Wednesday, September 18, 2013


It's been fun! I've got some numbers here to sum up the trip, and a few reflections farther down.

By the numbers:
Depart Haines July 25
Depart Prince Rupert July 29
Arrive San Francisco: September 5
Distance Pedaled: 3,370 km (2,150 miles)
Total Climbing: 14,020 m (46,000 ft)
Biggest single day distance: 238 km (148 Miles)
Most climbing in one day: 3167 m (10397 ft)
Number of punctured tubes: 8 (+/-1)
Number of new tires purchased: 2
Dollars spent: $1650
Ferry Ticket: $214
Bicycle Repair/improvement: $250 (+/-50)
Pedal revolutions: 1 million
Shortest Day: -15 miles (I did go backwards one day!)
Injuries: scraped hip, stubbed toe, sun burn
Jars of peanut butter consumed: 15 (+/-2)
Calories of peanut butter consumed: 30,000 (+/-4,000)
Jet boil fuel consumed: 450 grams
Items lost: Jet Boil bottom cover, Jet Boil gas mesh, 1 sock, two rear view mirrors
Link to approximate route map: Bicycle directions Prince Rupert to San Francisco

A few reflections:
I remember a different life I had two long months ago...I was climbing mountains, painting houses, and generally playing. Then I spent three days on a ferry writing, reading and remembering. I clambered in an ice cave, tied my food in trees, and slept under the stars a half day's ride from anyone. It was hot and sunny and I was sunburned. I met crazy people: a guy named Chandler going to name a mountain, an Egyptian-Italian man who couldn't stop talking, and a stranger who gave me a popsicle. I pedaled 150 miles in one day over a mountain range when it was 90 degrees, and spent two nights hosted by a single mom with a one year old. I visited friends and relatives for four days then was sick for two. I became friends with other tourists at campgrounds in Oregon, then left them to spend time in the Redwoods and on the Lost Cost. I pedaled four days with three strangers, and know them better now than some people I've been acquainted with for years. And finally, I arrived in San Francisco and caught a ride to school.

Wow. I guess a lot of stuff happened.

Now I'm clean, have new clothes, and spend my days reading (but academic papers instead of the novel I read on the ferry) and getting ready for class and research work to start. Quite a contrast! It's a good thing I got so much exercise; I can stand to spend time at a desk now.

And here begins the next chapter of life.

I'm glad I did this trip. San Francisco doesn't seem as far from Alaska as it used to, now that I've seen how it's all connected. Arriving in new places by jet always seems so shocking; as though the place you left and the place you reached are only connected through the magic of a machine. I enjoyed seeing the big evergreen trees of Haines imperceptively give way to the smaller, deciduous trees of Washington, and those ultimately give in to the tall redwoods and smelly eucalyptus of California. And more importantly, it was fun! Fun to meet people, fun to spend my days pedaling, and fun to have an adventure.

That said, I don't think I'll do another solo bike trip. There were too many times that I wanted to say "look at that!" or to hear someone else say "Hey, let's do this!" I enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity of traveling alone, but I look forward to having friends on future adventures.

And with that I'm signing off... I hope you enjoyed the story.

Bodega Dunes State Park to San Francisco!

We got off to a slow, pleasant start on the last day of my bike trip. We ate breakfast, then pedaled less than ten miles down the road before stopping for coffee (or coffee cake in my case...I'm still not much of a coffee drinker). We met two fascinating women on their way home from the Burning Man festival and ended up staying there for over an hour before heading South again.

It was a great day to ride, with a strong north wind pushing us along. At one point I found myself in "beast mode" and flew down the road for perhaps ten miles,with Kerry in tow...Then I realized that I had blasted right past an important turn about seven miles ago, and led the other three guys astray. Fortunately, the guys weren't upset. We didn't exactly have to back track...We rejoined the route six miles later about two miles past the turn I missed...but it was close enough to back tracking that we had to turn into the wind. Once we got back on course, we picked up the tailwind again and cruised into the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay metropolitan area.

It started imperceptibly about 25 miles north of downtown. We just rolled into what seemed like any other small town along the coast. But instead of dissolving back into empty hills after a three blocks, stop lights started to appear and the buildings started to grow. We had to slow down and start choosing our route carefully to avoid traffic.

