The Fool's Progress: Onwards-Upwards-Global on a 650gs

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Hunter-Douglas, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    Hi everyone- My name's Hunter, I'm 26 and my bike is a 650gs named Douglas. I lived and worked in Tahoe the last three years since school at a ski resort in the IT department. Last May I bought a bike, started saving all the money I could and planned to quit my job this Novemeber to take off for a few years to see the world. Staring at the computer screen 9-5 was turning into a no-go for a former river guide, so it was time to hit the road, eh? Now I've accepted a job with a guide service out of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska starting at the end of May. Conditions permitting, I'm planning to ride to Prudhoe Bay and back down to Anchorage before staring the season, and should be using that money to head south this Fall. Ideally, this will turn into an extended RTW funded by every summer season's work in the mountains.

    Here's where I used to work-
    [​IMG]

    Here's my ugly mug-
    [​IMG]

    Here's where I've been and where I'm going in the next month-
    [​IMG]

    Here's a few pictures from the ride up until now-
    <a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5259/14035674046_1a0fdedff4_c.jpg" title="pyramidBike by Hunter Petersen, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2894/13707115134_9ba8413e4f_b.jpg" width="800" height="554" alt="pyramidBike"></a>

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. sparkingdogg

    sparkingdogg Prisoner In Disguise

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    533
    Location:
    Omahell, Nebraska
    Hey dude, best wishes on the ride, have fun!

    Nice pics too :nod

    Sounds better than sitting at a desk all day :freaky
    #2
  3. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    103,488
    Location:
    right here on my thermarest
    Those are fantastic and alluring images. Thanks for posting them and I'll be following along!
    #3
  4. CaseyB

    CaseyB Adventually

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The Garden State
    What they said - Nice pics to kick this off. I look forward to following along

    [​IMG]
    I really like this one. Makes me wonder where the path leads


    Best of luck to you.
    #4
  5. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    Thanks everyone.

    This trip started off with me heading down the hill to crash at my parent's house in the Bay Area to get some work done on the bike and get all my documents in order. I had a new passport sent out since I hadn't left the country in about 14 years. I also got all the major service work done on my bike to get the steed ready for the ride up to Seattle. I got to spend some nice time with the family, including my older sister who just quit her journalism job in DC to try and make it in the freelance world.

    Having folks who let you take over their garage for a week is sure helpful :wink:
    Though I did help them clean it out a bunch, so I guess the benefit was mutual?
    [​IMG]

    All loaded up.
    [​IMG]

    I packed and unpacked everything a bunch to make it all fit. I wasn't too sure what I needed to take since I wasn't positive where I would be going or what I would be doing for work once I arrived in Seattle. My old roommates, a good buddy and his girlfriend, had just moved up there so at least I had a place to stay and sort things out for a bit.

    I needed one last night in town to see some people, so I hit the road back up to Truckee where I met up with with my old roommate Cody for a night in Reno. He's a lifetime enduro rider who can ditch you in a flash in the dirt on his orange 525 and gave me a lot of good instruction the past year for improving my off road skills on the 420lb BMW. We went over to Great Basin Brewery in Sparks to catch one of my old co-workers Justin doing some standup and drink some good beers :dutch:dutch:dutch
    [​IMG]

    The next day was the real start of the journey. I had planned to make my way out to the coast as it seemed some weather was coming into the Sierras. I didn't really know how to feel about that since the sky was choosing the last week of March to open up after being absent all winter long. Cody suggested I ride through northern Nevada instead, and after hearing stories about Gerlach and the salt flats, I decided to follow his advice and ride up towards Pyramid Lake. I had never been there and was pretty blown away by the desolate beauty of the area.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I was so excited to check out the lake up close that I used my subpar sand skills to bury the back wheel on the beach. Some cursing, unloading and heaving got the bike back to more solid ground. I can't even imagine what some of you all with bigger bikes would be going through in this situation. :huh
    <a href="https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5259/14035674046_1a0fdedff4_c.jpg" title="pyramidBike by Hunter Petersen, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2894/13707115134_9ba8413e4f_b.jpg" width="800" height="554" alt="pyramidBike"></a>

    Not a bad place for a break though.
    [​IMG]

    I rode on from the lake towards Gerlach and took in the Nevada landscape. I remember reading in an article somewhere that if you live in Nevada, you really learn to appreciate the 50 shades of brown. I can see what they mean. It's like a weird, awesome moonscape with not too many people around to enjoy it.
    [​IMG]

    The locals seemed friendly.
    [​IMG]

    Nevada is probably known for its horrendous traffic more than anything else :evil
    [​IMG]

    Eventually I ended up bushwhacking out to a spot near some government geothermal farms at sunset. I celebrated the first night out with a Mammoth 395 IPA, not knowing that the next few days were about to get a whole lot more interesting...
    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. Rutabaga

    Rutabaga Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
    Southeast Lower Carolina
    Looking forward to the rest of the story. Wonderful pictures.
    #6
  7. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    Thanks again guys! I'm going to try and get everything caught up and posted before I leave for Vancouver tomorrow. I'm liking the idea of doing some riding here while it's not actually raining for once. :rofl
    #7
  8. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    After camping south of Gerlach, I made some jetboiled coffee and headed north to town. I had heard stories of the 15 mile long salt flats and had mapped out a route following state highway 34 to the northern border into Oregon. I wasn't too sure about riding across the flats since it had been raining all morning and I was a little freaked about having to ride across miles of swamped lake beds. I gave the first roadside bit I saw a go and immediately saw the wheels diving in pretty deep. I stopped and put the side stand down to walk around, but the stand sunk in and the bike fell over right away. That was all the information I needed to gun in back onto the highway.

