Written by Megan Horst
Lakes, caves, berries, mountain views, and campfires, oh my! 11 women participated in an NWTA Trail Sister bikepacking weekend August 26-28th in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The weekend was led by three women who shared tips from their own experiences, bikepacking the Oregon Outback route, Idaho Hot Springs route, and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in recent years. For the NWTA event, we all met at Goose Lake for Friday night relaxing. On Saturday and Sunday, we rode the incredible Fire and Ice Cave Loop, a 53-mile loop that goes around Indian Heaven wilderness, visits Natural Bridges and Guler Ice Cave, has breathtaking views of Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens, and goes past many places for great huckleberry and blueberry picking. (See more about the route, including a land acknowledgment at https://bikepacking.com/routes/fire-ice-cave-loop/).
For most of the participants, this was their first bikepacking experience, with most people wanting to try combining their love of mountain biking with their love of backpacking and camping. Everyone learned something, from the importance of packing a spare tube (even when tubeless) and a rain layer in August (even when hard to fit on a bike) to navigating chunky gravel downhill on a loaded bike and how to “leave no trace.” For the ride leaders, it was fun to share the stoke, and we’ve got ideas about better leading next year.
Meanwhile, we hope to see more women and non-binary folks out gravel riding and bikepacking! Congratulations to everyone who joined us and finished all burly 53 miles! It was also fun to see other people bikepacking the same loop. Thanks to NWTA for providing us goodies all weekend, like beer from Hopworks, dehydrated meals from Fernweh Foods, and chocolate from Woodblock.
Photo credit: Stephanie Keske, Amanda Conley, Megan Horst, Laura Goetzman, Jaime Reed.