Living in Phoenix without a car is rough. Actually, living in Phoenix at all isn’t exactly what I had planned for myself. Growing up in Nebraska, a fifteen minute drive across town was far. I managed to live in Flagstaff for four years without a car and I loved it. I can’t stand traffic and I can’t stand having to drive to get everywhere. My resolution was to invest in a bike to get me around town while I am here. I found a good deal on Craigslist and got a 1999 Miyata.
A couple weeks later Kyle biked out here from San Diego to get his respite care license. We biked around Surprise and I became inspired to go on an overnight trip with him. I figured if I had a bike, I might as well put it to good use. It is hard to get to backpacking trails out here without a car, so a bike trip was as close as I could get. I got my bike tuned up, Kyle helped me get some nice tires and we were ready to go! I am saving every penny I make for my upcoming hike, so I decided not to invest in racks and panniers. I saw a picture of a fellow hiker, Scarecrow, wearing his pack on his bike… So I figured I could manage. I packed only the bare necessities: sleeping bag, thermals for pajamas, a water reservoir, my buff, toothbrush and paste, hand sanitizer, my neoair, a fleece top and a couple days of food. After filling up Kyle’s tires we were off to Lake Pleasant!
The ‘plan’ was to bike to Lake Pleasant and return the next day… But we all know how good I am at sticking to a plan. We took some back roads to avoid the highways and had a nice ride out to the Carefree Highway. We ended up on a dirt road a couple miles that had some big hills to climb. That was surprisingly my favorite part of the trip! After biking about 30 miles we rolled into Lake Pleasant and checked out some camping options. The lake was bigger and more beautiful than I had imagined! I can’t believe it was my first time visiting the lake when my parents only live 30 miles away. After scoping out the area we decided it was time for a cold beer. Luckily there was a store… But we discovered it was further away then my legs were up for. The lake area had lots of ups and downs and my legs were BURNING! We decided it wasn’t worth it and headed back to where we thought the best beach camping was. None of the camping appeared to be very flat, but we figured we would make do.There was a camper in the middle of the little peninsula, so we thought we’d break there and then go find a more remote spot to set up for the night. The people in the camper, Tom, Shelley and Joe, smiled and waved when we set our bikes down. They offered us a cold Mike’s Hard Lemonade and asked us about our journey. We started chatting and quickly joined forces on a mission to find beer. Another group drove up and we offered them ten bucks toward gas to run us to the store. We were set! Good company, a couple cold beers, and a feast! Shelley kept saying, “we’re really open, whatever is ours, is yours”. She offered us cots with mattresses to use for the night and told us if the wind got too intense we were welcome to sleep in there huge camper. They have the kind that opens in the back and is very spacious.Just a bit later a kayaker pulled up and joined in on our conversation. Phillip ended up sticking around until sunset. Tom cooked up some Elk for dinner as Shelley continued bringing out snacks. I made sure to tell them this was one of our dreams as long distance hikers and travelers :). Philip found Kyle’s bike ride out from San Diego to be the greatest thing ever! He kept talking about how rad it was that he simply “locked the door, and set out to find his freedom!” After eating we all shared stories, beers and laughs for a couple hours.Kyle and I slept on the cots and didn’t bother setting up our tent. The stars were bright and it would have been a pleasant night if the wind hadn’t picked up. It only seemed to get stronger as I tossed and turned all night. My sleeping bag (which is a short), made it hard to keep my head covered, so the wind was hitting my face. I decided for the millionth time it was time to get a new sleeping bag. The wind began to die down as the sun came up and I was able to get a couple hours of rest.Tom and Shelley were gracious enough to offer us more food for breakfast and Kyle and I decided we were definitely staying another night. A van pulled up and out came Phillip! His excitement for Kyle and his adventures didn’t stop! He told us that he couldn’t stop talking about it to his girlfriend the previous night. He was definitely inspired by Kyle’s awesomeness.
Around one we said goodbye to our new friends and biked around the lake in search of a more remote camping spot on the beach. We ended up at a hiking trail, which I took for about four miles. The sun was already setting as I finished my hike and we headed back to a spot we had found earlier in the day. Flat spots were hard to find, but we found a decent one that was just big enough for our tent. We cooked up some Annie’s macaroni and were pretty exhausted. It didn’t take long for us to jump in our sleeping bags. Kyle asked me if I wanted to go on a bike trip. I said I thought that’s what we were doing… He thought we should just keep going and I was quick to agree! We were off to Wickenburg the next day.
The 30 mile ride to Wickenburg took us just over three hours. After the ups and downs leaving the lake, we pretty much had a slight, but steady uphill all the way to town. We took just one break during the ride and my legs were screaming at me by the time we arrived. We rode around the town and stopped in at the Visitor’s Center in search of nearby camping. After grabbing some more food at Safeway we headed to the Wickenburg campground, across the way from the rodeo grounds. The last mile was a steep incline and for the first time on the trip, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to keep pedaling. The gears on my bike were giving me a bit of trouble, but I was stoked to make it up. When we finished climbing we arrived at the primitive campground, which had a beautiful view. We warmed up some chili, played a little frisbee, and rested in the shade for a couple hours. We watched a beautiful sunset from our camping spot. I was glad to be back to the simple life I had been missing. I spent the evening thinking about my hike this summer and future bike trips. The thought of being in Surprise for a couple more months started to bother me. I had been enjoying the time at home… Enjoying paychecks, doing yoga and relaxing at home… But the road began to call my name again. I knew I was ready to hike mile after mile soon.
I had a blast on my first trip! It inspired me to continue biking… We spent the days thinking about the next trip we would be able to do. I wanted to be back Wednesday night for my belly dancing class, as well as to get some hours in at work. I know I still need to make some money to be able to afford my hike this season, but the itch to bike and hike deepens. Kyle and I are considering a bike trip out to Roosevelt Lake or to Oracle, AZ. I am not sure we will be able to fit it in before the kickoff (PCT party) because we have to wait until after my nephew’sbirthday next week. If not, I am thinking about biking out to San Diego with him!