Washington WABDR to Cal, cut short...
After hitching a helicopter ride from Vancouver Island to Seattle, a short taxi ride brought me to my new (old) bike, an R100GS in immaculate condition that I had bought off an inmate earlier in the year. I'd been waiting 6 months for this day.
The chopper ride is irrelevant to the story, but hey, how often can you start a ride report like that. Sometimes the planets just align. I'd had 5 weeks of brilliant holiday touring Canada with my wife. Now it was time to enjoy a few weeks taking my new bike through some dirt in Washington, Oregon and California before putting it in a container to be sent back to Australia.
That was the plan anyway. As you will see, the best laid plans...
First I needed to check out the bike. Mark, the previous owner, had told me the clutch slipped under heavy load, and also now the front tyre had a slow leak. So I needed to be happy with the bike before heading out into the back blocks.
Tyre first, found a local mechanic who knew nothing about motorbike tyres but knew how to throw black goop on the rim to slow the leak (it was coming out around the bead). Mark's pristine bike had already gone down a notch and I'd only had it 2 hours.
Stefan, my riding mate for the trip, arrived later that day on his R1200GS, and we decided to do a loop to Olympic National Park the next day for me to get used to the bike (having only ever ridden one before for 5 minutes in the Simpson Desert, hardly typical) and to see if the clutch would be a problem.
Me ready to roll.
and a few hours later admiring the cloudy views around Hurricane Ridge.
Verdict? The clutch only slipped under very heavy load, ie full throttle, and the tyre leak had slowed a lot. So it was worth risking the WABDR. And I was starting to get comfortable with the bike.
The plan was to head east and start the WABDR at Cashmere, then head south doing segments 6 to 1 ending up at Stevenson. We almost made it...
So, on 30th August, we headed out on the tar to Leavensworth,
where Stefan had to reconnect with his roots by finding the most authentic German restaurant there and sampling their cuisine.
but not before he had configured a new Porsche 911 for his wife. Don't ask.
Next day the WABDR begins for us.
Cashmere to Ellensburg
Next day, off to Cashmere for the start of the real ride.
First bit of dirt, and a large camp of ferals that had us wondering about what we were heading into.
But 10 miles in, guess who hadn't done their homework.
If I had remembered to check the advrider WABDR thread, I would have known that this section was closed due to a washout. As we didn't know why it was closed we weren't willing to go round the gate.
We headed to the top of the closest hill to check out the first of many stunning views
only to be shocked by the amount of crap left by shooters on the top of the hill. There were many more like this.
As the Wenatchee track seemed to be taking us in the wrong direction (wrong again) we decided to backtrack and try to get back on from the western side. Various tracks were tried without success, ended up back around Cashmere, down the tar on 97 before finally finding a track back on to the WABDR.
Not sure where exactly we rejoined the track, but there was some lovely country.
Then we hit the Table Mountain Ridge, and the views just got better.
Fairly easy riding at this stage, which was good for me, still getting used to the R100GS.
For folks from a flat country like Aus, this is magic.
At Lion Rock lookout we encounter 5 or 6 local boys from Ellensburg who seemed a bit awkward with us around, until finally they came over and said 'do you mind if we shoot a bit?'. As if we are going to say 'yes we do'. They then proceeded to blast the local tree stumps with a shot gun and 9mm pistol. Time for us to leave.
We were also reminded that this was the big US long weekend and Ellensburg has its famous rodeo on, so camping could be an issue.
We start the descent to Ellensburgh.
and see the giant mushrooms being grown here...
Shortly after this, I dropped the bike after putting it on the side-stand on a down-hill slope. Dumb... No real damage, and as no-one photographed it, it didn't really happen.
We decided not to search for a camping spot, took advantage of a motel room, and tried out a good local steak restaurant. Too knackered to make it to the rodeo.
Ellensburg to Morton
Next day, the plan is to do segments 5 and 4 down to Packwood.
I'm erring on the side of caution and planning on taking the 'easier' alternate routes if the track looks tricky for big beemers. Mainly because I'm hoping to visit the previous owner of my bike in Portland, and I'd hate to turn up with it bingled after he has kept it in such beautiful condition for 23 years. Well that's my excuse anyway...
Quite surprised by the open plains around Ellensburg.
