Continental Divide Trail - Northern Portion

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by mpgmr, Jul 11, 2017.

  1. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Preamble

    After completing the Trans-America Trail several years ago my brother and I looked around for our next extended ride. We easily agreed upon the North to South Continental Divide Trail/Ride/Route which we divided into two sections based on the ride time available. We were set to leave late July 2016 but a family emergency, several days before our departure, waylaid our ride until 2017.

    So it was this past June 29th my brother, Charles, drove up to Park City, UT from Tucson with his 2014 Husqvarna Terra (TR650) aboard his truck. The next day we loaded his Terra and my 2005 Kawasaki KLR650 and equipment into the U-Haul truck and drove to Butte, MT for the night. The next day, Saturday, July 1st, we pulled into the Kalispel (Evergreen) U-Haul facility in the early afternoon where upon our Northern CDT ride begins.

    Aside

    In compiling our tracks we unabashedly pilfered and edited CDT tracks from Big Dog, Cannonshot, GPS Kevin, et. al. We did this as some of the tracks were older and we like to have bail out tracks if needed. That said, we followed GPS Kevin's tracks relatively closely. In actual usage there was one place (to be discussed) where the mountainside slid onto the trail with no go around so we had to return to the asphalt. In another place the tracks wanted us to go down a signed 'Dead End' road so continuing on the road we were on easily solved the problem. Finally, a track in Rawlins wanted us to turn off on an overpass but again continuing on we easily worked it out and got back on track. I have attached our initial tracks as a .gpx which includes over 500 waypoints and 28 tracks. I anticipate we will refer to those tracks as our journey unfolds. The attached file is entitled, "C&G_Northern CDT_20170711_Rev1.gpx". Note: on 7/13/2017 updated Rev1 of the tracks to Rev2 to bypass mountain side slide on our day 2 (see comment to Tokenboy below).

    Regarding the tracks, note that the naming convention used is that the main/daily tracks are named D# then from to (where # is the day number) while ancillary/bail out tracks are named D#a then from to or purpose. Looking at the tracks you can surmise that our ride from the Canadian border to Steamboat Springs, CO took us the better part of 8 days. We stayed at motels at night, generally got on the road by circa 8:15a and generally made our destination between 3:00 - 6:00p. We kept a decent pace but weren't racing (well, mostly). The days destination was often dictated to us by the facilities which were available based on locale and the July 4th holiday. On the TAT we often rode later into the day for comparable mileage so I would estimate the Northern portion of the CDT (for the most part) is some 2/3 as 'difficult' as the TAT. Also the TAT tracks were harder to follow than the CDT tracks. Finally, the TAT, overall, had more remote sections than the CDT. On the Northern portion of the CDT around the July 4th holiday time frame we saw some six cyclists, three other motorcyclists, and a pair of hikers who were obviously also traversing the CDT. It was not as well traveled as we anticipated but maybe the time frame had something to do with it.

    End Aside

    Now let's stop the jawboning and get the bikes moving!

    We rode out of the spacious U-Haul facility (recommended) on hwy 2, turning onto the multi-lane hwy 93 heading to the Canadian border for the 'official' start and pics. The weather was clear and on the uncomfortably hot side (depending on who is reporting it, myself from the Park City, UT area at 6,500' and 85 degree highs or Charles from Tucson and 110+ degree highs). We rode through the touristy town of Whitefish where after the ride became less congested, greener and cooler.



    It was about 2:15 when we got into Eureka. I was concerned regarding the amount of fuel in my KLR as I had not filled it recently and wanted to stop in Eureka. Fortunately we did stop as the KLR ingested over 5 gallons. We continued on uneventfully to within spitting distance of the Canadian border (neither one of us wanted to cross over as I had pepper spray and Charles was armed for 'bears and a$$ holes', both would have gotten us in bad with our Northern neighbors.)

    We took the perfunctory photos, turned the bikes around and began the CDT.

