Grand Canyon Backcountry Adventure Ride

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by dave6253, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. Humunn

    Humunn Where Next?

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    Wow. I don't even have to read the RR. Your pictures tell it all. Fabulous!
    #21
  2. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Phoenix, Arizona
    Route 66 is scenic enough. I make my way back to I-40, ride through Kingman, and head towards Vegas on the 93.

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    I cross the Colorado River on the new bridge near the Hoover Dam. I don't stop for the touristy stuff this time.

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    The scenic route through the national recreation area west of Lake Mead is the only place on this trip I was required to show my park pass.

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    It was blazing hot. I was once again cursing myself for wearing the waterproof riding suit.
    The jacket is okay as it vents well at speed, but the pants are super sweaty and clammy.

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    The speed limits are to low for this road.

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    I stop at the Redstone picnic area to suck down more water.

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    After Lake Mead...

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    I turn northeast on I-15 and fight the high winds all the way to Mesquite, Nevada.


    Almost there.:evil
    #22
  3. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I stop in Mesquite for a fast-food dinner and re-supply of water, snacks, and fuel. I squeeze as much fuel in both tanks as possible.
    I'm gonna need it! It is warmer than I expected so I leave town carrying 7 liters of water as well.

    Leaving Nevada and civilization behind for the Arizona Strip
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    I'm excited. The time has finally come to put together a ride I've dreamed about for years now.

    In June 2009 I rode all the way around the Grand Canyon and did this route.
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    The section between Mesquite and Fredonia through Elbow Canyon RD and Toroweap was over 190 miles requiring me to carry extra fuel.
    Since that trip I have dreamed of exploring more out here, but the limiting factor is fuel range. The distances out here are huge!
    I've been back to Toroweap several times, but without the fuel range I could only dream of visiting other places as well.
    I came close to purchasing a smaller bike with better fuel range when I realized those super-expensive Safari tanks were much cheaper than another bike.
    In December of 2011 I transformed the bike into a Safari Supertanker and have been biding my time until I could get way out there...


    So this is the plan I put together. It is about 409 miles between fuel stops and I think I can get about 400 miles on these tanks (depending on terrain).
    I may have to cut a little bit out. That shouldn't be a problem as there will likely be areas I decide not to ride alone if to rough.
    Fuel is only available at Mesquite, St. George, Colorado City, and Fredonia. The Bar-10 Ranch in Whitmore Canyon
    has been known to sell bikers fuel, but as I understand it, the price is high and they don't always have extra to sell.
    [​IMG]

    Of course, adventures don't go as planned...


    I'm filled with nervous anticipation as I head towards Lime Kiln Pass.

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    #23
  4. Rojeck

    Rojeck Adventurer

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    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Been meaning to do this ride for a hile now. Looking and reading your ride reports makes me kick myself and say what am I waiting for. Great ride report and even better pictures.
    #24
  5. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    The ride up Lime Kiln Pass is supposed to be easier than Elbow Canyon as it is graded.

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    And for awhile it is.

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    But is was just recently graded loose rocks on a steep climb that seems longer than Elbow Canyon.
    As the KTM neared this gap and strong gust of wind nearly blew us over.
    I had to steer left to keep the bike under me and then stop before running off the road.
    The wind tried its best to blow me over as I tried to get this picture.

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    Elbow Canyon RD a little farther north actually tops out at more than 6400 feet, so my memory could be stale since I rode it in 2009.

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    The shadows were getting long as I got a view of what's to come.

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    I found some Trees to camp near in a valley sheltered slightly from the gusting winds.

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    #25
  6. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Its a great place to ride. Maybe this will get you up there. Thanks, AKMotorbiker!

    Yes. Scrolling right is needed as I tend to see big and always want to capture all of it. Especially on this trip I found myself shooting lots of panoramas.
    Welcome to the party, Rob!


    Hi Kelly! Nope. The KTM was blacked out in 2011.
    Thanks for chiming in. I'm still hanging in there following every word, picture, video, links, banter, jokes, etc. of your entertaining report.
    There's no chance mine will be as bad ass.
    #26
  7. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I'm sorry you missed it and hope you get a chance to return. Maybe I can give you a few ideas to help plan your next one.

    Cool.

    Hiya, Buddy!
    #27
  8. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    But with your ridiculous trials riding skills you could find even rougher stuff to entertain you up there.

