I posted a 'stop and smell the roses ride', and the only ones to sign up were Phil and Thane. Each were moderately unimpressed with the nature of the ride, so we switched to a more suitable ride, which included level 5 terrain. Andy and Tyson signed up too, making 5 for the ride. We all packed light, and focused on the ride (not the camping) for this one, as we knew we'd be squeezing into some tight places. I set a new personal best for myself, at 22 lbs for a 4 day ride (lots of food). We all met at the Shell Station in Boise, filled our tanks, and set off for Troutdale. We got as far as the 1st stop light... and... "SNAP". There goes Andy's clutch cable. One had to laugh at the irony of the situation ~ Andy had his bike apart for MONTHS rebuilding the top end. He put it back together for this trip, went through all the arrangements to have his kids babysat, time off work, etc, etc... to make it 20 ft into the trip. So, I sent Phil and Tyson on their way, and helped Andy short-shift his KTM all the way to my home in Nampa to see what we can Jimmy-Rig up. Thane was hitting Pilot Peak LO and Graham as part of the Challenge, and was going to meet us up at Troutdale. Andy and I found a new KLR650 clutch cable in my garage, left over from the old KLR days. We hacked at it, and modified the hell out of it, until it fit snuggly and firmly into place in his LC4 so he could go on the ride. We put his bike back together, and lit out of Nampa, trying to get to camp before sun down. We got to camp a little after 10pm, and Phil and Tyson were sitting around the campfire. "Where's Thane?" "I don't know." "He should be here by now." "Yep." Great. I ate dinner, then showed the group where Loftus Hot Springs was so I could go look for Thane (who was laying in a ditch bleeding, for all I knew). It wasn't like Thane to not show up somewhere he said he'd be. I left camp at 11pm to follow his route as best I could, until I ran out of fuel. I ran the roads in the pitch black for 3.5 hours looking for him without luck. I was chased by an angry Black Bear that wanted a piece of my leg for a late night snack ~ that was a 1st for me. I pulled into camp around 2:30am tired and out of gas. I improve matters, my hammock string was apparently old, and after I climbed into bed for the evening, the rope snapped ~ THUD ~ I landed on my back and got the wind knocked out of me. I used some choice words, pulled out the head lamp, and re-strung it while the neighbor's dog barked at me from 3 feet away (I gave some serious thought to using that dog for target practice). 30 seconds later ~ THUD ~ same story. I was too tired to try a 3 time, and pulled my sleeping bag onto the picnic table where I spent the night. I was suppose to have spent the evening in these hot springs... but it wasn't meant to be. In the morning, I siphoned gas out of Phil's Z to get me to Pine. We devised the plan to get to Trinity LO, where I had cell coverage, to call Thane and check my voicemail. If we couldn't get ahold of him, we'd break into 2 teams and cover all the locations he'd covered. Be broke camp, and headed down the road to Rocky Bar (on the way to Trinity). We headed down the road and Thane was camping on the road, less than 10 miles down the road (further down that where I turned off to look for him up Edna Creek). I was glad to see him healthy, but exceptionally disappointed to have wasted an evening looking for him. We headed up Phiefer Creek, which was an excellent ride. We could see the Trinity LO (one of our destinations for the afternoon). The choppers were dropping a fire crew in, to fight one of the many fires that had sprung up over the last couple days from all the lightening. We rolled into Rocky Bar in the morning, and it was still nice and cool. Tyson notice that Thane lucked - out, and took a nail through his D606 that went into the knob, and out the same know w/o puncturing the tube! :eek1 . Meanwhile, Phil went over to relieve himself, ignorant of the sign that was literally right behind him. The rest of us were sure to pee in the bushes. I got my Rocky Bar pic, and we headed to Pine for fuel, then up Trinity. As soon as we got around the corner so we could see Trinity, I lost my electrics. I've had a residential electrical gremilin all summer. So, we pulled off the road and snacked a bit while I laid in the dirt sorting it out. It's a nice view, seeing the road leading up to Trinity. I got my bike sorted out, and we headed up the ATV/Moto only trail to the LO. We got up there, and chatted with the FS LO guy for a bit. He told us about the area, and pointed to the fire that