It seems like I ought to go on about the grand emotions I felt or pontificate about the great things I learned. But I didn't feel emotional as I approached the city. I just pedaled along the same way I had for the last five weeks, knowing that eventually I'd get where I was going.

Soon enough the Golden Gate bridge appeared, and we made our way up to it. As I crossed it, I began to realize that a rather long bike ride was about to end. I let the other three guys pull away from me for the first time in four days and went slowly. I watched all the people go by, commuting back home from work. I looked down at the water, out at the sun, and over to the city. I stopped and took a picture of the bridge. A well shaved cyclist going the other way with sharp bike clothes looked at my shaggy beard, greasy vest, torn shorts and duck taped saddle bags. He smiled and said "Welcome to the city." The word "welcome" never meant so much to me before.

When I finally arrived at the other side of the bridge, Kerry and Brandon were hurriedly plotting the rest of their route on their phones. I'd forgotten that they still needed to get to Oakland that night, and the sun was setting soon. Laith and I, on the other hand, planned to stay with a friend of mine from Cornell who lived just a short distance away. As we said our goodbyes, Aaron arrived on his bicycle and Laith snapped a picture:
Meeting Aaron at the end of the ride.
Laith and I followed Aaron to his apartment, packed our bikes in and then showered. My boxes of clean clothes and school supplies had already arrived in the city, and Aaron was going to give me a ride to campus. For the first time in over a month, I knew that after this shower I would actually stay clean. I had made it.
This is the view from Aaron's apartment, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
There will be one more post about this trip tomorrow, an epilogue of sorts about my move into Stanford and some overarching numbers and thoughts on the journey. I hope you've enjoyed reading...I wrote a lot of words!

Westport to Bodega Dunes State Park

The gang at Westport (thanks to Laith for the photo).
We started slowly after the food and wine in Westport, but fell into a fast pace before too long. We made good time for about 20 miles until we met another cyclist on the side of the road, along with a local that had joined him for the day. This man was undertaking a tour that dwarfed the four of ours: he had flown from his home in Ireland to Anchorage in May, pedaled north to Prudhoe Bay, then turned back South headed for Patagonia and the southern tip of South America. From there he plans to catch another flight, but rather then go back to Ireland he'll be flying to South Africa and then pedaling home! He's got a great website here:

With these two new acquaintances we stopped at a pub in Mendocino for a beer and a bite to eat, then pressed on and got to our camp at Manchester Beach just as night fell.

The next day gave some of the best cycling of the entire trip. The scenery was spectacular, the descents were fun, and the weather was fantastic. I'm grateful to Laith for sharing some photos:
A nice place to ride a bike.

That's Kerry flying down one of the descents. The road had some switch backs that allowed Laith to get this bird's eye view.
Good times on the road.
We rolled into our campsite early that day, so Laith and I headed down to the beach for a swim in the breakers. I played in the waves until I got cold--about ten minutes--then hustled back up the beach to my clothes. The campsite seemed to be a meeting ground for all the cyclists on the road. There were about 15 of us camped out at the hiker biker site. I ran into a Vancouver woman headed to Baja that I'd met on the road way back before I visited the Lost Coast. Brendan (the Irishman) arrived at the campsite too, as well as an Alaskan couple traveling with their nine-month-old baby that I'd heard about through the cycling grapevine the day before. There were other fascinating people too: a married couple that looked to be about 50 on their way to South America, some lone tourists out on long term rambles, a group of women nearly finished with their trip from Vancouver to San Francisco, and one San Francisco guy out for a three day tour on a long weekend.
The youngest cycle tourists I've ever met...and parents too.
In camp, Laith slipped into his now normal role of cooking a gourmet camp meal to share with everyone, and I cooked my usual one pot stew of something green, some sort of grain, some sort of protein, and a healthy dose of olive oil to throw a few more calories to whoever needed them after Laith's meal. We stayed up for awhile hearing stories from all the different tourists...a fitting final camp to my cycle tour.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Standish HIckey State Park to Westport

My new friends and I pulled into the Peg House a little before six o'clock, just across the street from our planned campsite. It was a fun place: there was a small shack selling burgers and beer, plenty of outdoor seating, and a guy singing uninspiring karaoke on the stage. We all chipped in for a pitcher and relaxed.

