Mexico to Canada on Dirt - The Continental Divide Trail

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bwanajames, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. Bigbore4

    Bigbore4 Been here awhile

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    It aint an adventure without pucker factor.
  2. Thunder-dog

    Thunder-dog Been here awhile

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    Canton-Gateway to N GA
    Agreed! However, depending upon your age, physical condition, motorcycle, etc, it may take more or less factor to pucker!:D
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  3. johnnywheels

    johnnywheels Adventurer

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    @bwanajames I hope all is well with you! No posts for a few days has me wondering. Be safe!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  4. Brother Ken

    Brother Ken n00b

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    Hey all!

    Bwanajames (my brother, Jim) is alive and well. In fact, the reason he hasn't posted any recent updates to this Ride Report for the past week is because he's currently in the middle of another epic ride, this time on the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, a 1,200 mile tour of Idaho from south to north, all (or almost all) on dirt roads!

    Here's some information on this awesome ride: http://www.bmwmoa.org/news/212567/I...y-Route-waterproof-map-and-expedition-DVD.htm

    At the conclusion of his trip (estimated sometime this weekend) he'll swing by my house in north Idaho for a week-long visit before climbing back onto his bike once again for the return trip to Colorado. While he's at my house I'll encourage him to start posting here again, as I'm as anxious of any of you to continue reading about his adventures on the CDT.
  5. drz1

    drz1 Been here awhile

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    Yes, please do. I'm going through withdrawals.
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  6. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

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    Johnny,

    All is well! As brother Ken said, I'm in the middle of the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route. And it has been fabulous! I hope to pitch my tent near Elk City this evening, and ride the famed Magruder Corridor tomorrow. Everyone says it is spectacular - the best of Idaho backcountry. But frankly, I'm not sure how it could get any better. The views from Elk Summit yesterday were beyond words. I've never seen valleys so deep and vast! A geologic wonder.

    But as with most travel, it's the people who provide the greatest memories. In camps, I'm adopted wherever I go. Coffee & doughnuts in the morning and gift gas from their personal stashes - then gift beer in the evening beside a pristine salmon stream. I'm not sure heaven is any better...

    I chased a black bear this morning on my GS! I spotted him on the dirt road north of Burgdorf and he bailed into the bushes, but I caught up to him on the lower switchback. He ran in front of me like a rabbit for 50 yards before diving back into the brush! Great fun!

    Thanks for the well-wishes. I'm delighted people are enjoying my wayward adventures.

    Take care,

    BJ
  7. BrokenHalo

    BrokenHalo Squid Racer

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    Hamiltucky, OH
    If you feel comfortable doing it, Burnt Knob has some spectacular views!

    Great RR by the way!
  8. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

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    IDBDR

    Just completed the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route - 1,200 miles on dirt roads from Jarbidge, Nevada to the Canadian border. Lots of beautiful country out there. I hope you get a chance to see it. (The shirt says it all...).

    We will soon be returning to your regularly scheduled program... :nod

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  9. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

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    Nearing Steamboat

    Feeling only mildly foolish, I had nonetheless plowed the depths of Rock Creek and emerged victorious. The only damage: soggy boots and a school of traumatized trout.

    Wetter & wiser, I meandered down a series of tame “green route" County roads that read like a Tuesday night bingo game: 206, 270, 16, 14, 18… While not scratching & clawing through the wilderness, there was no shortage of dirt. Following willow-rimmed Morrison Creek, the CDT breezed past a series of charming ranchlands and turned out to be surprisingly pleasant.

    This route was further enhanced by the rare sighting of a pair of motos sporting a long-distance look about them. And later, a pair of heavily-laden bicyclists leaned into their crankarms. This is more what I expected: company. For so long, it seemed I was the only human on the CDT.

    Approaching 771-acre Stagecoach Reservoir, the mercury climbed until wishing I had capsized in Rock Creek.

