To set the scene: I have been fortunate enough to live most of my life (on both sides of the border cutting through it) of what surely is The Last Best Place, or The Crown Of The Continent, or The Serengeti of North America, or whatever superlative you prefer. Unfortunately, my job often means that I spend large amounts of my time elsewhere. And thus, while most readers were touring hither and yon through the spring and summer, I was on the other side of the continent, in a most miserable place devoid of any redeeming scenic value, practicing my craft and getting qualified on teaching others to do the same: Well, I love my job; it's fun, it's exciting... but I don't get to do it where I live. And so, while everyone else is riding all spring and summer, I am all too often off somewhere else, doing what I do for my daily bread. However, in general, the fall belongs to me. Or if it doesn't belong to me, I do just about everything in my power to ensure it belongs to me. It isn't just for riding, but for all the good things that come with September and October here: the best backpacking, the best flyfishing, the best elk hunting, and the best bird hunting. Ya can't beat it with a stick. Unfortunately, this fall has been an uncooperative one when it comes to the usual glorious fall weather we get here. In fact, it has been generally miserable. The annual cheesecake tour looked to be in danger of not happening this year - I get enough rain and mud at work without going and looking for it on my days off. However, a window of good weather appeared a few days ago, and I hastily jumped on it while the chance was there. The colors aren't in their full glory yet, and I couldn't find a partner, but this could quite possibly be the last chance this year for The Ride. So the Superposed went in the pack, along with the flyrod, the superlight waders and boots, a snack or two, and we're good to go. As this is a true dual sport ride that interposed short stretches of slab with gas stations with long stretches of dirt, extra fuel isn't necessary. For those wanting to see lots of posed pictures of bikes in glorious places, this is not the thread for you - you'll have to check out some of my other posts over on the WR250R forum. http://tinyurl.com/22nbvwc I'll provide one picture to display the weapon of choice, but the rest of the ride is about the scenery around here. Here's your lone bike picture: With that out of the way... Out of bed early, a big breakfast, fishing and hunting licenses in back pocket, $10 for gas (hey... it's a WR250R) and facing a stretch of slab to start the day: The nice thing about much of the slab around here, is the view from the highway is usually better than the view from the back country roads most other places in North America (assuming you like mountains, of course). Soon enough, the first opportunity to get off the slab and on the gravel comes up, and we're off to the first of our beauty spots. Some parts of the river are fairly wild, with some Class 4 whitewater for kayaking for those so inclined. Other parts, like this, are positively peaceful. I sat and watched the Westslope cutties rising from the bottom to take hatching nymphs, while stopped on the bridge above, and from here: I thought briefly of officially cancelling The Ride to harass the fish. Well, I thought a lot. But another chance for The Ride might not occur this year - and equally good water was just ahead. So... ride on. We're still relatively in the valley, but that is all subjective around here. One nice feature of the area is the many local grasslands/valley lakes. And there are also lots of abandoned buildings, homesteads, logging camps, etc to explore for those looking for treasures and a glimpse of the past. A past, that around here, can be mining, logging, ranching, farming, or prospecting. I look at the clouds suddenly appearing behind me. Will The Ride (which must be held in sunlight) come to an abrupt end? As it turns out, this is the last I will see of any cloud cover to speak of. While putting the camera away, I find myself being showered with bark. And here is the guilty culprit. We have numerous species of woodpeckers around here - not suprising, considering the damage done by the mountain pine beetle and the spruce budworm. A tragedy for one is a windfall for others... A short little sidetrip to admire one of the local lakes laying at the base of the mountains: Followed by a quick stop on a bridge built courtesy of the local combat engineers 20 years ago. A local dreaming of fame and fortune did the first drop of these falls on a kayak a few years ago. I like kayaking, but not that much. I think he's still looking for a job... And of course, over the other side of the bridge: Well, unless I plan on rapelling down and then prussicking