I’ve been bikepacking before but to be honest, for awhile I thought bike packing wasn’t really my jam. My touring bike always felt unbalanced, my shoulders hurt from long days in the saddle and my hands were constantly cramping or falling asleep. Turns out all I needed was the right bike!
This year I started riding the Sutra ULTD. For the most part I’ve just been enjoying riding gravel routes. I’ve been waiting for the chance to take it on an overnight adventure and recently was able to do just that. My husband Josef loved my bike so much, he had to have one too. So off we went on our Sutra love adventure!
This trip I decided on a Revelate Frame Bag, Ortlieb Seat Bag, two Salsa Anything Cages on the fork, a REI Junction Top Tube Bag for snacks and a Revelate Designs Handlebar Harness. I also had two water cages and my High Above Lookout Hip Pack with another water bottle and small items.
Josef’s Sutra had a Swift front bag and a back rack with Swift panniers plus water bottle cages.
We brought our two person tent, sleeping pads and bags, camp chairs, jet boil, food, camp mugs, clothes, small battery pack and phone chargers, camp sandals and toiletries.
The Palouse to Cascades trail runs 250 miles across Washington State starting in North Bend and ending at the Washington Idaho boarder. We only had a weekend to ride so we decided our route would be North Bend to Ellensburg. 84 miles on a gravel trail, traveling over Snoqualmie Pass.
The views were amazing. The west side of the pass was full of evergreen trees, mountain views and traveled by Lake Kachess. To get over the pass we went through a 2.25 mile tunnel. Lights required. And a jacket. It gets pretty cold in there.
After about 40 miles we stopped at Lake Easton State Park to camp for the night. Late that night we heard other people setting up camp at the second biker/hiker spot next to us and that morning we chatted a little bit with one of the bike packers that had set up there. He was also riding the Palouse to Cascades trail, but traveling further than we were in preparation for riding the Divide next spring! Turns out we have mutual friends. You gotta love bikes and the biking community!
We packed up and started the second day of our adventure. Easton to Ellensburg. The weather was beautiful and the trail took us through farmland, a couple tunnels, a canyon that runs along the Yakima River and beautiful basalt cliffs. This was my favorite part of the trail. Washington State offers such a variety of landscapes and each has their own type of beauty. Per usual the outdoors calmed my soul and I could feel the stress of work and other responsibilities shed away with each pedal stroke. Mother Nature heals all.
When we got to Ellensburg we met up with two of our daughters. One had come to pick us up and bring us home, and the other one goes to school at CWU in Ellensburg. We met up for dinner and got to share the trip with the kids. Perfect ending.
Bikepacking is a learning experience. We know what worked well and what set up changes we need to make before the next trip. And there will be more trips to follow! I have never been so comfortable on a gravel/adventure bike! I enjoyed every minute of the long sweet ride. I’ve fallen back in love with bike packing and can’t wait to load up the Sutra for the next adventure!