Soon, the loan karaoke singer exhausted his repertoire and my new buddy Laeth got permission to play a song on the guy's computer. Laeth had a specific song in mind: one of the other guys in the group, Kerry, was a small time musician. He'd made a CD of cycling songs that he gave out to people he met on the road, in hopes that they would spread the word and ultimately increase Kerry's sales on itunes. I sat back, drank my beer in the sunshine and chatted with these new friends while "Chicks in Spandex" played on the speakers. This is what cycle tourists dream of.

Laeth wasn't done working his magic though. Another random guy sitting nearby caught Laeth and started asking questions about the trip we were on. Laeth chatted with this stranger for quite awhile before he came back to the table. A bit later, the stranger came over and laid forty dollars on the table. "I'm buying you guys dinner," he said.

Lunch for a solo rider is one thing, but dinner for four guys!? This was unbelievable. He went on to explain that he was inspired by what we were doing and really admired it. He wanted to support us. And his generosity didn't stop there. While we were waiting for our burgers to be made, the stranger returned, saying, "You guys need desert!" His kids came back a few minutes later with a selection of ice cream bars for us to enjoy. He offered to meet us a few days later farther south and take us out for pizza too, and when he learned that one of us (Brandon) was raising money for a charity that got disabled kids out bicycling, he made a donation to the cause. Unfortunately, the timing didn't work out for pizza down the road, but I'll always remember that man's enthusiasm for our efforts and his generosity.

I had a grand time eating dinner with the three guys, and we all set up our camps together. This happened to be labor day, and everybody had returned home from their long weekend leaving the campground completely empty. Well, almost. There were a dozen English cyclists that camped at the site across from ours and they were having a party. They had beer and whisky, and steaks roasting on a fire. We joined them for awhile, and this seemed to be their normal routine. They were all in their twenties and on vacation from jobs in England. They were cycling the whole pacific coast, and they were having a good time doing it!

From Standish Hickey, the four of us pedaled South together. Thanks to Laeth, Kerry, and Brandon's welcoming spirit, we were now a team working together to get to San Francisco in three days. Although I had been reluctant to join them at first, I had to admit that it was great to have people to ride with after so much time by myself.

We started off the day with a thousand foot climb up to Leggett, than had a nice descent as we made our way back to the coast. During the course of the trip I had started to delude myself with thoughts that I was good at descending. These guys quickly showed me that was far from true. They flew down the hill, gracefully gliding around turns. I wasn't even tempted to try to keep up; I used my brakes plenty and didn't catch up until they had to stop for construction near the bottom of the hill! Fortunately our paces were reasonably similar apart from the descents, so we were able to stick together pretty well.

South of Leggett, highway one along the California coast was a cycling paradise to rival Oregon's. The road had light traffic, and rolled over hills one or two hundred feet high. The top of each hill offered a rewarding view looking out over cliffs that dropped straight to the sea. Each climb was followed by an exhilarating, curvy descent back to the edge of the sea.

We cruised down the road, enjoying the sights and making our first stop in the little town of Westport. We stopped at the only grocery store in town, which had disappointingly little food and disappointingly high prices. I was waiting outside with Laeth while Kerry and Brandon were still in the store when a local woman came by, and told us that the tomatoes and vegetables sitting in boxes outside the store were from the community garden and therefore free. "You should go to the community garden too," she continued, "everyone is welcome to pick vegetables there." I was a little unbelieving, but she insisted: "it's for everyone," she repeated.

Well, that was sufficient for us. Laeth and I, followed by Kerry, helped ourselves to a couple tomatoes each and then headed up to the community garden. The tomatoes were extraordinary; we ate them like apples. On the way to the garden, a local on the side of the road struck up a conversation with Kerry, so he stayed behind while Laeth and I went on to the garden.

The garden was small but productive. There were beats, carrots, and various leafy greens. Laeth and I picked a few, watered the plants (this was Laeth's idea...he is a tremendously thoughtful person), and talked to Kerry when he caught up to us. The local he'd met had invited us over...he had a small winery, and was happy to share. We reconnected with Brandon and headed down to the man's house.

As it turned out, this guy may have been the most unusual character I met on the entire trip. His house was a museum...a man-cave museum. It had ancient arcade machine, record players, a megalodon tooth and who knows what else. There were a couple guys around, clearly in party mode.

