Oct 28, 2013 at 8:32 am #1309203
I'm bike touring starting this weekend in the American Southwest, where I've never been (other than literally hundreds of hours of picture-gazing and research).
I understand that having 1/4 the precipitation of the Northeast means a big forest fire risk. Should I even pack a stove?
My "itinerary" which is more of a rough guideline should be to head south from Colorado till Albuquerque, then west to Phoenix and then up into inland California to Yosemite. I know the big Nat'l Parks have strict no-fire policies, but I don't know about anywhere else. If I'll only be able to use it once in a blue moon, I may as well get my hot food fix at pizzerias and keep my evening meals cold, which doesn't bother me in the slightest.
I have a wood-burning titanium cone stove.Oct 28, 2013 at 8:59 am #2038609
Valerie EBPL Member
@wildtownerLocale: Grand Canyon State
At this time of year there will likely be no fire restrictions in most National Forest Lands. There may be a few specific areas with fire restrictions, but it won't be applicable across the region.Oct 28, 2013 at 9:07 am #2038614
Oh, ok. That's not what I anticipated. I guess I will bring it!
Instant potatoes high five?Oct 28, 2013 at 9:11 am #2038616
Dan YeruskiBPL Member
I think you got it right. Hot pizza when needed and then save some for a cold evening meal:-)Oct 28, 2013 at 9:19 am #2038627
That reminds me, there's House Fried Rice in my fridge just begging for cold consumption. Let's eat!
THREAD DRIFTOct 28, 2013 at 10:40 am #2038661
Bring a Snow Peak GigaPower to cover your bases. In deserts there is nothing you are allowed to burn. National Forests vary.Oct 28, 2013 at 10:47 am #2038663
Nick, can you expand on that? Can I grab a few branches of the most common shrub when I' camping on BLM land in the desert or is that illegal?
Very relevant information I'm going to need. Since I'll be in 10+ state and national parks across four to five states, it's going to be difficult keeping all the rules and regulations in check. I am much better off finding a least-common-denominator set of practices that can be used throughout the region.
Honestly, if there's even a question of whether or not I can make a twig fire in my cone, I'm not bringing it, because I feel very strongly about being part of the solution in the preservation of these parks.Oct 28, 2013 at 11:02 am #2038670
Nick would probably feel right at home in Eastern Washington. Arid, dry, and we'll see temps in the triple digits for weeks at a time and over 110 for a couple weeks every summer.
When I'm backpacking/camping locally, I either don't cook or cook with a canister stove; in fact, this is the only reason I own a canister stove as I cook with Esbit everywhere else. When one of these fires start, it'll run away from you faster than you can empty all of your water bottles onto it.
I'd stay away from any kind of stick fire that will throw a spark. I'm not convinced that a canister stove is necessarily safer than my Esbit cook kit but there are places where that's all that is allowed. I'm not trying to be melodramatic but in this environment, you need to take fire prevention to a higher level bordering on neurosis.
BTW Make sure your tires are ready for the New Mexico goat-heads.Oct 28, 2013 at 11:03 am #2038671
Chad BBPL Member
I think the easiest solution would be to bring any stove other than a wood burner. This time of year, you won't likely encounter any fire bans, so that opens the door for alcohol/esbit. Wood gathering (even a small amount) at any national or state park will most likely be prohibited. National forests are a different story, most of the ones I frequent in AZ actually encourage gathering of down wood, as there is so darn much of it. Wood gathering on BLM land will vary from area to area. So logistically speaking, the easiest solution would be to not bring the wood burner.
Thread drift . . . what areas in AZ are you planning on passing through besides Phoenix?Oct 28, 2013 at 11:05 am #2038673
Bring a gigapower or similar like Nick suggests. Generally speaking if there are fire restrictions, gas stoves are still allowed since they have a shut off valve (no esbit or alcohol). This time of year is usually low forest fire risk, and AZ has received a lot of rain this monsoon.
