Continental Divide and More: The "No Dust" Tour of WY and MT
Hauling the Mail
Ah, finally done with personal business, time to hit the road. Looks like I will have nine days to explore various roads. With everything packed, the bike and I hit the road at about 8:30. The bike has 28,530 miles on the odometer.
This Map allows you to see the whole trip. Green tracks are routes we planned ahead and red is the actual track from the GPS. In this case, red and green make dark green, so the dark green lines are places we followed the planned track. Makes perfect sense, no? :D
Prairie to the Yellowstone
It’s about 700 miles to Steamboat Springs CO where I want to meet up with friends from Glendive who are already riding. This will be a long day, so I leave late, and immediately head down a gravel road. It’s a beautiful day, take advantage of it, I thought. Turns out to be almost prophetic.
The gravel road rolls south over hills and prairie with some very nice vista’s. The view down this valley gives you a glimpse of the Yellowstone River; probably 5 miles from this point. The Big Sky is on display also this morning, adding its endless azure tint to the picture.
Ismay, Montana. AKA Joe
Ismay is one of those little one horse towns that have no real reason to be out here. It’s a rail siding town along the track from Miles City MT to Mobridge SD, an old freight supply route for <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Keogh">Fort Keogh</a>. No highway, just a gravel road from Fallon to Plevna. Ismay made a brief splash in the news back in the late 80’s trying to capitalize on the then 49er Quarterback by briefly changing the town name to Joe, and get some press as Joe, Montana. Wheat harvest was wrapping up in this area as indicated pile of grain outside an older elevator which doesn’t have rail loading facilities. I snapped a couple of pics and then kept moving on.
Knowlton is another little oddball in the area. You are driving along normal prairie and badlands when you come up on these pine covered hills. They are kind of like the Long Pines or Black Hills plopped down here a few miles from the Powder River. Nestled in theses hills are a couple ranches and an elementary school. Somewhere around here I nailed a prairie chicken with my hand guard. :-(
After Knowlton the road drops down off the bench and into the Powder river valley. With the rain this year, things were still green and the view was pretty amazing. Here is my feeble attempt to capture this with a digital camera.
There is a bridge down here that crosses the Powder with the Mizpah school just up the hill on the west side. Before the school there is a road that follows the west side of the river to Broadus where I wanted to get fuel and lunch.
Sometimes the weeds get pretty bad along the sides of these roads and it’s necessary for the counties to mow them before winter comes and the snow blows into the road. I encountered a first for me, a motor patrol with a wing mounted mower; it seemed to be a little unwieldy but was getting the job done. As the road was an improved 2 track, I had to wait for him to pull off at an approach before I could pass him.
At Broadus I got fuel and a fresh made sub sandwich at Alderman’s fuel. As I ate the sandwich outside a group of cruisers from Salt Lake City came in and fueled up, leaving in a staccato burst of exhaust.
Upper Powder, Wyoming
After Broadus you continue south on the west side of the river to a little town (three houses) called Moorehead right by the Wyoming border. As you continue south “upstream” the hills take on a reddish hue and the water meanders a little slower as the river becomes smaller.
It is out here that an antelope decided to out race me, and did a last minute course correction as he came up on the road and hit my footpeg and rolled under the rear wheel. That course correction probably saved both of us, as he just bumped into the side of the bike, rolled over, and ran off into the sage.
I continued on the Upper Powder River road past Arvarda to the I-90 interstate. At this point the road the road dead ended so I road west towards Buffalo looking for a road south. Finally I hit one and rode along stopping briefly at a marker for the Bozeman trail. Then I hit the highway to Kaycee.
I stopped for gas and as it was getting late decided I better stay on the highway the rest of the way to Steamboat Springs. Rather boring trip of another 350 miles of highway added to the 350 miles of gravel roads I had covered in the morning. There was a little rain at Rawlins which was an ominous foreboding. I ended up at Steamboat at midnight with my phone dead and no way to contact the crew, so I got a room at the LaQuinta and went to sleep.
Stats for the day: 723 Miles, 8:30 am to 12:00 midnight
Holy smokes you put down some miles on that first day. Good to read stuff like this as this winter is about to get to me.
Sure enjoyed your company on the Mobius 10 ride.
Thanks so much !!!
Did you ever wash your bike ????
Love this part of the country...
We spoke briefly in the morning as your group headed out.
Sorry i didn't come out when you pulled into the motel looking for your buds, it sure was late. Your riding buds and i met at the motel lobby earlier that day soaking wet dripping all over the lobby. It was hellish getting to Steamboat that day for me also in the monsoon.
Cant wait for the rest....
BD, his bike looked the same when i saw him.
Does not look like he has washed it yet!
Ready for more of the same.
Your a funny guy there BigDog. Just to let you know, I had to add a few farkles to Jane since the last time you saw her. Yes, she got a bath. If you would have zoomed in on the picture you would have noticed. :wink:
(hopefully that comes through, I'm playing with my Smugmug site settings.)
Thanks for the comments, its always a good time when you are around! :freaky
However, you will notice, I have Wolfman's now instead of the Vario's and you can see through the windshield. :deal
Well, I'm going to call it a night. See you tomorrow with the next installment. (or if you are the impatient type, just back track to my smugmug site, its completed there.)
Thanks for the RR. I'm planning a CDR trip in late summer and this is just more encouragement. :clap
Looking forward to this RR.
700 mile day, half on gravel, is pretty good.
Interesting how you have storage containers (fuel, tool tube, etc.) strapped to your GS. Do you have more detailed pics of that?
You decided to do a RR!
The Kolpin tanks are tough, as you will see in a bit...
