My first bike-hammocking adventure in June 2015.
I have always loved mountain biking because of the views and places my bike and I travel to. For that reason, I tend to go solo and take in the scenery in complete solitude. Earlier this summer, I decided to buy an Eno Hammock so that I could enjoy these views while relaxing. Eno Hammocks are great because they are a lightweight item to keep in your backpack for any adventure. When I had my first bike hammock experience back in June, I did not expect how awesome it was about to be. I was stoked at the ease of setting up the hammock, and the views I was able to take in while relaxing. I quickly realized I had made an awesome investment towards my happiness.
On my most recent bike hammocking experience, I was finally able to mark an item off my Summer 2015 Bucket List. I would not say it was the “gnarliest” of mountain bike rides out there, and it certainly doesn't compare to biking Colorado’s 14’ers, which, by the way, I think is pretty awesome! However, the ride was a challenge, and I am stoked to have completed it. I live in Bozeman, MT, and I use the Bridger Mountain Range as my backyard.
A little sketchy dead-tree-hammocking.
My overall goal was to bike up and through Ross Pass (elevation 7,650’), along the Bridger Foothills trail, and link down Truman Gulch. I started off of Bracket Creek road and began pedaling up towards Ross Pass. The climb was only about a 2,000-foot elevation gain. The trail was pretty rocky and rutted, which made it difficult at times.
Once I reached the top, I searched around for two trees where I could set up my hammock. Here is where I feel hammocking can be an art. It is easy to find two trees that will let you lay level in your hammock. However, finding two trees that will allow you to do so, while facing the incredible view that you just biked to, can get tricky. Especially since I was on a windy pass and the tree selection was limited. But I made it work…
At first, I was turned off by the dead trees because I was worried they would not be stable enough. It turns out dead trees are totally capable and just as beautiful. I would not recommend it to anyone over 150 pounds, though.
Arrival at Ross Pass prior to searching for a hammock spot.
After hammocking for a bit while eating my banana and peanut butter, I started my first rocky decent. The trail was fun, coarse, and is made up of more rock than dirt. It was steep and rocky, and it had me really holding on. It was exhilarating. I was purposely screaming with excitement the whole way down. I wanted to scare any wildlife right out of my path (my biggest concern being bears).
At the bottom of this descent, I ended up in a drainage called Jones Creek. I started back up the other side of the drainage still heading towards my ending point, Truman Gulch Trailhead. The singletrack was so steep and rocky that I was forced to push my bike, making it the least pleasant part of my ride.
I was pretty tired and was probably right in the middle of my starting and ending point. I knew I had to keep going and there was no turning back. I was also on somewhat of a timeline, since I told my ride who was picking me up that I would meet them at 5 p.m. The clouds were rolling in and it looked like it may begin to storm. I was okay with this since we could use the precipitation, and I was prepared. I kept at a solid pace to make it back in time.
A little sketchy dead tree hammocking.
I finally reached the top, and I look down into the next drainage to familiar territory. Even though I was still four miles out, I said to myself “I am home!” I saw the backside of Schlasman’s, an area of Bridger Bowl that I ski frequently. I knew exactly where I was and it was comforting to me since I was tired and starting to get hungry. The rest of the ride was a breeze. I saw berry bear poop on the trail so I kept talking to myself to scare away the bears.
After descending for a bit, I turned around and saw this breathtaking view.
I linked back up to Truman Gulch, a trail that I have ridden a least once a week all summer–I had made it. I got to the bottom and couldn’t have been happier to see my ride pulling into the trail head. Perfect timing. Like I said, this was not a 14'er mountain pass I had just crossed over–actually only half of that elevation. However, I feel accomplished because I set a goal and I accomplished it. The feeling of doing so is rewarding. The fact that I had my hammock with me along the way made the ride that much better! It is because of experiences like this that leave me with an attitude of gratitude each and everyday. The Rocky Mountains are a pretty magical place and I am lucky to call them home.
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