    Gary at Canadian Border_20170701.jpg Chuck at Canadian Border_20170701.jpg

    TRACKS ATTACHED BELOW, REV3 IS THE LATEST (see Day 7)

    Attached Files:

    #1
    KLRalph, i4bikes and juno like this.
  2. dcwilcox

    dcwilcox Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2015
    Oddometer:
    384
    Location:
    Pensacola, FL
    In . . . northern half is on my list!
    #2
  3. kneesels

    kneesels Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    In, looking forward to report as I am riding N to S late next month
    #3
  4. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Day 1 - Canadian/Montana Border to Whitefish

    D1 Canada 2 Whitefish.jpg

    As eluded to in the above preamble, our Day 1 of the CDT started at circa 3:00P on Saturday, July 1st. Our intent was to ride the 112 miles from the Canadian border back to Whitefish where we would spend the evening. Referring to track 'D1 Canada 2 Whitefish' in the above attached tracks we rode from the border to Eureka via hwy 93. Anticlimactic for sure. Just past Riverside Ave. in Eureka we turned West onto Tobacco Road to get off hwy 93. We followed the road some distance behind a jeep which kept up a good pace. Tobacco Road is asphalt and hard pack and a good road with a bit of gravel thrown in for interest. Tobacco Road parallels hwy 93 and the Burlington Northern railroad for about 8.1 miles before once again meeting hwy 93. After riding hwy 93 for 0.9 miles we turned NE on Grave Creek Road. We followed Grave Creek and subsequent roads (see the above track) through the Kootenai and then the Flathead National Forest and eventually along the East side of Whitefish Lake into Whitefish. The initial portion was an enjoyable and relatively fast ride along good roads and then the dust. A fine grayish, choking, lingering dust. It was nearly impossible to pass slower vehicles unless they slowed down. To follow too close, within 75 yards, of a leading rider was playing with a bought of silicosis. Maybe it was the lack of recent precipitation and/or increased travel over the roads but much of the later portion of the ride was spent avoiding dust as much as possible.

    Day 1a.JPG Day 1b.JPG
    Day 1c.JPG
    The videos taken for this report are from a new to me GoPro Hero 3+ and Charles' GoPro. As part of our riding gear we also had Cardo's Scala Rider intercom systems. We had purchased these initially for our TAT ride five years previously. Though now deprecated these Bluetooth units are great for issuing warnings, ride directions and having to listen to your brother sing (it has a mute button). Great units.



    Whitefish struck me as an upscale, small-town, touristy stop with resulting traffic jams mid-town. We worked our way to the Best Western Rocky Mountain Lodge at the South end of town. They were our most expensive lodging at $224 a night. With the 4th of July holiday, they knew they could get it and they did. We unloaded, dusted off and sought out a meal at Latitude 48. Both of us had $14 hamburgers and small foo-foo lettuce salads. Tasty, albeit expensive, faire.

    You might notice the BMW logo on the tank of my KLR, well except it is red instead of blue. It was enough to fool an older gentleman in Whitefish who had previously owned a KLR and had ridden it to Alaska. He asked me how I liked the BMW (even though the logo says KLR). I've never owned a BMW so it was nice to own one for a few minutes until we filled him in on the details. He was taken back a bit but we endeavored to save his ego and go easy on him.

    We washed off the bikes, got back to the 'lodge', reviewed tomorrow's Day 2 ride, and slept soundly until 6:15 reveille.
    #4
    juno likes this.
  5. tokenboy

    tokenboy Gnirly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2003
    Oddometer:
    574
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    We leave tomorrow to tackle the CDR. We're following gpsKevin's tracks but I grabbed yours as a supplement! Thanks!
    #5
  6. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    I have updated our tracks to hopefully avoid the mountain side slide which occurred to the primary track (D2 / magenta). Specifically, I do not recall exactly where the slide occurred (maybe Charles can help me on that) but I have added the track 'D2a Hwy 83 to D2 Primary (WF Clearwater)' to our tracks and the waypoint '2_Rt to Primary on West Fork Clearwater Rd'. I believe the slide to have occurred on the first portion of the Beaver Creek Rd which goes West off hwy 83 about 17.4 miles North of Seeley Lake (waypoint '2_Str for Hwy 83 Cutoff'). At that waypoint, unless you do more re-routing yourself, I would continue on hwy 83 another 7.0 miles rather than take Beaver Creek Road. After 7 miles, at the waypoint '2_Rt to Primary on West Fork Clearwater Rd' (just South of Lake Alva) I would take the West Fork Clearwater Road (track 'D2a Hwy 83 to D2 Primary (WF Clearwater)' in yellow) and meet up in 0.5 miles with the primary track (track 'D2 Whitefish 2 Seeley Lake') and continue South on that track for the remaining 10.4 miles to Seeley Lake. This will get you around the mountain slide. That said, we did not travel the remaining portion of the 'D2 Whitefish 2 Seeley Lake' track so I cannot vouch for its condition.

    If the above is unintelligible shot me another comment and I will go into more detail.

