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Last minute decisions can make for some of the most memorable life experiences. After a failed attempt to camp by car the day before, my determination was strong to sleep out in the woods this weekend. Knowing that Laura had already planned a trip, I asked to join in on the fun.

After some quick planning, I was able to meet at the rendezvous point – 3pm at Arizmendi, the very next day. We would gather in the city and head for the hills. The nice part about owning all the gear for bike packing is the ability to roll with pretty short notice.

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The next day I packed up my minimal setup; ground tarp, 23 degree sleeping bag, sleeping pad, flannel, tights, beer and snacks. I like the “Anything Cages” by Salsa, they make light bikepacking so easy. I also used a Green Guru frame bag for tools and other necessities. One more handlebar bag to carry my food, beer, bourbon, and water – I was good to go.

I arrived early to Arizmendi, knowing we would have to wait for others. This gave Laura, Zach and I – the early birds – time to put down a PBR tall boy. Pre-ride hydration cannot be over emphasized.

We hit the road at 3:30, making our way thru the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge. Riding up Hawk Hill, we passed all the cars waiting to get to the top for the sunset. I rolled up next to a car and teased them about racing as the traffic had made for something of a parking lot.

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Turning off on to the dirt, we said goodbye to cars and hello to gravel. We didn’t keep the same pace, so at each vista we would regroup and take a break. A late joiner even caught us. Alix made it just in time for golden hour photos.

We worked our way toward the coast, and then turned to head back up. This is my first time out to this site, it’s a short distance with a lot of up. Along the way, we met Jenny. She was out by herself looking for camping, so we invited her to join us.

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We made it to highest point for the last of sunset. With just one mile left, Laura got a flat. She changed the tire quickly and we worked our way on up the road. After pushing up a very steep grade with loose gravel, we reached home base.

Beers opened, burritos were showboated, and whiskey was passed under the stars. The night was warm so most of us slept outside on tarps. Waking the next morning and enjoying the sunrise from my sleeping bag was amazing. I enjoyed my cozy view for awhile before hiking up further to catch the full morning sky. The view from on high is a nice 360 of the bay from Sausalito to Pacifica.

Camp slowly stirred and the late sleepers were treated to fresh made guacamole, burner toast, and coffee. We laughed about all the whiskey and then began packing it in. The day was already getting hot and it was time to return to real life responsibilities.

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The return ride was great, rolling down all the ups, perfect weather, and the west side of the bridge was even open! After we crossed the bridge, I parted from the group and headed back to the north end of the city.

I had not biked that way in a long while and managed to miss a turn. I became like a tourist in my own city, finding my way. It happened to be a pleasant detour. I eventually rolled up on my favorite street, the one my fur dog is named for. The one I love and was heading home to.

It turns out that twenty-four hours is just enough time to get away. It can be done, and it can set the tone for the whole week ahead. I challenge you to find a fast and dirty route near you, pack your gear simple and light, and head for the hills. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

By Jillian Betterly – San Francisco, California – Chcck out Jillian’s adventures as a life enthusiast photographer on her website. Follow her on facebook and instagram.