My first solo Maah Daah Hey bikepacking trip

Forums Mountain Bike Forum My first solo Maah Daah Hey bikepacking trip

--
SHARES
  

This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  stumpyfsr 3 years, 3 months ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #110366

    [img][img]http://www.singletracks.com/images/uploads/2012/05/P1020894-0.jpg[/img][/img]
    Hello, fellow riders! I would like to share my experience from  a trip through Maah Daah Hey trail in North Dakota.
    Everything began with  the idea of doing something unusual for my 30th Birthday. I had a few other ideas on what to do but decided to go with Maah Daah Hey – the longest continuos singletrack I know. Plus, it’s fairly close to home comparing to West Coast, and also a well known as MTB Mecca.
    Since I have only one, full-suspension bike at the moment, I’ve decided to go with the  lightest gear I have and carry it in the backpack.
    Here’s a list of my gear:
    – Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 29er Comp with KS adjustable seatpost and Zu-Zu pedals
    – Osprey Atmos 65 backpack with 3L bladder and 1L bottle
    – BA Jack Rabbit SL2 tent (I like comfort)
    – Marmot Atom 40+ sleeping bag and REI Treker pad
    – 2 spare tubes, patch kit, shock & tire pumps, multi-tool, duck-tape, rope, derailer hanger, zip-ties, quick-link, brake pads, handlebar light and hiking headlight with extra batteries, lighter and magnesium fire starter, bug spray, first aid kit
    – mini-stove, pot, folding knife, spoon, mug
    – freeze dried food, cliff bars, Gatorade powder, tea, sugar, beef jerky, trail mix
    – map and Garmin Oregon 450t GPS for navigation
    I wanted to go there on the last week of April but there was no water on campgrounds yet, so I went there one week later. Shuttle along with many helpful tips were provided by Dakota Cyclery.
    [img][img]http://www.singletracks.com/images/uploads/2012/05/P1020780-0.jpg[/img][/img]
    When arrived to Bennett Camp, I put a tent, ate dinner, and fell asleep. It was raining all night  but the morning was sunny and windy, so I was waiting for a ground to dry up a little. At 1pm I’ve decided that the trail is dry enough. So I  crossed a little creek and with no fear started riding up the Cottonwood Trail. After 0.8 miles my wheels stoped rolling and I turned around to try my luck on an alternate route. I knew, I had to gain some elevation to reach dryer ground. Long story short, that day I was fighting sticky clay most of the afternoon but finally got to dryer trail. I was impressed by remoteness and beauty of the area. Wildlife, such as wild turkey, whitetail deer, and some other deer were spotted.  Also fresh cougar footprints were found on the trail.
    [img][img]http://www.singletracks.com/images/uploads/2012/05/P1020781-0.jpg[/img][/img]
    Ticks. These creatures were everywhere. Bug spray helped a bit but still at the end of the day I counted 28 ticks on my shorts only… The light thermal layer I was wearing allowed me to stay safe from bites during the whole ride.
    Since I left Bennett Camp so late, I didn’t make it to the next camp before dusk. It is impossible to ride this trail at night. Marker posts are visible at daytime but not at night. And it’s very easy to get confused by sometimes better developed animal trail even with daylight. Tent was set on elevated dry plato, beef jerky and trail mix for dinner because I ran out of water. Coyotes were hawling “Good night”.
    Day One threw me out of schedule…
    Next morning I quickly packed my stuff and started riding. I wish I had a rack for my gear. 42 pounds on my back was a lot more then I thought I want to handle…
    Rolling resistance was huge because tires were sinking in soft barely ridden trail. But the scenery was well worth the effort…  Petrified stumps, silty creeks, landscape that changes it’s face after every rain…
    Finally I got to the second camp where I supposed to be the night before. At that very moment there was nothing tasted better than water. After a breakfast-lunch combo and hot tea I refilled with water and start riding to cover another 20 miles to the next camp. At this point I realized that it’s impossible to reach my goal of covering the whole thing in 3 days.
    Despite the already mentioned rolling resistance I was riding much faster then on day 1. Very steep heels I was hiking. Downhills was a pleasure especially with a seat-drop. According to my  map I was gaining elevation during the first two days and a half of the day 3.
    [img][img]http://www.singletracks.com/images/uploads/2012/05/P1020790-0.jpg[/img][/img]
    [img][img]http://www.singletracks.com/images/uploads/2012/05/P1020805-0.jpg[/img][/img]
    Day three was memorable for a really strong NW wind, up to 39 mph. That helped sometimes when riding in SE direction. But when the wind attacked me from the side, I barely kept control over of the bike. On one occasion when I lifted my front wheel over an obstacle, the wind blew me and my bike out of the trail. Landing in the high  grass wasn’t bad, even somewhat pleasant at some point.
    What I should have really packed with me, is Chain Lube. Usually that lube stands up to 100+ miles. But unusually muddy conditions caused a regular chainsuck in smaller chain ring on second day. Luckily that day I met a family at a campsite who were so nice as to  give me the lube. That helped a lot.
    Setting up a tent in that strong wind was a challenge too. No need to say that cooking dinner was an inside-the-tent event.
    For some unknown reason water from the bladder was spilled and successfully absorbed by my sleeping bag during a day. I made a mental note to pack it in a waterproof bag during future trips. All the above mentioned inconveniences did not bother me at all because I was under the influence of the surrounding me nature, air filled with sage aroma and wildlife sounds. And the trail itself is so awesome – a real off-road.
    [img][img]http://www.singletracks.com/images/uploads/2012/05/P1020869-0.jpg[/img][/img]
    A special note about my descent to the third camp: that is one sweet series of switchbacks. The best descent on Maah Daah Hey!
    Also on the third day I noticed that after the crossing  Little Missouri River trail was packed, ridden more, and better maintained.
    Day 4 was supposed to be the toughest with almost 30 miles to Medora. But that day there was less wind, less climb and a bit lighter pack. I was stopping frequently at prairie dog cities or just taking pictures here and there. I passed by Buffalo Gap camp, rode a bit more and saw I-94. After not seeing any human for a three days a freeway to me was  like something out of this world. I felt like I went through a time portal. All that magical beauty and power of Nature was left behind…
    After a little more riding and a few decent climbs I finally saw Medora – a little charming town, where you don’t need a GPS to get to the right place.
    Loran and Jennifer were in the shop. They’re greeted me, stinky and dirty. I was very happy that I found em in the shop, so I could give thanks  for their help in person. After a short story of my adventure, we took a fee pictures and I left this friendly place with a promise to come back again.
    Dakota Cyclery presented me with  a T-shirt and beer glass with their logo. It will remind me for a long time about my first solo bikepacking trip and people who helped me to made my dream true.
    [img][img]http://www.singletracks.com/images/uploads/2012/05/P1020897-0.jpg[/img][/img]

