Bergs Over the Rainbow

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HighFive, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    Feeling like Tributes in the Hunger Games, we dodge lightening strikes and pouring rain. The mean sky unleashed its wrath upon us. Reaching Gibson Creek alive was noteworthy, but there was no time for celebration.


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    Less than thrilled at our chances, we make a daring dash across the tall grass prairie. Gunning for Westcliffe, its a necessary diversion for fuel. This is the closest (& only) point for a pitstop.


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    The mountain foiled; Westcliffe rolls out the blue sky to welcome us. Mighty fine hospitality, I'm telling you!


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    When we roll into the Shell gas station, I can't believe my eyes. Some of my best riding buddies from Oklahoma are pumping fuel into their bikes…..riding the Western leg of the TAT. They started in Raton, NM that morning, and we crossed paths here, at the same 15 minutes. Neither of us knew the other was out here riding. In the excitement, I forgot to take a photo with them. Maybe they did. Anyway, what were the chances of that happening? I should have bought a Lotto ticket!

    Back on the trail, the sky is darkening as evening falls. An ugly mountain storm still brewing, we are racing the trail in search of a campsite. We pop out onto a dead-end road, which has several good spots along North Taylor Creek. If you're ever here, follow the road to the end (against the mountain) and you'll find some awesome campsites, well protected amongst the Aspens (& bears) at about 9,000 ft.


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    I tethered my horse within easy reach, and crawled into my bivy. And in less time than has been required to write these few lines, I was enjoying one of those slumbers which only come as the reward for a day of earnest activity in the saddle.

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    Morning came about when we expected, and I'm not one to miss capturing the sunrise.

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    Neither was Cyborg, as I quickly learned.

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    This setup worked pretty good. I liked it. I was trying something new which would pack real small & light. It provided a place to sit out of the rain, and made handy clothesline on top.

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    Well, what do you know...

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    Another magnificent day to ride in the mountains! What were the chances?

    HF :thumbup
    #61
  2. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

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    As you may have noticed, HighFive has my pictures too and a big thanks HF for keeping this thread going while I've been traveling away from a computer. :getiton

    This particular climb HF had just gone before me and it was a very tough rocky one MMSTIL that went on and on winding up a steep mountainside, you looked up and the climb just kept going out of sight, whew! Near the top chugging up a very steep section where I could barely keep the front on the ground the rear tire hit a big soccer-ball size roller and the bike yanked sideways to my right. I saw a big rock to my right and set the bike right on it, then fell down the hill 10ft backwards onto rocks because it was so steep, ugh! Right where I took this picture is where I landed. Glad once again for all my armor.

    HF was up the trail and not aware of my situation yet, so I caught my breath and pulled the bike back into the trail, trying to keep it from sliding downhill. It was a bear to get going again at the steep angle, but the Berg 390 was amazing and just dug in, hooked up and a tractored the rest of the way up, right at the limit. The camping gear gave extra traction too. :thumb
    #62
  3. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    Ah ha! There be the pesky culprit.


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    Picking thru your photos, I see that now. And MSTL, of course.

    Scootering down the Rainbow is similar to riding thru life. Never certain what lies ahead, and just one bad decision away from disaster. Blame it on the rocks, but its more likely the man in the mirror.


    HF :thumbup

    p.s Cyborg is AWOL again. But, I'm used to riding solo. Let's carryon...
    #63
  4. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

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    Hey now, I'll be around the next couple of days. That was also the last big get-off of the trip IIRC...

    The one thing HF forgot to mention on the camp night was that even at 9000+ ft and crystal-clear with bright stars, the temperatures were amazingly warm.

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    I wanted to check out the BD Squadron light on the trail at night, so jumped on the 390 in t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops and rode 1 mile or so up the trail.
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    The headlight was awesome! I could see all the trail details and could easily trail-ride this headlight all night.