    But, my luck at roadside scavenging wasn’t over yet. The Yampa River is very popular with the fly fishing community. But apparently some poor fellow was hustling home to address the wife’s honey-do list and forgot his rod on top of the car. There it lay, right in the middle of the road. Rod, reel and all…


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    Along the Yampa River east of Stagecoach Reservoir.
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  10. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

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    Poe,

    Riding south to north. Yellowstone lies ahead. But there is an interesting plot twist coming. Stay tuned... :deal

    BJ
  11. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

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    Mr. Rails,

    At the risk of re-opening a gun/bear debate, I suppose I should share my approach to personal protection for this trip. For the record, I feel naked in the woods without some means of defense. Yes, the odds of something heinous occurring - either by man or beast - is remote, but it happens. And if it happens to me, I want to go down swinging.

    I have a close friend who - as bizarre as it may sound - was attacked by a deranged mountain goat (billy) while scouting for bighorn sheep in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Colorado (where the Division of Wildlife said there were no mountain goats - until my friend showed them video footage of him bouncing fist-sized rocks off the animals side. They promptly went up and shot the disturbed animal after it began menacing others...).

    After my buddy jabbed the charging goat with his trekking pole, it knocked him down. Had he not grabbed the billie's dagger horns, it would have impaled him instead of just driving him into the ground and ripping his jacket. Now Phil isn't big, but he's one of scrappiest guys around. You want him on your side in a fight. But brawler that he is, I can still remember his trembling voice over the phone saying: "I will NEVER go into the woods unarmed again."

    And then there is my buddy Steve who got dragged out of his tent by a Montana grizzly (post #260).

    It happens people. It happens.


    For some, the CDT is a border-to-border ride; but technically, the northern terminus is 224 miles above the US border in Banff, Alberta, Canada - and I was keen on doing the whole thing. So I took my passport, and being all too familiar with the probing thoroughness of the Canadian border guards, left my handgun at home.

    Having bowhunted Alaska's Kodiak Island, I felt a .44 slug - as feeble as it may be - is less susceptible to wind than bear spray. With a headwind, you may simply be seasoning yourself. My father always said it is better to be judged by twelve than carried by six. However, to be on the right side of the law, I put my faith in bear spray and hoped somebody upstairs likes me.

    BJ
  12. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    293
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    While My Rear-Tire Gently Weeps

    Reaching Steamboat Springs, I made a startling discovery: the sharp stones of off-road riding were wearing my soft knobby tires at an alarming rate!

    Levering the beast on to the center-stand, I rotated the rear tire, scrutinizing each thinning rubber block. Teetering between optimism and pessimism, I knew all too well that tires are like the toilet paper roll: the closer you get to the end, the quicker they go. If I got to Canada, it would be on the rim.

    Surprisingly, I did prepare for this somewhat. Prior to departure, I had a set of tires shipped to my brother’s place in eastern Washington. My plan was: ride from Colorado to the Mexico border, run the CDT to Banff, then swing by Ken’s place for fresh rubber for the triumphant ride home.

    Sounds reasonable, right?

    A confession: For general-purpose riding, I’ve settled on a TKC-80 knobby up front, and something less aggressive (read: longer wearing) on the back – say, a Tourance for instance. So I guess I’ll plead ignorance by admitting this is the first time the 1150 has been shod with a rear knobby. And they don’t last long.

    What to do?

    One thing was certain: I wasn’t thrilled about buying a new set of tires just to get to my new set of tires.

    Studying the map, a plan developed. I knew staying on the CDT would shred my tires; but what if, in the interest of preserving the remaining tread, I rode on a smooth surface (gasp! pavement??) to my new tires patiently waiting on the Washington/Idaho border, THEN… being just a hop, skip and a jump from the Canadian border, attack the CDT from the north?


    CDT Detour (Worn Tires)_Arrows.jpg
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  13. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

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    “Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Baggs

    It was dark when I rolled into the sleepy town of Baggs, Wyoming. Pulling into a closed gas station, its dim light would be useful for a map check. The town was eerily quiet. Then, two Hispanic children, looking like brother and sister, quietly peddled by on bicycles. Though past her bedtime, the girl – trusting, innocent and open - smiled and waved; the only signs of life in a dead town.

    Bordering Colorado, Baggs once hosted many an outlaw riding hard to elude justice. Butch Cassidy and his infamous Wild Bunch “holed-up” here during the heydays of the Old West.

