Great Western Trail- an adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Buddy_Holly, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. Buddy_Holly

    Buddy_Holly Imminent Train Wreck

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    Tohatchi, NM
    This is the start. It won't be finished until the end of the summer. I took spring break and rode the desert where it would be really hot this summer. There were four days for this first southern Arizona portion. I made it to Globe, Arizona. I started in Gallup, New Mexico

    The Great Western Trail goes from the Mexican Border of the US to Canada. It is like a western CDR only so far as I know the only other persons to have made it on motorized vehicles was a Canadian couple on ATVs. Some more info is here: GWT.org
    [​IMG]

    I will restart riding this route in the summer- june or so.


    15 MAR 10
    Leaving tomorrow, much to do to get bike ready. Getting way psyched.

    Shopping list:

    ziplock bags for maps & etc.
    UNI oil filter oil
    ATV seat pad
    Gatorade
    earplugs
    wipes
    toothbrush




    Bike not ready to go electrical and battery problems. Battery on tender tonight all electrical mods returned to normal state except the two LED signals in the back. Turn signals do not work to the best of my knowledge.

Late AM or early PM departure for tomorrow.

    At the start- long day of slab to Silver City ahead:
    [​IMG]


    17 MAR 10

    This is an amazing day. Things started a bit rough, but now with mallards calling on the lake and a dinner of tunafish salad and crackers half done and getting finished as I write I can’t help but be content with the adventure thus far.

    Good slab and warming south of Reserve, NM.
    [​IMG]
    Views too.
    [​IMG]
    Yesterdays ride was all slab with mechanical troubles at the end. Cold until I reached Reserve I was warmed as I descended toward Cliff sweeping turns on the asphalt and mountains to each side made the riding worth while. The bike dying ten miles from Silver City was disappointing and made me think of how nice it would be to have a bike with a kick start (as my battery drained.) Fortunately some guys pulled up and ignored me at first. I went up to them and offered them twenty bucks for a jump and they were interested in that action. When the first jump failed to keep the bike running, the guy handed me back the twenty. I asked if he could give me another jump and keeping the twenty and later his hand on the throttle I was able to button up the bike and he offered to follow me into Silver– good stuff. I kept going until I reached Silver, pulled into an econolodge, and the bike died. I called it good, and got on the internets to check for reasons for failure- thank you friends at KLRworld.com. Terri was Aces too (I called her from the road broken down). Calling home to her she was calm and we worked together well. I got news of Leo our new puppy, and how good he was doing. He is going in the pantheon of great dogs and he is only eight-weeks-old.


    Copper Country ATV- where to go to get your bike fixed!
    [​IMG]

    This morning started out with a call to Copper Country ATV who said they would be happy to get the bike going. I met Jake there; I was surprised when I went to the bike started in the morning a sign of things going right for the day. On arrival we got to work taking apart the bike and Jake diagnosed the problem as being the carburetor. Pulling off panels and removing the tank, the carburetors looked at and there was sand in the float bowl and in the jets. One of the plastic fuel connectors broke somewhere in the process or may be before the carb was removed, but jake got it working by swapping parts and by 11:30 I was ready to roll.

    The problem:
    [​IMG]

    I was thinking of returning to home the night before but my confidence in the KLR was renewed by Jake. Talk of bad things happening along the border concerned me and I began to regret not taking any hardware; my last purchase in Silver City was some pepper spray. I didn’t come on this trip to shoot at someone, but I felt better having something to deter an attack of some kind should it happen. Traveling alone raises the stakes, and I didn’t want to have trouble with the bandits, smugglers or a desperate party.

    Leaving I hit slab and it wasn’t until I got past Animas that I even hit dirt. Signs of cows being abducted by aliens made me smile and soon I was crossing shallow creeks and making turns up the Geronimo Trail.

    Cow abduction zone:
    [​IMG]
    Wide open vistas in the same spot:
    [​IMG]
    Plenty of the “La Migra” present to make me feel safe. I stopped and told two Officers that I would be running the trail and a young one said, “well it doesn’t look like you could be carrying much.” Returning to the bike, well they knew my intent and I talked to them should something occur, just safety really. Hedging bets, like carrying a spare tube even though you might never need it. The second it is not there, that is when you’ll have a flat. The Geronimo Trail was nice but not all that I had built it up in my mind to be– it was a good reminder of what good riding is though and soon I was back to two lane dirt heading into Douglas, Arizona.