    The salt flats look like they go on forever :eek1
    [​IMG]

    For not having a lot of residents, I think Gerlach's welcome sign was pretty entertaining.
    [​IMG]

    I filled up in town at the only gas station while the attendant questioned my decision making skills. I told him I planned to ride up NV 34 to the border while he mentioned something along the lines of the rain and me being alone. If I had known what he knew I might have been more on the same page, but from the map it just looked like a nice winding paved road went on to the next state. Little did I know :lol3
    I headed out of town with a full tank and only made it a few miles before the pavement ran out. At first, I was pretty happy about that. The road was wonderfully graded and not too wet. Even the corners were designed to carry speed and the state of Nevada fairly recommended a nice 45mph limit. Not that there was anyone out there to enforce it.
    [​IMG]

    The road winded through beautiful hills and I started to see some more greenery as the highway headed West.
    [​IMG]

    Soon enough the rain started coming down harder and things started to get a little dicey for a rookie off roader with a heavy bike and worn tires. My speed dropped down to first and second gear and I had a few low speed offs. One of them was kind of sad since it involved me sliding down into the ditch at the inside of a muddy left hander. More than once I thought about how I hadn't seen a house or a single car since the road turned to dirt five hours earlier. "Vast" was becoming an overused word in my head.
    [​IMG]

    Soon after, the snow started and I did a stretch of about 15 miles in first gear over white covered mud. There's a lot of riding fundamentals out there that I still need to improve on...
    [​IMG]

    It took about seven hours to ride the 100 miles of dirt. A left turn back into CA led to a nice paved road (right at the border :lol3) into the town of Cedarville. I pulled over in front of a pretty beat up house on main street to check some directions for a moment. Soon after I was approached by a sizable guy stumbling down the sidewalk with a brown bag. The angry shout of "What you doin in front my house boy?" really snapped me out of my daze. He walked right up next to me with an unfriendly look, so I just smiled and showed him the map and where I had come from. He looked a little confused but then smiled and told me he was an alcoholic, accused me of being high, warned me about the town sheriff and invited me inside. I politely declined and rode through the hills to Alturas to snag a motel room. I felt a little bad thinking that if I bailed out of camping every time I was wet and cold, I would blow through some serious cash this time of year. I felt better when I turned on the TV and saw Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. They knew exactly how I was feeling. "We're there..... man."
    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. CaptnSlo

    CaptnSlo Derelicte

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,223
    Location:
    VA
    As Lloyd Christmas said, "I like it a lot."
    Great RR so far and stunning photos. I'm looking forward to the next update.
    #9
  10. bhb

    bhb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    210
    Location:
    SLC, UT / SoCal / Ketchum, ID
    Following!

    Is the bike a sertao? Debadged? Also, are you missing a windshield? :D

    Ride safe and can't wait to see more!
    #10
  11. CaseyB

    CaseyB Adventually

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The Garden State
    For the sake of the RR, you should have gone in :lol3 You certainly wouldn't have come out the same, if at all :huh
    #11
  12. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    Thanks!! More coming soon.

    Yes it is a debadged sertao. It should be getting a nice fork swap this fall before going South. The windshield was putting the buff right in my face (I'm 6'4). It was either get a really tall and annoying one or take it off, look cool and take the wind on the midsection. It's good motivation not to go too fast on the highway :lol3

    That's what I was afraid of. I love bluegrass but I was hearing the wrong kind of banjos in my head at that point. That and this guy just would not believe me when I told him I wasn't stoned and my eyes were red from riding through the weather with my visor up. He was getting mad and saying it was BS so eventually I just told him I was :lol3
    #12
  13. JustinCase

    JustinCase Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 12, 2005
    Oddometer:
    102
    Location:
    Reno, Nv
    Awesome thread.
    You're doing it!! I agree with the others re: the pictures. They are awesome.
    #13
  14. rootsy

    rootsy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2012
    Oddometer:
    128
    Looks and sounds like fun! What camera are you using to capture these lovely images?