    Truth be told, I’m not a fan of night riding. For me, the beauty of motorcycling is admiring the form, splendor and wonder of the world around us in full Technicolor. At night, the show is over and there simply isn’t much to see. Then there is the danger element. Even with auxiliary lighting, it’s taxing to have my deer radar in constant hyper-drive.

    I needed to camp.

    Slipping on another layer to ward-off evening chill, I studied the map. A sensible person would look for a hotel. But I’ve never been accused of that.

    Stupid decision or not, the GS always obediently fires up. Off into the night we go. Around 10 p.m. I spied a lonely dirt road in the headlights. Knowing southern Wyoming contains large tracts of Bureau of Land Management (public) land, it seemed like a safe bet. A soft, sandy wash beside the dirt path would do just fine.


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    Wild.jpg

    Solo travelers appreciate few things more than a good book. When planning this adventure, my younger brother Dave felt my odyssey was reminiscent of the movie Wild, where a young woman embarks on a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. The concept of a tortured soul abandoning the world to immerse themselves in the healing properties of nature had a familiar appeal. Cheryl Strayed’s book went into the pannier. Overflowing with powerful human truths, this clever tome is a good companion for the wilderness wanderer.

    Nestled into my down cocoon under twinkling stars, coyotes yipped as I read by headlamp.

    In the morning, I discovered fresh antelope tracks next to my tent. The sage flats, tinted orange by morning sun, contained more life than imagined. In the gravel mile back to highway 789, I counted many fleet-footed antelope, a scrappy badger and a rare flock of sage grouse.

    Approaching the highway, I looked left then right, finding a grim reminder of the hazards of night riding. Perhaps this is why the coyotes were rejoicing last night.


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  14. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

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    Deland, Florida
    Thanks so much, James, for the vicarious entertainment, as I dream of the next ride...can't wait for the next installment.

    You are the man, as far as I'm concerned.
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  15. NorthPole

    NorthPole Adventurer

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    Jun 11, 2015
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    Solely because of this report I loaded my GSA and headed south from Fairbanks AK to ride part of the CDR in Montanna then spent a few days riding from Clarkstom WA to Missoula on fire roads. I had a grand time, so thank you.
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  16. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

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    Dec 25, 2011
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    293
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    Colorful Colorado
    NorthPole,

    This is only my second ride report, but I'm elated that my experiences are inspiring others to saddle-up. I'm just a regular Joe without a trace of notoriety, so I'm astonished to see riders responding from Australia, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, etc. The fact that someone like me can have an impact is really quite remarkable.

    But all thanks really go to ADVrider.com - the great site that makes this all possible. (Have you ever noticed this site isn't riddled with obnoxious advertising like so many others? This really speaks to the integrity of its creators. Perhaps we should all scroll down to the bottom, to find the little, obscure "Donate" button and throw a couple of bucks in the hat. I will).

    Sorry this ride report is taking so long. Gosh, I'm only about half-way through it. But I'll keep plugging along, posting when I can. It really was a fantastic adventure. (Start planting that seed with your boss, wife, etc. and do it!). Thanks for your patience...

    BJ
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  17. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

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    Colorful Colorado
    The Greatest Camping Trip of All Time

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    When it comes to adventure, it’s hard to top these two guys. We feel a sense of accomplishment riding our precision-engineered machines to some remote corner of the earth and living to tell the story. Could you imagine what overland travel was like in 1804?

    Tasked by President Jefferson to find an all-water route to the Pacific, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed St. Louis, Missouri on a large keelboat with approximately 40 men and supplies. Lewis took his Newfoundland dog, and Clark brought along a slave he’d owned since childhood – a black man named York.

    In 1803, the United States ended at the Mississippi River. But greatly expanding the importance of the expedition was the offer to purchase the Louisiana Territory – the vast expanse from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains - from Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France for a sum of 15 million dollars. Though twice the federal budget, Jefferson never hesitated. For 3 cents per acre, he doubled the size of his young country.

    Their endlessly fascinating journey, through wild and sometimes hostile country, was not one of conquest, but exploration and diplomacy. And with the exception of the Blackfeet Indians – whom Clark called, “the pirates of the Missouri…” - positive relations were quickly forged with the native inhabitants they encountered.