    :snore
    #64
  5. elgato gordo

    elgato gordo KTMRFS

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    Really love your report. I have wanted to ride this for awhile. How long did it take to go from Hayden to Westcliff? I was thinking of doing Salida to Westcliff and stay there overnight just not sure if that can be done in a normal day. Thanks.
    #65
    Dualsport4ever likes this.
  6. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    3/4 of a day at a leisurely pace toting a load of camping gear.

    I imagine Salida to Westcliffe would be a full day of hard riding with a light load.

    But you'll love it, if you survive!

    HF :thumbup
    #66
  7. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    Anxious for a new day…

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    ...but now he wants his other wrist taped up. I'm really starting to wonder how this guy survives without me.

    I want something too. That stocking hat! :evil

    We break camp and hit the Trail again, after exploring the dead-end road a bit. That's when we discovered several secluded campsites better than the one we used. Oh well, it all looks the same after dark.

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    Its more of a worn two-track along this portion. But, still plenty rocky and slow going in places.

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    I just love riding thru the Aspens….for miles upon miles.

    Cyborg did take care of me in a big way! He pulled this rabbit out of the hat:

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    And filled up our camelbacks with a fresh supply of cold mountain water.

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    Best I ever had too. He can tell you all about this whizmo. And you can bet I'll have one for my next trip.

    Before too long, we crossed the road to Hermit Pass.

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    Cyborg has me eating "Hermit" cookies all week, which he imported from Seattle. Never seen 'em or tried 'em before. They were wonderful. :clap With my new found enlightenment, I'm thinking all things Hermit must be good. So, up the road we go….its only 5 miles. The Trail can wait.

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    This road is so rocky its plum wearing me out. First & second gear stuff, I'm telling you (not the portion seen in this photo). Just the time I'm ready to call it quits, thinking its not worth it, we round a corner and get another glimpse.

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    Mush doggies were headed to the top! We start a chant to keep us going….worth it…..worth it….worth it. Our strength ever fading, so early in the day.

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    Slowly but surely we are making progress, and beginning to see some potential.

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    The road with out end. I can assure you its MRTL (much rocky'r than it looks).

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    And somebody turned off the oxygen!

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    Promising…..very promising. The Trail can wait. More climbing to go.

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    On top of the world and wide awake now. No caffeine ever jolted my system to awake this good, this early in the day.

    Was it worth it?

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    Yes indeed! One of the many highlights of our whole week.

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    I imagine most years, this area is covered in snow all summer. You might not be able to get up here this high. But we had a mild winter and the summer has been much warmer than most. So, its all clear right now. Don't think I saw a patch of white anywhere around.

    HF :norton
    #67
  8. rmhrc628

    rmhrc628 Long timer

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    Great story

    Few questions?


    Rear tyre:
    Is that a Metzeler Karoo rear?

    What size?

    Why did you not go specific dirt tyre?

    How do you rate it?

    Luggage:
    The bike with the yellow luggage - what is the exact make and model of all that luggage? I'm getting me some. Is it as good as it looks?

    Front headlight:
    Are they the new baja designs squadron headlights? Views?
    #68
  9. thinairflyer

    thinairflyer Been here awhile

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    Hermit Pass road is sure enough a rough one. The Pass is usually clear of snow by late July. I've driven my '99 4x4 Suburban up to the pass 5 or 6 times over the past ten years. Again everyone, it is a very rough road. My son-in-law on my KLR250 which is geared way down and my grandson in law on a friend's XR650L rode to the top two years ago. Both took a couple of falls, no injuries.

    I'll stick to the Suburban, I just don't have the strength or stamina anymore at 72 to want to ride the KLR up there. The views from there are definitely fantastic as HF says. On a clear day you can see into the San Juan valley, the next valley west. If you're in the Westcliffe area and have the time, make the drive or ride.

