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Old 11-03-2012, 04:57 PM   #1
MTrider16 OP
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The Spine of North America and Infinity...



Riding motorcycles is about meeting people and seeing things from a different perspective than you would normally. It’s the kind of thing that allows you to look and enjoy the 3D effect of this mural, instead of just driving past without a second glance. This ride was a change of pace for me, instead of setting up a route myself and I was following others tracks. It was relaxing and enjoyable to just sit back and enjoy the moment. I also got to meet some people I haven't met personally before. So.. on with the story.

The mural is in Columbia Falls MT if anyone was wondering. I was getting some cold medicine and cough drops from the grocery store since I had picked up a cold the day before. Nothing like a cold to make riding in a full face helmet more of an experience. I got to clean both the inside and the outside of the visor several times. ;-)




The Continental Divide Trail is one that adventure riders travel from Canada to Mexico. If you do some research you will find several riders who have traveled its entire length including starting at Banaff Canada. Marty Ulrich had done this research and had several routes loaded on the GPS for this trip. The goal was to complete the trip using dirt and gravel roads as much as possible.

Starting the Tuesday before the trip we had six of us signed up from Eastern MT and were meeting two others in Columbia Falls MT. Now all we had to do was get over to the other side of the state, about 580 miles by Hwy 200. We also had to pick up a rider and bike in Billiings so it would be a little longer than that.

One of the guys had a trailer, and I had a pickup, so we decided to trailer the bikes. The logistics were a little convoluted, but Saturday morning the pickup and trailer headed out with the bikes and plans to pick up the rest of the riders on the way to Columbia Falls.

As I had some deadlines to finish on Friday and stayed up late completing them, I finished packing and headed out with "The Pig" about 11:30 Saturday. With the late start I just buzzed along Hwy 200, making time with generous applications of the twisty knob on the right handlebar. As luck would have it we all made it to Beau's place by 10:00 pm that night.




We got up the next morning and milled about for a bit, then started gearing up for the ride today. A few bikes needed adjustment; others had to pack up after hurriedly throwing things together the days before; all in all, normal before the ride activity.

The bikes were quite the mixture. A DRZ400, KLX400, KTM500EXC, CRF450X, two KLR650s, a KTM990, and my F800GS, all different tools for different jobs, and today we were going to try to ride the same roads together. All had license plates so we were fine on public roads. All had knobby tires so in theory we could head off on trails.



It was Sunday the 9th of September and since it was after Labor Day, school was started and the whole tourist business was quieted down. It was also a little blustery in the morning which also encouraged people to stay indoors or go to church that morning. All in all we had a pretty quiet ride up the East Flathead road along Glacier Park.



A few miles down the road we gathered up and decided on the merits of travelling inside the Glacier Park or outside the park. There was also a fair amount of stretching and otherwise getting limbs and butts used to sitting on the motorcycles. As I had stopped to take a picture and tip over the bike, I was a little ways behind the group, so we also had to get everybody back into “formation” again. ;-) At least make sure no one was stuck under a boulder somewhere.

Beau, in the red jacket, was trying to get his intercom working that morning.

Anyway, we soon took off, heading north on the East Flathead road outside GP. I think it was a good choice.



So we turned north and the road quickly changed from pavement to gravel. As it was dry, we spread out and continued on, watching out to make sure the guy behind you knew where to turn. Finally we made to Polebrige and this little store.

If you are here, you should stop, they have a little bakery and it is really good. I bought a walnut caramel roll and a jalapeno cheese roll for a snack latter. Yep, definitely worth the stop and time trading some of my hard earned bread for some very tasty baked bread.

Hmmm, the sign says we should keep our pets restrained. Where did they go?



Ah there they are, herded up by the fuel pump. The little tank guys were always aware of where the next fuel stop was at, the rest of us, not so much. ;-)

Of course, me and the pig were slower on the trails, so I guess it all evens out.



