|08-12-2012, 04:03 AM||#1|
Joined: Jun 2009
Hopscotch & Jack Daniels Too
Our wives thought we had lost our minds! Two guys pushing retirement (my older brother -Roamineye- and myself) heading out on a 2 week off pavement adventure tour? Well, Walter Matthau made a movie -Hopscotch- about a spy being pushed into retirement and he decided to just give the ADV salute to whole establishment. Guess we are not quite that radical. But this was definitely a get away. And a good one it was! Jack Daniels? Well he seemed to find his way to our camp each night. And a welcome guest he was!
***** Roamineye edit: Until about four years ago, I wasn't plugged in to the adventure riding scene. I'd owned and ridden motorcycles since I was about 14 years old, including several enduro/dual sport bikes and road bikes, and had taken many one- and two-week road rides on my road bikes. But I'd never really thought much about actually going somewhere on an enduro bike. I bought a new Honda ST1300A about then, and started talking up a ride to the Great Smoky Mountains. Much to my surprise, my two brothers, a cousin, and my brother-in-law got the fever and bought bikes of their own. I had planned to ride with some of my friends, but hey, if I can do this with family, it's even better. So everyone bought road bikes except my brother - known here as bsheet2. When he announced that he'd bought a KLR650, I thought he was nuts. We were talking about a 3000+ mile trip - and he was gonna do it on a 650 single!!? But then he told me about the ADVRider forum and I checked it out. Looked at the incredible pictures, read some of the great trip reports, and thought - geez! This is what motorcycle riding is all about. This is the kind of riding I want to do! So, we did the Great Smokey ride, Tail Of The Dragon and all, and it was great. And that KLR took the road just like the exotic road bikes did. Maybe not as fast, or as flashy, but it got him there and back in reasonable comfort and at the same speeds that road bikers were going. But the big difference was that bsheet2 wasn't confined to the smoothness and security of a paved road. He had options, lots of them. And I liked the idea even more. Within a year of returning from that ride, I owned my 2008 DR650SE, aka DR Dirty. And within a year later, had unloaded the big ST, and have never looked back. *****
The route! Our route is a big loop made from the TAT (Trans-America Trail) across Colorado, the Forever West route going north and the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) headed back south. A great big thanks to Big Dog and DockingPilot for sharing their route tracks of the CDT and Forever West. Without this info, planning this trip would have been much harder. So here is the global view:
***** Roamineye edit: I have to give big kudos to my brother for working out this route. While we did draw heavily from the Forever West route (which is awesome), he did a great job of tying the best parts of Forever West, CDT, and TAT together to make for an outstanding ride within our time constraints. *****
***** Roamineye edit: The pink on the map above is our actual route. We started in southwestern Colorado at Westcliffe, and traveled in a clockwise direction around the loop. We had also plotted side trips that we would take if there was time (which there wasn't, unfortunately), indicated in blue, and "escape routes" or short cuts that we could take to cut off portions of the primary route if we had trouble or ran out of time. These are indicated in green.
We trailered our bikes from Oklahoma to Westcliffe, Colorado where the fun started. The hotel in Westcliff gratiously let us park the trailer till we returned. They have lots of space. This was a very good starting point.
***** Roamineye edit: We stayed at the Westcliffe Inn and highly recommend it. Nothing fancy, but clean and comfortable. As a side note, Westcliffe itself is a neat little town, with a few good restaurants and other attractions. We had dinner at Sangrita, and found the food and service very good. But we didn't go to see towns, we went to ride. *****
In total we rode about 2,600 miles. We estimate about 2,000 of those miles were off pavement. The only terrain that was really challenging was some of the passes in Colorado. (more on that later!) . The rest was generally easy riding. We had excellent weather. Just a bit of rain on one day. We saw 100+ heat in the desert and woke to frost on everything when we camped above 8000 ft. We met some great people along the way, friendly and helpful. I am still out there in spirit.........
We were not totally unsupported on this trip. My brother's wife did not want to be left out of this adventure. She also has a friend that wanted to see this part of the country. So they decided to come along and play tourist while we ride, then meet up with us about every 3 days ....or so. This actually worked pretty well. We had a few pre-determined meet up points. This initially allowed us to adjust what we were carrying on the bikes. Later, it meant a bit of civilization after camping for several nights. It worked out. And I think everyone enjoyed the trip.
Here we are loaded up and ready to roll in Oklahoma.
Arrival at Westcliff Colorado:
The trusty steeds??
I rode Tink, my WR250R. Tink as in Tinkerbell. She rides like fairy dust has been sprinkled on her.
My brother rode DR Dirty. A sweet DR650, tried and true.
And here we are on day 1 (July 1, 2012), locked and loaded. Well, at least loaded and ready to roll. Nervous with anticipation.