You Can Do It!
Well, now to post another installment.
Day Two: Beginning of the Wet
LOL. Thinking back to this cracks me up. Since I didn’t get back until the wee hours of the morning, it was tough to get going. I think I finally got out onto the bike and across the street to where the other guys were staying at about 8:30. They were just getting up, so I didn’t make them late, whew. Todd and Dave and Dave wanted to get some breakfast and a gear bag. I only had the sub sandwich at Broadus and a corndog at Kaycee, so I was ready for food, even if it was MacDonalds. To celebrate surviving the ride yesterday I had not one, but two! breakfast sandwich combos. I was living high on the hog! I also got to see a Colorado “planned community” in the daylight, even Micky D’s had an “Alpine” façade and the requisite sales tax to pay for the goofiness.
We were all moving slow and got going about 10:30 to head over to Fort Collins where we would catch the road into Estes and come back through Rocky Mountain National Park. At least that was the plan! A few miles out of town our plan to return to Steamboat that night was abandoned due to our late start. We would find a place to stay on the road and return to Steamboat the next day.
We got out on a forest service road and started out on our way over the mountains. The road was well used with the rock rubble sticking out through the surface. It was rough but not too difficult.
Rally the Troops
We had a quick stop and with the usual small talk, joking, checking the horses and gear. We were quickly leaving the sun behind and it was getting damp and cool. We weren’t wet yet, that was a challenge we would face in the future.
We were taking various county and forest service roads to a junction with Hwy 14 south of Walden. Then the highway would take us over the mountains. After this picture the road improved with recently graveled surface and we start riding a little faster, playing with the corners and the connecting straights. Some would even comment that we had more horsepower than brains, but everyone escaped unscathed.
We quickly crossed the next valley, getting some gas at a one horse stop, and continuing on to the anticipated junction. The clouds would occasionally spit at us, but we were mostly dry.
Into the Storm
Dave Turner took the opportunity to head north to Walden and back to Glendive as we crossed one of the highways. We kept on and eventually got to the desired junction. Highway 14 is a very nice road to take through the canyons, or it was a very nice road. I think the rains in the next few days would change things.
The Beginning of the Rain
The canyon quickly closed in on the road pushing the stream, rocks, and trees right up to the shoulders. The little canyons off to the sides would wind back with exposed rock faces like Harrowdale leading to the Paths of the Dead. And then it started to rain… fortunately this was just a light rain which didn’t hinder our riding, but heavy enough that we were chilled and wet when we came out of the canyon.
Escaping the canyon we found whiskey for my men and beer for my horses… not quite, but food and fuel anyway. Since it was 3:00 pm we headed into town to see the local KTM dealer in Fort Collins, nice orange bling with enough tee-shirts and gear to keep a Harley rider happy. Don’t kid yourself kiddies; orange knows how to roll in the green. ;-)
Before we got to the shop we had enough rain to convince ourselves the weather gods were not happy. They were able to wash the dust of the road and us.
The next stop was the BMW/Ducati/Triumph shop, which serviced a different type of clientele. They did have the connector Todd wanted to charge his phone, so it was a successful trip. Next was Old Chicago and the hotel, where we huddled around the TV and listened to horror stories about the rainstorms foisted upon us.
Stats for the Day: 201 Miles 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Day 3: Escape Denver
We woke up with the knowledge that the weather gods were pissed, and there was no easy way out of the rain. Todd and Dave finally decided to head north to Laramie and hopefully Glendive. Todd would then be assured of getting to the football game Friday night.
The rest of us, Marty Mike, Todd and David discussed it and decided to head south to Golden and check out if the roads were as badly closed as we heard on the news. Besides it looked like the rain was rolling north along the mountains.
Are you confused with the names yet? Just to clarify, there were three Dave’s and two Todd’s along on this trip.
We all headed out, each group hoping we would be out of the rain soon. The quartet headed down to Loveland to check out highway 34 and what kind of road block would be set up. It was an impressive road block, and we quickly realized that going to Estes wasn’t in the cards; so Golden and I-70 was the route.
Leaving Loveland it started to rain; as in “find gopher wood” rain. The only place I’ve seen rain like this was in the Carolina’s along the coast. It was a challenge to keep the visor clear and water off the glasses, obviously the rest of our clothes were soaked. Several times we rode along the highways with streams of several inches draining down off the hills and down the roadway. The bridges and aqueducts were full of water and it was pretty obvious that if the run off didn’t quit soon they were going to wash out.
We picked up gas and stopped at a café for something warm in Golden. Fortunately we wanted something light ‘cause they weren’t filling the plates with any extras. Heck, my huevos rancheros fit on a saucer sized plate; I quickly ordered some sourdough toast to go with it.
Partly due to luck we headed out of Golden over Lookout Mountain Road. It’s a twisty little road that goes over the hill overlooking Golden and past Buffalo Bill Cody’s grave. With the rain we didn’t stop but kept moving onto I-70.
We started getting out of the rain as we crossed the mountains on I-70. We only hit a few showers as we started north to Winter Park. Occasionally we would stop, chat, and let the blood flow back to our posteriors. Eventually we ended up in “SUNSHINE” in Winter Park. As we were fueling the bikes everyone was shedding gear and trying to dry off as much as possible.
The twisty bits were fun, and even Mike seemed to be doing okay on the DRZ400.
Back to Steamboat Springs
It was a short break and we headed out again, but fortunately we left the rain behind. We ended up in Steamboat Springs about 6:00, checked into the hotel, and found a little Mexican place for dinner.
Stats for the day: 240 miles, 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM
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