With our bellies full of sticky buns and tanks filled with dead dinosaurs, we continued north to the main checkpoint for the day. This abandoned border station stands at the end of the North Fork road. We milled around and took a few pictures hoping nobody piloting a drone or a Blackhawk would decide to do a flyby.



Me, I’m always looking at the clouds on these trips. The sky was starting to clear up a little and there were some beautiful cloud formations. It was still a little difficult to get the light sky balanced with the landscape. This was my best compromise shot, maybe I will have to invest in photoshop someday.



Having hit the checkpoint for the day, we headed back south and Beau Fast took us down Red Meadow road which is a favorite snowmobile riding area. The clouds kept thinning out and finally I had a chance to take a couple of pictures.



Here’s a little different perspective at the same spot. With my little point and shoot camera, I would aim at the sky until I thought the light balance in the LCD screen would look right and then hold the trigger button and point the camera down. This would allow me to get some of the landscape and not have the bright sky wash out the cloud details. Sometime this won’t let the landscape focus well, but it’s a procedure that works part of the time.



Red Meadow Lake had a nice little campground and was a good place to stop for a break. I ate my jalapeno cheese bread and enjoyed the views. This spot looked good through the camera viewfinder.




We saddled up and headed out, going by upper Whitefish Lake. The next stop was Werner Peak. I quickly snapped a shot of the sign to remember it.




We milled around again checking out the scenery.

I got to give a little shout out to Beau and Nate. They own Fastoys and Big Sky Motorsports respectively and were gracious hosts showing us around their part of Montana. And we were especially thankful to Beau for putting us up in the evenings at his man cave.




The smoke was pretty bad, and you couldn’t see very well. Just enough that you knew the view would be awesome if you could see the horizon. I tried to take some pictures of the shadows of the mountains that were visible behind the smoke.

I didn’t see the license plate until I was looking at the picture later. HOSSTYL makes you wonder if the owner was thinking hostile or hostel. I assume the plate was probably put there when there was 20’ of snow where we were standing.



Beau took us back down the mountain, which was a fun slightly technical ride (read "davids slow"), and into Whitefish for some late lunch. It was Sunday afternoon and the football season was just starting up so the bar was a little crowded, but we still got a table for the eight of us and some good food.

For those of you that like snow sports, Whitefish is the home of Big Mountain Ski Resort, one of the larger ski hills in Montana. Along the base of the mountain is a cross country ski trail system that is open to bikes and atv’s in the summer. It was a fun but dusty ride back to Columbia Falls and Casa Del Fast.



This is what you see if you follow your riding buddies too closely.

We made it back and cleaned up for a trip out to a restaurant for dinner. When we made it back to Beau’s place we planned out our trip for tomorrow, drew straws for the duty of driving the camper to the next RV Park, and watch some motocross on the big screen.
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Old 11-03-2012, 05:17 PM   #2
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On Monday, Sept 10th the sun came up to partly cloudy skies. Since I drew the short straw for Monday, I loaded “the pig” in the trailer while I had some help. Then I spent time chatting and getting the rest of the crew out on the road. When they were gone, I finished packing and picking up. Finally I hooked Goliath up to the Mothership and prepared for my trip to Helena.

Yep, that is the Man Cave behind the trailer. Beau and Nate also told us that they would split off in the middle of the day as tomorrow was "Monday" at their shops.



It wasn’t a bad day to drive. With my sinus cold and still tired from getting projects done before I left, I was looking forward to a little time in the pickup.

In Columbia Falls I stopped for gas for Goliath which is a daunting as he likes his oats, easily a $100 bill and sometimes more. Then I drove a few more blocks to Coffee Traders Café, where I had a nice breakfast which would last all day.

Then it was south with a short stop for pictures here at this pasture.



I don’t know how many of you have driven on highway 83 from Bigfork to Hwy 200, it is a very beautiful road that meanders through the forest beside Seeley and Swan lakes. I had an enjoyable drive and even pulled over and took a nap. I had looked up some RV parks in Helena while I was at the café and gave one a call. They had an open spot, so I made a reservation and kept traveling south.

