Day 13: Autumnal Equinox

I wake up this morning, unmolested by bears in the night.

Today is one of two days per year when the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Happy autumnal equinox!

I’m perfecting a technique for making a cuppa tea with the least amount of energy possible. Those of you from serious tea drinking countries may wish to skip this part. I put a teabag into cold water in my thermos and heat it with the electric immersion heater to 160°F (70°C). It’s ready to drink right away and it stays hot to the last drop. For coffee, I carry a small hand grinder and heat the water to just below boiling. I’m not completely uncivilized.

I recently discovered thermos cooking and it’s a great way to save fuel. You can make things like pasta, rice, or steel cut oats by heating them to boiling and just letting them sit in the thermos instead of burning fuel to maintain a simmer.

I chatted with a fire fighter who has been on the front lines of the wildfires here in Montana. Although there are still a lot of incidents showing on the map, he explained that it’s just the “duff” burning off at this point and there are no road closures along my route.

I bought a “bear keg” for food storage today. Practically speaking, hanging a food bag in a tree would have been adequate and lighter on this trip but the whole point of this shakedown cruise is to test equipment and figure out how to pack it on the bike. The keg is something I’m going to need on the way to Alaska next year as there won’t always be trees available. Also, Alaska has grizzlies who are not as cute and cuddly as black bears.

I feel a little guilty about leaving the nickel coin “key” on top of the bear canister overnight. It’s like I’m taunting the bear. Look at me! I have opposable thumbs!

I still haven’t met a single person touring on a bicycle. I don’t know why. The daytime temperatures are absolutely perfect for riding. Nights are a little cold but not freezing yet and a good sleeping bag is all you need.

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