The more you know, the less you need

Emerging from our hobbit house and blinking into the Scottish sunlight, the first task was to pack all the groceries and supplies onto our bikes. Scotland Highlands wasn’t our first bikepacking trip. We’d attempted the Colorado Trail two years earlier and a critical lesson learned was lighter is better. The more you know, the less you need. Following the lessons from the Colorado Trail, where we’d overpacked and ended up mailing a lot of stuff home from post offices along the way, for the Scottish Highlands, we’d pared our kit way down.

Ultralight tent, tiny sleeping bags, minimal clothes, and most importantly, extremely lean kitchen (MSR pocketrocket stove, one spork to share, one pot to eat and cook out of) were all we had.

Hobbit House, Tyndrum
Squeezing minimal gear onto a mountain bike. There is an inverse ratio of gear to fun.

Bikes loaded and food stored, we were on our way north from Tyndrum. Country roads soon gave way to singletrack and we were rewarded with our first view of the expansive, green, and rugged Scottish terrain that we’d be riding through for the next two weeks.

Along the way, we’d stop at a lot of stores and post offices to resupply. First stop: Glenlyon Post Office. A tea room, post office and convenience store all in one! After the overpacking disaster in Colorado where we had to mail stuff home from every post office we saw, it was a novel treat to just sit in front of a Scottish post office with a ginger beer and an ice cream.

Glenlyon Post Office
Our first Scottish post office. Where you can get things rather than just send extraneous items away!

After the post office lunch and more country roads, we turned west into the Rannoch Hills and started looking for a campsite. Camp setup is a speedy affair when there are so few supplies. On the dinner menu: pasta and bechamel sauce with garlic, onions and salami.

Dinner supplies
Dinner is pretty straight-forward when there’s only one pot to make it in!

I pulled all the stuff out of the seatbag, started to attach the fuel canister to the tiny stove and soon discovered they were incompatible. In spite of my fiddling and forcing with the nozzle, it appeared that somebody had brought the wrong fuel. Of the two possible culprits, I’ll never name names, but hint: her name rhymes with great. For a moment it looked like dinner was going to be crunchy uncooked noodles and raw onion.

Fortunately, in a demonstration of the “more you know, the less you need,” the member of the team who had not carried any fuel started gathering sticks and clearing away burnable brush to make a fire pit. In spite of the fire melting the pretty yellow handle on the then-pristine pot, dinner was the satisfying mix of cooked noodles and onions fried in butter that we’d been looking forward to ever since the post office lunch hours earlier.

saving dinner with a fire
useless fuel canister and stove in front of a roaring fire
immediately prior to melting the yellow handle

In spite of the setback, dinner was hot and nourishing, the fire kept us warm and the adage was proven once again: the more you know, the less you need.

First Trail Dinner
Smiling and relaxed next to the unplanned fire

One reply on “The more you know, the less you need”

“the member of the team who had not carried any fuel”. I can only wonder how that went over in the moment with a hangry as hell Kate.

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