3 Generations ride to the land of Two Suns

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by roddy409, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    Hi Everyone.. I've spent countless hours reading trip reports here, so here's my chance to give back a little.

    First off, here are the adventurers... from left to right: Donald (my son), Don (my dad in the middle) and Roddy (me). We took this photo shortly after we met up in West Virginia, bound as far west as Bonneville, UT. We had 2.5 weeks and hoped to continue on to the Tetons and Yellowstone and maybe see a bit of Montana. My dad and I talked about doing this trip when I was young and we drove countless hours in vans from one motocross race to the next, dreaming about seeing the American West. When my son was old enough we got him into the motocross scene too. But we never did organize that road bike trip. Years rolled on and we drifted from home and now found ourselves living in Charlotte, NC. My dad and the rest of our family continues to live in Nova Scotia, Canada.

    Knowing my son was entering his senior year of high school this year, I decided this summer we'd finally do the trip we had always talked about. But first, he would need a motorcycle of his own. And a motorcycle license. And we'll need to convince my dad to join us....

    [Summary video is on page 3...]

    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    So, to get started we need a motorcycle for the boy. I decide the best plan is to get a classic from the 70's we can tear down and re-build so he'll learn all the mechanicals of his own, first bike. Why make this easy when it can be hard?

    Christmas is a good time...

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    Note the one-sy.

    Donald was kinda wondering what all the riding gear was for, so we took him out to the shed to see. Grampy was on-site for the occasion.

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    Check out the extended seat back and extra long monkey bars. Picked this rare bird up just outside of Charlotte. A 1974 Honda CB 350 Four. Did not run. Needed work.
    #2
  3. Eagletalon

    Eagletalon Been here awhile

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    Great start!!! Keep it coming
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  4. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    After the excitement of Christmas settles down, we need to bring the bike in to work on it. Mom is excited about that. Let's turn this into a workshop...

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    There she is!
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    Let's start tearing her down...
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    I'm going to remember this, right?
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    Pipes will need replacing.
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    #4
  5. Quikegeo

    Quikegeo Been here awhile

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    I really dont know..
    Subscribed!
    :lurk
    #5
  6. zadok

    zadok Been here awhile

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    Good one. Donald must be happy. Are you keeping the monkey bars on? Control issues!?
    #6
  7. DannyG

    DannyG I have the waypoint.

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    how old is your kid? my boy is 14 and he is talking about getting a bike, so trip like this will be in the near future:evil

    ps
    subscribed :deal
    #7
  8. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    The monkey bars are going into the trash. You will see in the next post when the bike is done.

    Donald just turned 18 in July and got his mc learner's permit shortly thereafter. With it he can ride in nearly all states in the union. Exceptions off the top of my head include South Carolina, Arizona, Vermont and New Hampshire. With a state moto like Live Free or Die, I really dont understand the New Hampshire rule! But no worries, we didn't head up that way anyway.

    I'll post pics of the finished bike and a route map tonight...
    #8
  9. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    Once we tore it down to the frame we had that powder coated. While that was going on we replaced nearly everything over the next few months and cleaned and scrubbed every part on the bike. Here's a partial list of what was replaced:

    Front tire
    Rear tire
    Rear sprocket
    Front sprocket
    Drive chain
    Swing arm bearings and seals
    Rear brake pads
    Front brake pads
    Front brake hydraulic lines
    Handlebars
    Grips
    Clutch lever
    Front brake lever
    Throttle tube
    Clutch cable
    Throttle cables (2)
    Swapped condenser/points for electronic ignition
    Oil filter
    Replaced stock 4-into-4 exhaust with Mac 4-into-1 (4-into-2 are no longer available)
    Battery
    Carb rebuild kit
    ... and a few other odds and ends

    Once we had replaced all the parts, we took the bike over to the local Honda dealer to have them pressure test the engine (perfect), rebuild and time the carbs as well as re-jet the bike to handle the new exhaust. With about 3 days to spare we picked up the rebuilt steed and brought her home!