After securing the spot and setting up the trailer, I settled in to wait for the guys to come in the back roads from Lincoln. The wifi was good so I checked my email and looked for motorcycle dealerships in the towns we would be visiting. The group I was going to meet up with on Thursday needed a rear tube and visor for a Shoei helmet.

Marty called in about 8:00 and said they finally reached the highway and wanted directions to the RV Park. It was dusk, the sun was fading fast and his headlight was out. Eventually they made it in to the campground. We loaded up in the pickup and drove to the restaurant quick before they closed the kitchen. It was close; we got there about 9:00.




Tues Sept 11th. With the long ride yesterday, it was a little slower getting going in the morning. We needed some milk, drinks, and breakfast cereal for the Mothership. Marty needed a headlight bulb and wanted to check his bike over some. I was looking for a helmet visor and the guys wanted to look for baubles for the motorcycles. Marty stayed and worked on his bike while the rest of us loaded up in Goliath for a supply run into town. We found a headlight bulb and groceries but the rest was a bust.

We headed back to the Mothership and geared up for the ride. It was decided that we would stay in Butte that night and about 11:00 we headed out for the trail. Todd Apple drew the short straw for Mothership duty, so we were short a moto today.




We didn’t get too far, after taking some pictures, Marty’s DRZ wouldn’t start. It could be bumpstarted, but Marty also wanted to check to make sure all the connections were tight. While we were waiting Todd checked his tire pressure and wanted to add some more air. I pulled The Pig up next to him and got the compressor out.



No one was complaining about the forest back drop to our impromptu garage; it was a beautiful morning.



LOL. “The Pig” and the “Gazelle”, definitely a tale of two extremes. If you want to ride some knobby single track trails with the occasional 60 degree hill climb and a Supermoto table top, you better pick the orange one. If you want to do a 8000 mile trip to Alaska in 16 days you better pick the yellow one. Choose wisely young grasshopper.

Todd Shwartz and I did the “bike swap” thing and learned a few things. Todd learned that most anyone can put in 500 mile days with the right seat. I learned that some of Todd’s great saves were partly because of the bike; it was pretty fun to twist the throttle and loft the front wheel over obstacles.



“When you find a fork in the road, take it.”

While we were deciphering the trail signs and the GPS, we hung out in the shade for a quick rest.




More pics of trees. These are few and far between where I live.



A face only a mother could love… a bath once in awhile wouldn’t hurt either. The road was pretty awesome too.



A creek and some foliage. Gotta stop and smell the flowers… or something like that. The views did not suck.




We got to Basin MT and immediately the hooligans started racing on the streets. Actually they were just hungry as we had not had lunch, fortunately there was a cafe in town. A bite to eat and we were on our way.



On the way out of Basin we traveled along the old railroad bed. There was even an old tunnel along the way to explore.



So we were headed to Butte, and the shadows were getting long... there was a light in the distance...



it was coming closer...




Its Dave our KLR rider. ;-)



It was a nice ride through the forest to Butte.




The sun was going down fast.




And we topped over the rise and there Butte spread out across the valley.




Yep, there was the famous little hole in the ground behind the mine headworks. And on top of the hill the statue of Mary, Our Lady of the Rockies.




Here is a closer picture of some of the headworks that were around Butte. It was pretty easy to head down the hill to the interstate and over to the RV Park in Rocker.

We decided to check out the town a little and ended up at the Metals Sport Bar and Grill . Definitely a Butte sort of place, made in an old bank, featuring several local brews, sports on the TV, and good food.
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Old 11-03-2012, 08:21 PM   #3
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:41 AM   #4
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Old 11-04-2012, 08:08 PM   #5
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On with the report then...



Sept 12 Wed - The sun rose that morning bright and clear, and we headed out to find a way to Dillon. Dave Svenvold drew the short straw and was going to take the Mothership to Ennis. He was hoping for a chance to meet up with his brother.

We headed out old MT Hwy 2, (not to be confused with US Hwy 2) and had to take a quick picture of this trestel.