    On the way West on the Geronimo Trail:
    [​IMG]

    The Hardy Ones on a grave stone:
    [​IMG]

    Douglas, Arizona was a surprise with the road full of Border Patrol(“la Migra”) vehicles and observation units housing telescoping cameras and radar on the way in. The town was orderly and neat. I stopped in at a ball field to plot my course because that was not done the night before. To make time more hard ball was in order and I left with two and a half of daylight left. Douglas to Bisbee to Palominas to Cornado National Monument and Montezuma Pass. Stupidly I got carried away with camera work and had to slide to a halt feet– or was it a foot from a disaster. From then on I let the camera care for itself.

    Montezuma Pass- the west side going toward the start of the GWT:
    [​IMG]

    At the top of the pass were more Border Patrol and their vehicles and their sensor platforms. I felt assured someone was watching. As the sun came close to setting I had to slow my pace with the suns glare made visibility at points go to zero. I kept my course toward Lochiel and the dirt road kept twisting and I kept turning, content making other concerns drift away. With the sun setting I needed to get to a camp fortunately there was a good national forest camp ground . I got to it as dusk was fading, I paid for a site away from the many other campers and settled in.

    Just moments ago a shooting star blazed the sky and I am staring up at the milky way a glowing blanket. Orion is up there keeping guard and the ducks are squawking at each other probably fighting over the warm sports in the lake. Families are chatting away and the couple with six kids are setting up camp, tent stakes being pounded. Camp chores are being finished with pots of water being filled and rinsed. I am keeping it simple and soon will be inside my bag and bivy on top of this concrete picnic table. No fire just my SPOT blinking two green lights, my third “I’m OK signal” from this spot to let Terri know where I will I be sleeping tonight.

    Tomorrow onto Lochiel and up the Great Western Trail proper.

    Thank you Teddy Roosevelt for making these National Parks. A great gift for a great nation.

    This trip is already a success and I am grateful to my wife and children for understanding this desire to travel.
    #1
  2. Buddy_Holly

    Buddy_Holly Imminent Train Wreck

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    Tohatchi, NM
    Video of some of the ride.

    <embed type='application/x-shockwave-flash' src='http://vholdr.com/videoPlayer/embedPlayer.swf' allowfullscreen='true' allowscriptaccess='always' flashvars='height=281&width=500&plugins=yourlytics-1&yourlytics.callback=http://vholdr.com/callback.php&repeat=list&file=http://vholdr.com/xspf/node/77551/emb' height='281' width='500'></embed>
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,132
    Great intro!! National parks are indeed a national treasure! :thumb

    :lurk
    #3
  4. Nitzo

    Nitzo Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,960
    Location:
    Daytona


    +1.............never said better:clap

    gb............mine?
    #4
  5. NEVERLOST

    NEVERLOST Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Oddometer:
    949
    Location:
    Broomfield, CO and Venice Beach, FL
    really impressive quality and production

    #5
  6. Nightstalker

    Nightstalker YO BUDDYPAL!

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Oddometer:
    6,011
    Location:
    Sunny Phoenix, AZ
    GREAT VIDEO!! :clap
    #6
  7. Buddy_Holly

    Buddy_Holly Imminent Train Wreck

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    Tohatchi, NM
    Night Stalker: I wil be thanking you in the summer edition as your .gpx tracks helped to get me through to Flagstaff. Thanks in advance, and thanks for the compliment.

    Never- thanks for the positive feedback!
    #7
  8. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,662
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Excellent start. Gorgeous photos. Keep it coming.:lurk
    #8
  9. Buddy_Holly

    Buddy_Holly Imminent Train Wreck

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    Tohatchi, NM
    We start this day with an account of how I reached camp that night.

