STORIES

Fish Creek Wash

Fish Creek Bikepacking

There is a first time for everything, and this was the Jonnies first time with Bikepacking. I had been before, but only once, so I was as good as new. Little to no help to anyone with any kind of serious questions, sure I could help to find a place on your bike for this or that, and I can throw out generic opinionated responses like your snacks should take priority in your bag… Or you should bring beer instead of water... but any kind of useful, helpful, information? No. Not Me. We are the blind leading the blind through the desert with the intention of coming back with a smile. Low expectations, low risk. All the pieces were in place to give this a whirl and see what the whole bikepacking thing is all about.

The Crew

The one thing we can count on with a trip like this is unpredictability, expect the unexpected. Things aren’t going to go to plan, so it’s key to have a crew that can roll with the punches and won’t melt down at the first sign of stress. I can expect that bikepacking won’t always be a downhill coast and so it’s nice when you are with people who can find the fun in challenges. Bottom line, the point is to have a good time and explore with friends. There are those bike packing missions that have a purpose, raising money, raising awareness, pedaling for the blind… etc. And those missions are amazing, but this was not that, this was just about pedaling around, laughing, and enjoying the ride.

From left to right: Johnny Prouty, John Tattersall, Joey Cobbs

Johnny Prouty standing next to bike.

Jonny waves as he rides away.

Joey rides bike under sand overhang.

The Plan

We had a starting point and a few possible end points in mind, everything was pretty short and low-key. That way if conditions were tough or if we had a catastrophic equipment failure, we could keep distance down and make it back to the truck without having to send for any search parties.

Wind Caves, Mud Caves, Diablo Dropoff were all points on the map that sounded promising. I experienced Fish Creek Wash once before and knew that would be worth the price of admission. But the rest was un-known. If we could get to one point on the map, that would be great, and if we got to all of them that would be great-ER!

Jonny's bike in front of canyon.
Jonny rides bike in front of Johnny.

Fish Creek Wash

Most of day one was spent pedaling out of Fish Creek Wash. As you may imagine, the wash was mostly sandy sprinkled with pieces of hard pack, and slightly uphill. Also, our bikes were packed in a manner that could only be described as “less than precise” and so we had frequent stops. Bag shifts, 4x4 caravans, snacking, throwing rocks, looking for desert dwellers, all reasons for stops. And so all in all, the progress made on the first day was slow. But it had been years since the three of us had been pedaling bikes together, so slow or fast, the day was a great one.

We did manage to make it up and over Diablo’s Dropoff which was point number two on the map, so there’s that... Although by the time that happened, the day was winding down and we began scanning the horizon for a place to park the rigs and call it a day. We needed to find a spot that was clear of the wind and away from any trails that may host the occasional bone crushing 4-wheeler caravan that dotted the desert.

Johnny gaze up at canyon walls. Dead rodent in the sand.
Copper cup hangs off bike. Johnny waits while caravan passes.
Jonny rides into fish creek wash.

Through the Night – Again, we kept it simple, why over think it? We found a small wash that sheltered us from the wind and couldn’t be reached by the caravans.

The Jonnies just slept with the stars while I crashed out, quite contently in the confines of a one-man tent.

Johnny and Jonny look at camp fire in early morning.

Crew wakes up in camp.

Johnny prepares for dinner.

Jonny prepares dinner with headlamp.

The Mud Caves

Wow, highlight of the trip. Hard to describe, Maybe the photos we shot can do the talking, I will say that it was a great place to pedal into and explore. I will go back again. This type of place is always changing and won’t be there forever.

Jonny walks through mudcave ravine. Johnny squeezes through mud cave opening.

The Takeaway

The glaringly obvious takeaway from this trip is that it won’t be our last. We were planning the next trip before day one was over on this trip. There is just something uniquely calming and yet exciting about packing only what you need, exploring the paths less pedaled, and seeing where the adventure takes you. All while carving, cranking and coasting on two wheels. But in a more practical sense, our take-aways for next time… pack wisely, pack balanced, and keep your plan flexible so you can enjoy the ride wherever it takes you.

Johnny rides out of ravine

Jonny rides bike along canyon wall.

Johnny rides bike down diablo dropoff Johnny and jonny ride back out of fish creek wash