started an hour ago. He told us it was right on the Iron Mt trail that we'd been planning on going up. No trail ride for us today. Another fun fact is that they stock the alpine lakes with trout ~ via airplane! We all thought that was pretty cool. They fly over the lakes, and drop the fish out the plane and dump them in. We headed down the hill, toward Indian Rock, since Iron Mt was closed. We got bored with the gravel pretty quickly, and I decided that what the Big Beast needed was some tight single track with exposure. :eek1 So, we rolled over the bridge and ran the Virgina Gultch trail for a bit. These pics don't do the exposure any justice... so I pulled a couple over from last time I dragged Phil through it (he told me to shove it, this time...). We talked to the FS crew that was at the bottom of Iron Mt, and they said it's be closed for days. So, we headed back to the gravel, and headed to Indian Rock. We found the Indian Head Rock, and had lunch there at the creek before heading over Dollarhide. We head through Carrietown, and could already see the smoke from the fire. My stitching program doesn't like Thane's head. Thane and I picked up the pace a bit, comig off the back side of Dollarhide. When we got to Ketchum, he was filthy, and I was hot. We waited about 5 min, and Phil showed up. Another 5 min, and no - one else. Crap. Time to go find them. Phil and I saddled up, and headed back up the hill. We found them most of the way into Andy's rear tire change. He picked up a nail. We pieced it back together, and headed to Russian John's hot springs. We fued up in Ketchum, and Andy/Thane/Tyson stayed in Ketchum for dinner, while Phil and I headed ot Russian John's for a nice romantic evening together. We set up camp looking into the mountians cooked our food, and enjoyed a soak. After our soak, we continued in the tradition of "What more could go wrong?", when Phil's bike would start trying to go back to the campground. We cranked it and messed with it until the battery was dead. We tried to bump start it, but the compression was so high it wouldn't turn over in 5th gear, and snapped our tow rope twice. It was too dark and dangerous to try it on the highway, so towed it back to camp to deal with it in the morning. Meanwhile, Andy's headlight gave out on the highway coming out of Ketchum, so the other two guys sandwitched him and they got to camp eventually. Continuing in the theme of "what more can go wrong?", we spent the morning trying to repair bikes. Phil's bike has A.) A flat spot on the flywheel that catches on the starter and freezes it & B.) A newly developed float needle that is not shutting off when the float bowl is full. Therefore, Anytime Phil shuts his bike off, the bike floods. The bike flooded so bad, we killed the engine trying to start it before we figured out what was wrong (the previous night, at the hot springs). In the morning, we tore it down and tried charging the battery from Tyson's bike, but was unsuccessful. Phil had the opportunity to go ask our neighbors for a bump start with their pickup. That crazy little Z had too much compression to turn over the tire in 5th with me on it, so Andy had to ride shotgun to put some weight over the rear tire, while we got tragged to hell and back behind a pickup. . Meanwhile, Andy had some issues of his own. His headlight went out. He pulled his ignition, and found that the wires into his ignition had corroded and fell off ~ not something you're going to casually fix in the field (without a soddering gun). Phil's bike eventually turned over and fired up and I set the idle high in order to let it sit and charge for a bit while we packed camp. It idle at 3k for about 10 minutes, then died. The float needle was/is so worn, that it's dumping more gas into the bowl that it'll use idling. Not good. Luckily, his bike fired back up after we drained the bowl, but this meant that any time Phil came to a stop, he'd have to reach down and shut off his fuel. Oh well... could be worse (just wait... it gets worse). We buttoned our bikes back up, called it 'close enough', and headed up Galena Summit. We dropped off the top of the summit, to a Jeep Trail Heath and I had found a couple years ago. It's better than that highway, with a nice view of the Sawtooths. The trail we were suppose to connect is not 'close to public use', which irritated the hell out of me. We had to route around, which of course goofed with my GPS route, and I managed to blow by our turn off. We had the please of back-tracking a few miles back to the turn off, and then got to ride one of the best sections of dirt I've ridden