    2238 18MAR10 (MST)

    Spooky. My first choice for a campsite turned strange quickly. I found BLM land and a turn off from the dirt to a small road just 8 feet wide and perpendicular to the built up berm of the main dirt. It lead east and down its narrow length it came to a T and I took a right, but before turning I noticed some clothing discarded and partially buried in the sand and gravel. going about four more bike lengths after the turn I came to a wide spot in this even smaller bit of dirt and gravel trail. It looked like a spot reasonable for a unobserved and quiet place to get some sleep. The sun had gone to dusk and there was none of it left as I turned off the bike and listened for neighbors. I was of the bike, helmet off and bike off. Before turning off the bike my suspicions started to tingle, the place seemed odd. Not having any light but the headlight of the bike didn’t help to suss it out. Now I was relying on audio clues, nothing but the wind through the saguaro cactus, and a trickle of rocks from a nearby hill. No follow up to the rocks and I just stood there listening before turning on the headlamp. I wanted to be less suspicious, this was a great secluded spot- no one would see me from the main dirt, but my misgivings would not go to away. I listened toward the T for a while and then thought that might just be the wrong was to listen and I turned 180 degrees and listened down the trial I was on, nothing in both directions. I turned on the headlamp and surveyed the area. Right next to my bike opposite side of the kickstand was another bit of clothing- more like a whole set of slightly torn jeans buried in the sand. I seemed like long ago garbage but there was nothing else besides that one pair of jeans. looking on the other side of the bike and across the small trail I found a third buried item– a jean shirt. Looking just at where my feet were the tipper came, a set of metal framed glasses laying there. Down the path some beer cans, and thinking about the glasses made me more nervous and uneasy about the spot. I was decided. Even thought I needed the rest and dusk was finished, I would not camp there. Donning all of my gear and stowing the headlamp I took time to mark a waypoint on my GPS for the spot the light from the GPS’ screen glowing into my face as I typed in all capitals: SKTCHY.
    Parker Canyon Lake
    [​IMG]


    Headed south
    [​IMG]

    Waking up this morning I was glad for the light, the night had been cold and uncomfortable. I woke maybe four or five times. Awake but no sun. On rising I enjoyed the sunrise making a panoramic by the lakes shore. First business was to get tot the GWTs start: Lochiel. The Civilian Conservation Corps beat me out of camp but not one other person. I took an easy graded dirt road following the route to Lochiel on my GPS, I passed one Border Patrol vehicle at the entrance to the camp site and two more before going more than five miles. The dirt was fast and I slowed only for cattle clustered around the road, I am suspicious of calves, sometimes they freak out and run across to mommy rather than out of the way, not the kind of speed bump I needed to hit.
    [​IMG]
    Soon I arrived at Lochiel , not much there a couple houses seeming abandoned, and a church white washed and bright in the morning light. I made a self portrait at the monument that commemorated the place where in the US west of the rockies a european first set foot. 1539. 2010 and I make the start of my journey north. This is the furthest south I would be for the rest of my adventure.

    Furthest South
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The GPS had my route plugged in and retracing my arrival would be the first miles north. It didn’t take a mile before the GPS and the road diverged. Locked gates kept me from finding roads that could yield the answer. I went north trying to converge the GPS’ purple line and the road I was on and failing. Circling back numerous times and even with the help of a Border Patrol Officer I couldn’t make the two match up. In fact the young Officer with inch long scabs on the forehead an nose, the kind you get from getting in a fight or from a branch smacking you in the face, was really nice showing me her map and claiming that there w no town named Canelo, there was a pass of that name but no town. An hour of daylight was gone trying to get my routes to match, and in the interests of time, back to the campground and on to a road that would lead me to a town (Canelo) where I could pick up the route.
    [​IMG]
    Out from the campsite I traveled a mix of broken asphalt and some better paved roads right into the small town of Canelo, and through it- don’t blink. I was back on course, some dirt but mostly paved roads. Good for making time but not so exciting. At my first major stop I called home and let her know that I was just west of Tombstone. She was stressed with work and getting the kids about. I decided to skip Tombstone and focus on getting down a dirt road, just like the one I was on. The gate in front of me was unlocked but the sign behind it said “no outlet.”
    [​IMG]
    I pressed on and rode dirt that was mostly fist sized rock and gravel. It was better than pavement. Following a power-line road I weaved through fingers and draws some with water in the low spots and reached a gate (not the first one, but one of many) The sign read no trespassing on state land. I was stumped and decided to press on (in hindsight I believe that these signs are there to say- no trespassing off of the roads.) Soon I found another sign that told me I was in an OHV recreation area, HOORAY! Recreate. And I did following my route marked in purple on the GPS. After several water crossings and one that ended with a four foot high bank at sixty plus degree which I wildly made it up, feet flailing and bike going side to side at the top of it. More weaving through the scrub and I was looking at another crossing. Stupidly I did not check the waters depth- everything to that point had been no higher halfway to my axels. This water looked a little deeper but not much. I charged in and soon water was to the top of the fenders and the biked died (lucky.) Planting both feet I kept her upright as steam rose from the bike. Somehow I dismounted and pushed, hoping like mad I could get forward motion. I did but it was hard and slow work to span the ten more feet of water and scary knowing that if it got stuck or tipped over I would be in big trouble miles from any major road and with a bike submerged in a stream. Safely to the other side I pressed the starter and she fired up– I lucked out big time.