The light and the trees made for a pretty morning, I was enjoying the scenery. We had turned off the hwy and were heading down a dirt road that would take us to the Wise River junction.




It was a cloudless sky with just a little bit of smoke haze to remind you of the forest fires.



The road was pretty fast and easy, and we quickly made our way down to the interstate.



Mike and I took the highway to Wise River while the rest of the crew went on the trail to Fleecer Ridge. The trail was reported to be a black diamond route and was probably beyond the capabilities of me and The Pig. Mike kept us company.

Mike and I stopped at the little gas station in Wise River, as our next destination was Bannack. Pretty soon the rest of the crew joined us. It was a little early for lunch so we passed by the little cafe that was just down the road. That was a mistake.



The Polaris road winds over the hill from Wise River over to Bannack. It is a pretty route and paved the entire way. Along the way we saw a sign for the Coolidge Ghost Town . It was a short ride up the old rail grade and then a short trail into the town.

Marty quickly realized he had a problem when we parked.



There was the offending piece of hardware.



We quickly broke out the tools and soon the flat was fixed, or so we thought...

Along with the tube patch, we also had to beat my side case back into shape after I dropped the pig while turning it around. No harm to me, just some more reasons to change out my side cases sometime this next year.



There were some cool old buildings around to look at.



And an old mineshaft.




You have to admit, it was a pretty setting for a minning town.




We stopped to take a picture of the mountain and some of the vacation homes near the ski hill in Polaris.

It was then we learned that the patch didn't hold, and Marty decided to put in his spare tube. It was getting later in the day by that time, and we were wishing we had eaten lunch when we had the chance.




We ended up at Bannack State Park . at about 3:30, a little later than we hoped. The leaves changing colors were quite beautiful with the rustic backdrop of the ghost town.

Bannack was the first Territorial Capitol of Montana. These were the heady days of the gold rush in the 1880's. Virginia City and Nevada City were a few short miles to the north east in the famous Alder Gulch. Plenty of ore was being mined here at Bannack and other strikes to the north including the new strike in Last Chance Gulch. The Trans Continental Railroad had driven in its Golden spike near Salt Lake City and Bannack was on the overland route to this freight route back East. The railroad was quickly making freight much easier than the river boats on the notorious Missouri River.




Unfortunately Bannack lost its bid for the State Capitol to the upstart Helena near the Last Chance Gulch. Gold prices wanned and mining faded, and soon all that is left of the once famous town on Montana's first gold strike are some empty buildings.

Now we had to make some tough choices, it was 4:30 and the CDT would take us 150 miles to West Yellowstone and back up the Madison River to Ennis. After some discussion we decided on the 70 miles going through Dillon and the Sweetwater road to Alder, where we would take the highway to Ennis. The Sweetwater Road is a fast gravel road, so I didn't take many pictures. It is a good trip to take if you get the chance.

In Ennis we met up with Dave, got some dinner and bunked down for the night.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:55 PM   #6
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Sept 13th Thursday was a transition day for us. We were done with the CDT for this year and were heading back. Bozeman was the next stop to check out baubles at the bike shop and grab some food for Lunch. We loaded up, some of us on bikes and the rest in the Mothership. Those of us on bikes checked out a short side road over to Gallitan Gateway and then met up with the rest of the crew at the Garage, a local eatery.

After eating my burger and chatting with the crew, The Pig and I headed east. I was to meet up with my next group for a couple more days of riding. Phone conversations put the meet up point at Super 8 in Colstrip MT. Finally around 6 pm I rolled into the parking lot at the hotel to meet Dave and Francine for my next three days of riding with the Mobius 10 trip. For those of you that don't know them, Dave and Francine have become famous for their Mobius Trip in the Adventure Rider Forum . Over the past several years they have take 2 week vacations and travelled to various locations in the western US, leaving their bikes at storage units in various cities while they fly back to their regular jobs in New York.