We learned that they had only met each other a day or two before while diving for abalone. I didn't know what an abalone was, but they told me. It's similar to a clam, but enormous and rare. There is no commercial harvest anymore, but a few can be harvested each year for private consumption. Apparently, there is a black market for these things where they sell for $500 a piece.

I also learned that "ab diving" is tremendously dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. It's illegal to use scuba gear, so guys simply hold their breath and dive up to 30 feet deep to find these things. Occasionally, people get tangled in kelp or lost in cracks and drown. Ten years ago a great white shark bit a diver's head off. The owner of the man cave had been diving off the coast of Westport for decades though, and seemed full of experience.

We were served wine and abalone, and told stories about the dives and our hosts' lives. "Can you believe my wife left me!?" exclaimed our host at one point. "She left because I always had company over and the party never stopped...well it's been twenty years and the party is still going." That certainly appeared to be true. We'd passed by in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, and he'd welcomed us in to join his party.

We hung out there for an hour or two before eventually insisting that we needed to get back on the road. He was a terrific host: fun, welcoming, and generous...and with three other friends I felt comfortable there. He seemed to be living his dream.

Redwoods to Standish Hickey State Park

After a good night's sleep I woke up before sunset the next morning. I packed my sleeping bag quickly, grabbed my pack out of the bear cache, and hoofed it up to the lookout. I wanted to eat breakfast while I watched the sun rise. I was disappointed to find that none of the valves at the lookout actually provided any water, which meant that I had to walk a couple miles before having a drink that morning. But I did get to enjoy my last hot pocket and as the sun crested the hills.

I took a circuitous route back to the campground and my bicycle, adding about a mile to the return. I stopped to look at "Tall Tree" and "Giant Tree" on my way by; the two trees are aptly named and popular tourist attractions. Although they don't really seem to stand out too much from the other redwoods that surround them, Tall Tree is known as the tallest redwood, at >360 feet tall, and although only 354 feet tall, Giant Tree  is known as the biggest coastal redwood due to its diameter.

Once reunited with my bicycle I was determined to put in some big days on my own. I had 280 miles to go in three and a half days, and I was itching to feel tired. The day went well. I rode South again, passing the campground I stayed at two nights earlier after about 15 miles. I pedaled that same stretch of road three times, in total. Fortunately, it was one of the best stretches of road for cycling on the whole trip, so I didn't mind. Who would get tired of cycling through some of the tallest, most majestic trees in the world?

There was one big climb that day, and I hoped to crest it and then cover another thirty miles or so until I reached a good campsite. As usual, I spent more time in a town along the way than I planned. It was getting close to five o'clock when I approached the bottom of the climb, and I had to admit that it might get dark by the time I reached the next campground. I was just starting to consider setting up camp at the campground at the top of the hill.

Then I saw three cyclists in the distance ahead of me. I was frustrated: I really wanted to pedal by myself just then, but I felt obligated to talk to the riders rather than just pedal past. I caught up to them soon, and was impressed by their cycling know-how. They were moving at a pretty decent pace, two had color coordinated bike outfits that suggested they were sponsored, and all three were comfortable looking around and chatting as they road. The trio seemed to have a similar outlook on their tour to mine: they were doing it not just to see the coast and travel, but also because they enjoyed biking fast. 

One of the guys was wearing a jersey that said British Columbia across the back, and we struck up a conversation easily. I learned that he had started cycling from his backdoor in Vancouver, and had just met the other two guys on the road a couple nights earlier. The other two were from Texas: one a father of a 17 year-old, recently retired, and out doing what he loved to do, and the other fresh out of the college cycle racing scene and now on his first cycle tour. They pedaled at about the same pace I wanted to up the hill, so we all stayed together.

To my surprise, I enjoyed their company as we chatted our way up the climb. By the time we got to the campground and the guys invited me to join them for a beer across the street, I had given up on the idea of trying to reach the next campground. I parked my bike, pulled a relatively clean shirt over my cycling vest, and pulled up a chair with my new cycling team. This decision would redefine the rest of my trip.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Humboldt Redwood State Park

Backpacking was a bit of a challenge. The only backpack I had was my miniature running backpack with a capacity of 5.5 Liters. But where there's a will there's a way.