    More riding found me diverging from the GPS route and I worried about a locked gate or other end to the dirt I was on. I was roughly following the power-lines, and knew that these roads were the roads that would service the lines, and they would end at tarmac, but would it be locked? Too far now to turn back, I just tried to enjoy the ride. Finally I glimpsed trucks moving quickly in the distance. Interstate 10. The trucks looked the size of flies but now I knew where I needed to head by sight and not just the purple line of the GPS which I was miles from now. At the last gate I was relieved to see it unlocked and I gained access to I-10 and a chance to pick up my purple route again.

    Not a locked Gate!
    [​IMG]

    Nine miles down the interstate I exited and refueled. I attempted to take the pre planned route again. This time eighteen miles of false starts and turn arounds ended in a locked gate.

    I was tired of the GPS. It was wasting my energy. So at the locked gate I took out my Arizona Atlas with my penciled in route of the GWT in it and laid a new plan: back to I-10 (not happy) another nine miles up and onto a road the atlas said was there and I would take it north along the GWT- as I saw it. On reaching the exit two miles east of Benson, I headed north and soon was on the superhighway of dirt roads, smooth well graded and wide. I rode it to the first saguaros of the trip and into a cactus garden. Lit with the evenings long rays backlighting each spiky torn in a halo.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I took a rest in this cactus garden- and some photos of course. I thought I would sit and take it in. I was sure the ground was clear but no a spiky friend greeted my rear with an unpleasant hello. I laughed at myself– stuck by a cactus. Then I found my leatherman and started removing each sticker from my own butt.

    The next day I would make it to Globe but not without more adventures!
    #9
  10. Buddy_Holly

    Buddy_Holly Imminent Train Wreck

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    Tohatchi, NM
    40 because I just turned 40!
    <embed type='application/x-shockwave-flash' src='http://vholdr.com/videoPlayer/embedPlayer.swf' allowfullscreen='true' allowscriptaccess='always' flashvars='height=281&width=500&plugins=yourlytics-1&yourlytics.callback=http://vholdr.com/callback.php&repeat=list&file=http://vholdr.com/xspf/node/77941/emb' height='281' width='500'></embed>
    #10
  11. BusyWeb

    BusyWeb Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    99
    :clap :clap :clap
    #11
  12. Buddy_Holly

    Buddy_Holly Imminent Train Wreck

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    Tohatchi, NM
    10:11 28 MAR 10 (MST)

    It has been nine days from the end of the southern most portion of my GWT trip. I am terrible at finishing the last days travels.
    [​IMG]

    I woke the next morning in Winkelman, where they have a nice city park where you can camp out for $5 a night. I got in after dark, and had a bit of trouble finding a spot to sleep but found one on a beach next to the San Pedro river. I was tanked- wrote in the journal a bit to keep things straight and then cashed in.

    Winkelman camp in the morning:
    [​IMG]

    The next day I got a slow start. I had cut off some of the GWT to try and get here and find a safe place to camp. I could rejoin the GWT from here and that was good. I got my stuff together and refueled. 2.5 gallons for 150 miles- I couldn’t believe it.

    Up 77 to dripping springs road I went and on finding the road I signed in with the registry- and looked at the sky. Grey clouds mean dangerous roads. I was apprehensive and spent the turns trying to figure how bad it would get if I had to retreat. The road was fine and pretty fun, but there were quite a few unlock gates to slow down the pace. Finally I reached a locked gate. I must have gone through 6 unlocked gates and here was a locked one.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    It is frustrating to be on a forest service road (899) and then not be able to to take it to its terminus. I back tracked and found with the help of the GPS a road named 112 that would take me over Pioneer Pass. This turned out to be a glorious ride, and I was riding dirt badly washed out but rideable along a ridge.

    [​IMG]
    Looking ahead caught me as I ended when hitting a washout in the road- good thing I wasn’t going faster- or maybe I would have cleared it if I had been. I ended up hitting the ground on my knees the camera coming right off my helmet. I walked around holding my knees in pain and knew that if I was able to walk I was alright- it just hurt bad. The bike was fine and I picked her up. The road got more challenging.