    Have a GREAT Ride!
    #6
    juno likes this.
  7. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Day 2 - Whitefish to Seeley Lake

    D2 Whitefish 2 Seeley Lake.jpg

    Sunday, Day 2 was a some 141 mile ride from Whitefish to the Double Arrow Resort just South of Seeley Lake (see track 'D2 Whitefish 2 Seeley Lake' attached above). It seemed no matter how fast I was at getting ready it took at least 1.5 hours, including donning protective gear, eating a motel 'breakfast', repacking, and securing everything to the bike all over again. I do not know how he consistently did it but Charles nearly always was ready to go and patiently waiting while I was still strapping things to my bike. I think the earliest we ever started riding was 8:00A but it usually was more like 8:30. Today it was 8:30.

    The ride out of Whitefish was uneventful. We broke one of the cardinal rules of dual sport riding and that is passing up a gas station (one is never absolutely sure about gas availability) in Columbia Falls. The KLR was only getting 42 mpg while the Terra was getting 60+ mpg but we each had plenty of range (the Terra had a stock tank but also carried 1.75 gallons in a RotoPax) based on our tracks so we were confident in our decision.

    The first 48 miles of the ride was a very flat 3,100'. We did take track 'D2a Gas@BiG Fork' to Big Fork to replenish the gallon or so we burned from Whitefish. About 8 miles along we encountered a significant elevation gain to nearly 5,000'. The track out of Big Fork took us along the West side of Swan Lake was visually and road wise more enjoyable. After some 53.6 miles of good riding but warm weather we met up again with asphalt as we turned South on hwy 83.

    Swan River.JPG

    After 15.4 miles on hwy 83 we turned off and headed Southwest paralleling hwy 83. We had not gone far but we met up with our first obstacle. It appeared that the entire hillside had slid over the road we were taking and made further progress impossible. Rather than try and work out a go around on the spot (I did have the tracks on a laptop along with MapSource so we could have spent the time and rerouted ourselves on existing roads (assuming it were possible)). Instead, as the section was only 26.8 miles and paralleled hwy 83 we elected to retrace our tracks and finish the day's ride into Seeley Lake via hwy 83. Note: Please see my more detailed discussion of this section in the above 7/13/2017 post to Tokenboy and the rerouting suggested.

    Seeley Lake is another town which becomes heavily populated with visitors over the holidays and summer vacation. Many of the eating establishments already had waiting lines so we proceeded to the Double Arrow Resort (DAR) and found our $181 room to be minimal in size and comfort. It did have a shower, electricity and twin beds but no AC and spotty wifi. Apparently we had procured one of the last rooms available so you get what ya get.

    Double Arrow Resort.jpg

    On the other hand the restaurant at DAR was a culinary treat. One the best dinners I have eaten. Unfortunately they did not serve breakfast until long after we wanted to be on the road. We did some wrenching on the bikes and took care of business via phone as the evening passed uneventfully.
    #7
    chudzikb likes this.
  8. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Day 3 - Seeley Lake to Butte

    D3 Seeley Lake 2 Butte.jpg

    Monday, Day 3 dawned as scheduled and promised to be one of our longer riding days at 212.7 miles (see track 'D3 Seeley Lake 2 Butte') and further from asphalt than the previous two days. We were ready to ride at circa 8:30A and gassed up in Seeley Lake while partaking of convenience store 'nourishment'. A local on a Harley rode up and chatted with Charles for a bit over our intended route.

    The base elevation for today's ride was 4,000' with six climbs up past 6,000' maxing out at 7,400'. The terrain was certainly varied and no real issues with the roads/trail, at least until Helena. The ride to Helena was through Helena National Forest and hwy 12 crossing the Continental Divide several times. To get an idea of the variety in terrain traversed I give you the following four videos which were all taken within a 40 minute period. Great riding.



    Even though we had previously crossed a few railroad tracks on the ride, about 18 miles before Helena just past Mullen Pass out in the middle of God's Country, we came across and paralleled the Montana Rail Link. We also found a couple of apparently derelict rail cars so we took a break and enjoyed the scenery.

    Montana Homestead D3.jpg Yesteryear Mine.JPG Montana Rail Link Car.jpg

    Arriving in Helena we topped off our gas tanks and emptied others. We dodged cars as we made our way through the Monday afternoon traffic in town. It would be interesting to explore the history of the city further but today we're on a CDT mission so the sooner we start the second half of today's ride, the better.