***** Roamineye edit: We were obviously riding two very different machines. Both have their strong and weak points. I was very impressed with the WR250R. It's a gutsy little machine that more than held its own in spite of being loaded with at least as much weight as my DR650SE. Fuel mileage was amazing, almost to the point of being unbelievable. When my DR was getting 45-50 mpg, the WR would get 60+, and with the 4.7 gallon aftermarket tank, the WR never entered into the equation when trying to plan for fuel stops each day. Another significant difference is the transmissions - the WR's 6-speed and the DR's 5-speed. When riding at highway speeds, the WR's comfort zone was precisely between gears for the DR - either too slow for a higher gear or too fast for a lower gear. I complained (like so many DR riders do) that if I had just one more gear with narrower ratio jumps between them, I'd be good to go. But bsheet2 reminded me that with another gear I'd be shifting more often overall. Well, OK, maybe that's true. And the amazing torque made by the DR650 is compensation enough in every aspect - except riding highway with a WR250R (lol). The only time the WR faltered was riding highway, especially when we were riding north around the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The temperature was hovering around 100F, and during the long hill climbs in that area, the WR overheated. Apart from that, both bikes did a great job. *****
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 08:25 PM Reason: Roamineye added comments
|08-12-2012, 04:59 AM||#2|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 1 - TAT across Colorado
There have been so many trip reports about the TAT on here. You guys have seen all the photos. But I had literally drooled over every one of your trip reports on this section through Colorado. I had to ride it! And it was everything I had hoped for....and more. I will get to the "more" part of that in a minute.
We headed out from Westcliff on the TAT route.
First came Marshall Pass. A nice easy warm up with excellent scenery. Look Aspens! I love those trees.
***** Roamineye edit: As my bother said, Marshall Pass was a great warmup, with easy roads and great vistas, but no indication of the ride that was in store for us later in the day. Here are a few pics from early portion of the day. *****
***** Roamineye edit: Sometimes in these remote areas, roads get rerouted or closed, and even with the latest map updates installed, the GPS can't get the job done. So, grabbing your forest service map (and having one to grab) is the fallback plan. We each had a GPS - two different Garmin models - and when we got to this area, each GPS told us to go a different direction. After about 20 minutes and much discussion and head scratching, we decided to take a small, unmarked and unmaintained two-track - probably across private property - to get to a road that we thought might get us back to our route. Turned out to be the right decision, and we were on our way again.
*****Roamineye edit: Our route took us near many historical sites and features, and we always tried to take a little time to stop and enjoy them. Here, the Saguache - San Juan Toll Road, a stage coach route built in 1874, crossed our path.
***** Roamineye edit: Here are a few more pics of the scenery on our ride to Lake City and Cinnamon Pass.
Then we headed up Cinnamon Pass. The swichbacks became more challenging on Cinnamon Pass. But not too bad really. Somewhere I had read that it is best to keep an outside line when tackling these switch back turns. Oops, I fogot to share this with my brother till after this:
Ok, good riding tip. No damage done except maybe a bit of pride. Keeping wide on the turns makes a difference! We negotiated all the rest of the switch backs just fine. And they got harder ......
***** Roamineye edit: No excuses here, but the DR wasn't running well. It was getting hard to start, I could smell fuel, and when we refueled in Lake City, my mileage was down in the 30's. I'd had problems a few months before with a leaky o-ring in the carb float assembly, and I was beginning to suspect that it was leaking again. This probably has no bearing on my dropping the bike here, since I did approach too slowly and the bike stalled when I started up and around the turn. I might've made it OK if I'd taken the outside line. So, there are two lessons here - always take an outside line on the switchbacks, and never ride into a remote area like this when you suspect that you might have a problem developing. *****
***** Roamineye edit: It was mid-afternoon, and there were a lot of people on ATV's and in 4WD vehicles coming down off the mountain here. Luckily, some nice folks stopped and helped us get the DR back on its wheels. *****
Had to pull over and let a jeep pass. There were quite a few jeeps and 4 wheelers up here.
Cinnamon Pass. Sweet!
Here are the old mining remains after coming down from Cinnamon Pass.
***** Roamineye edit: This is the area around Animas Forks Mine, as we were coming down from Cinnamon Pass. *****
***** Roamineye edit: I believe this is part of the Columbus Mine. *****
Ok, right about here is where the real adventure starts. I had messed up on the route. I thought I had us on an easy road to Ouray from this point. We would soon find that was not correct at all. Up to this point we had been taking our time, taking pictures, lots of stops. Lunch had come and gone.
Well, we headed out and the route starts taking us up another pass. What's this, I think?? We press on. And up and over California Pass we go. Wow, that was fun. Tougher than Cinnamon, but fun.
Then there is another pass to get up. Something call Hurricane Pass. My brother is getting worried about gas. The sun is getting low. He had a spare gallon of gas so we put it in his DR. At this point we are pretty much committed to our route. It is the shortest way off the mountain and getting to Ouray.
You notice I am not posting pics at this point. The riding was getting tough and our minds were not on playing tourist. And to make matters worse it was looking like rain!
We topped out on Hurricane Pass and were met with a blast of wind that was mixed with dust and rain. Wow! I had never seen that. It was just starting to rain and the wind gusts were kicking up huge dust bursts off the road since the road was not yet wet. The dust and rain hit our visors and just coated them! Luckily this only lasted about a half mile. Down we went fron Hurricane. Well named it was!
Our hopes of a nice road out to the highway were then dashed. The sign said Cork Screw Pass and pointed up. Cork Screw was aptly named as well. Very steep, loose dirt with big rocks, hair pin switch backs with sheer drops. This one had some pucker factor for sure.