    Warming up in the driveway after bringing her home from the Honda shop
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    #9
  10. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    Right, so now the bike is sorted, let's figure out where we're going... Here's the actual route map we took which is pretty much what we hand in mind when we set out. My son Donald and I started from Charlotte, NC (A) while Dad was starting from Nova Scotia (B). We agreed to meet in West Virginia (C) and then head west: destination Bonneville, UT. Then we'd part ways in (D) Billing, Montana...
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    Let's get this started! The bikes all packed and ready to go
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    Alright, enough pictures, let's go!
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    First butt break in Lake Lure
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    Camp site in NC
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    Donald reading by Petzl
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    We packed these handy Bivouacs which are extremely compact and ideal for bringing on the bikes.
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    Some images from the Parkway - easily some of the best riding in the USA
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    Donald and I took the Blue Ridge Parkway up from Asheville and into Virginia the first night. Second day we motored up to Morgantown, WV where we had planned to stop in to see the guys at Racer X magazine, but we arrived too late to see them and left too early in the AM. Next time...
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    #10
  11. Spartandude

    Spartandude Been here awhile

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    :lurkSubscribed. Nice minimalist packing and cool bikes.
    #11
  12. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    Ok now with the 3 amigos on the road together we decided to make a bee line to Bonneville. The thinking was to get out there as quickly as possible in order to spend some time relaxing and see some sights.

    We encountered our first bit of weather once we got into Indiana.
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    Soon after we drove out of the rain we sought shelter and found a nice, cozy Super 8.
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    Time for brewskis
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    Okay, next day we basically gunned it for Colorado. One thing you don't really notice is how you are steadily climbing once you reach the western half of Kansas. It is subtle but before long you find yourself at 3,500 feet of elevation which is trange because all the land is flat around you. We learned how high we were, however, because young Donald's bike began to lose power on the hills. He was good and quick to point this out and we eventually figured out his jetting was becoming too rich due to the lack of air (duh!). The solution was simple: remove the tool kit from under the seat and the airbox cover and POOF! the old 350 four could breathe again and was tearing up the roads like new.

    And so we made it to Colorado. It already feels like the West...
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    We got as far as Denver that night and stayed in one of the dodgiest hotels of the trip. We were doing laundry while a handful of locals ran past with boxes in their hands and focused, determined looks on their faces. The cops showed up later looking for the smash and grab thieves. We stayed in the room after that.

    Next day we left Denver and headed up into the mountains. This would be the first real test of Donald's little bike and give us an indication whether we'd be going over mountains for the rest of the trip, or around them. Luckily the little Honda pulled strong up the hills and as soon as we crested the first one, we stopped and celebrated just a little.
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    We carried on stopping later for tea along a nice stream while ominous clouds moved in. We did not get wet this time.
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    We continued on through western Colorado's beautiful country side eventually making our way to Utah.
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    The roads out here are amazing! Especially for easterners like us.
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    My normal view as Tour Leader
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    We stopped near Vernal, UT at Dinosaur monument to get a closer look at genuine western topography.
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    We eventually made it to Vernal. Stunning country. But not much of a place to stay. We found a hotel which had space but it made the Super 8 look like the Venetian in Vegas. More tomorrow...
    #12
  13. alekkas

    alekkas Been here awhile

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    Great start to the ride. I'm in.
    #13
  14. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    Need some fuel because today is Bonneville or bust!
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    Leaving Vernal we come to a reservoir and the day is absolutely stunning.
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    We wind our way through the mountains and eventually make our way in Heber, UT. Which was good timing since as we pulled into the gas station in Heber Donald's bike completely runs out of gas and the engine shuts down as we pull up to the pumps. We fill the bikes and go into the station to get the essential supplies (peanuts & water). When we come back out the station is now full of cars and one guy in a massive SUV is angrily pointing at our bikes which are taking up one of the coveted spots in front of a pump. No worries mate, we move the bikes out of the way and break into our essential supplies enjoying the beautiful weather and a well deserved break.

    Some minutes later angry SUV man comes over and I prepare for some kind of confrontation. Instead he says, "Hey guys, sorry for honking, etc., just wanted to get this beast filled up". And we begin chatting about the bikes and where we're from and things like that.

    SUV man: "So where you guys from?"

    Me: "My son and I live in Charlotte North Carolina" and there's some flicker of recognition from SUV man. He turns to my dad's bike and looks carefully at the license plate for a few moments, and utters...

    SUV man: "No....Va.....Scotch.....ya....... Where's that???"

    My dad looks up...

    Dad: "Canada"

    SUV Man: (blankly stares at my dad, no flicker of recognition)

    Dad: "Well, you know where Boston is..."

    SUV Man: "No"

    Dad: "Well, you know it's on the east coast"

    SUV Man" "Oh yeah, I know Boston is somewhere back east."

    Dad: "Well Nova Scotia is somewhere near there"

    SUV Man is not totally satisfied with this answer, but leaves it for now and asks...

