Supermoto around Death Valley

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by snohobo, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    Howdy inmates,

    Let's see. Left San Francisco over a week ago with the plan to ride Death Valley. Apparently I'm told it's a wee bit hot still to really explore the valley, and some of the roads have been washed out due to flash floods so.....

    I'm going anyway.

    I'm off a great epic summer - and this is end of that trip. It started off with one month in Europe (Berlin, Paris, London and the Greek Islands). Then off to Whistler for some downhill mountain biking for the month of July.

    After that - Burning Man - 1 month in the desert working for the man and hassling hippies (I work on the Perimeter team - we make sure hippies don't sneak in without tickets).

    7 days at Tassajasa - a Buddhist Zen Monastery in the Carmel Valley and now....

    I left last week and headed to Symbiosis - a hippy music festival outside of Modesto. Essentially one big shit show but I had some friends that I wanted to see.

    Friends....

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    Me and Andrew - I'm on the right.

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    About the bike. 08 KTM 690 SMC. Last time I had an epic with this bike it was Panama to Argentina. Read all about it....

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=729679

    Put a TKC 80 on the front and a Heidenau K60 Scout on the rear....

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    Loaded as usual with my camping gear, and no much else. Enduro saddle bags for tools and parts, Wolfman duffle strapped to the top, and 2 extra gallons strapped to the pegs....

    Modesto out to Mariposa. 120 and 49...Woot.

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    Spent the night at the Yosemite Bug hostel, and went 140 to Tioga 120 to the Mobile gas station in Lee Vinning for some Buffalo Meat loaf!

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    Met Brian - one of the owners and he clued me in on this great hot spring near Benton Crossing in the Inyo forest. All dirt to get there.

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    Incredible views, incredible riding, awesome hot spring. I was warned by an old fisherman that it might snow tonight..... Hmmm. I had my doubts.

    I was wrong....

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    Really tested the 0 degree bag - but I was warm enough.

    More dirt into Bishop. Had a burger at the Burger Barn, and bought some jerky at Mahogany Meats. Took a squirt up 168 to the junction of NV 266 and turned around. Big winds - and I needed some internet and a bed for the night before popping into the park.

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    I'm basically winging this trip. I have some intel from a few inmates. A few have expressed concern about my fuel range (250) and the fact that I'm riding solo in really hot weather.

    The good news is that temperatures have dropped considerably in the last few days and it should be bearable in the park. If it's not - I'm blasting back up to Bridgeport, Mammoth, Carson, etc....



    OK now. Heading out of Big Pine in the AM. Won't have an update for quite awhile..

    Enjoy!
    #1
  2. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,306
    Location:
    Alaska
    Sweet! Hey, did you know your bike is for sale? :rofl
    #2
  3. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    Aaaaaaaaannnnnnnd the bike won't start.

    Actually that's not true. It started enough for me to go about 100 ft and then died.

    No power. Dash won't light up. It appears to me (no electrical guru) that the ignition is non functioning. Whether it's dead, or not making a connection, I dunno.

    I did notice something interesting yesterday while riding. The dash (and the bike) when out for about 2 seconds, and then turned back on. I barely felt it but did notice a cut in power for about a second or two.

    Another notable incident, I reverse bled my front brake yesterday and for some reason as I was pushing fluid up into the cylinder, a bubble must have forced some brake fluid out of the reservoir and an ounce or so landed on the fairing and close to the ignition....

    So I'm back in the hotel room, looking up potential fixes.

    Any ideas?
    #3
  4. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    OK - found the main fuse blown.

    So - one option is to buy up all the 30A fuses in Big Pine and get out of town.

    Option B - stay another day and track down the short. I'm going with Option B. Don't want to be stuck out in the Valley with a dead bike...

    So far I found a charred horn cable. I replaced the stock horn for an Air Horn awhile back, and when that failed after 5,000 miles of washboard, I never replaced the horn. So I had a dangling cable for a bit - it contacted the header and melted.