    I just returned home from riding the KLR250 (at 330cc) to the rop of Hayden Pass from Coaldale. As HF said that side is not too difficult, I took no falls. Not all skinned up HF. LOL! I went down the tough side only a little way before turning around, it was more than I wanted. :-(

    Which road or trail did you take from the Rainbow to get gas in Westcliffe HF?.

    L D in Westcliffe, CO
    #69
  10. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

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    rmhrc628, don't mind a few questions.

    Tires:
    - Rear: Michelin T-63 130/80-18, very good DOT tire for the Berg FE390, I like better than all the other DOT rear's so far.

    - Front: Pirelli Scorpion Rally 90/90-21, also a great DOT tire, my new favorite DOT front tire.

    Both worked very well in mixed conditions and also on a fair number of pavement miles. Ran standard tubes and 16psi, no flats.

    HighFive was running non-DOT Maxxis Desert IT's, I think he liked them too.

    Luggage: Wolfman, see here and here worked great!

    Headlight: Baja Designs, see here and here
    #70
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Super Moderator

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    Really enjoying this. Great look at some details about the trail. Thanks!
    #71
  12. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

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    Here we are at 13,000+ ft, eye candy and amazing views everywhere, and what's HF's doing?

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    We had great cell service up here so if HF can call out my numerous dabs, I can call out his TXT'ing :lol3



    We reluctantly leave this awesome place and head down

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    Elevation drops fast on this road.


    Can you spot HighFive in this photo?

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    How about now?

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    Zooming back out

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    #72
  13. Ratman

    Ratman Lucky Rider

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    You guys are doing a bang up Ride report. Thanks for sharing.

    How's Cyborgs wrist coming along.....and nice job on the LED conversion.

    BTW, you mentioned Medano Pass a day or so ago. I rode it a month ago all the way past the sand dune to Antelope Wells.... No one told me about the beavers that make that last water crossing 30" deep.

    Drowned out my little old DR350....it did. :cry
    #73
  14. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

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    Sorry to hear of the drowned bike Ratman.

    As for my wrist(s), due to HF's expert wrapping skills, both are doing fine, and in fact were doing quite well at the end of the ride. I "rode through the sprain" as it were. With good wrist support and a few Advil here and there, I enjoyed the ride even at it's roughest. A roll of Coban tape is going in my bike kit every time I ride from now on. :getiton
    #74
  15. what broke now

    what broke now Petroleum Brother

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    Say Cyborg,

    Have you been on Brewton road down to west bar on the Green Dot roads out of Ellensburg? That is a rocky son of a gun.
    If so, is this tougher going in the rocks [ I will admit some of it looks steeper than Brewton] on the Rainbow?

    Fabulous ride report, btw, you guys know how to live. Your Cascade rr with H5 inspired me to ride the Red Hill trail after I read it, and I am down the singletrack rabbit hole ever since...
    #75
  16. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

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    HF and I take a rest and snack break after the Hermit Pass Rocky Road, then head South on the Rainbow trail again.

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    Another one of the fun little cubbyholes. Once again, the camera flattens everything. Steep down, followed by steep up.

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    HF catches me on a little 90degree trail turn with a creek crossing

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    Ahhh, some smooth trail for a change :clap

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    But it didn't last very long before our usual diet of rocks, rocks, and more rocks appeared again.

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    However the nice views make it worth it.

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    We come upon an axle-deep creek crossing where we meet a friendly Ranger on a quad on the other side and talk over the trail we have just passed through. He said it had gotten so rough they were going to take a prison crew and trail tractor and fix the worst places. He also said we were the only bikes he had seen come down this part of the trail in quite awhile. It seems the heavy rains in recent times had removed a lot of soil from the trails on the steep parts and left nothing but rocks. Oh yeah, we knew about that. :huh

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    A little bit farther down the trail from the Ranger we ran into a work crew cutting down some fresh blowdown. HF got into the act and helped clear the trail with them. Great bunch of guys doing a tough job to keep the trails open. :thumb

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    #76
  17. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

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    what broke now, no have not ridden that road (that I know of). Jonah lead/routed us around a lot of that area a few years ago for training, but I don't remember anything being as difficult as parts of the Rainbow Trail. I'd be curious to ride Brewton road.