As for twigs to burn, don't. Even if it's not explicitly banned, the desert is incredibly fragile. With such a low amount of precipitation the growth rates are pretty low. It may take decades to grow a foot's worth of twigs from a desert scrub plant. If you don't know the species it's not worth it. Bring your own firewood to campsites if you aren't backpacking otherwise stick with a gas stove.
Now's a great time of year to be in the SW, just remember at elevation (4000' and up) it can get just as cold or snowy as anywhere else in the nation so don't get caught unprepared.Oct 28, 2013 at 11:20 am #2038677
Good info, guys. The wood stove is out. My intention for this thread is "Know exactly how to light a fire in the SW, or don't light a fire."
The alternative focus of "How can I get away with a fire?" never crossed my mind. Just so you know where I'm coming from. I look at the desert the same way I look at the alpine region in the Northeast. The growth rate is so slow, I don't even step on plants if I can help it. I'm glad to be confirmed in doing the right thing, as I love preservation.
Anyways, CB, as to what other areas of AZ i'm looking at? Not sure yet. I'm talking with three Colorado locals right now getting a "Best Idea" of where I'm headed. I find talking to locals about where to ride is always more rewarding than trying to eagle-eye a route for myself on google maps. If you have any suggestions for AZ, lay them on me, even if they're a big detour from Phoenix.
After talking with Mike Adamski, I'm strongly considering scrapping the east side of the mountains and going for a push right over them to Durango, which puts me in range of Arches National Park, a beloved favorite from my research.
As for my kit, I'm prepared to go down to 0º. I have a 15º sleeping bag with an expedition-weight baselayer, rain gear, a big puffy jacket, puffy mittens, thick winter socks, the works. Also brought a lot of windproof stuff for cycling in 30ºF or lower. I'm treating the 2 weeks in Colorado like a midwinter trip.Oct 28, 2013 at 11:33 am #2038682
If I did the Over-The-Rockies route, here's my idea. Sorry about the link size:
If I did the Eastern route, it'd look something more like this:
Thoughts?Oct 28, 2013 at 11:43 am #2038686
I know you're on a bike but not sure if you do any MTB. If you do obviously the Colorado Plateau is a must. Temps get cold but weather is generally clear. Even so, any of the places near Moab are nice hikes from what I hear (haven't been able to make any trips myself unfortunately). Similarly the National Trail on South Mtn in PHX is supposed to be a world class MTB trail, otherwise much of the hiking in the immediate PHX area is overcrowded and less than inspiring.
I definitely recommend the Superstitions this time of year. While cold, anything on the Mogollon Rim is impressive. It's a 1000ft escarpment that cuts the state in half.
Some pointers about AZ hiking compared to nearly everywhere else in the country that I've been.
1) Our maintained trails are rockier and harder to follow than most places unmaintained. They are very ankle unfriendly.
2) Water is unreliable year round and weighs A LOT.
3) There is a lot of vertical relief, while we may not have the mountains of the Rockies, we frequently see 20% grades up and down for miles on end. This slows down your mileage considerably
4) Every rock and plant exists to shred skin and UL clothing. Dense weave nylon/supplex is your friend.Oct 28, 2013 at 11:44 am #2038688
Eugene SmithBPL Member
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
Whatever you do, don't glaze over NM.Oct 28, 2013 at 11:59 am #2038698
Good info, good info.
The bike is a beast. However, it's no MTB.
So I think the actual mountain bike trails will have to be left to specialized equipment. For this trip, I am the road warrior (see my profile pic for more info).
I can't do any hikes unless I find someone to watch the bike. This might happen and that's great, but I can't count on it. I've heard war stories about tourists who hid their bike in a ditch miles from the road, covered it with a tarp and plenty of foliage, and STILL got robbed for everything they own.
As for water, it's a minor concern but I figure I just have to make sure I'm pointed towards a town every two days or so to make sure I can refill. At any given time, I can carry 10.5 liters maximum. Water is another thing I'm going to carefully play by ear.
