We literally had almost no plan at all.
This is the third consecutive year that Brian Anthony and I have gone on a bikepacking trip. We know that 1) we like going off the beaten bath, and 2) I’m much less fit for cycling than he is. With those things understood, we left Ketchum, Idaho at 6pm on some of the best singletrack I’ve ever ridden. But unlike the folks passing us, we were fully loaded for 4ish days in the backcountry.
We soon realized that our compulsion to stay off pavement wouldn’t allow us to complete the circumnavigation of the Sawtooth Mountains that we’d kinda sorta thought about doing. We checked out Redfish Lake and by the time we reached Stanley we decided to head east on pavement until finding a road that cut right between two stretches of Wilderness, hopefully allowing us to complete a loop back to Ketchum. Lots of time staring at apps and maps. Each night we spent sleeping on the banks of a river we’ve never seen or heard of, but larger than any river in my adopted home state of Utah. There is so much Wilderness around Ketchum—it’s truly incredible—but it also isn’t supportive of cyclists. The trail we found threaded the needle between Wilderness but also went up the north side of a 9000-foot pass. We didn’t know what to expect…but we kinda knew what to expect, and we were right. That was perhaps one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever done on—er, with—a bike.A few hours of pushing and carrying bikes up firm snow put us on top of the pass, and the south-facing descent was some of the steepest biking I’ve ever done. We were soon out of the snow and riding into Galena Lodge, which is a Swiss mountain hut dropped right into Idaho. From there, we looped back to Ketchum on gravel and dirt and I was home the next night.