***** Roamineye edit: Pucker factor? That's one of the understatements of the century! The loose, marble to baseball sized rocks made it almost impossible to control speed coming down the VERY steep switchbacks. The road couldn't have been more than six feet wide. The switchback turns weren't much wider than the length of my DR, and were also littered with loose rocks. And to make the scenario complete, the drop off on the downhill side must've been a hundred feet down. The term "life or death situation" came to mind every time I approached one of those turns. But, there's no time to dwell on such thoughts, and speaking for myself, I tested the limits of my riding skills and found them to be - better than expected. :-) *****
***** Roamineye edit: Here's a view back toward Corkscrew Pass after we'd made it through. I was thinking of only one thing as I snapped this photo - Man, it's nice to stand on some level ground again! *****
We finally made it off Cork Screw Pass and hit he highway. My brother had to switch to reserve on his tank about a mile after we hit pavement. We had started this day at 6:30 AM and it was 9 PM when we rolled into Ouray. We were exhausted. We had planned to camp. But we saw a vacancy sign on a hotel as we entered Ouray and we both just pulled in. No discussion needed.
***** Roamineye edit: This is the Ouray Elks Lodge, which was next door to our hotel. Beautiful building - wish it had been open.
Wow! Day 1 certainly started with some adventure. We were stoked. We were just able to get dinner before everything closed. Sleep came quickly.
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 08:35 PM
|08-12-2012, 06:08 AM||#4|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 2 - Ouray to Rifle
We depart from the TAT at this point and head north to link up with the Forever West route. I had done the best I could to work out a route from Ouray to Rifle, Colorado that avoids pavement. However, there are two very large geologic features that make this difficult. The canyons and reservoirs along the Gunnison River and the Grand Mesa north of Hotchkiss, Colorado. We ended up with more highway in this section than I would like.
We felt my brother's bike was using too much fuel the previous day. Plus, it was getting progressively harder to start. We started watching DR Dirty closely.
We headed north out of Ouray and jumped off on gravel roads very soon. The morning ride all the way to highway 50 near Blue Mesa Reservoir was easy gravel roads and beautiful mountain scenery.
We called this Castle Rock. Not sure of the real name. It was a very different type of mountains in this area.
***** Roamineye edit: I am always amazed at the wide variation in scenery and flora when traveling through this part of the country. As elevations change and the route takes you from the east side of mountain range to the west side, air temperature rises and falls, humidity varies wildly, and vistas range from lush, green forest to verdant valleys and meadows, to dry, harsh desert. It is incredible, and to see it, feel it and smell it from a motorcycle is one of the best experiences in life.
After we hit hiway 50, it was nice twisty pavement for a good ways to Hotchkiss, Colorado. We took a break at Hotchkiss for lunch. When my brother tried to start his DR,.....nothing. Hummmmm. This is trouble. It was definitely flooding out. We could smell fuel. We pulled the cover off the air filter to let things dry out and fuel literally poured out of the air box. This is not good.
Fortunately my brother had had this issue before. Something about some o-ring seals in the carb. Here is where some fantastic friendly folks were a huge help. We had started pulling the DR apart next to the curb and in the hot sun. A lady across the street that ran an art shop saw this and offered to let us work in the shade of an awning beside her building. Man that made things better.
Plus, there was an ATV - Dirt Bike shop right next door to us. The guys there matched up the o-rings for the DR carb and did not charge my brother for them at all! Wow, now that was real nice.
Disaster averted. The DR had no problems the rest of the trip. And fuel milage was much better.
I had plotted a route that I hoped would take us over the Grand Mesa from Hotchkiss. But just a few miles down the back road and it dead ended. We had lost 2 or 3 hours fixing the DR. So we did not really have time to scout out an alternate route if we were to make Rifle on this day. And we would need to stay on schedule if we were to link up with the ladies the following day. So we were forced to lick our wounds and hit the pavement to Rifle. I know there must be a back way over the Grand Mesa. Will need to try that agin some time. Way too much pavement on this day.
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 08:42 PM Reason: Roamineye edits and adds
|08-12-2012, 06:44 AM||#5|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 3 - Rifle to Dinasaur National Monument
We had a nice camp in Rifle State Park. Here is morning coffee and oatmeal. In Rifle, before we had headed to camp, I had been able to fit a 6 pack of beer iced down in plastic bags into my tail bag. The beer sure tasted good. But it was bulky to carry and the ice made a mess in my bag. We needed a better solution.
I am using a Pocket Rocket backpacking stove/burner on a standard MSR butane canister. I like this little burner. It is very adjustable so you can actually simmer a stew with it. We used this a lot. Used up 2 MSR canisters during the trip. The only problem is keeping a wind block up for the burner. My duffle bags did this very well though.
We headed north through Rifle Canyon. This is a very narrow canyon and very lush. Pretty!
This turned on to jeep road that climbed up the mountain. This was a really fun jeep road. A bit rough but not difficult riding. Great sceenery.
The jeep road eventually brings you into a national forest and on top of a high mesa-like moutain top. We cruised along the top of this mountain for quite a ways. There were beautiful mountain meadows ringed by forest.
