The Road to the Unknown
We had just been dropped off with our bikes and all of our gear, the starting point of our bikepacking trip on the Idaho Hot Springs Route. My girlfriend Meghan and I were determined to choose our own adventure this summer, to explore a place we couldn’t simply drive to, and discover the wild that exists outside of our normal day-to-day lives.
As we looked around we saw three roads. One stretching out behind us where we could still see our shuttle driver heading back to civilization. The second road to our left quickly bent behind a hill, where we knew we would find ourselves in another 10 days and about 500 miles later. The third and final road to our right was a long gravel road running straight for the mountains, which is where we were headed, into the unknown.
A Day in the Life
Most mornings we would wake with the sun and get biking soon after. At the start of our trip, we would take a few breaks during the day as we gained strength in our legs and acclimated our butts to long hours in the saddle. We rode most days close to 7pm which left us some daylight to set up camp and prepare dinner. Of course, there were a few days where things did not go as planned, arriving at camp much later than expected, in the dark in an unfamiliar setting. Those are the days that stick out most in my mind.
One night we made it to camp around 11:30pm and were so ready to sleep. It’s nights like those when it’s pitch dark out and you’re beyond tired, you really appreciate having dialed in your gear and knowing you can depend on those pieces to work every time with ease. The Copper Spur Bikepacking tent is definitely one of those pieces of gear. The tent was set up in mere minutes by the light of our headlamps, and very shortly after we were both inside and asleep.
Our Go-To Gear
The Copper Spur is a super easy tent to set up, and the new bikepacking model has a ton of features we were really stoked on throughout our trip. The new footprint that covers the vestibule floor was an addition we didn’t know we needed, and now can never go without. It gave us a dry place to sit while taking off our shoes and provided a convenient place for gear so it wouldn’t get wet or dirty. We also loved the gear shelf inside the tent, which allowed us to dry our riding clothes as we slept rather than just bunching them up near our feet.
Another small, but much used feature, was the helmet webbing storage on the exterior of our tent which was a better place to store our helmets instead of throwing them on the ground like we usually do. The most important feature for us was the shortened tent poles, which fit perfectly in almost any spot you want to stash it – between your handlebars, in a bag, practically anywhere on your bike.
It’s All Downhill from Here, or Is It?
Our sixth day on the loop, we got a late start waking up to a frost covered tent. It was freezing outside so we waited for the sun to warm us up and dry up the frost. We also had to stop and resupply, which added even more delay to the day. Because of these delays, we ended up pushing past our normal stopping time and late into the evening to make up miles.
At first I didn’t mind. The sun was setting and everything around us began to cool off, bathed in a golden hue. We made it to the top of our final climb as the sun dipped behind a mountain in the distance. There we saw signs warning of wildlife in the area. This was really nothing new, we had both spent many nights in bear and even mountain lion regions. So, we made our way down the mountain and as soon as the gravel road leveled out, we found an empty campsite to quickly set up camp.
After dinner and all of our camp chores were done, we hurried into our sleeping bags to settle in for what we hoped would be a good night’s sleep. It felt like five minutes later, just as my breathing had become deep and rhythmic, I heard a noise that had me near panic. There it was again, footsteps outside our tent. I grabbed Meghan’s arm. “Did you hear that?” She said no. Again foot steps-closer this time. “You heard it now,” I whispered. She nodded. We lay there thinking about the sign we had read hours earlier, bears.
After exactly one minute and twenty-six seconds, I knew we had to do something. I grabbed my headlamp and slowly unzipped the tent door and then the fly. I burst out the tent with a loud “hey!” shinning my headlamp were I last heard the noise and in the beam of light, there stood… a deer. My heart began to slow, and I went back into the tent to reassure Meghan and myself that everything was going to be alright.
Back to the Start
A few days later we reached the end, the same spot we had been dropped off just 10 days prior. The unknown was still mostly unknown, and our desire to explore this area only increased as we vowed to revisit the route again someday.
We’ll never forget the long days we pushed from dawn to dusk, climbing 37,000 feet over the course of our bikepacking trip. The beauty of the terrain we witnessed was almost impossible to capture in photos, but we came back with a few great shots and the stories we’ll tell over and over again to anyone who is willing to listen. Bikepacking has opened up so many possibilities for exploration, we just feel lucky to have the luxury to travel in this way and that we are equipped with the gear that is needed for a solid bikepacking adventure.
About the Author: Douglas Hurdle is a North Carolina based photographer. After completing the Appalachian Trail he went on to study Outdoor Education and Photography at Appalachian State University. After graduation he thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail completing the Triple Crown. Since then he’s been exploring locally and when he gets the chance he makes his way west. You can find more of Douglas’ adventures on his website douglashurdle.com or on Instagram @douglashurdle