    Single-trail is great fun, I've just slowed down a bit and have less stamina than I used to (and after several after-crash rehabs) but I can't speak too loud with Ratman, thinairflyer and their gang still out there on the trail. :bow I'm just a young punk and hope to still be doing the same if I make it that far. :lol3

    BTW, HF is 5 years younger than me.
    #77
  18. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    Hey there, Cannonshot, glad you like it. Somebody had to do it….



    Beats me, Thinair. We just went "that way" and eventually found town. Think we came back a different way; just winging it. I do remember a loooooong straight stretch of dirt road, what seems to never end, going down to town.



    Cyborg was correct, I was running a set of Maxxis IT, on recommendation from Rufus. Rear size: 110/100-18. Fantastic tires in the dirt & rocks! Fine on the pavement too.

    No, they are not DOT.

    Yes, I'm a hooligan.

    When was the last time "one of our finest" ever took a knee to read the spec's on your tire?

    The Maxxis IT will stay on my Berg from now on!



    Wow, he's a real spring chicken compared to an old fart like you. That explains everything. :nod

    HF :thumbup
    #78
  19. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    Continuing southward, the section between Hermit Pass Road and the Comanche/Venable Trailhead is pretty salty. That's Okie for rocky. It means: Not Big Bike Friendly.

    Don't be fooled by that photo of smooth shelf path along the Aspens. There is one bad boy of a nasty rocky climb in that portion of trail. Or was it between Venable and the Horn Creek Trailhead? I forget. Sounds like it will eventually be broom swept clean. The forest service said they were bringing in a Swaco (??). A two-track size, mini bulldozer, to reduce the grade of that nasty hillclimb, widen and level the trail surface, and pick out all the rocks (prison crew). This would all be done now, as they said it was coming out the following week. According to The Man, they have experienced a high rate of bad 4-wheeler accidents along that hill. Very bad, I believe was the term.

    We had it rough! You will have it Easy Peasy….from the sound of things.

    Onward,

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    As we approached the Grape Creek Trailhead, the path was smoothing, widening, and spilling out onto the foothills prairie.

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    A rather enjoyable ending to this half of the Trail, considering the load we packed thru those hills.

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    Zebulon Pike made a famous, heart wrenching trek across this mountain range way back in 1806.

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    Its worthy of research, admiration, and explanation here. But, we have so much Trail to cover going northward from Basecamp, I think I'll leave it to you. I do strongly encourage you to look it up. He kept a thorough journal of his expedition where they lost several men due to exposure in the winter, right here in this very area we are riding, while they frantically searched for a way to get over the mountain range. The discovery of an existing trail (used by native Indians) saved the mission. It was Medano Pass they found. And, its quite interesting to read Lt. Pike's own words as he describes seeing the Great Sand Dunes on the other side, for the very first time ever recorded.

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    Big bike friendly, the final southern segment is…..between Grape Creek (Music Mtn Rd 119) and the end of the Trail at Rd 412. I hear Music Mountain is quite pretty, and I really wanted to see it. But, I was running low on fuel, time, & energy and had to push on. Thought it best not to mention it to the Old Man. So much trail, so little time.

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    I'll ride my F800GS on this portion the next time I'm passing thru the area……just because.

    With a sense of accomplishment only half fulfilled, we meandered along some nice dirt roads across a massive private ranch, headed back toward Westcliffe.

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    Sixty miles of trail completed, my thoughts begin to focus on the 40 miles still to come. What wonders lay waiting to ambush us there?

    Refueling at the official TAT gas station, we slabbed it uneventfully a long way back to Coaldale, and our Basecamp at Hayden Creek.

    I think we slid across home plate about 5:00 pm. Which left us just enough time to rent a shower at Cutty's Resort (down the road) and head toward Salida.

