Adventure

A Crawdad Campout with the Skid Lizards

Skid Lizards

Go on a crawdad campout with the Skid Lizards, an Oregon-based biking crew of friends that meet up to seek unexpected adventure on dusty trails. Words and Photos by The Skid Lizards.

Sami rose her crooked stick from the lake to the star-strewn sky. “Hey! We’ve got the kingpin over here!” She had found a crustacean of the highest order and needed more wranglers to keep the crawdad from its sunken stump castle. The freshwater lobsters had finally made their way into the shallows just as we had hoped. Tonight, dinner would be late by design.

Skid Lizards

The Skid Lizards are Oregon-based friends with bikes, bags, and jobs. Creatives by trade, we work hard to find wildness and weirdness together on the weekends. How we found our way to the lakeshore that night catching crawdads started like most of our trips together. In the summer months, our formula is simple: find water and bike to it, bringing everything we can along the way.

Ember Moc

Lightweight and packable: the Ember Moc in Fired Brick.

Hurricane XLT2

The female contingent of the “Skid Lizards” dub themselves the “Skid Lizzies.” Pictured: Hurricane XLT 2 in Black

Our take on bikepacking is focused more on fun and less on miles—connecting rad places by remote trails and backroads. This helps keep the good times rolling, especially for friends new to bike overnights. The goal is to slow down fast, leaving busy-ness behind and dust in our wake.

August is the peak of summer in the Northwest and the Lizards couldn’t let the season pass without another weekend on our bikes. Timothy Lake, a stunning reservoir in the shadows of Mount Hood, is a classic destination for Portland cyclists, boaters, and tourists alike.

Well-known for its views, fish, and camping, we wanted to do things a little different. We planned to bike to the lake, set up camp on its western shore and, given some light hearsay, forage for crawdads by night. Word spread of the inaugural “Crawdad Campout” and twelve of us committed to join for the weekend, surely all skeptical but stoked.

Original Universal

“The goal is to slow down fast, leaving busy-ness behind and dust in our wake.” Pictured: Original Universal in Fired Brick

Hurricane XLT2

Pictured: Hurricane XLT2 in Black. 

Hurricane XLT2

Pictured: Hurricane XLT2 in White.  

We met Saturday morning to pack our bikes, distribute snacks and libations, and start our climb to the lake. The sun was full but the canopy maintained crispness—perfect for pedaling. We drifted in and out of formation with everyone catching up and catching breath. Breaks in the trees are marked by water pipelines and power line cuts that give perspective of the rugged landscape shaped by the river that we followed up to Timothy Lake.

A few skids and flats later, we stop through Lake Harriet, a small but beautiful waterway that is our halfway point. The crew was feeling good after a quick break and we continued upwards through the canyon towards our camp.

Original Universal

 Pictured: Original Universal in Fired Brick

At the top of our climb, the gravel road choked down to a flowy ribbon of singletrack that surrounds the lake. We access our site via this loop and meet Shaun who had canoed in our larger supplies and reserved the spot before the weekend crowds showed up. We used up the remaining daylight setting up camp, swimming, canoeing, fishing, and preparing for the night’s hunt. We started a campfire, a little cold and hungry after the day’s ride. Our huge pot of corn, potatoes, and sausage was ready to boil, but there were no signs of the crawdads quite yet.

Skid Lizards Campout

Pictured: Original Universal in Fired Brick

Ember Moc

Pictured: Ember Moc in Fired Brick.

As darkness fell, we waded through the lake flats with our headlamps. Like clockwork, the crawdads came out with the stars. There were hundreds of them just in our small cove! Out of the frying pan and into the fire… now to learn how to catch them by hand. They are fast swimmers with mighty claws. It was surprising how many crawdads there were in the lake but also how hard it was to catch them.

Hurricane XLT2

Pictured: Hurricane XLT2 in Black.

Skid Lizards campout

Skid Lizards Campout

All complete beginners, the group slowly leveled up to consistent catch rates. Everyone brought their own style to the sport. Some more direct, grabbing them in one swift shot; others more zen in their approach, gently herding the ‘dads with hands or sticks.

In an ancient way, the focus turned to finding the biggest crab: the colloquial kingpin. It resided in the large root mass of a tree fallen long ago when the dam was constructed. The magnificent specimen sported bright white and navy markings on its meaty claws offsetting its rich terracotta body. Several attempts to catch the kingpin failed. He had not grown to this size on accident. Luckily, we were honored to have many other members of the kingdom around to fill our pot.

Ember Moc

“Worth the comfort, I’m strapping the Ember Mocs to my bike on every trip.” – Austin

Our Cascade-Cajun feast was beyond all expectations! It’s true that everything tastes better in the woods, but especially when you find it with your friends. The next morning we pedaled a singletrack celebration lap around the lake and loaded up our bikes to bomb the two thousand feet back down to the car.

The crawdad campout was an adventure in plain sight—manufactured by friends with a new take on a common place. With just bikes, beer, and Old Bay, you too may just find the deliciously unexpected close to home.

Long live kingpin! Long live the crawdad campout!

Hurricane XLT2

Shop the latest Fall camp-friendly styles featured in this story at Teva.com.