Apr 13, 2015

Black Canyon Trail, AZ Bikepacking

We decided to get out and do some bikepacking. I've ridden multiple day rides, but always with a truck in support. I had been spoiled. It was time to see what living off the bike was like and sort out my setup.
We decided to take our time doing a trail that, if in a hurry, could be done in 1 day. We parked the truck in Mayer after dropping my car near Rock Springs in Black Canyon City.


 photo Black Canyon Trail 002.jpg We decided that getting away from the highway and finding a nice camp spot was the only order of business for the time left until dark.  photo Black Canyon Trail 004.jpg This first section of the BCT is fantastic. Flowing, smooth and basically empty! I assumed that this section would be less used and maybe less improved. I was wrong. Every turn was made with a mountain bike in mind. Even with all of the gear on our bikes. They rode great. I think we were both impressed at how little the extra gear and weight impacted the riding.  photo Black Canyon Trail 005.jpg Not a bad little camp on the BCT. It was a cold night, but not so cold as to be miserable. Just cold enough to really want a nice little fire!  photo Black Canyon Trail 006.jpg The next day we got up at an extremely lazy hour. After coffee and breakfast it was time to start cruising. Here is the first water stop along the way.  photo Black Canyon Trail 011.jpg The water was sufficiently clean for "pumping" if you have a filter. This was so early in the days ride that we just kept on cruising.  photo Black Canyon Trail 013.jpg We were yelling back and forth as we rode about how awesome this section was. Something about morning air, winding flowing trail and flowers everywhere. It did not suck.  photo Black Canyon Trail 015.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 017.jpg Lots of little shelf sections and occasional tight turns. As soon as you build a lot of speed, be careful, there are some turns that it would hurt to blow!  photo Black Canyon Trail 019.jpg So many flowing turns.  photo Black Canyon Trail 023.jpg This little guy was hanging out one moment and completely disappeared the next. Quite fast! What is it? http://www.reptilesofaz.org/Snakes-Subpages/h-s-grahamiae.html  photo Black Canyon Trail 024.jpg Everything was in various states of bloom.  photo Black Canyon Trail 026.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 028.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 029.jpg We stopped at Bumble Bee/Crown King road. Another stock tank for both cattle and wild game.  photo Black Canyon Trail 031.jpg So many different blooms.  photo Black Canyon Trail 033.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 035.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 036.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 037.jpg The terrain changes quite a bit as you descend. The temperatures ascend with every mile too!  photo Black Canyon Trail 038.jpg Cactus can grow in the strangest of places.  photo Black Canyon Trail 039.jpg Good ol Frank Burns "Bland Mine." No, I have no idea who he is.  photo Black Canyon Trail 040.jpg We decided to turn around.  photo Black Canyon Trail 041.jpg Water, shade? Time for a quick side trip for a break.  photo Black Canyon Trail 043.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 044.jpg Sure, it's too early for lunch, but that didn't stop me from eating my first lunch...  photo Black Canyon Trail 047.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 048.jpg Time to hit the trail again.  photo Black Canyon Trail 052.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 054.jpg  photo Black Canyon Trail 053.jpg So many switchbacks. The great news is that since this trail was built by mountain bikers they are all ridable. I didn't say easily, but any that I put a foot down on, I knew it was because I failed. Not the trail. haha.  photo Black Canyon Trail 055.jpg We stopped at Black Canyon and pumped water. It was in the 80's at this elevation so I was running low on water. It's nice to be able to refill no matter where you are. You can see the trail switching it's way back up the side of the canyon.  photo Black Canyon Trail 057.jpg So many great views. It's nice to take this ride easy. A head down "training" ride at full speed along here would mean I'd miss most of the views.  photo Black Canyon Trail 058.jpg Lots of these along the route. Much nicer than opening and closing gates. A couple have a slat or two missing so be careful. Rusted steel can do a lot more than just cut you and there are no access roads nearby to have help show up.  photo Black Canyon Trail 061.jpg We were in Saguaro territory.  photo Black Canyon Trail 063.jpg Turn left at the boots if you're riding north. Right if you're heading south. ;-)  photo Black Canyon Trail 064.jpg The Agua Fria river. This will do nicely for a second nights camp spot.  photo Black Canyon Trail 067.jpg There were little "cotton" puffs blowing around and covering the water's surface. Thankfully allergies were no worse than normal for this time of year.  photo Black Canyon Trail 074.jpg We filled up our water supply again. Jumped in. Then promptly switched to Whiskey. :-)  photo Black Canyon Trail 075.jpg There were 4 or 5 of these doing some pretty good fishing next to camp. I've heard the name of them before, but I couldn't remember it.  photo Black Canyon Trail 081.jpg After finding a big scorpion under a rock in one spot, we decided to move a few feet away to build a fire. (To another spot where there were surely more of them anyway) Not a bad day on the bike!  photo Black Canyon Trail 083.jpg When you hear something right next to you making a lot of noise at night, it's always nice to see it's just a frog.  photo Black Canyon Trail 091.jpg We listened to them croak the entire night. I tried to pretend it was a white noise machine. A very annoying white noise machine. Back on the trail. We had just a few miles of climbing to get back to the car.  photo Black Canyon Trail 092.jpg In just a couple minutes you go from at the rivers edge to looking down on it pretty far. Still, when you are 1 mile into your ride, the climb is easy. In summer, after 20 miles of riding it's not quite as easy...  photo Black Canyon Trail 093.jpg The last gate ramp... It was another great trip. Nice to have my bikepacking setup more dialed in. I'm ready for a longer trip!  photo Black Canyon Trail 096.jpg

Oh, did I forget to mention that when I posted that we'd been dealing with flats all throughout the ride a buddy saw it, texted me to see where my car was and left a 6 pack of some nice Oscar Blues Pinner under the car. I had two different people comment as we road that morning that there was "A car with some sodas or beer under it."
Yes, as silly as a breakfast cylinder was to have after that ride, it was awesomely good and cold from the night air. Thanks buddy!

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