***** Roamineye edit: We took a side road up to the highest point we could find to have a look around. Not sure what the elevation was here, but we were certainly near tree line. While the view from there wasn't particularly amazing, the deer flies WERE. After taking our helmets off, we were immediately swarmed by thousands of them. Here's bsheet2, with helmet in place for protection from the swarms. ATGATT!
Very nice fast gravel roads. We were headed for Meeker, Colorado. Turns out there was to be an ADV gathering in Meeker over the 4th of July weekend.
Local traffic jam!
We had a late breakfast in Meeker. One ADV organizer of the July 4 gathering chatted with us over breakfast. He thought maybe we were there for the gathering. Real nice guy. Sorry, can't remember names worth a darn. Meeker has some really great riding. Looking at the map there are tons of back roads and trails around there. I'll bet the ADV gathering was a hugh success!
We had to make tracks though and headed out. After a short bit of pavement, we turned through a barren waste land. At Meeker we had made the link up with the Forever West route.
This place was such a dramatic change from the high mountain meadows we had been in just a short few hours earlier. Awsome in its severity.
We pushed on and entered the Dinosaur National Monument from the east end. There is a county road that follows the canyon for about 30 or 40 miles. It is not fast gravel. Very twisty with lots of elevation changes. But the scenery is fantastic. Another big terrain change in dramatic fashion.
***** Roamineye edit: That's the Yampa River below us, which runs through Dinosaur National Monument.
It was hot after we hit the desert area. And it continued to be hot in Dinosaur. Must have been pushing 100.
I was carrying 4 liters of water and used 3 of them since our late breakfast. If you ride out here, bring pleanty of water! I am a bit fuzzy from the heat in this panorama.
We knew from the FW ride report that Echo Park is an awsome camp spot. So that is where we picked to meet up with the ladies. And Echo Park is definitely worth visiting!
***** Roamineye edit: We arrived at Echo Park in the late afternoon not knowing when to expect the ladies. With no cell phone coverage, we had no way to communicate with them. But, we had planned this rendezvous point weeks ahead of time, and had marked it clearly on the route in the GPS (they were using a Garmin also). So, we could only hope that they would be able to find us. After our afternoon ride through the heat of the desert and navigating the twisty, rocky roads of Dinosaur, we were both worn out. bsheet2 had the forethought to carry a camp chair with him, and was lounging comfortably while I was grubbing around for comfortable place on the ground. I'd always thought it was ridiculous to add to the load on the bike by carrying something as luxurious as a chair, but now my paradigm was being challenged. When he left to swim in the river, I grabbed that chair and didn't give it up until the ladies arrived. Before we parted company with them the next morning, I had placed an order for a lightweight camp chair. When that order was fulfilled at our next meeting, I had a whole new definition of what's necessary and what's not when packing for a long bike trip.
Our camp against the cliff. You can just make out the yellow FJ thru the trees. I took a swim in the Yampa River. Man it was nice and cool! Felt soooo good. The ladies had brought fried chicken and beer! A feast to be sure.
***** Roamineye edit: Sunset at Echo Park was awesome. The shadows and fading sunlight made for some incredible scenes.
***** Roamineye edit: And the moon rising to the east over the mountains was spectacular. These photos certainly don't do it justice.
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 08:52 PM
|08-12-2012, 07:06 AM||#6|
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Back and Forth
Keep it coming
A good sermon should be like a woman’s skirt: short enough to arouse interest but long enough to cover the essentials. Ronald Knox
|08-12-2012, 07:12 AM||#7|
Joined: Jun 2009
Thanks WV. I am cruching away on this. Hopefully my brother will edit my posts with his pics and input. So you may have to re-look at prevous posts to see what he adds.
|08-12-2012, 07:46 AM||#8|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 4 - Echo Park to Kemmerer, Wyoming
It was a nice camp in Echo Park. It was a bit warm as the sun set. You could feel the rock around us keeping things warm as it gave up the heat it had soaked in during the day. But after the sun dropped, the desert did its thing and the temps dropped down to a pleasant evening.
We had learned a few things by this time and adjusted what we were carrying with us. I had too many changes of clothes for one thing. So I lightened my load.
We were late getting around on this morning. I can't really blame this on the ladies. They set up and packed their own tent and gear. We were simply enjoying a relaxed camp and savoring some nice coffee after sleeping in a bit late. But eventually we saddled up and headed out.
We were really still following the GPS route from Day 3, so we were behind schedule when we left that morning. It had been set to take us to Vernal Utah. So we headed to Vernal from Echo Park expecting to get there pretty quick.......
Well, first they had closed the rode that was from the Forever West tracks. We were able to find an alternate which took us through some deep loose silt. Nasty stuff. My brother had a bit of a rodeo and ended up in the sage brush. But he stayed with it and did not drop the bike. Good riding!
Once we got to pavement we decided to drive out on the over look : That is Echo Park down there.
The road we came out on. Look at those switch backs!
Then we missed a turn and got lost. The Garmin had re-routed so we pressed on. Eventually we arrived at Vernal. Man quite an adventure just getting out of Dinosaur! But, had lost a good bit of the morning. Vernal is where the route for Day 4 starts and it was planned to be over 200 miles. We knew we would never make that distance. So... we decided to cut the off pavement section between Vernal and Flaming Gorge National Park and take hiway. We had had enough desert heat anyway and that section looked like it migh be desert. We will save that section for another day.
