At the end of July, the Sequim Gazette featured a feature on four Sequim residents and friends, Joe Sullivan, Nick Rampp, Nick Batchelor and Scott Chichester, and their plan to “bike-pack” (tour on mountain bikes, endure all types of terrain and camp along the way) a 380-mile portion of The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
The route is acknowledged as the world’s longest off-pavement route traversing north and south along the Continental Divide connecting Banff, Alberta, to the southern border of New Mexico.
The bike packers planned to carry all their essentials for 10 days of challenging biking and camping on their bike frames and had hoped to overcome the “mosquitoes and heat,” Batchelor told Sequim Gazette staff during a pre-trip interview.
Day two of their trip set the tone for the trip. Although, it wasn’t until the end of their trip that the group really hit a stride and could truly detach from life’s responsibilities tirelessly awaiting them back home.
Two of the travelers — Nick Rampp and Nick Batchelor — share a glimpse into the trip of a lifetime and the beginning of many more adventures for the four friends.
Rampp: “Day one wasn’t a lot of miles and it was mostly about getting out of Banff because we were all just super excited to get out on the trail. But, day two was probably the fullest day. I think day two we saw everything that we could have possibly seen in one day.
We woke in the morning and bathed in this beautiful lake. Coming out of the lake we saw the largest black bear we’ve ever seen. It had rained the night before so we dried out our tents, ate breakfast and it was really the first day we had to repack all of our stuff, get back on our bikes and truly felt like we were on the trail.
Day two was all about getting the kinks out. We got lost a little bit and had to figure out how to decipher the map. We rode every surface I could possibly imagine, riding on from single track mountain bike trails, old abandoned logging roads, freeways of dirt to full freeways.
We even went through some beautiful waterfall crossings.”
Batchelor: “There was so much excitement. It was just so staggeringly beautiful and grand. There was all the buzz and energy from the disbelief that we were actually doing this emphasized by the scenery.
The whole trip … day five, day seven and even day nine, we were all still saying, ‘Man we’re actually doing this.’ Everyday, all we had to do was get up and ride our bikes – it was a pretty amazing feeling.”
Rampp: “Throughout the second day we had a hard time not stopping and taking pictures every 15 minutes. The whole Canadian section of the Great Divide is some of the most picturesque mountains I’ve ever seen.”
Batchelor: “Every corner was, ‘I can’t believe it’ and then the next corner was even more ‘I can’t believe it.’ It was just like turning the pages of a picture book that just got better and better.”
Rampp: “By the end of the second day we had made it to the campground at the base of a pass that we planned to climb the following day. By the time we made it to the campground we were super tired and blown-out, but we were all still jazzed just to be there.
We went into this little grocery store and bought everything we could possibly find. Everything from weird snacks to ice cream and there we were … just sitting in this little plaza charging our cell phones so tired, but still so excited to be on this trip.”
Batchelor: “Like I said before we left – the times spent sprawled out, eating all kinds of weird stuff and reaping the rewards of a full day of riding, were the times I was looking forward to the most. The times where you’re so ravenous and just so spent that nothing else really phases you … this was one of those times.”
Rampp: “As soon as we got back and set up our camp it dumped on us. It was raining so hard that we were building troughs around the tents.
His (Batchelor’s) tent flooded so badly we had to put trash bags underneath of his Therm-a-Rest (sleeping pad). The first three days were like that. By 6 o’clock every night there would be a torrential downpour for about a half hour so we learned to have our camp set up and to be prepped for the rain by then.”
Batchelor: “We didn’t really know where we were geographically because when we got to the camp it was so socked in and we had all hunkered down while it rained.
But, after the rain had stopped there was that great smell and we walked around the campsite. Soon, the clouds parted and there was just this massive mountainside, almost like Half Dome, opening up.
We had no idea that we were sitting at the base of this shear rocky face and we were all in awe.
That day (day two) was the whole theme of the trip. The day fully encompassed all the emotions, all the scenery and all the elements that could have possibly happened.
From the beautiful sunshine in the morning and waking up by the lake, to riding on what felt like 10 different surfaces, to ending up at a beautiful campground where we pitched our tents in the rain and then experiencing that dramatic clearing. It had every facet you could ever ask for in one day. All that set the tone for the following days. It was the ultimate sense of adventure.”
Since their return, Rampp, Batchelor, Sullivan and Chichester have decided to make riding a portion of The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route a annual tradition.
Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.