    I don't think it's the issue - the horn isnt run off the main fuse. But these things are....

    Battery
    Generator
    Starter Relay with Main Fuse
    Light Relay
    Power Relay
    Start Aux Relay
    Starter Motor
    Voltage Regulator
    Emergency OFF switch
    Ignition

    I pulled the ignition - but wasnt able to separate the lower portion to see that the wires were making contact. There are some tabs that need to be pushed in to pull the ignition apart and they arent moving for me and I'm scared to force it - I usually break parts this way - so I must be getting wise in my old age.

    I'm hoping my ignition isnt going - itll be hard to source one from over here....

    Back to checking out wires....
    #4
  5. gallinastrips

    gallinastrips Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    720
    Location:
    Taos NM
    :muuttNice ride, hope your up and running
    #5
  6. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,306
    Location:
    Alaska
    The moto gods are with you today. :freaky That could have happened in a not so human friendly place. :lol3
    #6
  7. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    Sooooo we all know how the day started.

    I got on the bike to grab some supplies and breakfast in Bishop. I get literally no more than 100ft and the bike DIES.

    I mean really dies. No ignition, no fuel pump, no speedo. Nothing. I sit there like an idiot flicking the kill switch and wiggling the ignition.....hmmm nothing.

    I panic for one second - and then realize that this is all part of the master plan. The universe is trying to tell me something. What? I'm not sure yet.

    I push the bike back to right in front of my motel room and assess the situation. First things first, ADV to see who's had issues like this. I find one post re: the ignition sucking ass.

    Next order of business - call Vinny (crashmaster). We chat, we laugh, he points out that I'm stranded near wifi, concrete, AC, tools, and a store. I'm in good shape.

    I start to pull the bike apart. I know it needs to be done - so let's start pulling things off.

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    I find some sludge in the coolant overflow. It looks like chocolate milk - but it doesnt make sense. Open the radiator cap and find 1mm of sludge on top. Can't be a blown gasket - bc the pressure would drive coolant into my oil, not the reverse. Oil looks like oil, not chocolate milk.

    I drain the coolant overflow and rinse it out...

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    We look over the wiring diagram - because at this point - it's probably electrical. Battery has 13V. Contacts are good. Kill switch is off. Main fuse.

    What's that and where is it?

    Oh - it's blown. I've never blown a main fuse before - so I'm not even sure what it does....

    Vinny tells me what it powers. OK. I start looking at wires.

    I find a shorted blinker ground. That explains why my blinkers stopped working. I replace it.

    I find a loose connection to my heated grips - that explains why those don't work. I fix it.

    I find the charred remains of my horn cable. I snip and tape it off.

    Still doesnt explain the main fuse....

    Until this....

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    The main ground from the battery and the main harness both ground at the same point, on the frame near the top tank bolt. It looked loose, and upon further inspection - I find the ground to be sliced almost clear in half.

    Must be our culprit.

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    At this point, it's noon and I've booked another night at the motel. Luckily for me - they still had one room available and I snatched it up. Plan is to really tighten up the bike and get some more supplies and head out tomorrow early AM to avoid the potential heat getting to Saline Valley Hotsprings - via Eureka Dunes. Woot.

    I untape the ground and start making a new boomproof ground wire. Need to extend it a little...

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    Good thing for me - I'm staying at the Bristlecone Motel. Located right next to a Mobil station - with what is essentially a fully stocked hardware store. The only thing they didnt have was contact cleaner (they were out).

    I bought butt connectors, wire, zip ties, shrink tubing, ring terminals, fuses, batteries, jb weld, and more...


    Making it look pretty

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    While working, these bad boys came to say hi. I had seen and chatted with them yesterday filling up. They are all riding 70s Kawasakis, and on their way fishing. We chat for awhile. Check out that guys peacoat!!! Super friendly local dudes. We chat about my route - they express some concern but ultimately think that I can handle the terrain.. Time will tell...

