A virtual ride was proposed on the Steel On Wheels Forum (S.O.W. Forum) for the Full Moon on April 22, 2016. You were to ride out to a local viewing spot, watch the sunset, followed by a full moon rise. Then share it on the forum. S.O.W. members are fans of coffee and food outside. That means packing camp stoves and enjoying a hot beverage and a snack mid-ride. I decided to give it a go when I saw we had a favorable forecast. It was calling for partly cloudy skies, highs in the low 40’s, falling temps after dark with moderate to light winds. I invited my friend Jeff to come along. Sunset was to be at 8:07 pm with a moon rise at 8:40 pm. The plan was to leave West Duluth at 7 pm. Pedal 7.5 miles west to Bardons Peak overlook. Our route would grind uphill one mile to Skyline Parkway. The rest would be all on Skyline Parkway. About 5 miles of the 7.5 miles would be uphill. The last 1.5 miles is gravel. West Skyline Parkway is closed in the winter. It typically opens to car traffic on April 1st. We discovered it wasn’t open yet and the normally hard pack gravel was muddy and soft. Here’s a video from my Cycliq Fly6 showing the rear view of the last 10 minutes of gravel and our arrival at Bardons Peak Overlook.
Our Route taken: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8638320/embed
This will be a picture heavy post. Friday started with dense cloud cover. By noon I was sweating the fact it may not clear off. By 12:30 I started to notice breaks of blue sky in the clouds. I texted Jeff celebrating the fact the clouds were beginning to break. It took all afternoon to see the clouds dissipate. By five is was looking like they were getting thicker again. It all turned out fine. By sunset there was practically no clouds left in the sky. We left West Duluth at 6.55 pm. Giving us plenty of time to reach our destination by sunset. We arrived at 7:35 to discover two things. First, despite having 32 minutes until sun down, the sun had already descended below the treetops and the peak of Bardons Peak. Second, the orientation of the sunset and then moonrise was a little different then we had thought it would be.
That meant we had to climb up the rocky knob of Bardons Peak to catch the sunset. It’s an easy 50-60 ft rock scramble.
We also noticed the temperature had already dropped into the 30’s and Bardons Peak is exposed to any wind movement. In other words we were getting cold very quickly.
We hurried to put on our winter gear we brought along. Jeff even brought a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag to crawl into for warmth. We were prepared.
It felt like winter camping.
As the sun went down and the last light of the day faded, we boiled water on our stoves. I had tea and muffins. Jeff brought along hot chocolate and a backpacking scrambled egg breakfast. We huddled up against the rock wall trying to stay out of some of the wind.
As we finished up with our beverages and food we started to see the first glimpses of the full moon. We arrived thinking it would come up over Duluth and Lake Superior in the distance to the east. In reality it rises more from the east southeast. Which meant from this vantage point it would rise over the St Louis River and Wisconsin on the other side of the river. I also discovered I had no clue how to take a decent picture of a full moon with my point and shoot camera. It took me all evening to finally get one good picture. That would be the last one I took and the last one in this post. In the meantime I froze my hands trying to get a shot. Luckily before I left the house I remembered at the last second to grab my Gorilla Camera Tripod. I missed most of the first 20 minutes of the moon fiddling with the camera.
We watched it for an hour before deciding we were getting cold enough. We started the ride back towards Duluth.
This is when my favorite part of the evening started for me. We warmed up as soon as we started riding. We were riding along the ridge on Skyline Parkway through the woods. On our right the entire way we could see the St. Louis River down below with the Full Moon over it. It was spectacular. We stopped twice along the way to enjoy the view and try to get pictures.
At this point I wish we had decided to camp out somewhere. It was great being outside. I always think about getting outside for a full moon, but never do it.
I’m so glad we did this. It was so much fun.