    Though viewed as troublesome savages by most, without the kindness and hospitality of the Madans during that brutally cold first winter in North Dakota; then later the Shoshone, who provided horses and guides; and finally the Niimíipu (Nez Perce), who saved them from starvation, it is doubtful The Corps of Discovery, as Jefferson called them, would have even survived, let alone accomplish their mission.

    While the fabled water route to the Pacific was a grand illusion (like the wooly mammoths they feared…) Lewis and Clark ultimately described 120 mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, as well as 182 plant species – many previously unknown to science. Firsts for Eastern eyes included the brittle-tempered grizzly bear, speedy pronghorn antelope, and majestic bighorn sheep to name but a few.

    For my own “Northwest Passage” to visit brother Ken, highway 28 through Salmon, Idaho has become a favorite route. As the birthplace of Sacagawea, the teenage Shoshoni girl who became the expedition’s guide and interpreter, there are enough road-side references and visitor’s centers to keep the history buff thoroughly entertained. Not to mention all the “Scenes of visionary enchantment…” as Lewis so eloquently noted.

    Iewis_clark Idaho route.jpg


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    For those passing through Salmon, Idaho, the Lewis and Clark Backcountry Byway may be an interesting diversion. It’s a single-lane gravel road forming a 36-mile loop through beautiful and historic country.
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  18. 1/2crazedbikr

    1/2crazedbikr Go Big or Go Home!

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    Wonderful reference to Lewis and Clark. I have been fascinated by their journey of discovery for my entire life. Whenever I have ridden through an area they transited, whether as a young man on trans-continental bicycle tours, or as a not so young motorcyclist doing the same, albeit gasoline powered, I have never failed to be inspired by their courage, audacity, and resourcefulness on an expedition that has no equal in modern times.
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  19. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Jul 17, 2016
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    648
    Working in history is what makes your reports special, and for that we thank you! (the collective we, not the royal we)
  20. bwanajames

    bwanajames Lone Wolf

    Joined:
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    Colorful Colorado
    Divine Intervention:

    Approaching Salmon, Idaho, the semi-arid plains transform to lush alfalfa fields. Horses, standing nose-to-tail to leverage the fly-swatter buddy system, were fat with sleek coats. The foliage however, grew tight against the shoulder, making deer strikes as common as rabbits.

    Pulling into a well-manicured recreation area, complete with covered concrete picnic tables, the suicidal deer phenomenon was quickly explained. In a moment, I was descended upon by hordes of mosquitoes so ravenous that I too wanted to throw myself in front of a speeding automobile.

    Near Hamilton, Montana, a huge dual prop military helicopter strained to lift a bucket filled to the brim with roadside lake water. With smoke mushrooming from nearby mountains, the sun strained to pierce the haze, casting an eerie amber hue across the land.

    Turning west on highway 12 at Lolo is always met with great anticipation. Gliding along the Clearwater River, you know you are in for a memorable day upon seeing the “Curvy road, next 99 miles” sign. However, this day could be memorable for all the wrong reasons should you ignore the “Moose Crossing” signs.


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    Lolo Pass

    With all those curves behind you, you soon find yourself in an Idaho seaport. What?! A seaport in landlocked Idaho? Have you been huffing carburetor cleaner? It’s true. Thanks to a clever series of dams & locks on the Snake and Columbia Rivers, Lewiston, Idaho is reachable by ocean-going vessels and carries the distinction of being the farthest inland port (450 miles) from the west coast.

    Climbing the steep grade north out of Lewiston, you can take modern highway 95, or, treat yourself to a twisty peg-draggers delight on the older Spiral Highway. With the sun now warming Tokyo, the temperatures on top plummeted. Stripping down under a farmer’s flood light, I added another layer.

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    Today was a special day for a special guy. My dad, living in Southern California, often conducts annual migrations to the Pacific Northwest. As the GS sliced through the night, my father was sitting in brother Ken’s living room.

    Today is dad’s birthday.

    Looking at my watch, I had two hours of birthday left before the calendar page rolled over. Like Indiana Jones sliding underneath the closing spiked door, I pulled into Ken’s driveway at 11:00 p.m.

    Had I been a better son, and less self-absorbed adventurer, I’d have scripted it this way. But I’ll take a little divine intervention when I can get it.

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