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    Here's the room after being in and out all day and buying loads of crap from the hardware store....

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    I realized that I may be carrying too much stuff - so I get ride of about 20 lbs of useless stuff to be stored at the motel. I'll send it all home when I get back. I'm running much leaner - and that's good because I have to start carrying 18 liters of water.... mucho weight....

    Update when I get some internet access. Could be a few because I have enough food to stay at the hot springs for a few nights - which I'll gladly do.

    Ciao for now!
    #7
  8. Womack

    Womack n00b

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    SF
    How sweet to just stumble upon another ride report from you! I've been wondering what you've been up to lately besides hanging out with hippies.

    Great views and a lot of adventure already. Can't wait to see what happens next. :ear

    Cold Kombucha waiting when you get back :1drink
    #8
  9. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    713
    Location:
    MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
    #9
  10. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    And I’m alive - but just barely! Just kidding mom - I’m fine.

    Left the motel in Big Pine jonesing for some dirt. Here she is all packed up - tons of food and 18 liters of water. Why so much water? I’m not sure - I was told to carry lots of water. OK!

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    Headed out of Big Pine towards Saline Valley Hot Springs. LarryBoy said he assumed I was going to the springs via the Eureka Dunes. Thank god he said that because I was going to go the North Pass route - which has been even more obliterated by the floods than Steel Pass. At this point I’m not really sure what to expect....

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    Road Closed. I knew this was coming.

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    All roads into Death Valley are often “closed” to protect minivan drivers from getting stranded out there. What looks passable on a map is in reality not passable in a passenger car.



    What’s that on the sign there...Oh - they’re not kidding this time...OK.

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    Head out to the Eureka Dunes and run into Paul, a dutch guy traveling in his old Benz RV - with a Yamaha 450 strapped to the back. He informs me that Steel Pass to the springs is indeed passable - but the last 12 miles are FUCKED. As in - there’s no road. It’s washed out. Essentially pick your path through the boulders.

    Paul said he was going to come down to the springs via another route tomorrow and if he didn't see me there - would come looking up Steel Pass. Reassuring!

    Sounds fun.

    Eureka Dunes...

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    Into Decameran Canyon (sp?)

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    But first - I have to get up the 3 step up into this canyon....

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    Step up.

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    The first was OK - the second was hard as hell. Loaded down on a 690 - I thought I had met my match. Failed to make it up twice, and the third time I let her rip, wheelied up the step up and powered my way up the third. If this was any indication on what was to come - I was FUCKED.

    Luckily it wasn’t. It mellowed out after that - and turned into beautiful riding.

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    Coming up the pass.

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    Top of the pass looking into the Saline Valley.

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    At some point - the road disappeared. I knew what Paul was talking about now. Imagine riding down a boulder wash. Now imagine it loaded down on 17s that were aired up to about 35psi to minimize rim and tube damage. I was pogoing my way down this wash - knowing that 12 miles is all I had to get through to get to the promise land.

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    Here I am wondering what the fuck I’m doing out here.

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    And here I am with a bloody nose.

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    I stopped taking pictures because after dumping the bike for the third time - I just wanted to get to the springs.

    Made it!

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    Found a donkey and some friendlies.

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    Set up camp by the Upper Springs and intended to stay for a few nights. There were a few campers there - and all intended to leave in the morning.

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    Upper pools....

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    Woke up to an empty spring - everyone had left.....

    Breakfast - smoked sausages from Mahogany Smoked Meats in Bishop...

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    Staging a spring shot!

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    Paul showed up around 11am and we had coffee and soaked for a few hours - chatting about traveling, riding dirt bikes, girls, God, fighter jets and chem trails....

    He left and said he was camping by the racetrack around Lippencott.

    Lippencott. After getting pounded by boulders - I was seriously doubting my ability to do Lippencott Grade. I have seen videos of it - and one guy called it a bone yard.