all summer up to Black Rock Mine. Turned out to be 1/2 dozen water crossing, all of which were reasonable and enjoyable to cross (though I could see how they've be deep and swift if you tried to cross them too early in the year). The jeep trail was very entertaining, and very reasonable. There were trucks in there quite a ways, and the road up there was similar to RailRoad Ridge in difficulty (up until that last portion, that is, which was more difficult). The views were outstanding. Getting up to the very top was a butt-puckering ordeal for me. I was on the pegs and off the gas (lots of large, loose rocks to slide around on), and rounded a blind corner to a steep, loose section that about ate my lunch. It was exceptionally grateful I was running a full knob on the front, because I was hugging the edge of the trail (the only place where there was any traction) to save my life ~ if I'd have fallen into the center of the bowl, I'd have never gotten started again. Once we all got to the top, and swapped stories about how we puckered -up coming around that corning, we explored some more of the area, and were taken back by the beauty of it. I got a pic or two heading back down the nasty section, a short stretch of which Phil decided he was better off walking his bike down, than riding it. The short loop took us to some great views. We stopped and cooked lunch at the mine, which has shade, an antique crapper and a great view. After lunch, Andy took off (he needed to be home Saturday night), so we were down to Thane, Tyson, Phil and I to head down the mountain, and hop over to the Aztec Mine area. We passed through Phil's harem on the way down the hill. We headed down the dirt road, and up Fisher Creek Rd. Fisher Creek Rd is a great Jeep Trail style road. We got up around near Aztec Mine, which wasn't worth getting of the bikes and looking for ~ we were in it for the ride. Tom filled me in on a big-bike-friendly piece of single track called William's Creek, that went off of Fisher Creek. We were all loaded light specifically in order to run this trail. I was stoked to get to run an extended piece of single track on my Big Beast, so we set out. This corner was a bit of a squeeze on the big bike (due to rocks and a big root sticking out in the trail as you're trying to round the corner), and I caught my peg on it as I rounded it. No big deal, but it got my attention. Phil, however, has a knack for psyching himself out when it comes to single track. I knew that by now, he was sweating bullets, despite the ease of the trail. I shut the motor off, and waited to hear him round the corner. Instead I heard shouting and expletives. Not good. I rolled my bike down the trail, trying to find a place to get the kickstand down, then jogged back up the trail to find Thane already attending to Phil, who'd gone ass over tea kettle down the hill, while his bike did summersaults in front of him on the way down the hill. :eek1 Phil was explaining in great detail the sounds his knee made on the way down. It was clear his ride was nearly over. Thank God I had Tyson and Thane to help get Phil's bike back up the hill ~ no way would I have gotten it back up there alone (flashbacks of Humpty... for those who know that story). We got Phil and his bike back on the trail and I asked Phil if he wanted to flip it around and ride back up the trail (we'd only come down a mile or so) to get out. He responded "no", but I'd bet he'd had responded "yes" if he realized how long the trail was (turned out to be much longer than we expected... like 8 miles or so). Despite Phil's 'incident', the rest of us were LOVING that trail. It was an awesome big-bike trail for anyone foolish enough to take a big bike on it. I wasn't uncomfortable at all on my 950, loaded as light as I could be for a 4 day trip (I had a 22 lb bag on the back... and that was it). You'd never get panniers through it. Ever. Don't try. Since Phil was psyched out, and in pain, he stumbled down the hill slowly. I managed to get into a really tight switch back (downhill) and had to hammer the front brake because I didn't make the turn (went to bar-lock)... and had to ungracefully dismount my bike and an inopportune time. The bike landed with a very loud "thud" as I bailed off from the standing position. Luckily, I didn't bend the bars, and the tank protector did it's job and took the majority of the abuse. I wouldn't hesitate to run the trail again on the big bike, but would advise caution to others running it, to go with a partner in case you loose your bike off the edge. At Stanley, we gave Phil a mirror (which was