    Lava Mountain - We have heard tales and seen videos/pics of the ride around Lava Mountain. I am here to tell you the ride around (not UP Lava Mountain (see waypoint MO1AA0 for right turn onto Lava Mountain Trail), which we didn't try and is apparently more difficult) is a booger. If you want to avoid shaking your crowns loose take the Lump Gulch Road to I-15 bail out which is about 13 miles out of Helena. We didn't. So we circumnavigated around Lava Mountain on a narrow, sharp, big rock littered, up and down hill trail. It is the kind of trail which, when you finish, you just have to stop to recuperate and relive some of the fantastic saves you accomplished.

    The remainder of the ride into Butte was standard CDT faire. Arriving at the Hampton Inn which we stayed in on our way to Kalispell, we got the same room, unloaded and dusted off, and went in search of a real meal. Apparently, the evening of July 3rd is not the best time to try and get a meal in Butte. We tried four different places before finally settling on a Wendy's.

    Getting back to the motel, we did laundry, set batteries to cookin', used the motel's wifi and settled down into a couple of nice beds. Super riding today!
    #8
  9. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Day 4 - Butte 2 Elk Lake/Lima

    D4 Butte 2 Elk Lake_Lima.jpg

    Day 4 track (titled 'D4 Butte 2 Elk Lake/Lima' attached in Abstract section) was the longest day via mileage of the ride. Now 217.8 miles on the TAT was one very long day but on the CDT, which is being ridden later in the year (longer days) and overall an 'easier' ride, we were reasonably confident we would finish in plenty of time for our 6:30p dinner reservations at Elk Lake Lodge given our usual 8:30A start.

    Today’s ride consists of four segments. A short dirt ride, a longer dirt ride, a jaunt down I-15, and another hardpack ride to dinner and a bed. If I were to do the ride again I would take the ‘D4a I15 Bypass’ track off the ‘D4’ track and stay in the dirt and avoid half the I-15 ride. But not knowing what we would encounter, we elected to do ride the I-15 for 44.6 miles.

    The first dirt segment of 27.5 miles went without a hitch. Just a nice ride in the cool morning in Big Sky Country.

    Riding the second dirt segment we felt truly out in the weeds riding along Fleecer Ridge at 7,800’. Then the excitement for the day began. Let the words ‘Fleecer Drop’ awake your only innate postnatal fear, drop.

    We were riding uphill when we noticed we were no longer on track. We had missed the turnoff to Fleecer Drop. Which isn’t surprising as the waypoint we missed stated “Turn at meadow (location uncertain)”. Charles started turning around first (we had to turn off the road and circle around to get back on it) and then I followed suit. My problem was I did not make the turn sharp or wide enough so I had to cross the road in order to continue circling back onto it. As I crossed the road I didn’t have much speed so I goosed the KLR a little, the spinning rear tire did not make it over the road berm and sitting still with no place to go but down, that is what I did (bike too high on road berm to put my foot down).



    It seems that on every ride at least one of us has to make contact with the ground. It was my turn. My left shoulder hit the road first and the rest followed. Not really believing that happened I was a bit dazed as Chuck ran back and helped me lift the bike upright. Turns out my mirrors broke (I think on the lifting, not falling) and the hand guard impacted the clutch lever a little. After a few choice words we got things sorted out, the good ole KLR started up after a few seconds on the magic button and we were off again.

    We had missed the turn off to Fleecer Drop by about 50 yards, the tracks are good, we were just not paying attention. I was still a little shaky from my previous drop when we started down Fleecer Drop for real. In summary of the ride down let me just say, I really do not want to do that again. We used our brakes with motors idling to hold us back on the longest and steepest downhill trail on which I have ever been. If I were ever to tackle Fleecer Drop again I would try it dead stick, letting the clutch and engine work the rear while using brakes on the front. Going down ‘The Drop’ we did not dare to let the bikes gain momentum or we would be toast.

    Three quarters down the hill, try as I might, I seemed to be gaining on Charles. This is NOT good. I was about to tell him not to stop as I was right on his tail, when he stopped. There is no way I could stop so I had to veer off the dual track, trying to stop in the rough with Charles yelling in my ear (via intercom) “keep going, don’t stop, keep going”. I agreed that indeed that was the best solution to my predicament, since I couldn’t stop. I continued riding down ‘The Drop’ giving the KLR its head when we got closer to the ‘bottom’ (semi-flat meadow). I was going too fast to stop and the brakes would not have helped much so I just kept riding. Charles rode down as well and without looking back (no rear view mirrors nor desire to take my eyes off the narrow road) we continued onward.