    SUV Man: "So how'd you guys get here?"

    Me: (looking around at the road-weathered bikes, I reply) "We rode here"

    SUV Man: (turning into an android, repeats the question) "Yeah, but how'd you get here?"

    At this point I realize he's not sure where the east coast is thus can't compute riding a motorcycle from there to where we are now.

    Me: (also turning into an android........because.... WTF?!) "We rode the bikes here. (And by way of clarification add) We started in North Carolina, met up with Dad here in West Virginia and rode all the way out here these past few days."

    SUV Man (confused and no longer feeling this is a fruitful conversation smiles, turns and leaves).

    A few minutes later we're driving past beautiful Park City UT dreaming of skiing and snowy slopes because now it's getting pretty warm out here (90+). We jump onto I80 and ride through the dramatic pass into the Salt Lake City area and
    quickly past. Before long we see Great Salt Lake and stop for some quick picks.

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    Damn.
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    It's getting warm (nearing 100) and we have 80 miles to go before we get to Bonneville Salt Flats State Park so we mosey on down the road. As we near the Park things get incredibly flat and the earth becomes increasingly white. Strangely there are no signs as we approach the last few miles of the Park and, combined with the high heat, I'm beginning to really stress and wonder if we're somehow approaching the Park from the wrong road, etc. Map check time.
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    Found it! It's here, in front of us.
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    The Southern California Timing Association were running this week so we paid our dues and entered the flats. Look at this place would ya!
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    Plenty of bikes, cars and I-don't-know-what's on the flats but we gravitated to the good stuff.
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    The Land of Two Suns

    It is so hot on the flats you can't actually stay still for any length of time. You have to keep moving. After a few hours my son sums up the flats: The sun is above you and beneath you. It's the Land of Two Suns!
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    This is the photo I came for....
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    He confirmed "It's salty"
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    Well, Bonneville was the western-most target for the trip and tomorrow we'll turn north and make our way up toward Yellowstone. I have mixed emotions about this day... Of course the salt flats are cool but they don't provide the emotional crescendo you always hope for, but at my age I understand that and well-recognize the bittersweet feeling. My son is loving the flats but I can see he's also irritated. He does not yet understand these goals we set for ourselves are never truly satisfying. I can see that reaching the salt flats for him feels like a blanket that's too short. But that's how it should be. Another one of life's lessons that is meant to be experienced, not explained.
    #14
  15. Christian RA40XT

    Christian RA40XT Don't Panic!

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    Perfect Picture! Absolute brilliant!
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  16. Edmond Dantès

    Edmond Dantès The Kanto Pain

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    Forget the salt, the bikes, the Triumph tee, the blue sky, the mountains in the back ground, the sunglasses....
    There's only one thing I can see in this picture and that is the Iron Maiden, 'Killers' tee-shirt. :super:super
    Up the Irons ! :super:super:super
    #16
  17. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    Hi Edmond.. Yes, he is a huge Maiden fan. It seemed like 2/3rds of his wardrobe this trip was Iron Maiden t-shirts and he got a lot of approving looks not only for his bike, but also the shirts. Lotsa Maiden fans out there!
    #17
  18. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    We eventually drove off the salt flats and continued west a few miles to Wendover. There are two parts to Wendover; the Utah side and the Nevada side. One side has casinos and nightlife. Can you guess which is in Nevada?

    Our first priority was food since we really hadn't had much all day. All we could find were casinos, however, so we parked our salty bikes in the parking lot of the casino along with dozens of other cars, trucks and bikes with salt all over them. I'm thinking we're going to have to get this stuff off before long, but food comes first.

    We saddle up to one of the bars at the casino, quickly eat our meal then hunker down at a nearby Quality Inn. Next door was a high school team raising money by washing the salt off vehicles. This is a good deal for $20 and we get all three bikes washed off. We pitch in to make sure every nook and cranny is cleaned since who-knows when we'll wash them again.

    The next morning we continue our journey, salt still making its presence known...
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    Plan is to head a little further west into Nevada, turn right at Oasis and begin heading north on Highway 233. I have no idea what to expect since there is not much listed on the road, but I thought it would be a good way for us to continue on since I hate backtracking and, to be honest, the drive from Salt Lake City to the Salt Flats was brutally hot and I just could't bear the thought of doing that 80 miles over again.

    So, first thing in the morning we proceeded with the plan and found ourselves stopping for breakfast in Montello, NV. We saw this Cowboy bar and could not resist.