    One of the 4x4s guys said he came down it yesterday - and it was the best he’s ever seen. Paul said if the 12 mile washout was a 10 - Lippencott was a 7. I decided to do it - and not miss the Racetrack, and Hunter Mountain....

    Did some naked motorcycle maintenance - no photo....

    This is what happens when you put some gummy bears in the loft of your tent with an avocado and some earplugs in 95 degree weather...

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    Fuck you it's magic

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    Sunset soak

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    Dinner.

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    Chilling.

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    Woke up at 7 - soaked and hit the road. But not before dumping about 8 lbs of food, and only carrying 4 liters. I was way too loaded down - and wanted to secure my load better. With less weight and a better packed bike - I was able to stand and maneuver better than yesterday...

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    Hit a washout section of the road going 40 and got about 4 feet of air. Scared the shit out of me. Remembered to make good choices and slowed down.

    Also - the washboard fucked my gas can holder and I was scared of losing the can.... Roadside fix....

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    View of the beginning of Lippencott rd.....

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    Made it!

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    Hung out with Paul again before the racetrack. Coffee, girls, God, chem trails....

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    Went down to the racetrack and snapped a couple photos of the rocks....

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    Teakettle Junction!

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    Realized I was gonna lose the can - and strapped it to the top.

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    Washboard loosened my speedo - roadside fix....

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    Road into Hidden valley....

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    Going up Hunter Mountain.

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    This is the kind of road I really like. Alpine, graded, smooth, and fast. My bike does really well on roads like this, not so much on the loose gravel or the rock fields....

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    Panamint Valley!

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    Joshua Tree forest coming out the South Pass

    Cable Car cabin....

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    Hit 190 and realized I still wanted to ride. Decided to check out the Darwin, Chine Springs, Darwin Falls loop that I remember hearing about. Loaded the track on the GPS and headed that way....

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    Darwin - ghost-ish mining town...

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    The track led me down this. WTF.

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    OK - I’ll give it a shot. It got steep, rocky and narrow but eventually popped me out into this valley. Wicked

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    And my burger at Panamint Springs.

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    I ended up missing Chine Springs, and was way too tired to turn around. The road was loose sandy and gravely and honestly I just wanted a bed. I thought Panamint Springs would be a town - but it’s really just a gas station with $6.25 Premium, and a resort. I asked for a room and they said they only had a 2 bd cottage for $140.

    I said no to both gas and room and started riding away. I was hungry, tired, thirsty, hot and sunburnt.

    Started heading to a cabin about 15 miles away and looked at the track. It looked twisty and dirty and I didn’t have it in me.

    I could head North and go to Lone Pine and try my luck there - but I really want to head East to Stovepipe and beyond and didnt want to backtrack....

    I ponied up $160 with tax for this sweet room!

    At this point, I was so tired I thought it was best for me to get off the road - and I couldnt stand the thought of setting up and breaking camp so I paid for a room and now I’m writing this up, showered, fed, hydrated, and looking forward to this bed.....

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    No sure where to tomorrow. I heard Goler Wash is gonna be fucked - and I’m not up for another rock field. I may go check out Ballarat, or I may just slab it to Crankshaft Junction to Big Pine. Still undecided but I’ll figure it out over a cup of coffee and a looksee at the map tomorrow.

    Also just read up on Roger Pass, Manly Pass, etc and the ride into South Park. I don't think I want to get into that right now. I'd be more comfortable riding it with proper dirt wheels, not supermoto wheels - and not solo. I've been lucky so far not getting a flat or damaging the bike so I'm not going to push it alone....

    I may head North and check out the Eastern Sierras, Bridgeport, Carson, the leaves changing colors and 11,000ft passes. No idea.

    Stay tuned! I don’t have to be home until October 10th so let’s see where I end up.


    Also - got this from a BLM ranger at Burning Man - sewed it on my jacket yesterday...woot!

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    #10
  11. Blacknblue

    Blacknblue "I'm outa' here."