    Just before reaching Pioneer Pass I was headed down the trail, down a steep hill, when I platoon of ATVS greeted me. They were coming up the hill, and I stopped, the trail being to narrow for both to pass in places. One old guy after another with grins wide and safety gear and gas adorning themselves and their ATVs puttered past. I was happy to see them out, happy to know that my trail didn’t end in a locked gate, and kind of thought of this platoon of geezers as a glimpse to my future. Well at least they are getting out. One gave me a enthusiastic thumbs up. I waved back.

    I crossed a few small streams and got my boots covered in gold flecks, the road up hill turned rutted but rewarding with gorgeous views. Cresting the pass I headed to the Ice House campground and with my knees aching, I gently rolled through the turns into Globe.

    In Globe I ate my first hot meal of the trip, an egg and choriso and potato burrito with fresh salsa from a squeeze bottle that was cold to the touch. Delicious. Joe’s Grill. Friendly and busy with locals- all good signs. I would terminate this part of the GWT here. I needed to get home to help out.

    [​IMG]
    Hmmm Hmmm Good
    [​IMG]

    The trip was a success, in starting out I wanted to get the southern deserts of Arizona crossed before summer came. I am sure it might have been easier in places in the summer but the heat and sand might have made it much more difficult over all.

    The ride home through the Salt Water Canyon and on to Show Low was beautiful and interspersed with rain and hail. I stopped at one point to put on every jacket I had, doubled up my gloves and put a beanie on under my helmet. The worst of the ride came in the form of high winds from Show Low to St. Johns and St. Johns to Zuni. Brutal winds that pushed me around the road, power-lines snapping and dancing in the wind, tumbleweed near misses. From Winkelman to Zuni I had traveled 272 miles, switching to my reserve tank just before Witch Well. Nice to know roughly how far you can get on a tank of gas.

    Randomness in St. Johns:
    [​IMG]

    Next for me. Get the rest of the preparations to the bike complete. And prepare for the long portion of this trip. Globe, Arizona north to the Canadian Border.

    Video to come soon (includes crash)
    #12
  13. tele-steve

    tele-steve ya' mon

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    267
    Location:
    The Peoples Republic- Rocky Mountain Edition
    Thanks for posting this!

    How did you input any of that map information into a GPS? I took a look at some of those maps and the resolution does not seem good enough to know where you are going.
    #13
  14. cross-country

    cross-country .

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,766
    Location:
    Grand Junction, CO
    Great pics and video!

    Can't wait for more!:clap
    #14
  15. Bryn1203

    Bryn1203 Dances with spaniels

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,828
    Location:
    Denial - UK
    nice insight into your trip. Liked the HD vids & panamoramic pics. How many miles was that ?

    :clap
    #15
  16. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    5,727
    Location:
    Mt. Vernon, Illinois
    Really enjoying your relaxing and beautiful ride-----rode most every inch of what you posted so far not that long ago and loved the area. I love that little town of Lochiel------me and my buddy inadvertently crossed into Mexico there while poking around while looking at that church you posted a picture of.

    Really nice trip you are going to have.

    Thanks !!

    BigDog
    #16
  17. DingWeed

    DingWeed Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    601
    Location:
    4 Corners
    Subscribed!! Great start!!:clap :clap Great videos!!!

    Scott
    #17
  18. Buddy_Holly

    Buddy_Holly Imminent Train Wreck

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    Tohatchi, NM
    It was tough to get the southern part of the GWT chosen. It is not officially designated- so good for being able to choose my own route roughly based on the maps provided, but not so good for seeing the maximum amount of dirt. The southern part as I did it I think might be improved.
    #18
  19. Buddy_Holly

    Buddy_Holly Imminent Train Wreck

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,148
    Location:
    Tohatchi, NM
    Worked today on repairing my bike. That hard crash did bend part of my happy trial PD nerf bars, and the repair to my carb died last weekend, finally got around to working on it today. As the tank had to come off this seemed like a good time to do a valve job, and install the t-mod.

    That's a long way of saying I haven't got around to downloading the track I made to find out the mileage.

    Soon, soon.
    #19
  20. Bronco638

    Bronco638 Nobody Home

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,864
    Location:
    Itasca, IL
    Awesome writing style. Can't wait for the rest of the trip....
    #20