The great thing about this route, if you have to keep a schedule, you can make adjustments. We hated riding hard to keep a schedule. We preferred to keep a leisurely pace and stop and see things. So our preference was to adjust the route to make time rather than feel hurried. I sure would like to ride this route without an end date!
We crunched out the hiway in short order and then headed in to Flaming Gorge National Forest.
Nice ride! Easy fast gravel roads.
It was mainly county roads through ranch and farm lands for a good way. We did finally cross in to Wyoming.
We cruised on in to Kemmerer, Wyoming. There was not much here in the way of a camp ground. So we splurged and got a hotel room. A hot shower sure felt good after all that desert!
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 08:58 PM
|08-12-2012, 08:05 AM||#9|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 5 - Kemmerer to Alpine
Reaching Kemmerer was actually further than was planned for for Day 4. Our route adjustment had paid off and we had time to burn now.
Day 5 was a relaxed cruise on easy gravel roads through Jim Bridger National Forest. It was very nice scenery through forest and mountains. We were up in elevation at this point so temperatures were very nice. For some reason I did not take many pics on this day.
***** Roamineye edit: We rode several miles along an unimproved road - not quite a two-track - through ranch lands and along a creek or small river. It was a pleasant ride, and I cranked up the GoPro camera to capture some of it. This is almost 10 minutes long, and doesn't really contain anything exciting, other than that feeling you get when you're doing what you love to do.
Forest Ranger Station. Those were some tough guys back then!
We even tried to make a new friend. A badger! First badger I ever saw. But he was not very friendly.
***** Roamineye edit: Precisely our kind of road!
***** Roamineye edit: We were aware of the fires in this area, but were not directly impacted by them other than not being able to have campfires. There were times when we could smell smoke, and occasionally see smoke. This road was closed due to the proximity of one of the fires. Luckily, we were headed the other way.
***** Roamineye edit: The wild flowers were blooming here, and the entire valley was beautiful. There was also a lot of wildlife - mostly deer and antelope. I rounded a curve at one point and startled a moose cow and calf in the road. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a pic.
We rolled in to Alpine for a late lunch. It had just started to rain as we pulled in to a restaurant. This would be the only rain we really had to contend with.
Well, we had a leisurely lunch and waited to see if the rain would pass. After a few hours it was not passing. We were able to get a radar view of the storm on our cell phones and saw it was only about 20 to 30 miles wide in the direction of our route. So we finally decided to ride through it and hope to find a decent camp spot on the back side.
This turned out to be a very pleasant ride through light rain in the national forest. We came out of the rain and tooled around a bit till we settled on a camp site. It was wet ground. But not raining.
***** Roamineye edit: I was really dreading the ride out of Alpine in the rain. But, we needed to make our mileage that day, because we were meeting the ladies again on Day 6. So, I manned up and mounted up. Turns out, the rain was very light, and as we rode to the west toward the edge of the storm, became far less of a problem than I expected. Neither of us got wet enough to be uncomfortable. And to our surprise, the roads were actually easier to ride on when they were wet. Seems the rain settled the gravel and made a very nice, firm road surface.
As we rode out of the storm, we began to see low lying clouds flowing through the valleys and hugging the tops of the mountains. It was quite beautiful, and this part of the trip is on my short list of favorites.
***** Roamineye edit: Here's a video of our ride west out of Alpine. It's about 13 minutes long. Nothing earth shaking here, just cruising in the rain listening to the sweet sound of DR Dirty chugging along. There's a drop of water on the camera lens in an unfortunate place, but later in the video it mostly evaporates. At the end of the video, we've ridden out of the mountains and into a mostly agricultural area in a large valley. This is where our search for a camp spot and the story about it begins, as described below.
I think this was the first night Mr. Jack visited our camp site. Smooth sippin whisky and a cool evening in the high mountain forest. What day is it any way??? About now, we did not know and didn't care......