    Aside

    Note: The following is not our video but rather posted to You Tube by Kevin White. As we did not capture our ride down Fleecer Drop I have embedded Kevin's video as an example of what Fleecer Drop is about. Start the video at 3:48 to see some of the same terrain we videoed and then Fleecer Drop. Ends at 7:30.



    End Aside

    Day 4b.jpg

    The remainder of the second dirt segment became a memory without incident, we hopped onto I-15 and finally stopped in Lima for gas and sustenance. Taking a break in the shade we loaded up on liquids and jerky. Too soon we were back on I-15 heading South. We missed our turn onto hwy 509 so had to circle back. I kept the bike upright this time, found hwy 509 and headed East.

    I am sure that when 509 is graded it is a tolerable road but for 42.5 miles we hit pot hole after pot hole. Trying to miss one deep/wide pot hole invariably set one up to hit the next one. The best course of action was just to find the line with the smallest post holes, gas the bike a bit (to help skim over the pot holes) and hold on. The road, the heat, the long mostly indistinct valley, the dust and the long miles today really had me wishing I was somewhere else. Elk Lake Lodge was indeed a welcome sight.

    Elk Lake Resort Cabin.jpg Elk Lake Resort Office_Restaurant.JPG

    We snagged our cabin, unloaded the bikes, washed up and partook of a very nice meal in their dinning room, particularly considering where we were. We asked about the pot holed road and got a “it is usually graded by now”. Ah well, maybe those following us will have a better time of it. We explored the environs a little but I hit the sack while it was still light. I was done for the day.
    #9
  10. MizzouRider

    MizzouRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,181
    Location:
    Fly over zone
    I'm in. Hope to do this, northern section, someday on a GSA. If I can get to it before I get too old.
    #10
  11. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    I'm 67 and way out of shape. Brother was a good influence on me during the trip. His personality is go, go, go, mine more 'smell the roses'. He didn't stop to let me eat much during the day. I think I lost about 10#, some of that due to dehydration. But suffice it to say, now's the time to do it. I suggest either the lightest bike that will make it 'comfortably' and do the back trails or take a larger, more streetable bike (GSA?) and do more asphalt and/or hardpack then single track. Either way better than watching the ice in your drink melt. TAT, CDT, Mex2CAN, Trans-Canada, state BDRs, etc., any and all good.
    #11
    dickosaurus and MizzouRider like this.
  12. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,452
    Location:
    North GA and Atlanta
    Great video's...but let bro eat some of the dust... From experience, it took me 15 years to realize that a little $4,000 250cc can some times be a lot more fun than a big GSA.

    Thanks for sharing videos.
    #12
  13. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Thank you for your comments and watching the vids.
    The first day the dust was really bad and we do periodically change lead. But Charles enjoys leading more than I and the lead should be paying more attention to the tracks and trail than fiddling with a GoPro, exceptions noted.
    We both have GoPros so you will likely see one or the other of us in the lead (I am using both our vids).
    Agree re: 250s being a blast. I have a WR250R with Athena kit and it's a blast in the mountains. I've found that 11,000' is about the maximum for the bike with me on it and climbing a steep, rocky trail.
    We had some highway (asphalt) miles to run so I thought the KLR would better keep up with my brother's 650 Terra then my WRR. Thus I took the KLR on this ride.
    Best wishes.
    #13
    LewisNClark likes this.
  14. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Day 5 - Elk Lake to Lava Mountain Lodge (Dubois, WY)


    D5 Elk Lake 2 Dubois.jpg

    Aside

    Sorry for the delay in finishing this thread, had to get video editing software and figure out how to use it, had family members over for four days and started another work contract. Oh, yeah, and bought another DR650 (2011 with <1,000 miles, with tank, seat, pannier racks, etc. - sweet) to replace the 2006 DR650 on which I did the first third of the TAT. Now I can get this ride wrapped up.

    End Aside

    Days 3 and 4 were 210+ mile days so Day 5 at 193 miles would be a holiday (yeah, too much coffee). We packed up early and partook of a good breakfast of omelet, fruit, rolls, etc., paid our tab and were underway by an early (for us) 8 o’clock following our track: ‘D5 Elk Lake 2 Dubois’. Retracing our ride and pot holes from yesterday we headed East when we came to Red Rock Pass Road, the road we came in on from the West. We crossed the Continental Divide again and the Montana/Idaho border.

    Red Rock Pass.jpg

    The road seemed to be in better shape or I in a better frame of mind. In only 18.4 miles we turned South onto hwy 20. Around Big Springs, WY we elected not to ride the little out and back road (N. Big Springs Loop Road) which was basically an ATV track.