Also on this trip were Mark and Scott, two likeminded travelers. They had come from Idaho falls and made the trip up to the Missouri Breaks, and were now heading south to Denver. After introductions we had some dinner and then went back to the hotel for the night after making some brief plans for the morning.



Sept 14 Friday - The M10 Crew woke up to a sunny day. I had to ship a few things home; while the post office was closed in Colstrip, the hardware store would ship UPS. Not sure why I felt the need to over pack but I did, and I was glad to send some items home.

We headed out of Colstrip across some prairie, it was a fairly fast road. The big sky was pretty amazing this morning, clear with only a hint of smoke.



Scott AKA Dingweeds was enjoying the ride also.



We headed over to the Custer National Forest next to Ashland. The area north of Hwy 212 had a pretty devastating forest fire go through it about a month earlier. Dave had routed us through a pretty nice area, unfortunately a landowner didn't agree that the road was public, so we had to reroute a little. We ended up on a gravel road that took us Ashland where we picked up some fuel and groceries.




Dave Roccaforte AKA Dr Rock, was the leader of this expedition. With the private land and the fire we ended up on mainly gravel roads today. Here we were south of Hwy 212 and I had stopped to check out the yellow leaves on the trees next to the creek. The area south of the road wasn't burned.



This fall was semi mild and the leaves changed to a stunning gold color without falling from the trees. It was one of the better fall color changes that I had seen in a while.




Here I had to stop for some more trees.



Some were quite stunning.



Our goal was to get to Sheridan area and find a campsite. This town at the base of the Bighorn mountains would be our jumping off point for the next two days of riding.

As we got closer, the road got wider and we saw some of these buildings along the road. Natural gas from coal bed methane wells are gathered into the piping in these buildings and sent down the pipeline. Yes, I work for one of the companies.

Anyway we started casting around for a place to stay. First Mark and Scott tried talking with the local Highway Patrolman. ;-) Next, in the little town of Ranchester was an RV park, which had some camping sites. However, the owner suggested that we try the little state park nearby. It was a nice little park next to the creek, unfortunately a site of a battle back in the day. If you want to learn more look up Conner Battlefield .

It was a long day so we set up our tents in the park and had some dinner; it was a nice evening for camping.

- David
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:04 AM   #7
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:19 PM   #8
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Thanks Bob.
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:46 PM   #9
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Sept 15th Saturday. I normally don't cook at campsites so David heated some water and shared some oatmeal packets. It was fairly early when we got on the road this morning; you can see here that the light had a reddish tinge to it yet.

So we're checking out the Map, Francine is waiting for us. The road is a forest service track with fences on either side. Usually that means there is an easement of some sort and the ranchers are suppose to keep the track clear between the fences. I assume this easement is probably access for the forest service land further up the mountain. We kept going up the road and come around the bend to a bit of a hill, with rocks all over it. Big Dog has already gone ahead, so I put my head down, lean forward over the handle bars, concentrate on the track, and hit the throttle.




I stopped about here. lol. The road was getting more challanging and narrow, so I wanted to check things out on foot. When I stopped the bike, I saw Mark standing down on the road back there waving. I quickly looked down at my GPS and realized I was off the track. I was beginning to wonder if this trail was "big bike friendly" and perhaps I'd help the group out by routing around and not forcing them to drag a big bike through these rocks.

Anyway, I gave Mark the thumbs up to let him know I was okay and set about to turn The Pig around. It doesn't turn around that easy in the best of conditions and this was not the best of conditions. After a bit of grunting and a few choice words about excessive weight gain, I had The Pig pointed back down the trail. I figured it was a good time to snap these pics of the area.



Good thing I had the anti-hassle tassels on the bike! ;-) With the bike turned around, it was just a matter of riding down the hill to where I took the wrong turn. Pretty soon the trail was getting better and we ended up riding down a road to Parkman, (a railroad siding) to jump onto to our next road back to the mountains.

I put the worries of the big bike behind me for the time being.



