It’s been an odd winter; cold weather and heavy dumps of snow have alternated with prolonged warm spells and clear blue skies. At the beginning of January Andy and I were able to ride all the way up to South Prairie, about fourteen miles into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Three weeks later I barely made it two miles before being turned back by snow.
Wrayal and I took advantage of a sunny February day to check out the snow level across the river. We rode our sidecars about seven miles up FS66 before the snow got too slick for Wrayal’s tires. His BMW was wearing worn Heidenau Scouts. My Triumph was shod with a fresher, more dirt oriented Kenda K-270 on the back and a Shinko Trials tire up front, and had no trouble on the snow. The screws I had driven into the knobs helped, too. We turned around and headed into the Big Lava Bed for a picnic.
We turned off the pavement onto a narrow path into the lava bed. Bumping across the jagged rocks, we passed caves and crossed natural land bridges, traveling through a skeletal forest of stunted trees, finally arriving at a clearing in the center of The Big Lava Bed.The dogs were as happy as we were to dismount our machines and rest on the shore of a frozen pond in the middle of this weird landscape of misshapen igneous rock and twisted pines.
The dogs chased each other about while Wrayal and I relaxed, drinking and shooting the shit, deep in the heart of The Big Lava Bed.
I fired up my little Biolite Campstove 2 and made Mexican hot chocolate laced with dark rum. It’s a cool little gadget, burning hardwood pellets, twigs or any sort of small, woody debris for fuel. A battery operated fan drives this small rocket stove. Once it gets going, it provides a hot, clean, smokeless flame to cook over.
What is truly unique about the Biolite camp stove is the thermoelectric generator, which converts the heat of the fire into usable electricity to charge the stove’s battery. Any excess power can be accessed through a USB port to run a small light or charge your phone or other devices. The stove is generating electricity and powering my camera.
I fried some bacon on the stove and we had toasted cheese sandwiches for lunch.
After lunch we packed up. It had been a fine day in the woods; now it was time to go home.