    At Island Park, ID we filled the bikes up with a total of $11.06 of petro. Charles’ Terra was still getting some 63 mpg and my KLR was still only getting 42 mpg. Historically, we were getting roughly the same 50ish mpg when Charles was on his KLR and I my DRZ400 (w/ 440 kit). At least the bikes on this ride were being consistent..

    We hopped back on hwy 20 to Old Chick Creek Road, rode that to Eccles Road, then Warm River Road until we turned South on hwy 47. It was interesting to see the landscape turn from forest to treeless plains. We stopped in Ashton for gas and refreshment. They apparently had a great parade yesterday on the 4th as there were a number of outhouses strategically positioned along the main drag. We rode to the far end of town, which really wasn’t that far, and sought out mirrors for the KLR from a Polaris dealer but to no avail. Riding sans mirrors is definitely a handicap and I have to depend on Charles to let me know if we are being tailed by cagers on the highways.


    <Long video starts at Grassy Lake Reservoir on Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road circa 11 miles West of hwy 191, FF as desired.>

    We took another cross country ride heading East on Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road, crossed the Idaho/Wyoming border and met up with hwy 191 at, you guessed it, Flagg Ranch. Riding hwy 191 it became obvious that this was a major tourist route as it passes by Jackson Lake and Grand Teton National Park. Jackson Lake is not to be missed, even with the crowds, very scenic (the video doesn't do it justice).

    Jackson Lake.jpg

    We divested ourselves of some of the traffic as they turned off onto Teton Park Road and then most of the rest when we peeled off hwy 191 favoring hwy 26. Hwy 26 got serious about gaining altitude and vistas as we climbed to Togwatee Pass and crossed the Continental Divide again. The weather cooled down, the traffic was light, and the vistas grand. We made our way to Lava Mountain Lodge. Charles checked us in, got our room key (only one?), we ate a pretty good hoagie/submarine sandwich (from the Yellow Lunch Wagon), and decided to go back and ride the dirt road loop to Brooks Lake.

    We went back to near Togwatee Pass and rode the Brooks Lake loop from North to South. If you are going to stay at Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa it is advisable to drive/ride it from the South. For bikes really no problem either way but cagers are forewarned. Why spend so much time on Brooks Lake Loop? Because it was one of the most idyllic mountain settings I have seen. I wondered why Chuck didn’t get us into Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa rather than Lava Mountain. There was absolutely no comparison. Later I find out why when he informed me of the prices, Brooks Lake Lodge rooms $620 per person per night, family cabin $3,720 per night for up to 5 people, cabin suites $731.60 per person per night, etc. That said, the snowmobile rentals weren’t that bad at about $220 for a full day's rental unless you include the $65 insurance per sled per day and you are still liable for the $2,000 deductible. Nirvana is bucolic but not cheap.

    Brooks Lake Lodge Spa - TripAdvisor.jpg
    <Image from TripAdvisor.com>

    I grudgingly rode back to Lava Mountain Lodge where the rooms were small, the beds the saggiest of the trip, and room facilities Spartan. That said, the rest of the ‘Lodge’ was nice and the food reasonably good. Apparently they make their money in the winter via all the snowmobile and skiing customers, not Continental Divide Trail riders. Speaking of CDT riders, during lunch at Lava Mountain we chatted with a bicyclist from Canada and later a cyclist from Belgium. Chatting over the trail and experiences made for interesting conversation. I for one have no desire to bicycle the CDT. More power to those who do.

    Of course, once again, Lava Mountain did not have cell phone service and spotty (at best) wifi. I rode down the mountain about 10 miles, got phone service and checked in with the better half. All’s well. We had to sit outside next to the restaurant in order to get wifi service, which promptly shut off at 9 PM when the restaurant closed, bringing day 5 to an abrupt close.
    #14
    LM15 likes this.
  15. kneesels