Near Parkman, we hit a county road going northwest. It was a fast sweeping road that followed the creeks and landscape as it traveled over the countryside. For those that know the area, this was now the Little Bighorn drainage. Yes, that Little Bighorn. It was a beautiful morning for riding and along the hillsides, some signs of scoria peeked out among the grass. I had to stop and take this picture.

A couple times this morning we had met cattle in the road as it was time to take the herds down off the summer pasture. Further northwest of the area this picture was taken; we ended up waiting at a tee in the road as a pair of loaded bull racks lumbered past. Here the road had gotten decidedly narrower, and I think we were in Montana, Crow Country at this point. I wasn’t sure what kind of reception we would get if we met someone out here.





We pushed on up the road the bull racks came down, and about two miles down the road came to the point where this little two track dived off the road. We waited a bit so all five of us would make the turn. A mile or so further up the road, I saw a pickup and horse trailer coming probably the owners of the cows in the bull racks, so I suggested we should probably keep moving.

We headed out across the prairie on this two track, which had a fair amount of traffic in the past. The view from this point as we climbed up above the creek with the road was pretty spectacular.

It was here that the rocks for “Marble Quarry” road started. For me this was a pretty serious challenge as The Pig was a hand full on the loose baby head rocks. I didn’t get a picture of this area. I did go down once pretty hard and cracked my cases in a couple more places, and broke the rear blinker light lens. That seemed to be all the damage, so I counted myself lucky. With Scott and Dave’s help got The Pig up right and continued up the road.



Eventually the rocks quit and we rode along this very nice two track through the highlands of the Big Horn Mountains. As we drove along we would see cliffs, drainages, canyons and rocky knobs that were the landscape of this highland area. Very Amazing.



Big Dog stops a bit for a drink...





... and then heads off to the horizon.




The roads got bigger has we closed in on Burgess Junction. It’s pretty cool to see two curve signs in one picture, the roads were fast and graded, perhaps with a touch too much gravel.

We ended up at Burgess Junction, our fuel and resupply point. Dave was all go-go and I was all relieved I made it through this far and relaxing. Eventually we were all on the same page, as I realized the best campsites were a ways down the road. I needed water badly with the altitude and the energy expended in the climb over the rocks. Also I wanted some energy bars as I could feel myself lagging a bit. Also we met Steve and his R1200GS and incorporated him into the caravan. I hoped the roads would be better from here on, as his bike was larger than The Pig.



We geared back up, packed the mules, and headed on down the road to the south. According to the map at Burgess Junction, there were a couple of forest service campsites down the road, but there were cryptic messages about “closed for the season”, “no services” and all that jazz. We wanted a chance to check them out a bit and chose a second or third site if needed.

Here at altitude the foliage color was in full swing.



The views on the mountains along the road were spectacular.

Some of the roads were a little challanging for the the big bikes and a couple water crossings but not bad on the whole, and we carried on down the road. I think bow hunting season was going on, and there were quiet a lot of RV trailers people had brought up to camp in for the season.




We made it to the Medicine Lodge Lake and Medicine Lodge campground was right there beside it. It was after the season and no running water or services so it was free “primitive” camping. There weren’t many people there so we took one of the larger double sites. With six bikes and five tents it was plenty roomy for us.

We quickly set about making camp. The tents were out, the gear stowed, and we were working on dinner and firewood. Mark got out his camp saw and he and Steve worked on some firewood.




Scott, AKA Dingweeds, got out the camcorder in case something funny happend.

The campsite was a newer one. They had a regular picnic tables, but also these food prep tables which I assume might be for fish or other game.





Mark and Steve are done making bigger sticks into little sticks.





Dave is getting the "real camera" out in preperation for sunset over the lake next to the campsite.




Francine had some food out on the camp stove and was waiting for folks to gather up.

It was a great evening and we were glad to be able to have fire. Dave and Francine opened up their bags and pulled out cheese and sausage for an appetizer, and then some rice and food for the main course. We were able to wash up the dishes in the lake and there was a nicely lit outhouse to use just up the path. It was a very nice campground.

Pretty soon we were dropping off and heading to our tents for bed.
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