    Thanks for coming along, yyzmdo and Mendo!
    #28
  9. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Thanks for the nice compliments, Humunn and Rojeck.
    #29
  10. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I ate a cereal bar while packing up camp and headed out onto Mud Mountain RD.

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    The same system that flooded Colorado a couple weeks before this trip also dumped onto Arizona. I start seeing more evidence of the erosion.

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    Then the road turned to sand...

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    and rocks.

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    Over and...

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    over again...

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    the road crossed the creek.

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    There was never more than a few hundred yards before the next washout.

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    The bike and I were both getting hot, so I stopped here for a short break and snack. As I sat on the berm I ran the sand between my fingers.
    I'm not sure you can call this stuff sand. Its not quite silt either. Its something between the two.
    Shall we call it SALT? No that doesn't work. SIND? Maybe. Even when its not very deep, its slippery.

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    #30
  11. DirtDabber

    DirtDabber cultural illiterate

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    Way, Way North GA
    Awesome, I am flying into Steamboat Springs to ride a friends 990 back to GA on the 17th. Looks like I am headed for a detour. :lol3

    I do have family in Phoenix. I just sent them an email clean out the guest room. :deal
    #31
  12. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    The sand and repeated washouts continued until...

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    I turned towards Pakoon Basin.

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    This road follows Pocum Wash through Black Canyon. The first 3/4 mile or so was fine, then the washouts continued.

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    If there were only a dozen or so of these it would be fun, but they are sometimes 50 yards apart.

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    Its hard to tell in the photos, but all of these washouts had a deep sandy berm on either side with rocks of all sizes and deep trenches.
    Forward momentum was near impossible through some of the sand berms. After paddling through the sand with the engine racing
    I had to quickly transition to controlled and balanced riding through the boulders then plow up the next berm.

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    Finally the road builders got tired of routing in the stream and sent the trail along the hillsides.

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    This was a fun section...

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    and beautiful.

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    I was hauling butt downhill on a section with scattered loose rocks occasionally getting kicked up and dinging off the skid plate
    when I suddenly had one hit with a really loud clunk. "Hmmmm... That's gonna leave a mark. Maybe I should stop and check for damage.
    Nah, I'm sure the skid plate did its job," I think to myself. I peer over the windshield to get a look at the front wheel and fender. No damage, so I continue...

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    Maybe 2 - 3 minutes later I stop to take a picture of the sign for the turnoff to Hidden Canyon.
    I look down to stash the camera away when I wonder, "Where's all that water coming fro- Oh SHIT! That ain't water!":eek1

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    #32
  13. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

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    Oh no, cliffhanger!!! :eek1:eek1
    #33
  14. MiloBramble

    MiloBramble Adventurer

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    Location:
    Chandler AZ
    Man, I love your ride reports, two reasons. One, the photography, amateur photog here and two, I live in Chandler AZ and really want to ride these rides.

    Cliff hanger.....what happened?
    #34
  15. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

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    St. George, UT
    Cliff hanger . . . pretty deep on the AZ Strip by now . . . :eek1
    #35
  16. AKMotorbiker

    AKMotorbiker Searching for sanity

    Joined:
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    So California (temp)
    I do love the tension and cliffhanger dramatics you put into your reports! Of course it's more intense for us reading live play by play updates.
    #36
  17. AZ TOM

    AZ TOM Long timer

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    Prescott AZ
    Had same thing happen a year or so ago, on a ride down to Lake Pleasant. First thought it was gas dripping out, then another stop & Oh no that's OIL!!!:eek1:eek1:eek1
    #37
  18. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    You and LittleWan with your cliff hangers!
    #38
  19. NMTrailboss

    NMTrailboss Team Dead End

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    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM
    :patch You been hanging around in the trials forum? :D


    :lurk

    :ear
    #39
  20. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I jumped off the bike and ran around the front wheel with a sick feeling already hitting the bottom of my stomach.





    Yep. That ain't water!



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    Of course, I didn't take pictures first. I knelt down and did the only thing I could think of. I stuck my finger in the dike.
    The bike was spewing a steady stream of go juice from the broken petcock from the crossover tube at the bottom of the gas tanks.
    That rock was thrown up and broke the end completely off. Even though the Safari tanks are aftermarket, the petcocks
    are the OEM part and mount in the same location as on stock tanks. Has anyone else ever heard of this happening on KTMs before?
    Me neither. In fact, look at the photos of all of the big KTMs (some which travel drastically more rugged terrain)
    and the petcocks are just as exposed.