    kneesels Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    Thanks for continuing this most informative report, greatly appreciated. Quick question, how was the area, I believe around Stempel (sp) Pass? from the tracks I see reported steep and possible impassable puddle. Any info. Thanks in advance and keep it up. Thanks
    #15
  16. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Thank you for your question, Kneesels.
    Numerous waypoints in our tracks were taken from the tracks I abstracted from Big Dog, Cannonshot, GPS Kevin, et. al. (as mentioned in the Preamble) and many were deleted as not being germane to our efforts. Thus please take with a grain of salt some of the warnings and notes as they may or may not be appropriate due to weather, time, improvements, disrepair, etc. Other than the mountain slide on the track prior to Seeley Lake, I have not added any notes/waypoints specific to our ride. I am sorry for any confusion re: those type of notes, I left them in the tracks as heads-up info for us but not to be treated as gospel. For instance the waypoint around 'Pass Stemple' stating '4.4 mi Steep' was from GPS Kevin's tracks (I believe but may be mistaken). The road does go from circa 5,400' to 7,00' in a short span but the road was in good condition and we had no problems. The descent to 4,800' was also not a problem. Something like 'deep mud' or 'impassable' may not be currently appropriate, particularly since the above tracks were years old (I believe Kevin's was the most current). Further, there were several sections over which grading had just occurred or was occurring as we traversed the area so road conditions are fluid. You may want to look at satellite pics of the roads/area via on-line mapping services (but they too are not likely current, just representative). We did not experience any rain of significance but I could imagine numerous places where a deluge would make riding a Herculean effort. Suffice it to say that in riding a heavily laden (including my ample weight) '05 KLR650 the only areas that caused me inordinate concern were around Lava Mountain and Fleecer Drop (and of course in the towns/cities). There were numerous other areas where I had to stop day dreaming and pay attention but the amount of sand was minimal, gravel plentiful but not generally deep, there were way more than enough potholes, of course corrugations and obstacles in the road are de rigueur and I have to mention the damn dust, particularly during day 1. But all-in-all, pretty tame. Do watch out for vehicles coming at you around some of the blind corners. We did not meet many but they are out there!
    Best wishes for a Great Ride!
    #16
  17. kneesels

    kneesels Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    Thanks for taking time to respond. I appreciate the info, suggestions and insight. I have also looked at various tracks and have been combining and deleting based on info and my skills. All is with a grain of sand as I know conditions are not static. As an example Fleecer is a no go for me and Lava Mt. is still questionable but not ruled out yet. I am riding a G650X so have a little more flexibility in routing Looking forward to the rest of your report and appreciate the undertaking to compile this info with narrative and pictures, etc. Thanks
    #17
  18. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    To go around Lava Mountain you might consider jumping off our 'D3 Seeley Lake 2 Butte' track via Lump Gulch Road which will connect you with I-15. Getting back on the D3 tracks is somewhat problematic and might involve jumping on this then that road before Basin, MT. If one were really motivated then maybe something like Finn Gulch to 2 mile long Wickes Tunnel (rather unique I hear) to Wickes Road NE, get on Wood Chute Creek Road SW and meander around until you hit the D3 tracks again. Otherwise stay on I-15 to Basin and you are back on D3 track. Historically I have been more of a point A to point B guy. It could be very interesting to be more a "it's the journey, not the destination" type in these situations.

    These are a couple of Wickes Tunnel videos from YouTube, they are not ours nor us.

    #18
  19. mpgmr

    mpgmr Utard

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Kamas, UT
    Day 6 - Lava Mountain Lodge (Dubois) to Lander, err, Pinedale

    D6 Dubois 2 Lander.jpg

    Day six had Charles up and going at 6:30A. As usual he was already ahead of me in getting ready. After a bit it seemed to me that I was catching up with him in ride preparations. I found the cause when I went outside to load the KLR. He had gassed up our bikes (the lodge has a couple of pumps) and was talking to a local about the area. I kept working away and amazingly was ready to go before Chuck! Wonders never cease. While still at the Lodge we scarfed down a less than adequate breakfast of a microwave breakfast burrito, jerky and a drink. We chatted with a CDT bicyclist and finally pulled out at about 8:20.

    We rode down hwy 26 in the invigorating, mountain air following our ‘D6 Dubois 2 Lander’ track. We jumped onto Warm Springs Creek Road from hwy 26. We rode about 500 yards on hwy 532 when we came across a sign in the middle of the road that said the road was closed ahead. We debated our options and decided, eh, we can get around the blockage. About a mile further we came upon a grader coming down the hill. Now graders are big enough, and this one was a big un, that stopping and asking about the situation seemed prudent. The operator, after spitting tobacco into a cup, stated there was a slide ahead and it would be an hour or so until the road was open. He gave us another route to take and said the road we were on was just a loop anyway. So do we wait at the blockage or do we ride. We rode.