back up, there won't be any fishing here... move on. A quick short trip back on the slab, into one of the most fertile mountain valleys I have ever seen (and the view ain't bad either). And then we start climbing up, up towards the origin of the river. No whitewater kayaking up here... but the elk and bighorn hunting is pretty damned good! A few kilometers beyond this, and the road ends. If you go much further north, you'll need pitons and rope if you leave the trail. But, for those not afraid to park their motorcycle and walk a few hundred meters, you can get a glimpse of what backpacking into this wilderness will bring you. Well, I happen to know the fishing in these lakes is pretty good, but I also happen to know flyfishing is difficult here without a tube. Which I don't have. Besides, you can't fish and hunt EVERYWHERE in one day - along with just admiring the view. So back to the bike, and back south down the valley we go. Now here's my idea of the perfect off-slab road: And, as we start riding in along the valley bottoms, the temptation for a stop to do some fishing starts. But no, I have an idea of what lies ahead. This is pretty nice travelling as well. But then it takes a turn for the worse. I understand some people like mud. I hate it. I occasionally get jeered about this from some riding friends. I point out to them that it is not unusual for my line of work to see me living in mud filled holes and sleeping in water filled ditches, so I am more of an expert on being wet and muddy than they can ever dream of. Besides, as I jump out of airplanes, in the dead of night, at 800 ft AGL, with 140 lbs strapped to my ass, I have nothing left to prove to them or anyone else. So this is the end of the road, not far from the river. There is another reason. Although the damage from motorcycles is minimal, it is a fact that driving 4x4's, quads, and bikes on these roads when they are soft damages them. I am sure there are those out here who feel that the uglier the road gets, the better they like it. However, these roads will never have maintenance done on them again. Many - like this one - were put in for mining exploration, and they are what they are. Eventually, with sufficient thoughtless use, they become unpassable to anyone without a raised 4x4, quad, or motorcyle. And, quite simply, to the rest of the hunters, fishermen, and back country users out there, that is neither fair nor respectful. Some day, far too soon in my future, I will be one of the older boys out there, without the strength or the vehicles to challenge an ugly road. Then I'll be one of them, looking for access to the river or an easily huntable area in my economical little car. So I think of them, and I park. The walk to the river also has a purpose. Along with the flyfishing gear in my pack is the Superposed broken down, and these tell me the chances of picking up a Ruffy or two are good: The grouse choose not to cooperate today. But that's fine, here's the river. And this guy happily munching grass while eyeballing me as I go by. The Superposed now has a couple of rounds of buck in it momentarily, which makes me feel a bit more comfortable with a bear nearby. They're way down on the threat scale, but on the other hand a bear attack every fall around here is the norm as well. Better to have and not need, than need and not have... The bear and I pleasantly nod to each other in passing, and in a few moments I am on the river bank. For you flyfishermen out there, here's what this water is all about: So, shall it be wet? Or dry? Remembering those football shaped cutties rising to the hatch at the beginning of the day, dry it is. A few mountain valley river photos - flyfishing porn to other worshippers of the long flexible rod: No pictures were taken of the victims (I'm a catch and release kind of guy for those who feel sorry for the fish) - I can't quite manage a flyrod, a net, and a DSLR all at one time. This was the fly which turned out to be the top assassin, however: The shadows come early in the mountains - particularly at this time of year. Time to head out. And the two-track quickly once again turns to gravel. One last lake to divert to and enjoy, as this time we're on the other side of the valley, favoured by the sun as it wasn't this morning. One last final run on the slab, underneath darkening skies as the last bits of sunlight charm the mountain peaks. And finally home - a long day, a lot of miles. If I had a wish, however, every day of the year would be in these mountains, in this weather, at this time of the year. All of these spots - and many, many more like them - are within a three mile ride of my home, and most are well within an hour. An outdoorsy guy like me really couldn't ask for more. Hope you enjoyed this glimpse of my backyard.