Friday, April 12, 2013


Spending the night is a cave only has so many explanations; hiding from something is at the top of the list. I always thought that if I spent a night in a cave it would be for reasons of exploring beyond the one day limit but in our case, we were hiding from the weather. Tenting is just too easy and too common and it's also not very roomy. If you need shelter in a tent you're hiding from the weather but it's not fun. I end up crawling into a sleeping bag, having half of a snack and then killing some time reading whatever you can find. Sometimes I have a book but most of the time I do not and get by with whatever is available. Stove instructions in 12 different languages is good for an hour if you try and figure out Cyrillic. Eat the other half of the snack and go to sleep.

Back on topic we want to spend the night in a cave and as the weather provides; we need the cave to hide from the snow and cold.

The ride is fun. The weather is poor but that just provides a little more drama and it also creates an environment where a cave makes a better shelter then a cold tent and a stove manual.

These are some of the toughest guys I know. Finding people with the drive to make a plan and go regardless is serious business. Not only do you want guys that keep pace but also think the cold and snow makes it better. I am fired up to go it in the snow. I believe everyone felt the same. If it's difficult, it's usually worth it.

We have about 14 miles of wind and snow to ride through but all of us have enough cold weather riding to know this is the worst. Wet and cold is the hardest to deal with but we don't grumble.

The location is easy to get to for claw footed mountain goats or anything in the cat family.  We being neither, take great care and arrive just before night to a site that makes a fine shelter for dinner and a fire.

We are happy to be at our advanced camp and ready for a long relaxing evening of story telling and eating. I fire up the stove and get right into dinner. Everyone finds a place to make a nest and we lean back and pass the time talking about gear, what sucks, what works, and how to pack things smaller than Ikea....

With the rain/snow we eventually got wet on the ride and after a few hours of cooling down we all dive into our gear bags for hats and extra polartec and synqaul. A fire follows within an hour and with such an experienced crew we are blazing in minutes and have a load of cut [dry] wood stacked knee high.

 We need to move to a larger cave for the night but the ice and snow make for sketchy conditions so I convert the trenching tool into a pick and tool my way up while helping others porter gear as I can. The angle is very steep. We can make it without the pick but it's a gamble so I use what I have.

Once we enter the primary cave the trenching tools helps flatten the ground and cover the sharpest rocks to make an impossible bed into a reasonable nest for the night.

The main room is small for 4 so I carve out a spot just out of the main room but still well inside the cave. I get a nice flat spot and run sentry to any raccoon trafficking stolen goods. They being bandits and active at night we fully expect them to live in the deepest parts of the cave and want to come and go while we sleep.

I hang my gear to keep it away from critters and huge spiders and other bugs. The bag is a dry bag backpack. I've had it for a year or more and this is the first time I really needed it to perform. I don't review gear but it performed better then expected so if you need a waterproof pack, it works.

Morning comes and I didn't bring chow. I figured we'd get going and I wouldn't have time for much so I just made coffee. It only takes 6 minutes to boil before we get back out into the cold and snow for the ride back.

We down some coffee and we are down the road. Some of us have plans for the rest of the day. I am suppose to meet 4 guys to go ice dive but after I get home I have a serious breakfast and, um, take a nap that kills my hopes of going ice diving but I manage to go to Minneapolis for pizza.

Again it's night time and I have a weekend of adventures ahead of me so I'll flat pack some equipment, load up the polartec and gear, ready to read a stove manual for the 10th time if needed and see you next week.

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