***** Roamineye edit: I need to take a little time to tell a story here. As we rode west to escape the rain and find a (hopefully) dry campsite, we also rode out of the national park and out of the mountains. We had identified a lake on our map before we left Alpine - Gray's Lake, and it was our target for a potential campsite. The road dumped us into a big valley that was mostly cultivated farmland, with an occasional field of grass and sage brush. The road turned into a strange (to us) surface that looked soft and mucky with the rain, but was actually firm and solid to ride on. This was a pleasant surprise, because we could make good time - to wherever we were going to end up. And it was beginning to get dark. As we approached the lake - indicated clearly on our GPS receivers - we were surprised to find that it was nowhere to be seen. The area around us was no different from the rest of the land that we'd come through. We stopped to discuss, and as we dismounted, flushed a couple of ducks on the road side. Looking closer at the "land" on either side of the road, it turned out to be a marsh, maybe knee deep in water and full of grasses and water plants. So, definitely no place to camp here. We rode on, looking for any place near the road that would accommodate a couple of tents and bikes. But everywhere we looked we saw only private property, marked with "NO TRESPASSING" signs. We eventually saw a tall antenna that appeared to be a cell phone tower on top of a hill. The GPS indicated that there was a road to it, so we went to see if we might find a flat spot and get away with a camp there. No luck - the area was inside a fence, and was marked as private. We rode on another mile or so, and came to a "T" in the road. I noticed that the pasture on the other side of the "T" was different from the surrounding area in that it had no sage brush on it. It was all nice grass. The fence was also different from the rest, and had little signs on it that said "Federal Wildlife Preserve". As we rode along the length of it, I was thinking that we might be less likely to get caught camping on this than on private land. As we rode past the end of it, I noticed a jog in the fence where it adjoined the private property next to it. This made an area that would be perfect for parking motorcycles off the road, and the fence there was not as high, so it would be easy to cross. We could pitch our tents, camp for the night, and leave early the next morning before anyone had a chance to drive by. When we came to the next intersection about a quarter mile later, my brother stopped to discuss our next action, and I spelled it all out for him. We rode back and had a closer look, and he tentatively agreed that it was our best option yet. Just at the instant when I delivered my final comment that would surely convince him that it was OK - "It's not like there'll be anyone driving by before morning" - two big Dodge pickup trucks pulling big stock trailers topped the hill about half mile away, heading straight for us. Next comment - "Well, kiss my coon dog's a$#!." So, we waited for the trucks to come, thinking we might talk to whoever was in them and get some idea of a better place to camp. Turns out, like in nearly every other case when we needed assistance, the guys were more than willing to provide it. They were sheep ranchers, and had been at one of their ranch sites gathering up the rams to take them to a location separate from the ewes. After asking what the hell we were doing way out there, and telling us we're nuts after hearing about our ride, they gave us directions to that site, saying it was "only a few miles", and we moved out. It ended up being about ten miles, and we had to navigate through the biggest herd of sheep I've ever seen, because they were settling down for the evening on our road. There were also four huge, white, and unfriendly Great Pyrenees guard dogs that ran along beside us, barking, growling, and slobbering, but doing no damage. So, we found a nice, grassy spot to camp on a stream, and had a great evening and a good night's sleep.
I'm always amazed at how friendly and helpful people will be when on the road. It reminds me of Mark Twain's thought on it: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
It was too dark to get pictures by the time we got our camp set up. So this story will have to suffice, I'm afraid.
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 09:10 PM
|08-12-2012, 08:53 AM||#10|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 6 - Somewhere West of Alpine to Bannick Pass
We woke up to a foggy cool morning. It had not rained any more . But everything was wet, wet, wet.
We had coffee and a granola bar and packed up. Would have to dry out the tents later.
We had to ride through fog for a good way. As the sun came up higher this gave a very surreal look to everything.
We finally dropped down in altitude and out of the fog/clouds. We had county roads for a ways. Watch those ruts! These roads were rutted up pretty well. Good thing they were not wet. It could have been sloppy.
We had been up in those clouds.
We cruised through the farm/ranch lands and made Idaho Falls about lunch time. We re-provisioned, had lunch and had a short bit of hiway north to Dubois, Idaho. Oh yea, we crossed in to Idaho back there somewhere.
Dubois was another meet up spot with the ladies. But either we were early or they were late. So we hung out in Dubois for a few hours till they got there. Then we all headed up the back roads over Bannack Pass.
***** Roamineye edit: Dubois is a tiny little town just off I-15. It was our planned meeting point for my wife and her friend. Luckily, we were able to make phone contact with them, and found that we had some time to kill. There is a Forest Service office in Dubois, and we decided to go and visit with those folks to find out about the road over Bannack Pass and whether there were areas to avoid, or to see on our way. We had found other Forest Service offices to be friendly and helpful, and had made it a point to stop and talk to them whenever we had the opportunity. The folks in Dubois were an exception. They were not very friendly, and weren't interested in our trip or our route. The lady running the main desk finally warmed up to us a bit, and provided some maps and information. But in general, these folks weren't much help. So after a disappointing visit with the Forest Service, we decided to find a place to get some iced tea and pie. We went back toward the interstate, where I had seen a small diner as we entered town. This was a great place with friendly staff - we stayed for about two hours, recharging phones, looking at maps, drinking tea, and eating some of their wonderful pie. Other travelers eventually began to come in, and it being a small place, we felt like we should move on. So, we went back to the Forest Service office, which we'd noticed before had shade trees and lush, green grass in front of the building, and took up residence there to wait for the ladies.
We made our way to the county road that would eventually take us up to Bannack Pass. The ladies were giddy with the anticipation of putting the FJ through its paces. This is another of my favorite parts of the ride.
Headed up the pass. This is the pass where most of the settlers crossed headed to Oregon or California. You can see why. It is a relatively gentle climb and the altitude is not as high as other passes.
Headed down from Bannack Pass.
***** Roamineye edit: The wind was blasting through this valley, and we wanted a sheltered place to camp. As we approached a stream crossing, I noticed a trail off the road that went down a small draw. Thinking the embankment would provide some shelter from the wind, I rode in to investigate. I found the ruins of a small cabin about 100 yrds in, and figured someone else, a long time ago, had the same idea. We decided to camp here near the stream.
