Words and photos by Andy Cochrane
I promised Wyatt and Charlie the best three-week ski trip of their lives. Despite some bushwacking, whiteouts, frozen toes, long days, seemingly endless rain, and some nights spent on the side of the highway, I'm pretty sure I delivered. And if not the best, it certainly was the most memorable.
As we packed almost 200 pounds of dehydrated meals into our bike trailers the day before departure, we agreed that the trip idea was good, at least in principle. We would take as much PTO as possible, turn off our emails, and call our moms one last time. Then we would begin the biggest backyard adventure we could imagine, a 650-mile bike ride linking together seven Cascade volcanoes with just sweat, candy, grit and 17 free days. In total we would log over 100,000 feet of vert and I'd be lying if my legs didn't take weeks to recover. The goal? We wanted to create an epic adventure without the use of fossil fuels, hopefully inspiring other people to find their own adventures closer to home.
Our first curveball came early. Complicating our plans, we wanted to respect safety in regards to COVID, and decided to do our full trip self-supported, carrying our food and gear in bike trailers that weighed in at 140 pounds each. Along the way we would filter all of our water, camp on the side of the road, on BLM land or at small campsites we found, and despite some generous offers, we wouldn't accept gifts from strangers or friends we saw along the way. We gave ourselves one day to climb each peak and one day to bike to the next one, with roughly three contingency days for bad weather or sore legs. How bad could it be?
Along the way there were many lessons. Keep things slow and steady. There is very little water in the high desert. You never regret a swim. There's no such thing as too many calories. The best decisions aren't always the easiest. Type 2 and type 3 fun are hard to differentiate. And most importantly, the group is more important than any single person in it. Adventuring with friends can be tough. Everyone has different expectations and motivations and sometimes they don’t line up. But the most important thing to remember is that you're all in it together.