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    We tied our bikes up to the hitching post, went in and had one of the best breakfasts of the whole trip. This place is the real deal. They do, however, have a wireless network inside which kind of took away from the authenticity except it was hung on the wall next to the cow skull. Hardcore. :D

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    Outside after breakfast Dad and I were loving it!
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    Let's saddle up and go...
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    Braaaaap.... down the road we head off racing each other at pretty fast speeds. Each of us take our turn winding up our bikes since the road is flat, empty and the visibility is crystal clear perfect. It feels amazing to be finally in the true, open western air. Each of us are having a great time goofing around on the bikes and blazing past each other.

    After a while I see a sign. "93 miles to the next service". I keep going. I look at my gas gauge. I keep going. Then I start thinking. And second guessing. Then realizing! Donald's bike has about 40 miles on it since our last fill up in Wendover. Another 93 is too far... too risky when we're out here in the middle of the desert. Unhappily I come to the obvious conclusion. Even though we're now 10-12 miles past Montello, we have to turn back. Back on all that road we played and sped along now needs to be re-traced.

    Whatever. In the grand scheme it doesn't even make a blip on our radar, I tell myself. Still, as we roll back into Montello I'm feeling a little sheepish. We fill up at the only pumps in town.
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    We leave again and the road basically takes us around the western side of Great Salt Lake. But in doing so we cover some of our favorite landscape of the whole trip. Straight up western!
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    The road circles us back into Utah for a while before moving on to Idaho. My dad's 66th birthday is tomorrow and he always talked about riding horseback in the rockies. Hey, we're in the rockies. This seems like a good opportunity! I make a few phone calls and, amazingly, there's a dude ranch on our way to the Tetons. Does it make sense to go horseback riding after 10 days on the bike? Who knows, but this is gonna be great!

    We get into Idaho and are held up by road work. It's a common theme during the trip.
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    But look what happens when you point the camera to the left:
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    And now to the right:
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    Next up... Granite Creek Guest Ranch...
    #18
  19. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    At Idaho Falls we hang a right onto Route 26, Swan Valley Highway. Before too long we pass the sign for Granite Creek Guest Ranch and drive down the 2 mile gravel road to our resting place for the night and horseback riding tomorrow. Luckily we arrive just before dinner because we're starving. We get everything unpacked while the cook prepares dinner in the open area of the front yard. She makes steaks, beans, bread, potatoes, salad and a mixed berry cobbler in a Dutch oven. Wow, big change from the diner food we've been eating. :clap

    The guest ranch is owned by the Zitlau family and they are incredibly nice and welcoming people to us random travelers. We also meet a nice couple from Minneapolis who own their own horses but who are also taking time out of their motorcycle trip for some horseback riding. The ranch itself is far enough off the road that it feels like a million miles from nowhere. The scenery is stunning and makes you look twice, and three times, at signs on the side of the road with acreage for sale. This is the kind of place you'd want to have for truly getting away.

    The scene as we drive up to the ranch
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    The view from the front of the ranch looking back to the road.
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    We get our stuff packed away in the nice cabins then go dinner.
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    Later that night we sit outside the cabin enjoying the nice weather and talking about the trip so far, but we make it an early night because we're tired and tomorrow we ride!

    Good morning! Donald decided to sleep in the hammock outside the cabin. He loved it. One of the farm dogs curled up underneath his hammock and protected him all night while one of the farm cats crawled right up and onto his sleeping back. He certainly wasn't lonely out there.
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    The bikes in the morning sun. Just behind them you can see where they cook the meals.
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    This farm dog followed me around the whole morning.
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    Ok, let's saddle up. I've ridden a couple times and dad has too. It's the first time for young Donald and he really gets into it.
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    Straight out of the gate we're navigating cattle.
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    We steadily climb the hills behind the ranch.
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    The western slopes of the Tetons are back there.
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    We reach the top and ride along a spectacular ridge. It's cute; at the beginning of the ride they ask whether anyone has a fear of heights. I think more people would raise their hand if they knew they had this in mind! It is a tremendous climb to get up on this ridge and the views are spectacular in every direction.
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    Back down into the forest.
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    Sadly, we have to get a move on as we're making our way today to Victor via Pine Creek pass. The idea is to find a nice campsite, maybe do some fishing and soak in the western mountain experience. Bye for now Granite Creek...
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    #19
  20. rockinrog

    rockinrog Long timer

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    Great report and pics to go with it. Thanks for sharing.
    #20