The ladies also decided to investigate, and followed me part of the way in the FJ.
We camped this night after crossing Bannack Pass. The sun was getting low. We were all tired. And we had come to a stream crossing. We decided camping by the stream would be a good thing. So we did. Plus it was semi-sheltered from the wind that was blowing. Unfortunately there were lots of cows. And they tend to leave ....patties. So we called this Cow Patty Camp Site. You had to watch your step!
***** Roamineye edit: There is beauty everywhere - even in a cow patty infested camp.
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 09:17 PM
|08-12-2012, 09:20 AM||#11|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 7 - Bannack Pass and in to Montana
Making coffee and oatmeal at Cow Patty Camp Ground. It was chilly this morning. Had to pull my rain jacket over my fleece sweater. We were all getting a bit road weary, so we did not rush to get started this morning. We still were ready to roll by about 8:30.
Our camp site was back behind where the motor bike is. And this is the stream crossing.
The FJ made the crossing look easy! And it was.
Sorry, I messed up the pic of DR Dirty coming across.
***** Roamineye edit: No worries, brother. Here's what it looked like from my viewpoint. A bit of a non-event, really, after the FJ sent us to school and you had already crossed. But fun, anyway!
So we hit the road to the Ghost Town of Bannack. Really fast gravel roads through here.
We did have another traffic jam though:
Bannack State Park is an old town that is very well preserved. It has quite a history. Shootings, hangings, lawlessness. You name it. It happened here.
***** Roamineye edit: The ladies are outlaws at heart, and felt right at home in the jailhouse.
***** Roamineye edit: The gallows was still standing. This was taken from the cemetery, which was on top of a hill behind the town.
And this is the cemetery.
Bannack was worth the stop! Really interesting. We also ran in to a couple other ADV inmates here. They were on BMW's. They had come from California. I don't remember names worth a darn.
Well we saddled up and made tracks . The miles just seemed to roll by. We were in Montana now. And this is why it is called Big Sky.
Wide open valleys between mountain ranges. After some ranch land we entered a national forest. Found a real nice camp ground with spring water right on this lake.
The sun was getting low. So camping here seemed a good decision. And it was.
See those bicycles in the below pic?? We will hear more about them in the morning.
The tents went up quickly. Then Mr. Jack showed up. Man this is sooo good. We sipped Jack Daniels while some stew simmered on the Pocket Rocket. And mother nature gave us what is probably the most beautiful sun down I have ever seen....ever.
The sun goes down real slow in these latitudes. This sunset kept at it for a good 15 to 20 minutes. Awsome. Just awsome. My camera could not do it justice.
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 09:21 PM
|08-12-2012, 09:40 AM||#12|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 8 - Montana to Dubois Wyoming
We broke camp and fired up the coffee and such. We had got to know our neighbors last evening. This was a family that were riding the CDT on bicycles. They were on day 67. Yes that is not a typo, day 67.
They carried their gear on their bicycles. This was one great bunch of folks. I think they all must have legs that could knock down a bull moose.
We had our coffee and hit the trail. We dropped out of the national forest and started across farm land. This morning's route would take us between Yellow Stone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. First we were crossing farm land and could see the Tetons from the western side.
Then we entered the national forest and had mountains, forest and still the Tetons western flank.
***** Roamineye edit: The road we were riding was strewn with marble and golf ball sized rocks and was not a pleasant ride. I noticed bicycle tracks along the right hand side of the road, and began to follow them, thinking that they had probably picked the smoothest route through those rocks and loose gravel. Eventually, we caught up with them and stopped for a chat. They were from Nebraska and were riding a section of the CDT. They said they'd been doing it for several years, and rode a different section each year. Their plan was to eventually ride the entire route, two weeks at a time.
This was a bumpy forest road through this section. But not difficult. We finally hit pavement and rolled down to the entrance of Teton National Park.
We chose not to ride through the park. I wanted to save that for another day when the wife is with me. Instead we had a short bit of hiway to Dubois, Wyoming where we could make an early camp. A shower. Wash our clothes. Generally be lazy. Our clothes by this time needed attention. I think my socks were keeping the mosquitoes at bay!
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-29-2012 at 09:23 PM
|08-12-2012, 10:18 AM||#13|
Joined: Oct 2007
Location: 37.7 miles west of the Donner Party!
Looks like a really fun trip so far great pictures and story, I had to put away my 2 wheels for 18 for awhile to pay the bills sitting in Texas missing my DR , have fun.
|08-12-2012, 11:54 AM||#14|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 9 - Dubois to Farson and into the Big Empty
The campground at Dubois was excellent.. Hot showers and clean clothes felt really good! We had a nice pot of coffee and breakfaast and a relaxed morning start. This would be our last link up with the ladies. We were well equipped and they wanted to go set up camp in one spot and play tourist till we finished the ride in Westcliff.
We left Dubois and headed up the mountain immediately. This road led over Union Pass. Very nice ride on good gravel roads. We were cruising along about mid-morning and what to our wondering eyes did we see? But 6 ADV motorcycles and they looked like you and me. Yep, we had a ADV roadside conference with a group from back east. Maryland or some place like that.
Good buch of guys riding the CDT from south to north.
