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Elkhorn Crest Lord Nerd Beta

Elkhorn Crest Lord Nerd Beta

10/10/2016 | La Grande, OR

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.

Elkhorn Crest Lord Nerd Beta

I II III IV V VI VII

I Prospectus

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.”- YJ

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.”- YJ

II FYI

  1. If you go in October like we did, the weather could be great or it could be cold and snowing. Our trip was bookended with wind, snow, and frost. But for the two days we were on the trail we had nothing but sunshine. That didn’t stop it from getting really cold at night, though. LIKE REAL COLD. Bring extra everything in terms of clothes because you’ll probably want to put them on before you go to sleep.
  2. You will see mountain goats! This is a guarantee. Just to cover our bases though, a disclaimer: if you don’t see a mountain goat, it could mean a couple of things.
    1. You are blind and there is just no physical way that you could see a mountain goat, even if one was balancing on your eye with all four hooves.
    2. You expect to see the seminal indie folk band The Mountain Goats (which is really just John Darnielle) because you don’t know that there is an animal in the world called a mountain goat but you do know about this band. So you think, “That Yonder Journal is so full of crap. They said that if I went on this bikepacking trip I was guaranteed to see an aging indie rocker traipsing around scree fields lost in a creative fugue while searching for the melody of his next college radio hit.”
    3. You went to the wrong Elkhorn Mountains, or worse yet you just went to the wrong mountains all together. We can’t help you with that, though we hope that you got something positive out of the experience regardless.
    4. The mountain goats were at a union meeting or family holiday or some sort of cult gathering during the time you were in the area. ALL scientists agree that mountain goats are very complicated animals and that we’ve only just scratched the surface of their socio-cultural structures and labor organization. Ask yourself this question: if we’re not making sacrifices to the mountains to ensure that they stay sated, then who is? Some say it’s the mountain goats.
  3. Let’s say you do run into mountain goats. All of our research says that these creatures can be particularly flirtatious, especially in the warmer months. Don’t flatter yourself, they’re not interested in your unsettling bi-pedalism—they’re after your salt. That’s right, the Elkhorn Mountains are rather salt-deprived and like all goats, mountain goats love salt (don’t pee on on the flora please!). Plus they have no natural predators in the Elkhorn, so be aware that they might just saunter into camp and start chewing on your sweat-caked gear. To be clear we’re not advocating for any type of violence against these animals, after all they’re goats. We’re just letting you know that we were told to be vigilant.
  4. You definitely want to do this loop clockwise. The descent down from the Elkhorn Crest Trail to Haines is defined by a multi-mile stretch of once-was road that is now a boulder staircase that is very difficult to walk down, let alone ride.
  5. Water is available but it is not necessarily easily available. Basically, once you get to the trail there are lakes along the way. However to get to these lakes you’ll need to hike down from the trail. Water management could be a problem on this route in the hotter months, so be prepared.
  6. Did you know that a little piece of duct tape or Gorilla tape is a great firestarter? Until this trip I didn’t. We were having a little trouble getting something going when we got to Twin Lakes as the small fuels were a little wet and it was cold. Well, Diamond Dave Marchi asked for a piece of Gorilla tape from my tool kit, and abracadabra we had fire. Boom. One to grow on.
  7. The campsite at Twin Lakes is well-developed and there was plenty of downed wood for making a fire.
  8. When you finish the ride you will need to go to the Haines Steak House. Don’t worry, they have vegetarian options, I think. The point is that you should support this community. It’s rad. Do it.

III Bike Setup
Kelli's (via Chris DiStefano) Fuse

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Specialized Fuse
  • 1. Kelli drove up to Portland and on the roof of her Volkswagon she had a Specialized AWOL. Now, aside from being lied to about gas mileage and emissions, she may have also gotten the wrong impression about the kind of terrain that she was getting herself into.
  • 2. The AWOL was just going to be a little too much drop bar and not enough dropping in.
  • 3. So she talked to the near-mythical personage that is Chris DiStefano. I don't have the space for a proper paean, but CD is a good dude and true to form he lent Kelli his Fuse for our trip. Which was tight.
  • 4. The Fuse has these bigass 27.5+ tires, which do a couple of things. The traction is all time—so much traction!—so when you're creeping up a hill/trail/slope at lower than average speed cuz your bike is loaded with 60+ pounds of gear you don't have to worry about doing special balancing tricks to keep upright and moving forward. All you need to do is just keep pedaling. The other cool thing is that you don't have to really mess with the tire pressure, you can basically run the same pressure with the bags on and the bags off.
  • 5. It's a future mountain bike and as such it has all the right geometry, brakes, standover heights, stiffness where it needs it, suspension where it counts. Etc. All of it.
  • 6. Did we mention that it goes downhill fast? Like, "Hey gravity can you keep up?" fast. Well, it does. So that's cool.
Specialized Burra Burra Handlebar Bag
  • 1. It mounts on the bar just like most of the other h-bar bag systems out there.
  • 2. The difference is is that it doesn't also mount the bag on the headtube and the top of the fork. So all that rubbing, grinding, scraping, scratching, shaving stops. Which is cool for your bike and cool for you.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Stuff Pack
  • 1. Light.
  • 2. Bullet proof (I think technically maybe not, but as an idiom we all understand what I mean. And if we don't, I mean that the bag is really strong and will take some serious abuse before failing).
  • 3. Holds the stuff you stuff into it.
Porcelain Rocket Frame Bag
  • 1. Scott at Porcelain Rocket made this for Kelli's AWOL. Turns out it fits this Fuse just fine.
  • 2. It's got a couple of different pockets, holds SO much stuff, is extremely durable, and Kelli's model comes in a delicious rainbow sherbet color scheme.
Specialized Burra Burra Seat Bag
  • 1. So Kelli was running a seat dropper on our ride. What to do? What to do? What to do?
  • 2. Turns out that the Burra Burra seat bag doesn't NEED the stabilizer. It works pretty damn well without it.
  • 3. It also holds a ton of gear.
  • 4. Cinches up nice an tight.
  • 5. And it comes in an eye-appealing gloss black.