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,522
    Location:
    San Francisco, California
    Maybe you could have gotten the government rate! :rofl
    #11
  12. TwilightZone

    TwilightZone Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,233
    Location:
    Behind the Redwood Curtain
    Hmmm... at Panamint, that's the BIG cabin.

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    #12
  13. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    Hey Womack!

    2 posts?! You are the ultimate lurker. Glad I could get you out of your shell.

    I'm looking for hippies, found one at the campground last night!
    #13
  14. Ol Man

    Ol Man Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    293
    Location:
    Apple Valley, Calif
    Agree here. :ddog
    #14
  15. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    Hit the road at around 9:30AM and it was hot. The plan was to head up Emigrants Pass to Stovepipe Wells, then head over Daylight Pass and hit Titus Canyon. That was the plan at least.

    Made a right turn after Panamint Springs...

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    A familiar site now in the park. Everything is "closed". This was the road to Trona.

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    Decided to go checkout the Minietta Cabin just for kicks. I was thinking of sleeping there last night and I'm glad I didn't the road up was brutal. Reminded me of some of the tougher section of Lippencott. I would have eaten shit had I rode it last night, exhausted, hungry and burnt....

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    Cabin...

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    Went back down and headed towards the road to Emigrants...

    Watch for washouts....

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    And they were right, at the times the road was completely washed away.

    Got to the top to find this.

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    Shit.

    It actually wasn't locked - just "closed"....

    Top of Emigrants...

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    View of the twisty coming up Emigrants....

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    Down to Stovepipe....

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    My plan was to slab it out of the park - other than Titus. Time to head North for a bit....

    And slabbing it I did.

    Long, boring, straight, loud....

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    Swung by Ryolite to see what the big deal was about.

    Bottle House....

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    Little Bottle Town

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    After Ryolite I headed into Titus Canyon.

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    Talked to a Park Ranger - he said Titus Canyon should be open, no reason I couldnt go down it. Told me to have a good time.

    Not sure if he was kidding. But this one was locked for reals....

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    Decided to head to Beatty for fuel, then slab it to Scotty's Junction, down to Scotty's Castle and then Death Valley road out past the dunes and out to Big Pine....

    Found a playa in Nevada that was out on BLM land. Motor vehicles allowed. Took a little squirt out on it.

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    Saw these burnt out trees coming into Scotty's Castle....

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    Scotty's is closed now - not sure if that's because out government shut down, or if it's been closed awhile. Took a nice snooze on the grass though.

    Out of Scotty's across the valley....

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    Really glad I topped off in Beatty's - I wasn't prepared for a 75 mile ride out of the park at 4PM.

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    Oh and of course....

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    Basically 30 miles of how fast do you want to go....

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    Pin it and go. 60mph smooth fast hard pack gravel....

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    Until you reach Crankshaft Crossing....

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    And go around this mine....

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    And I'm out of Death Valley.

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    Rode back to Big Pine. Grabbed my bag of crap that I left there 4 days ago. I was carrying too much crap, and tomorrow morning I'm sending a box of useless stuff home. Dead Spot tracker, journal, water filter, alcohol stove, superfluous clothing, etc...

    I'm trying to travel extra light. Feels better on the bike, and easier to pack in the morning. What do I really need other than my camping gear, cash, a kindle and my laptop?

    I got some pretty bad poison oak two three weeks ago and it still hasnt gone away. I'm headed to the Bishop Rural CLinic tomorrow for a steroid shot, then who knows. Searching for Hot Springs in the Inyo mountains as I head north to Bridgeport and more.

    Found this on a RR so I may take in some of these sights....


    #15
  16. snohobo

    snohobo Supermoto hippy

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    426
    Location:
    somewhere in south america
    Slabbed it to Bishop and checked in at the Tree Motel on Line street. Great little family run motel with comfy beds and fast internet....

    Woke up late and shipped a 7lb box of crap home - then decided to head up White Mountain via Silver Canyon road....