I packed up my camp and started the 15 mile pedal back toward the lost coast to reach the trail head, planning to stop at one of the two campgrounds on the way to check in and pay my five dollar fee to pitch a tent in the woods. But first, I stopped at the one nearby grocery store right when it opened at 8 o'clock. The store didn't have much to offer, but I knew I wouldn't have space to pack my stove so I couldn't cook anyway. I picked up two frozen hot pockets, two frozen burritos, a bag of corn tortillas and a jar of peanut butter (about 6000 calories) and headed off. I stopped at the first campground and explained that I wanted to camp at one of the hike in sites and lock my bike at the campground somewhere. "I wouldn't do that," said the camp host. She went on to explain that there were a lot of people in the campground, and the park couldn't be responsible for the bike, and she just wouldn't trust everyone. She suggested walking my bike up a fire road all the way to the campsite. I thought about trying to explain that I really wanted to take a hiking trail, I was willing to except some risk of losing the bike to enable hiking, and that I was happy to carry the bike and gear half a mile into the woods and hide it somewhere. But instead I decided to try my luck with the next campground host, and accepted her plan as a viable alternative.

I pedaled five more miles down the road and asked the next campground host exactly the same question. She was super helpful! She arranged for me to lock my bike and gear in a shed, and didn't even bat an eye at the tiny pack I was planning to bring.

I packed my bag with tights, a rain jacket and a hat; a small first aid kit, knife, SPOT and matches; twine, a space blanket, and forty pages I tore out of the biography of Crazy Horse I was reading. I tied my sleeping bag to the bottom of the pack, and carried my water bottle. I was in for a cold night if it rained, but with the space blanket it would be OK.

I did end up walking most of the seven miles to camp on a fire road, but it was beautiful. I saw just two other people on the hike up. Otherwise, I was free to enjoy the redwoods alone. At the beginning of the trail, they were enormous 300 foot trees, but as the trail wound it's way up to 3000 feet, the trees slowly became smaller.Once the canopy was down to perhaps 150 feet, I climbed part way up one of the trees. It's not an easy task, because the lowest branches are so far off the ground in the redwoods, but this particularly tree had two smaller trees growing right next to it, so I was able to climb the smallest to reach the branches on the next, and then switch to the second tree and climb it to the branches on the tall tree. Even then, I wasn't confident enough to climb to the top, but I satisfied the childish urge I'd been feeling to climb one ever since I first arrived in the redwoods several days before.

The trail climbed up to a fire watch tower at about 3000 feet of elevation. Unfortunately, the tower was closed, but the view from the area surrounding the tour was beautiful nonetheless. I could see the ridge I had rode over two days before to reach the lost coast, and the enormous state forests covering the hills in the distance to the East. I hadn't appreciated how wild parts of California are, despite its burgeoning population.

The campsite was just below the lookout, and I got there in the afternoon several hours before sunset.I took out my book and spent the time alternating between reading the 40 pages I'd packed with me and simply staring into the woods striving to notice details that I generally overlook. Five other people stayed at the camp that night (four in one group) but I kept to myself and my book. At sunset, I fell asleep.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Lost Coast

From Prairie Creek I started making my way to The Lost Coast. The Lost Coast is a ~50 mile stretch of largely undeveloped coast line that begins about 20 miles south of Eureka. The story goes that when engineers were plotting the route of Highway 101, they decided that the region was too mountainous and therefore too expensive to build a road in. As a result the highway swings inland around this piece of coastline, and it is hidden from the bulk of tourist and commuter traffic. There are no resorts or hotels; not even a supermarket.

Before I reached the mountains, I stopped in Arcata for a few hours. I cruised by the Humboldt State campus, stopped at a food stand for a delicious Nigerian lunch, hung out in the library for an hour and a half, and stopped at a bike shop to get a new rear view mirror. I started the trip with two mirrors. One was a concave mirror I picked up way back in Fairbanks that can be mounted in the end of handlebars. I didn't like it. With drop handlebars like most road bikes have, it's difficult to position the mirror so that it's not blocked by the rider's left arm. Even once it was in position, I could only use it when my head was in the right place, and never when I stood up on the pedals. Furthermore, my paniers blocked part of the view in that mirror, making it impossible to see cars that hugged the fog line until they were close behind me.