As for tires; I've got about 2,000 flat-free miles on my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, and I know how to repair a flat in minutes. I'm hoping that's enough. I wish I had one of those metal thingys that pull thorns out before they go around a second time on the tire and dig in.Oct 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm #2038701
Ah, well as a road warrior it depends on your route. If you come through Flagstaff to PHX, I highly recommend going through Oak Creek/Sedona. Lots of switchbacks and an amazingly beautiful canyon. Water won't be as much of a concern if you're on the road (hard to find a 60mi stretch without a gas station). Petrified Forest/Painted desert is also interesting.
From Payson, AZ to Phoenix there's a nice road with lots of saguaros to view.
Going into California, hit Joshua Tree. This time of year is perfect and it really is a sight to see. There's lots to do and it's surprising how much variation exists, but the region is huge. Just find a good route and make the trip a "sampler" of the SW. Any way you go you'll find something totally different from the NE or even the Rockies.Oct 28, 2013 at 12:20 pm #2038702
I think it would be impossible to see "everything" so I'm trying to make it a best-of trip. I've taken a lot of geology, and that means I have seen enough pictures of Arches, Zion, and the GC to fill a truck. I can't wait to spend time in all 3.
I saw the Petrified Forest on the map in my eastern route. We'll see if weather cooperates or not in Colorado for me to go over the rockies. if not, Petrified Forest will replace Arches on my itinerary.
There's always a second trip!Oct 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm #2038710
"Nick, can you expand on that? Can I grab a few branches of the most common shrub when I' camping on BLM land in the desert or is that illegal?"
In many deserts it is illegal to gather or burn anything, to include BLM land. If it isn't illegal, it should be. Deserts are fragile, not waste land.
Most places that have fire restrictions also ban the light stoves we use (alcohol, Esbit, etc.), but normally allow canister stoves.
The Snow Peak is light, reliable, and easy to pack. There are similar stoves on the market, but my experience with small canister stoves is limited to the Snow Peak stoves, Gaz Globe Trotter, Optimus 731 Mouse Trap, and the old Gerry stove. The only one still available is Snow Peak.
If you want to be really cool, get a Svea 123 :)Oct 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm #2038712
Yeah, definitely aware they aren't just big, flat, dead expanses. Thanks for the additional info. I think the "plan" right now is to skip the stove entirely and then pick up a canister stove on the way if I feel so inspired.Oct 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm #2038867
Go in the summer. You can fry your food on large rocks. No stove or fire needed.Oct 29, 2013 at 10:22 am #2039080
Charlie MurphyBPL Member
Just returned from a great hiking/paddling trip through southern Utah. This trip originally was a bike tour. Changed my mind for various reasons. Nights are already cold(Cedar Mesa, Canyonlands, Moab, Green River). My elevations varied but still I woke up almost every morning with frost on my bivy. Had to sleep with my canister for my JetBoil. Worked well as long as it was above freezing. Still worked @26F but was not nearly as fast. Also some places expect you to pack out your fire pit ashes, must have a fire ring/pan @ some areas AND carry out your waste…Wag Bags. I am totally not a fan of these. Lots of rules and regs out there. Jetboil kept things simple.
One thing to keep in mind is water. I remember reading some blogs and that seems the be the restricting aspect of southwest bike touring. I did see a fair amount of touring cyclist on the roads. Here are some links I saved for various bits of info. Remember nights are coming earlier and earlier. Days are less than 12 hours now. Enjoy those star filled nights!!!
Might be of some use to you.
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/708933-Touring-Southern-Utah-in-Mid-March-First-Self-Supported-TripOct 29, 2013 at 10:27 am #2039084
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I though of solar stoves while reading through this, but it sounds like canister stove time to me. Eric Chan just posted about the lost hiker in California who set off a small fire trying to warm up.
Max, did you give up on the West Coast trip?
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