Gee, what a great report. You are good with that camera. Thanks. Now I gotta' check out your buddies report to get some of the route details. I'd like some of the route you had as well during your solo route to Flag.
I'm from Boston, but I have been on many of the roads you featured and seen vista's you captured images of. I was even on a KTM twin! The difference is that I was traveling from Monterey to Boston so my route, while winding through Indian Country, was steadily east.
I recognize the struggles you had with the softer dirt roads in some sections, like the park roads around Mexican Hat. I experienced the same, plus some mud issues on the north side of the Canyon. Like you, I was packed way too heavy. I always had to unload everything in the event of a tipover, or I couldn't pick it up!
You are a pretty big fellow, but if you are going to solo through the remote places you showed, I think you need a much smaller motorcycle, and pack it a lot lighter. Also, in prep for these trips, you should practice service intervals in the comfort of your garage, including changing your tires by hand. That way, you always have the tools you need to correct the mechanical problems you face trailside.
I sense you are new to the 990. I rode my 950 for some 60k miles before I sold it a few weeks ago. I only used it for trips, so that's how I piled up the miles. KTM OEM rear brakes always squeek after riding those conditions. You can clean them by a few hard stops from speed. No squeak until they dirty up again. Meanwhile your front rotors will begin to pulsate as well. They are not warped. Just do few hard stops and the pulsating will stop. I eventually replaced my brake pads with aftermarket products when needed. You clean foam air filters with gasoline, and then re-oil them with whatever oil you have. The tapping you hear is most often intermittent when your hydraulic cam chain tensioner loses oil. It pumps back up again and the clacking goes away. My old 950 was terrible with that. I heard the 990's were much better.
You are clearly an adventurous rider! Most would have cut the trip short and headed home. I am impressed with your tenacity and you got a trip completed you will never forget.
My last trip out there was September. I shipped my bike to Salt Lake and rode the Continental Divide Route to Chama where I broke west to revisit Indian Country. I rode a Yamaha WR250R dual sport. I can pick it up anywere and I don't have to unload most times. I even pack my Kermit chair.
Once again, I love your tenacity. I'd ride with you anywhere for that reason alone. Thanks for the RR.
I left my Yam in AZ so I can visit to explore the great west. I replaced my 950 with a new 690R, which is about 140lbs lighter.
Have yet to see how it travels, but if as good as the Yam, I'll be bulletproof for solo trips.
The Yam on the CDR:
Your Anazazi Ruins:
There is a 13 mile sand wash that drops 1500 feet from Carefree AZ to the Verde River. It took me three attempts, but after mounting a proper front tire I actually was able to make it with little drama. Even the wrestling of the bars subsided after I started figuring out the best combination of body positioning and throttle. I wouldn't want to do it on a 500lb motorcycle but after some practice, soft roads don't bother me anymore. Camp Creek Wash: