slime affecting some of us more than others. Tomahawk Tom was nonplussed.
Alex seemed to revel in the high heat, but agreed to move on when he saw that the rest of us were fading.
The bota bag not only unfetters you from the tyrannical weight of bottles but also frees you from the danger of broken glass. Everyone knows that glass is number one or two on the list of #HotSpringNoNos. You just don't do it.
Half the crew decided to try for the lower pool overland, while the other half took the aquatic route. Let's just say if you find yourself in the same situation, you should take the overland route. Trust me.
With respect, we did our best.
Kelli's mom made us these cookies and nature's mom made us these hot springs. Thanks moms!
That sign says nothing about cookies.
Why are Crocs the ultimate camp shoe? They float, are nearly indestructible, come in wildly attractive colors and make your feet look good. I've been told that if you're wearing Crocs while visiting a Chuck E. Cheese's you get ten tokens on the house.
Wine’in, Dine’in, and Fire Time’in
And so the sun sets on our first night off Warm Springs Road.
The pros. Last back to camp but first in our hearts. Yes, your handlebar bag system can easily accommodate a load of firewood.
Pouch Food Life.
Kyle, "Ooooooh, whats this?" Mr. Picture, "Buddy that's nice you'll like that." Kelli, "Here we go again."
You can tell that Hahn is really excited about sharing a tent with me later that night. I mean we're almost holding hands.