    We kept our promise with Ramz (who had visited our camp) and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Grimo's Italian in Poncha Springs. Get the Combo Plate…..Mmmmgood.

    No sleeping pills required tonight! Not even the bear could wake me up this time.

    Tomorrow is gonna be a good day! Starting with a right proper big breakfast (suffering for the cause), we would see what's hiding in the hills to the North.

    HF :beer
    #79
  20. HighFive

    HighFive Never Tap-Out

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    Are we bothering you with too many photos in this report? :lol3

    Two days & 60 miles of Rainbow lasso'd, we've formed a new strategy. Drop the camping gear and hope to conquer the remaining 40 in a single day. We desperately needed to travel lighter. But hey….who else has ever ridden out the Rainbow while camping off the bikes? We consider it an honorable achievement, if only amongst ourselves.

    This day started bright & cheery.

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    And surprisingly, it looked like it would be another magnificent day to ride in the mountains! Is there ever really a bad day of riding in the mountains?

    I don't think so. [​IMG]

    Being the Trailboss, Scout, Medic, and official Camp Cook, I have to whip up some proper trail grub of omelets & camp biscuits. :dg I think the Waterboy liked it, but one is never certain.

    Mount your horses….time to ride. And things get ugly quick! As soon as you turn northward off the Hayden Pass Road, you have to ride uphill thru a boulder garden for...I donno...maybe 3 miles non-stop. Its a whale of a way to start the day! Hard pounding and loose going as we chugged along. It almost got me for a "three". But I managed to the top with a only two points. Darn proud of it too. Whew….I think Trialsberg deserves a rest. She did good.

    Where's Cyborg….I can't even hear him. The Bergs are very quiet. Aaah, here he comes finally.

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    Exiting the boulder ravine, was he ever glad to see me resting against a tree. I'd like to see someone ride a KLR up that section!

    Continuing on, we have a long way to go until crossing Kerr Gulch, the next Trailhead. The path is up….always up. More gradually sloped on this side of Hayden Creek, but but seemingly never ending. Must have been a 10 mile climb before it felt like we made a summit. I'm not really sure. But my oh my, what a beautiful trail it is. Just don't step off!

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    Here's a great example of MSTIL:

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    That happened a lot.

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    Just saying…

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    Holy friole' :eek1 I said "Don't Step Off the Trail!"

    Its straight down there......vooop....vertical. Nothing beneath you. The bushes won't catch a person. But maybe, something else...

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    MSTIL

    Same spot looking ahead, in front of me (while waiting on CB to find the stirrups)

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    Never so happy to be back on level ground. We survived yet another near miss.

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    The rest stops would be brief today, there was no time to waste. We wondered if our goal too ambitious…?

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    Hey, let's see you get your 990 around that one, CB. [​IMG]

    Little useable surface to grip. Go too slow and you'll slide right off. Then, its "bye bye".

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    Surprisingly, we encountered a few more rocks along the way.

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    Man, I'd sure like to plant my home RIGHT HERE!

    There's Cyborg…..the small dot in the middle…..leaving no rock unridden.

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    Worth it….worth it….worth it….

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    So worth it.

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    Who's dumb idea was it to not bring camping gear? I swear, if I had mine with me, I would have stopped right here!


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    Heck if I know where we're at….even with a map. Who cares?

    Maybe this is Bear Creek Trailhead (Rd 49 crossing).

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    Keep on trucking was our motto today. No more stopping to smell the rocks, Cyborg. Daylight's burning!

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    Ho-chi-momma….this is getting a little thin! [​IMG]

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    Find a friendly get-off point whenever you can. Its the best way to enjoy the scenic views. Much better than looking at it while riding. But maybe that's just because I'm getting old. Only two days remain until I turn 50. [​IMG]

    For the first time in my whole entire life, its looking hopeful that I might possibly achieve a major life goal without interruption.

    HF [​IMG]
    #80