    Silver Canyon is a 4x4 track that goes up straight to 11500 to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.

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    A couple creek crossings, and a pretty twinkling dirt road...

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    At this point - I switch my point and shoot to "Elegant" mode - so now my photos are more elegant.

    Going up to 11,000

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    Looking back...

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    The top of Silver Canyon...

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    One of the Ancient Bristlecones...

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    Heading back down...

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    I hear and a feel a loud clunk/bang. The bike has lost power, but is still on....

    I stop to find this...

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    Hit a rock hard enough to destroy my chain guide/guard and knock the chain off...

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    I take my leatherman and saw the plastic off enough to slip the chain out.

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    Feel off of this part of the swing arm...

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    Put chain back on, tighten to spec and head down the hill....

    I had a late start and wasn't feeling like riding so at a cross road I call the Trees to see if they have a room. She says no - so I start looking for Fish Slough road to head back to the hot springs I stayed at last week...

    Is this Fish Slough?

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    Dunno - but it looks great....

    I head down and it gets deeper and skinnier - I feel like I'm on the wrong road. I try to turn around....

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    Whooops.

    Easy enough to get out as I push along side the bike with throttle.

    This road looks like it'll lead me to a paved road...

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    I start over looking for Fish Slough and find it...

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    Ride this to Chidago Canyon...

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    Enter the canyon...

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    Exit the Canyon and find Antelope Valley road again...

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    SR138 out to the tubs....

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    Camp for the night and soak at night and in the morning...

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    Ride out to Mammoth, fuel up and hit the Lookout View.

    I don't stop to take pictures because I'm having such a good ride. FSR, fast, loose, fun, cambered turns....

    I do take this though...

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    Picture 50 miles of this...

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    Rocky section of Mammoth to June lake....

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    June Lake road slab run to gas...

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    Hit the Mobil, eat some awesome Fish Tacos, and gas up heading to Bodie....

    It's 4 pm and it's cold. I'm looking fro cottonwood canyon road but miss it so hightail it up to Bodie Rd...

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    Pavement ends 10 miles up and turns to this...

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    Sheep camp!

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    I enter Bodie, and you don't have to pay the $7 if you are just passing through. I do pass through - but snap a few pics...

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    Turn left at the parking area and head down to Geiger Grade and down Aurora Canyon into Bridgeport...

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    Pop into Bridgeport and at this point, I'm freezing my ass off. The winds are up and the temp is down. I need a motel room, but first I heard about Travertine Hot Springs - so I go check em out.

    They are impressive, and I got the tubs all to myself!

    I strip down, forget the towel and hop in...

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    Hightail it to the Silver Maple Motel, and I'm happy.

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    $75 gets you this King bed, high speed, hot hot shower and breakfast...

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    I'm cold, so tomorrow I head over to Ebbetts pass, but going to back way to Topaz via sweetwater rd. I'm looking for a way across tonight - there's a few FSR roads but I don't have the tracks yet...

    Tomorrow - Ebbetts pass, then camping on the other side, and then probably slab it to Livermore, down Mines rd to the Licks Observatory, and maybe into Los Gatos to stay with my folks for a night or so....

    Ciao for now....
    #16
  17. Easyrider Jay

    Easyrider Jay n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    123
    Location:
    Irvine, CA
    Excellent ride and pics.
    Thanks.
    #17
  18. psychohawk

    psychohawk Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    243
    Location:
    Downey, CA 90242
    Excellent ride report!

    Covered many of those roads myself and enjoyed seeing it all again.

    Thanks!!
    #18
  19. qvasic

    qvasic Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2013
    Oddometer:
    184
    Location:
    Ukraine
    I really enjoyed pics and story, thanks! Especially about closed roads, snow and broken chain guard. :)
    #19
  20. polishadam82

    polishadam82 black sheep

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Santa Clara, CALI
    nice write up and badass pics !!!:D
    #20