We decided about a year ago to accomplish the WABDR together, but I never would have guessed that the three of us would start, and finish it together, with a man lost in between. More on that later. The following is the story of Erik, Mike, and Blane's adventure on the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route taken early August 2012. Click here for another report of this ride posted by Mike and Erik. The Wolfman dry luggage is mounted and ready for the ride. I used two 1 liter Platypus water bags with the Platypus hydration hose. I would switch the hose between the bags when I emptied one. They took a pretty good beating on the trip, but they held up well. Later in the trip, I would stick one in the left side bag, and keep one under the net. It didn't work well having both under the net due to all the bumps. Fuel bottles strapped on the side bags, and camo tarp strapped to the medium Wolfman dry bag. A view of the front half. Wolfman tank bag, ATV logic tank panniers (I used these to hold my tire repair kit, electric pump, tools, chain lube, and inner tube), Garmin 60CSX GPS which is a great GPS for this type of riding. Don't forget to download the WABDR GPS tracks from the WABDR website. Day 1: Preping for the 0500 departure early Saturday morning We snapped a quick pic of the bikes in front of the operating steam engine in Elbe. The engine was dripping water and spouting steam here and there in little puffs. Amazing machines. The morning was fixing up to be great! Taking a break on NF25 a ways south of Randle on the way to Stevenson. The route down to the starting point is quite scenic on the paved NF roads. BTW, this is the published route from Touratech to Stevenson that is on the WABDR map, as well as GPS tracks. Erik posing for a pic with stumpy little Mt. St Hellens. The mountain looked quite dirty that day. It was also heating up fairly quickly - great riding though. We stopped for a pic where the pavement ended and the dirt began just north of Stevenson on NF6808. Generally the roads in the first section were nicely graded save for a few overgrown, packed dirt sections which were more fun to ride. I don't remember seeing much wildlife on this section besides those crazy little chipmunks About our luggage: Erik had mounting problems with his Ortlieb side bags throughout the trip. The lack of proper side racks for the X Challenge, and having to use zip ties and short Velcro straps to mount the luggage took their toll on the bags just after a few miles, which is why we see him making adjustments early in the first section. Luckily, our partner Mike had some of his trusty green webbing (can be seen holding the bags across the bike) with buckles which saved the day once again. (Mike had to use the webbing to strap a broken rear rack together before). Mike had proper racks on his KLR which he made himself. He was running Ortlieb bags just like Erik and had extended the Velcro straps that cross over the seat area of the bike, so they held much better. One issue he did have with his side bags is that one side developed a small V like cut in the "dry" material. We're not quite sure how that happened. I have been using the Wolfman dry side bags with Wolfman side racks and medium duffel on the rear rack for more then two seasons and multiple dirt wrecks and they have done fabulous. They mount solid and have a tone of adjust-ability, however they do have more straps to deal with, and are somewhat difficult to mount and unmount from the side racks. Once mounted, you don't need to unmount during the trip unless it strikes you're fancy. One thing about the WABDR is that it will rattle your teeth out. I learned that you really need to have your gear strapped down, and your nuts and bolts tightened up. I lost my spedo, and tail light to the vibration and bumps going down the trail. A shot of the trail where Erik was making the adjustments, mods to his bags. Note the GoPro on my helmet. It decided to burn its self up when I plugged it into the charger that night. No worries though, REI to the rescue!! The sign at the Guler ice caves. Read the text for a story of how they were formed. Make sure that you visit the cave, especially if it is a hot day. The cave was a very refreshing stop on an afternoon that was properly warming up. Not to mention that the underground structure is completely awesome! Looking from the top down into the ice cave entrance. Note the snow down there on a 100f day. Mike on the left and Erik on the right hanging out in the ice cave enjoying the brisk air. Mike does this bad ass expression in a few other pics during the trip which is odd because he's as gentle as a butterfly. (Shhh. Don't tell anyone.) Some fun ice formations within the cave. If you plan to visit the cave, you'd do well to bring BRIGHT lights. Looking up and out of the ice cave. When we headed out, it was like hitting a wall of heat - not the greatest feeling. Just great stuff to look at down in the ice cave. Mike headed out of the hole. Check that bad ass out! Not too far from the ice cave, we stopped at some nice falls right on the route in section one - you can't miss em, and they are worth it. Erik freshening up in the crystal clear water. It was nice and cool. A view of the lower section of the cascade. There was much more to these falls up above, and a nice little trail that leads up there if you are feeling up to a hike. The Nikon Man (Mike) snapping some shots with his fancy DSLR. He carried the camera in a camera bag mounted to his tank like a tank bag. So much dust made it through the zipper of the camera bag that it completely covered the camera. He kind of gave up on trying to use it for the trip and wrapped it up in a plastic bag. Mike and I by the water falls. Check out my "Dark Knight" Batman shirt. I'm kind of famous for that shirt. Stopping for a rest break at a junction. It's nice to get off the bikes once in a while. Packwood is our destination and it's looking like it's about 23 miles of dirt from here. Nothing but riding bliss. Pulling the gear off and ready for a nice meal in Packwood. I didn't really dig the place, or many of the places to get food along the way besides the restaurant in Conconully and Winthrop. I don't remember the name of the place we ate this day, but It's right next to the gas station. Dust covers everything, but it doesn't get inside of my trusty Wolfman dry (dust proof bags). More dust! Note that chain lube doesn't last long on dusty dirty roads. A side note: I absolutely love my DR650 - I fondly call her Betty Blue. You'll probably hear a lot about how I love my bike in this RR It's getting dark out. Time to get camp set up. From Packwood, we decided to get a running start on section 2 of the trip, so we headed east on HW 12 up over White Pass, down past Rim Rock lake, and into a camping area along the river just off 12 where we had camped before. Our choice spot was taken, so we settled on this location. The camp is just a bit east of the beginning of dirt for section 2. Check out my little Kermit chair. I'm a big dude, and that thing is a little assed chair, but it really holds up. Let me not forget to mention that it comes with the trusty little cup holder to hold my little German cow cup. That little cup comes in handy for some refreshing libations along the way. Handle bars and a back rack make nice hanging places for dirty gear to freshen up over night. All of us did work on the bikes. Here Erik makes further changes to his failing luggage situation. Mike trying to figure out how to handle the dust issue with his camera bag. What's missing in this picture? A MILK CRATE!!! Haaaa haaaaa haaaaa. Erik downing some H2O. With the temps it never seemed like you could get enough of the stuff. I think that we all carried about 3 litters of water a day which seemed to be just about right for this trip in the 90f + temps that we were in. Mike looking a little worse for wear. Mike isn't a big fan of the dirt riding, and I think that the prospect of riding on the stuff for so long wears on him a bit. He does great though, so maybe he'll come around some day, eh. I loved the camp shoes that Mike brought on the trip. They really seemed appropriate for some reason. Mike chose the hammock for the first time on this trip. He said he liked it. Erik chose the trusty REI tent, and I went with a simple tarp under the stars solution. Look at my little cow cup there. That thing is stinking cute, isn't it? This ends the first day. More to come soon.