    Think! Think! I rip off my helmet, backpack, and jacket. I have to fix this. But how?



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    I do carry JB Weld and Quicksteel, but surely I can't seal a steady gasoline flow with that stuff and expect it to hold.
    Besides, I would have to take my finger off the spigot for a couple minutes to dig it out.
    I need something to stop the bleeding. Like a rubber plug. I pull out my knife. While holding fuel in with one finger,
    I manage to cut chunks of rubber off the rear passenger peg with my left hand. I made several attempts to shape the
    rubber into a suitable wedge by placing it on a flat rock and cutting awkwardly with one hand.
    I jammed the rubber into the tube, but it was unable to stop the flow. I abandoned the idea as it was a temporary solution anyway.



    I realized the situation could be worse. At least its the right tank draining. The fuel pump is located in the left tank,
    so I can still ride with an empty right tank. At least the left is almost full- Oh Shit! I realized I hadn't done the most important thing.
    I hadn't closed the left petcock! Every time my finger left the tube I wasn't draining the right tank,
    I was draining BOTH tanks!
    I quickly screw it shut and curse myself for being so stupid to not think of closing it early.


    Now I have no idea if the left tank even has enough fuel to make it back to town, because I have no idea how long the faucet has been on.
    I devise a new plan. The fuel draining out of the right tank needs to get to the left. I have a Nalgene water bottle that is already empty.
    I quickly get the bottle out of the pannier knowing every precious second I'm not holding the fuel in, could be another mile of hiking.
    The Nalgene bottle clouds up and adds a funny color to the fuel. I'm not sure this is gonna work. I rinse the bottle with gasoline a
    couple times until I could see the bottle was not dissolving and the gasoline looked clear.
    I have no choice. I use the bottle to transfer a couple gallons to the left tank before it was filled to the brim.

    I then sit back and watch helplessly as the rest drains out.:cry


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    I got about 0.5 miles out of that 5 gallons!

    So here I sit 44 miles into the Arizona Strip on the part of the journey I specifically purchased the expensive Safari tanks for and on the very first day I empty half of my fuel load.
    My plans are toast. I'm a little upset, but also realized worse things could have happened. I'm not injured. I still have 6 gallons of gas.
    My first thought was to get to town to get this fixed. I'm almost as close to St. George as Mesquite and St. George would likely be a better choice to seek help.
    I think they even have a KTM dealer. As I calmed down a little I realized it was Sunday. No reason to rush to town today. Hell, I even have more fuel left than the stock tanks.
    I might as well enjoy the rest of my day and worry about the problem tomorrow.

    So instead of turning around immediately I try to shake off the feeling of doom and point the bike up Nutter Twists Road towards Hidden Canyon.

    I posted this one large so you can see the road twisting up the hillside left of the narrow canyon opening.
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    I reach a gate. As I dismount to open the gate, I realized I had not been successful in shaking the sick and uneasy feeling I had about the situation.
    I keep thinking about how survival situations often begin with many small mistakes. Am I accumulating errors by trying to ride this remote
    road alone after things have started to go south? I know the road will contain many washouts in a narrow canyon that is likely to be worse than
    anything I've done today. The only descriptions of this trail I could find during my research had me worried about the supposedly steep and
    rocky climb at the end. Will I fight my way through multiple creek crossings to have to turn around and repeat it all?


    I get through the gate and decide to press on. I tried to shove the eerie feelings aside as I make my way across another washout.
    This track looks rarely used. As I start up the climb in these loose rocks I begin wishing I had spent more money on my suspension, which is to harsh.
    The rear tire skitters around fighting for traction. The front tire just tries to go wherever the rocks tell it to.

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    I stop mid-hill and make the decision to turn around. Chicken!
    I still want to explore this road, but not alone, not on this suspension, not with the washouts, not today.


    I re-cross the washout...

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    and get back through the gate. Now I just have to cross all of the washouts back to Mud Mountain Road.

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    I felt like a chicken-shit for backing out, but I think I made the right decision.
    When I got home I looked at Nutter Twists RD and Hidden Canyon on Google Earth.
    I had another 21 miles before Mt Dellenbaugh RD. In those 21 miles I count 44 major wash crossings.
    This doesn't count all of the washouts from the smaller tributaries.
    With the roads in the current conditions it would have been a pretty rough day.

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    #40