More nice roads and the beauty and majesty of this great country just keeps on coming.
We stopped in Pinedale to see the Mountain Man Museum. This is a great place! Well worth the stop. We then headed south intending to see some of the Oregon Trail.
It never ceases to amaze me how few people we saw out in these places. But on the CDT you will stumble upon folks like these.
We stopped and chatted. Made sure they had plenty of water. They were very appreciative that we stopped and checked on them. They were headed south and they had some hot desert ahead of them. You can see that the terrain was already changing. We were starting in to the Big Empty of Wyoming.
We would have over 200 miles of the Big Empty with only Farson at the other end of it to reprovision.
We left our nice gravel road to go find the Oregon Trail. Right about here is where you start going over the mechanical condition of your bike and how much water you have.
And then you find it. The Oregon Trail. Those ruts were originally cut by wagons over 150 years ago. On this day we would ride history for about 25 miles. It is hard to comprehend what those brave folks felt at this spot. Maybe, "What the hell have I done!".
We head down the trail literally riding the ruts of history. Then we came to The Parting Of The Ways. This is where folks had to choose which route to take. Left took you to Fort Bridger which meant re-supply and safety but 50 miles farther. The right fork was shorter but you had to cross a desert with no place to get water. People parted ways here and may have never seen each other again. We stood in the silence and nothingness of this site and pondered what the emotions of those people must have been. It was a little sad and lonely standing in this spot. A place of our history that very few of us ever see. My thanks to DockingPilot for researching and locating this route. It was a special stop and one of the highlights of our trip.
***** Roamineye edit: This is a closeup of the marker at Parting Of The Ways
They do have these plaques marking these spots right out in the middle of nowhere.
***** Roamineye edit: And the trail just seems to go on and on.....
We rumbled on down the two track and eventually made Farson in late afternoon. We had about 160 to 180 miles of the Big Empty to do tomorrow. We stocked up with extra water, had some pizza and ice cream and of course picked up some Jack Daniels! We then headed out into the Big Empty for a ways to see if we could find a camp site in 30 or 40 miles.
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-21-2012 at 04:48 AM
|08-12-2012, 12:44 PM||#15|
Joined: Jun 2009
Day 10 - Big Empty to Rawlins Wyoming
After about 40 miles from Farson we found a river and made camp. We actually got away from the main road on some two track and camped out of sight from the road. I have a feeling we were on private property. But it was hard to tell. It was a welcome spot with water and cover.
The morning light made the Big Empty seem more gentle.
We even had some young antelope come visit while we were at morning coffee.
This morning we got to ride more of the Oregon Trail.
The Oregon Trail was fascinating. But it was time to put some miles behind us. The Big Empty awaits. And there are some very fast gravel roads out here.
You can just see DR Dirty's dust trail in the distance. This was some big imposing contry!
There is definitely some sand out here. Not bad. But it kept you on your toes.
The road can keep your attention for sure. This place is awsome in its nothingness.
A rest break and a chance to try and take it all in. The last 30 miles was 2 track. It was rough and sandy in spots. Hot. We were glad to get through that final section and hit pavement.
***** Roamineye edit: But not before a fine lunch in the only shade available - under the bikes.
***** Roamineye edit: There comes a time in every man's life - OK at least on any trip like this - when all options but two are exhausted, and you have to decide between the lesser of two evils. In this case, we'd ridden a hundred miles through this country on a road - yes, A road (there aren't any others) - to arrive at our decision point. We didn't know that a decision like this would be necessary. But at this point in our ride, we came to a gate across the road, and it was marked "NO TRESPASSING". So, we had two choices: 1) go back the way we came about a hundred miles to the last other road and find another way through, and 2) ignore the sign, press ahead, and hope like hell there wasn't a trigger happy cowboy somewhere ahead looking for a moving target to shoot. Now, we grew up in rural Oklahoma on a farm. As a result, we both respect private property and have an understanding of what it means to own land, and for whatever the reason, expect others to honor your desire for them to stay out. This was traumatic for both of us. After much deliberation, during which I'm sure each of us was secretly evaluating the other's riding skills and estimating the risk of being the one in the back as we were running from the shooter, we decided to press on and take our chances. The photo below is ground zero, the decision point, just before I crossed the line into the forbidden zone.
***** Roamineye edit: Turns out we didn't get shot. In fact, the only other humans we saw were working on a fence several hundred yards from the road and too far from their guns to have a shot by the time they fetched them and drew a bead. Because we were hauling a$%. And I was in front.
We made Rawlins in late afternoon. We re-provisioned and then headed south into the national forest. We were looking for high and lonesome with some cool temperatures. We rode into some really nice country and started to look for a camp site when we came to a "Road Closed" blockade. What the heck!??? Well it was too late to look for an alternate route. We were in the national forest so you can camp anywhere right?? So we camped right there by the road closed sign just in the edge of the trees.
It actually was a nice spot. We would figure out what to do about the closed road in the morning. On this night we had doubled up on the Jack Daniels. We were knocking it back while our stew was simmering on pretty empty stomachs. This made for a pretty heady evening. We were definitely in good spirits and the BS flowed freely.
bsheet2 screwed with this post 08-23-2012 at 08:04 PM
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