  • #110367

    Sounds like a great trip even with all the troubles. I wonder what you would have done differently? Bike panniers or maybe a small bike bag or two would have taken some weight off your back. Anything you packed that you would not have if you did it again? That pack looks stuffed to the gills!

  • #110368

    On my next trip I will take hardtail bike with rack, frame bag and handlebar bag. One person tent would be great. A lot of space in my pack was taken by tent. Bug spray will stay at home. And backpack would be a much smaller.

  • #110369

    Great recap. Sounds like despite some learning curve moments it was a great trip. Thanks for sharing.

    As info, I picked up the Revelate seat bag and handlebar Sling and Pocket. I had a two-man tent and a few other small odds and ends in the seat bag and had a dry bag on the front with sleeping pad, bag liner, jet boil, and clothes. The Pockets attach to the Sling and hold quite a bit of smaller items like snacks, maps, first aid kit, etc.

  • #110370
    "fleetwood" wrote

    Great recap. Sounds like despite some learning curve moments it was a great trip. Thanks for sharing.

    As info, I picked up the Revelate seat bag and handlebar Sling and Pocket. I had a two-man tent and a few other small odds and ends in the seat bag and had a dry bag on the front with sleeping pad, bag liner, jet boil, and clothes. The Pockets attach to the Sling and hold quite a bit of smaller items like snacks, maps, first aid kit, etc.

    Yes, this trip was awesome. Thanks for the info. Will check it out for sure. 😀

  • #195704

    How would this trail take to a cyclocross bike?

  • #195706

    Dalton, I haven’t tried CX bike off road but I think it should work fine, if trail is dry. Trail surface varies from smooth to rough and could be overgrown in places. Wider tires might soften a ride a bit

RELATED TOPICS

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.