mysteriously lost in the incident), and said 'goodbye' to him. He was headed home to nurse his knee. Thane, Tyson and myself headed to Bear Valley to get a pic for our Challenge. By the grace of God, we actually had something go right on this ride... and we squeezed through Bear Valley hours before they closed it due to the Beaver Creek fire. We hurried down to the Deadwood dam for another Challenge pic, because we knew our destination for the evening was a camp spot at the end of a questionable piece of single track. Thane swore to me that I'd be ok on this track... so long as I didn't veer off the trail, and put my bike into Deadwood River. :eek1 Well... you ride where you look... so I refused to look at the river. I saw Thane was stopped in the trail, and thought, "What now?" It was, of course, a downed tree. Why not? It would be the "what else can go wrong ride?" without a downed tree, right?? No way we were going over it ~ the only way was going around it. I about died, looking over the edge of the narrow little pathway we were contemplating getting my 500 lb beast through. Looking down into the river, I shouted "DON'T DROP ME!!!" Thane and Tyson took their gear off, and babied my bike through with some tugging, pushing and wresting. Thane's was a piece of cake to get through (light... compared to the KLR and 950). Tyson had a major pucker moment when he thought he was going over the edge ~ Thane yelled "I've got ya...", and grabbed his rack while I grasped his tank brace. We got through without incident, and continued up the trail a sweaty mess. I had to duck through this one, and the next one I actually had to lean the bike over, and reach up to bend my windshield enough that it'd squeeze under ~ man that 950 sits TALL. We got to the end of the trail and set up a flippin' sweet camp right on the trail. After getting camp set up, Thane took us to paradise. These were the best non-commercialized hot springs I've ever been too. He did a lot of research and exploring to find them ~ if you want their location, you'll have to beat it out of him. We waited for the tub to fill, and took turns sitting under the pipe that pipes the hot water into the tub, and dumps it 10 ft into the tub below.... creating a perfect water massage. Once full, it's about waist deep and oh so nice. We sat in there for a long time before heading back to camp. Other than Black Rock Mine, this was the 'find of the ride' for me. In the morning, we woke up to a valley full of thick smoke from the fires. So thick, you could barely see across Deadwood Res. We headed back down the trail, and again fought our way around the downed tree (which was actually more difficult getting around, due to the angle) and headed up FS555 to Artillery Dome. Getting to the trail was a boring grind, minus nearly getting clobbered by a truck that came around on my side of the corner, then got pissed at us. The trail out to Artillery Dome was very Lolo Motorway-esque to me, but a more entertaining road. Pistol Creek Ridge was beautiful, and I'd imagine even better when you can see further. It was awesome to run along the knife ridge, and be able to look into the valley below on either side of the Jeep Trail. We got to the Challenge spot, and took our pic. For me, this was the last Challenge point (the 45th). It had taken me nearly 7,000 miles to hit them all this summer, over the course of 28 days of riding. All together, my bike had clocked 15,000 miles this summer... and my season was coming to a close (I go back to work and school Aug 15th). After getting our pick, we headed back to some beautiful springs to fill our Camelbaks and cook lunch. We were clearly within a few yards of the source, so I just dumped the water straight into my pack without filtering it. Artillery Dome is a one-way-in-one-way-out deal, so we loaded up, and headed the 25 miles back out (just to get back to the dirt road), to connect FS roads back into Cascade. We rounded the hill, and could see Cascade in the Valley. We got fuel in Cascade, and rode boring slab getting back home, because we were tired and ready to get home by then (not to mention, I've ridden all the dirt routes home from there already this year). In the true spirit of 'what else can go wrong?', we hit a mega traffic jam, 8 miles north of Banks. It was stop and go, for forever (just on the other side of Banks), so we turned the bikes off, coasted, and held conversations as we rolled along (a 1st for me). Despite the copious amount of issues, I had a really good time on the ride. It was a great way to close out the season for me, and finish the 2010 Challenge.