IV Packing List

Category
Food
Item
Qty
Suggested
Freeze-Dried Meals
1-2
Mountain House Pro Paks
Oatmeal
1-2
Maple and brown sugar, generic is fine or pack your own with Bob's Red Mill oats
Bar #1
2/day
Clif Mojo
Bar #2
2/day
Clif Kit's Organic
GORP
3oz/day
From the bulk section
Jerkey
3oz/day
Teriyaki or Mango
Candy
3oz/dau
Haribo Gummy Bears
Chips
2oz/day
Kettle Salt and Black Pepper, pre-crushed for volume
Coffee
2-3/day
Stumptown
Category
Clothing (Bike)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Padded Bib Shorts
1
Specialized SWAT
Stretchwoven Overshorts
1
Mission Workshop Stahl
Gloves
1
Specialized BG Ridge
Cap
1
Manual for Speed
Socks
2
Outlier or Swiftwick Merino
Shoes
1
Specialized Recon
Helmet
1
Specialized Airnet
Shell
1
Mission Workshop The Meridian: Phase
T-Shirt
1
Mission Workshop The District
Sunglasses
1
Oakley Frogskins
Cateogry
Clothing (Camp)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Long Underwear
1
Icebreaker Merino
Long Sleeve Baselayer
1
Icebreaker Merino
Puffy
1
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
Camp Hat
1
Poler Pink Rayon Jammer
Shoes
1
Luna Sandals, or something closed-toed if you get cold feet
Shirt
1
Mission Workshop: The Sector
Shorts
1
Poler River Chino Shorts
Category
Gear (Bike)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Seat Bag
1
Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion
Frame Bag
1
Porcelain Rocket Frame Bag
Handlebar Bag
1
Porcelain Rocket MCA
Top Tube Bag
1
Specialized Burra Burra
Multitool
1
Specialized EMT PRO MTB
Patch Kit
1
Rema
Tubes
2
Freshies only
Tire Levers
1
The first two you can find in your garage
Bottles
As many as you can fit
Personal preference
Pump
1
Specialized Air Tool Flex
Category
Gear (Camp)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Shelter
1
Snow Peak Fal 2
Sleeping Quilt or Bag
1
Sea to Summit; 20 degrees wouldn't be a bad idea
Stuff Sacks
Multiple
Sea to Summit eVAC (bare minimum one for sleeping bag)
Sleeping Pad
1
Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated
Headlamp
1
Snow Peak Mola (with FRESH batteries)
Multitool
1
Leatherman Wave
Cup
1
Snow Peak Ti
Spork
1
Snow Peak Ti #sporklife
Bandanna
1
Something broken-in
Dental Care
1
Brush twice a day plus regular flossing!
Book
1
Philip Roth's American Pastoral
Lighter
2
Bic (stash in two different, waterproof places)
Sunscreen
1
Something that doesn't run too badly
Lip Balm
1
Something with SPF
Repair Kit
1
Needle + thread, sleeping pad patches, Tenacious Tape, etc.
Sharpie
1
Wrap some Gorilla tape around it
Wet Wipes
1
Soft pack
Category
Gear (Bike, Shared)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Menagerie
1
Extra tubes, patch kit, tire boots, spare chain links, nuts and bolts, zip ties, derailleur hanger, etc.
Category
Gear (Camp, Shared)
Item
Qty
Suggested
Water Filter
1/2-3 people
MSR Sweetwater
Soap
1
Dr. Bronner's Almond
Stove
1/2-3 people
Snow Peak GigaPower
Fuel
1/stove
A single 220g canister will be plenty
Cord
50 ft
Paracord
First Aid Kit
1/2-3 people
Homemade

V Between Here and There
The drive from Sun Valley to La Grande.

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Yes, there is something golden about a Clif Bar Crunch in the fading light of the high desert.
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Eyes closed. Feel the road. Be the road.
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VI Shacking up at the Weber's
Thanks for putting up with us Carol and Rico!

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Some of us took showers.
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Some of us wrote protest songs.
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Some of us enjoyed the warm company of our familiars.
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Or wet company.
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Which is not to say that our familiars enjoyed the company.
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Thank you WEBERS!
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This seems contrived. But who can know what is actually going on inside the mind of a dog?
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David taps into some teenage angst.
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And lays down a nasty wet Stevie Ray Vaughn lick.

VII The Countdown Begins
The morning begins with a breakfast adventure in La Grande.

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The joke isn't that it says "Buffa-Low" the joke is that there is a microphone by the Buff's mouth. Now that's funny.
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Elkhorn Crest Roster
Our intrepid explorers are to the right. →→→
David "Diamond" Marchi @ridedrinklaugh
Kyle Von Hoetzendorff @newantarctica
Kelli Samuelson @kellisam
Jenn Pereau @jennpereau
Sarah Swallow @sarahjswallow
Tom Swallow @carbon10speed
Alex Howes @alex_howes
Daniel Pasley @yonderjournal
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