    Back on hwy 26 we headed one mile further down the mountain and took a road which in 1.4 miles had us back on our original D6 track. If you are taking our tracks to heart I would suggest staying on hwy 532 as we had originally planned but now know there is an easy work around if needed. I am sorry but MapSource does not give me the name of the road we took but you should not have to ride it anyway.

    I really enjoyed this portion of our CDT ride. The weather was cool, we were above 8,000’ and would get to some 9,650’ crossing the divide again. There was still some patches of snow on the road. All-in-all an enjoyable ride for me.

    D6 Teton National Forest snow.jpg D6 Teton National Forest.jpg


    For Charles, not as much.

    About 10 miles or so in we passed the Canadian bicyclist we had talked to at the Lodge. Another mile along Charles came on the intercom and asked me if there was something wrong with the rear of his bike. Indeed there was, the fender extension that contained his license plate, plate light, and turn signals had broken away and was hanging by the wires rubbing on his rear tire. This was a bummer out in the middle of ‘no where’. We were surveying the problem when the bicyclist rode by us without so much as a peep (when we passed him we asked him if all was well). Ah, well, how would he help anyway? I pulled out some bailing wire and a Leatherman from my tank bag and Charles got busy wiring up the rear of his bike. I was concerned that the wires might rub and cause a short but repairs continued unabated. In short order the initial fix was complete (we subsequently did several additional ‘fixes’ and the false fender and lights stayed intact and in place the rest of the trip, and even functioned, though the license plate had to be secured elsewhere.)

    Back underway we passed the bicyclist once more and I considered roosting him but let it go. As we descended the mountain and the day wore on it got warmer and warmer so that by the time we got into Pinedale in the early afternoon it was damn hot. Least it was hot to me as I live at 6,500’ but less so to Tucson Chuck. We stopped and gassed up and ingested some calories. An ‘older’ couple stopped and talked to Charles about our ride. Not feeling very sociable, I just wanted to consume my convenience store calories, which passed for 'lunch', and my cold beverage.

    Cooled down and refreshed somewhat we rode over to the local hardware store and procured some items that might further secure the Terra’s lights. After yakking with the hardware store owner and as we are preparing to leave, Chuck comes on the intercom and asks what does it mean if the Terra is difficult to shift. Could be a number of things I think and I go off describing something when he comes back on and says, “we’re done, end of ride”. Whoa! “Why?” I ask. “Because there is just a couple of strands of clutch cable still intact, the rest have broken away from the end of the clutch cable”, Chuck retorts. Well now this is serious since finding a Husqvarna dealer with a clutch cable for a Terra which was made for only two years is no trivial matter. I had purchased a spare clutch and brake cable for the KLR but because they were unwieldy I did not bring them (on the next ride I will certainly carry them in the bottom of my rack bag).

    Charles goes back into the hardware store and the owner comes out and survey’s the damage but there’s nothing he can do. He does suggest that there is a Husqvarna dealer around the corner. What! Amazing. Charles must live right, I think. So he takes my KLR and goes in search of the dealer and a cable. Charles returns in 10-15 minutes. The dealer is willing to see if they can help but has no cable. So we ride both bikes over to Bucky’s Outdoors.

    After some discussion and fielding options it was decided to drill out the existing barrel end and use a set screw to secure the cable into same. There would be no adjustment so the stranded wire cable would have to be cut to the right length. Charles went on the KLR in search of the necessary hex wrenches, set screw, and tap/drill bit. It turned out that the existing barrel end couldn’t be reamed out so a new brass barrel was turned down on a lathe, tapped, the cable lever drilled out a bit to accept the larger diameter barrel, and all put together. After about 2 ½ hours we had a working clutch cable. Bucky's tapped Chuck for $160 but it was worth it. A universal cable would have been easier, cheaper and quicker but one was not available. I was able to procure a rear view mirror from Bucky’s. They only had one at $41 but again, beggars can’t be choosers. If you have an equipment problem in Pinedale, WY, stop in at Bucky's on S. Lincoln.

    By the time all was done it was threatening rain and too late to ride to Lander for the night so we got a room at the Hampton Inn. It was nice to have workable wifi again and cell phone service! We were happy as clams when the Chinese food we ordered arrived. Now this is how to live. I figured morning was going to arrive too early.
    #19
    LM15 likes this.
  20. kneesels

    kneesels Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    Charleston, SC
    Thanks for the option suggestions, need to look at tracks and see what works best. The tunnels, 6000' in the dark with water and large hidden rocks before the exit is probably more of a challenge than needed on this ride but will still look at it. Thanks for including the videos, the KTM guy sounded overjoyed. Thanks again.
    #20