When we get down to Nile, I catch up with another advrider who has just come up WABDR from the south and suggests we can still head up the 'start' of the track to Bethel Ridge to see the views, then come back to the easier route.
What we forgot to check was whether he meant the start at the south or the north.
Stefan goes for it, and this is what I find when I come around the corner, one big pig having a little lie down.
As usual the photos give no idea of how steep this was.
We, carefully, got the big pig turned around and pointed back down the hill. Stefan wanted to continue up, but I chickened out, so we headed back to the easy route.
As the bike had been on its side for a while, Stefan was blowing clouds of blue smoke out the exhaust for the next 20 miles. We were beginning to wonder if it would stop when it finally cleared.
More lovely country
Then we passed a turn off to Mt Timberwolf. Stefan suggested there might be some good views there, so we headed up the trail a couple of miles, to eventually ride right to the top of the mountain,
and the most stunning 360 degree views. Here's a small section of it.
Views of the 3 largest mountains in Washington.
and a drop of about 1000 metres down to the creek below
I'm holding my breath here as Stefan is right on the edge.
We stayed here for about 1/2 an hour, drinking in the view and the silence.
So, if I can only make one recommendation, if you are planning on doing WABDR, this would be it, take the detour to Mt Timberwolf, you won't regret it.
We headed down into Packwood, only to find out that they also have an event on on the long weekend, with thousands of folks attending a fair of some sort, which seemed to involve lots of ritual consumption of food heavily fried in fat and covered in sugar.
Anyway the joint is packed, and we can't find any RV park to stay at, until we finally reach Morton, and beg the local motel owner to let us put up a tent on his lawn.
Then we take his recommendation to try the local pub around the corner for dinner. Unfortunately they also sell a demon drink call 'The Irish Death' which we manage to consume in vast quantities while playing Shuffleboard on a full size table.
Apparently we stumbled back to the motel around 1am, and one of us walked straight into the owner's pickup truck before staggering to bed. Neither of us can remember doing it.
We're both old enough to know better, but we're not.
Morton to Mt Rainier loop
It's not a pretty sight in the morning. I try to eat a lovely breakfast at the local diner, and can't even get through a quarter of it.
So, rather than waste a whole day, we decide to do the tourist thing and go visit Mt Rainier.
along with the 50,000 other tourists doing the same thing on the long weekend.
It was slow progress to the top, but at least on bikes we were able to stop in the top car park. Most of the cars had to continue on down the other side before parking and walk back up.
Also stopped at Box Canyon on the way back to Morton.
Morton to Hood River
Back on track, we are on to Segments 3, 2 and 1 today, hoping to make it to Stevenson.
Lots of views of Mt Adams.
But progress is relatively slow as there are lots of track junctions, and we have to stop at each to decide which way to go.
But there are some beautiful stretches of trail through the forest where I really appreciate the quietness of the R100 as I roll along, smelling the trees and admiring the lushness of the forest.
Trout Lake Creek where we stopped for lunch.
The Natural Bridge.
And the Guler Ice Caves.
Where, if you're bald like me you should take note of the sign that says 'hard hats advised' so you don't come out with blood streaming down your head.
Then, 30 miles from Stevenson, on 1831 between 86 and 66, Stefan has to stuff it up big time (joking mate).
It's a tight track with lots of trees growing over the road, many cut back with a chainsaw. Stefan rounds a corner, fails to take into account how big his panniers are, and hooks one on a protruding branch (called a 'jillpoke' we are told, definition is here http://web.cocc.edu/logging/dk.html and sounds very apt). Over the bars and down like a sack of potatoes.
He's not looking good, right arm flopping around, in agony. No problems, I have a sat phone to call 911. Yeh right. No signal amongst the trees.
Won't bore you with all the details but finally got onto 911 through KTM990 rider Phil's Spot Tracker, then Thad and his family arrived with cell phone access. All stayed to help for several hours. Many, many thanks folks.
In the next hour we had firies, search and rescue, 2 types of cops, ambo's, and some other group we still don't know who or what they were, all arrived on the scene. Ambo's took Stefan off to Hood River.
I had to wait for a tow-truck to pick up Stefan's bike, which is when I realised the ambo's had taken my bag with my water, tent, sleeping bag, and bear spray. Wasn't looking forward to spending a night in the forest. Finally the tow truck arrived, loaded up, and I headed off as dusk approached.