I bought a second mirror in Haines that could be mounted on a visor or riding glasses. I liked this mirror better, but it still had some problems. I didn't have a visor on my helmet, so I attached the mirror to my riding glasses. With it mounted on my riding glasses the mirror was very close to my eye. When I positioned the mirror far enough to the left to see past my head, it was nearly in the same plane as my face, so I really had to strain my eyes to look into it. Furthermore, I switched between clear and shaded glasses, and occasionally rode with no glasses at all. As a result I was constantly having to switch the mirror between glasses or ride without it. Somewhere in Oregon I was riding with no glasses and the mirror fell out of my handlebar bag without me noticing, lost forever. By the time I reached Arcata I'd lost the handlebar mirror too: although it held up for quite awhile, eventually it got bumped too hard and a piece of the mount cracked. I noticed, but didn't care enough to fix it. At some point the mirror rattled loose and fell off without me noticing.

The mirror I got in Arcata met all my desires. It simply sticks onto a helmet with an adhesive pad, and is mounted on a flexible wire arm. It's easy to position properly, and gives a good rear-view. Somewhat to my surprise, the adhesive held up well too. Although many tourists ride without mirrors, relying on their hearing to alert them to approaching cars (and even identify the type of truck and weight of load they're hauling), I like to use the mirror to check if cars are crowding me or hauling an extra wide load.

From Arcata I made it to a campground just at the base of the climb to the lost coast and rolled out my sleeping bag under the stars. In the morning, I pedaled up the 1500 climb into a pass in the King Mountains. The road was narrow, but had almost no traffic (apart from a handful of log trucks coming down the hill). I had a grand time pedaling up it, and even turned off on a side road and pedaled along a ridge once I got to the top, enjoying the view of forests for miles all around.

From there I started the descent. Although not as harrowing as the decent into Pemberton, it was steep enough to keep my attention, and I rode the brakes the whole way down. The road was rough too, leading to one flat tire. I'd picked up a puncture proof tube a few days earlier, so I put that on and continued on my way. The tube ended up performing very well, putting an end to my flat tires on the rear wheel.

Once I got down the hill to the coast I was rewarded with something I didn't think existed in California: beaches and trees as far as I could see, without a house in sight. The only development around was an occasional fence containing a handful of livestock, apparently left largely unattended. There was no cell phone service in this area, not even in the one town I passed through. The coast truly was lost. Wonderful!

I made camp at the only campground on that stretch of road: a rather unattractive sand pit with a dozen parking spaces and flat tent sites. But hidden just on the other side of a sand dune was an absolutely magnificent sandy beach, almost devoid of people. I walked for three hours on that beach, enjoying the isolation.
The lost coast as the fog rolls in.

I stayed up for awhile that night, enjoying the hospitality of my camp neighbors who generously shared an enormous raw oyster with me, the went to bed. In the morning I got up early and headed on into the mountains guarding the way back to the highway. This hill was 2500 feet, and I loved it. It was still decently cool while I climbed it, and I felt good. The descent was fun too. The road was rough and I popped my front tube once when I failed to avoid a put hole, but otherwise the descent was graceful and enjoyable. As the road finally leveled out at the bottom, I found myself back in the redwoods.

The trees were even bigger here than in Prairie Creek State Park. The largest over 360 feet tall, the trees squeeze the small road to the lost coast, coming right to the edge of the pavement in many places. It appears that the road was built around the trees, as it weaves back and forth between them. At least I hope that's the case. This is the Avenue of the Giants, I realized, as I pedaled along slowly, awestruck. I'd been told that I had to see this place, and I am grateful that I did.

To be completely accurate, the road to the lost coast intersects with the Avenue of the Giants about ten miles from where it enters the redwoods, so I wasn't quite on it yet. But is surrounded by the same ancient forest that surrounds the Avenue of the Giants, and is, if anything, even more striking because the road the Avenue is a bit wider.

It was early when I reached the redwoods, but I was so struck by this place that I chose to spend the night there. Once I set up camp, I learned that there were back country camps that could be hiked into. I still had 250 miles to go, but five days to do it in...I decided to spend a day camping in the woods away from the road and then putting in a few big days to get to San Francisco. I went to sleep on top of my un-pitched tent, admiring the stars and looking forward to backpacking the next day.