Then made the decision to go to Hood River, without checking the map properly, turned left, powering down the tar, reached a Y junction, quickly followed by dirt and the biggest pot-holes I had seen so far. Not right...
By this time it is almost dark, try to check the GPS, it can't get signal in the tall trees, try to view the map, can't find my head-light, starting to panic, when a young lad appears in his pick-up truck. I stood in front of him, no way I was letting him past. Luckily he was heading to Hood River, so I sat on his tail all the way there. Never been so thankful as when I came over the ridge and saw the lights of Hood River below.
Get to the hospital, and there's Stefan sitting in the Emergency lounge, having been discharged. He 'only' has a dislocated shoulder and chipped humerus.
We retire to a local hotel for the night to ponder our next steps.
Hood River to San Francisco
Next day is spent organising, finding someone to take the bike back to SF at a reasonable price (BMW Roadside Assistance wanted over $3,000!), and getting Stefan back home to SF. That involved getting a local hire car to go to Portland, then pick up a Hertz hire car that could be taken back to SF one way, then go back to Hood River, drop off local hire car, etc, etc.
I had decided that discretion being the better part of valour, I would not be continuing down the dirt on my own for the rest of the trip, so I would take the scenic sight-seers trip down Highway 1 and 101 all the way down the coast.
Given that that didn't involved a lot of adventure riding, but did provide a lot of pleasure, I've only included a few photos of highlights below.
I did also pay a visit to the previous owner of the bike in Portland. He was very kind and put me up for a few nights while I organised UVP licences and did some work on the bike. I suspect he was a little disturbed by the condition of the bike, but he did his best to hide it. And I'm happy to say that when I cleaned it up before putting it on the container, it came up excellently.
The weather turned foggy and cold when I hit the coast,
but given that was the first bad weather I had had in 7 weeks in Canada and US, I really couldn't complain.
Created some lovely views looking down on the fog on the ocean from the road.
Luckily Stefan had told me about the Spruce Goose now being at the Evergreen Aviation museum at Mcminnville.
Great museum, and the spruce goose is just awesome, in the true sense of the word. More info here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hughes_H-4_Hercules
Redwood National Park, CA.
The 'Big Tree' (or what's left of it) and the Valley of the Giants.
The Drive-Thru Tree.
Point Arena Lighthouse (most westerly point).http://gallery.webtrax.com.au/albums...ouse.sized.jpg
San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge.
And most importantly, the launch of the iPhone 5.
And just to prove she scrubbed up ok, the bike ready to be loaded in the container.
That was a relief, getting it there intact.
We met lots of other riders, many of them Advriders, while on the WABDR, given the time of year we did it. Sorry I didn't take down names or photos, but good to meet you all. Thanks to all those who sent their best wishes to Stefan.
I was saddened to see that a large part of WABDR has been hit by massive fires in the last few weeks. It is a magical track, one I can thoroughly recommend if you have the time, and hopefully it will recover fully in the not too distant future.
It has also made me realise how much there still is to see over there, so let the planning begin for the next trip.
PS if you're interested, many more photos here:
good stuff Pete :thumb
nice work, ya did a good thing there
Glorious ride... tough luck with Stefan's biff... but it also gave you the opportunity to ride the northern coast of California.. having just done that this past summer, it's all still fresh.. and very memorable! Thanks for the report and pics, and hope the bike made it to Oz in a good shape :thumb
Nice one Pete. :clap
The more RR's I read from the US the more I want to ride there.
Great RR....hope you come back and do the WABDR sans smoke.
Great report Pete - brought back some very fond memories ...
No doubt the GS will be at Georges for the clutch work - he just finished mine and comes highly recommended :loaded
Great pix Pete. We ran into you and Stefan just outside of Packwood as we were heading up...glad to hear Stefan is healing up. We were the 1200 GS/GSA duo.
Another two thumbs up on the Timberwolf recommendation...it was outstanding. I have a pile of meadow porn shots to share (can never have too many photos of meadows...). And another vote of recommendation on the Table Mountain views. Simply outstanding. All of us WABDRing that weekend were just ahead of the forest fires.
Great stuff Peter, fantastic photos, a neat trip mostly, catch ya @ the next rally somewhere
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