    Safe travels!
    #14
  15. Tamalerider

    Tamalerider Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2012
    Oddometer:
    42
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Sounds sweet! I'm headed up to crater lake on my way to Prudhoe bay leaving May 28th. Going 2 up with my girlfriend to fairbanks and then making final push to prudhoe bay and Dawson gathering with a buddy.
    #15
  16. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    The weather seemed better and I felt an urge to make up some mileage after the struggle on the dirt in Nevada. I didn't make it very far before I saw a dirt detour paralleling the highway to Klamath Falls. I doubled back to find the entrance and saw that it was a five mile "interpretive road" with a few turnouts and plaques detailing the native history. It seemed like a pretty cool concept: take a fun side road and get a little bit of history along the way. The exhibits at the turn outs were great, but the road was even better. :evil
    [​IMG]

    They sure knew how to take care of this road.
    [​IMG]

    The track ended and I hopped back on the highway to Klamath Falls. The road wound through rolling hills, forests and brush land. The northeast corner of California has always had an alluring high desert feel for me, and Modoc County never disappoints.
    [​IMG]

    Some of the road signs were pretty entertaining. I agree with this one, that little :asshat should be careful.
    [​IMG]

    After only getting halfway to Klamath Falls I saw another opportunity too good to pass up. The sign for the East entrance to Lava Tubes National Monument popped up and I made a left to head into the park. I'd been there twice before, once as a young'un with the family and once on a college trip. There's about thirty caves of different length and difficulty to explore and I chose to give their crown jewel, "The Catacombs" another go. It's a mile long tube with a ceiling height varying from ten feet to ten inches. I had made it to the end with my college group about four years before and figured I'd have a decent shot of successfully repeating the descent following the directions from memory. While there are a few side passages, the main tube (so I thought) was usually pretty easy to follow. I was pretty stoked and sure this was a good idea when I got to the turnout.
    [​IMG]

    It gets dark pretty quick.
    [​IMG]

    The main entry way is pretty wide open and very deceiving of what's further down.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The ceiling got lower as I ducked and then crawled my way down the tube. Some of it was looking familiar, but some sections weren't and I started to doubt whether I was going to make it or not. I knew about halfway down there was a squeeze called the birth canal, but I was having a pretty hard time recognizing the passage towards it. What was looking familiar were spots I had remembered coming up instead of down. I would have killed for a guidebook at that point. It was also a midweek afternoon which meant that I was literally the only person in the entirety of the tube system, which was a little eerie at minimum. I even cursed myself for trying to spook out an ex in the past by showing her "The Descent" and wished I would run into someone who could point me in the right direction. No such luck, but I thought I recognized one of the squeezes and shimmied my way into a ten inch high section, thinking it was the one I remembered. I'm a fairly lanky guy but I still managed to get to a point where I was feeling pressure from the rock on my stomach and back simultaneously. I'm not really claustrophobic, but having to choose a side to turn your head to move forward is just a weird feeling no matter what. When I couldn't move any further, I had to admit to myself this was definitely not the right way and it was time to back out. I snapped a photo after heaving my way backwards.
    [​IMG]

    I retraced my steps and tried one last side passage. I recognized it, but again it was going the wrong direction. I managed to pull a semi easy bouldering move to gain the tube directly above it, but that didn't go anywhere either. I had been down for about three hours and I had a feeling the gate was closing soon, so it was time to go. The sting of defeat was intensified by the fact I had meant to go a lot further than the fifty miles I had covered so far that day.

    I hit the road to Klamath Falls, only allowing myself to skip Captain Jack's Stronghold because of the time and also because I had been there a few years before. I would definitely tell anyone in the area to check the place out. You can still walk the trenches used by Captain Jack and his guerrilla Modoc forces during their fight against the US Army during the First and Second Battle of the Stronghold in the 1870's, the peak of the Modoc War. General Edward Canby, a Civil War veteran and policy wiz under Ulysses S. Grant, is also buried there after he was assassinated by the Modocs during peace talks. I managed to make a stop at Fort Klamath and see the field where Captain Jack and three of his leaders were hanged as punishment for their rebellious ways.
    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    Thanks buddy. It was great seeing you one more time at Great Basin. Glad you're keeping it up and it's a blast watching you perform.

    Also great name adaptation. Love it

    Rootsy, I'm using a Fuji x-e1. It's a smaller, mirrorless SLR that fits really well in a tank bag. I was inspired to pick one up after reading Tourist's <a href=""http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=923656"]http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=923656"
    Uralistan</a> report. He used a similar Fuji x-1 with a fixed 35mm lens (not that the camera had that much to do with how incredible his photography is).

    Sounds great! I think the weather might be a little better for you two than it has been for me. Hopefully I'm not too early, but everyone has been talking about how dry their winter was up there.
    #17
  18. Hunter-Douglas

    Hunter-Douglas rube

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    367
    Location:
    Truckee-Tahoe Int.
    Keeping to an ethic of questionable decision making, I headed out to Crater Lake National Park thinking there was no way I could skip seeing it if I was passing through. Weather and elevation change only came up as an afterthought in my goal of getting a good photo of the lake. I really was feeling the beauty of the area so I made sure to scout out potential future land purchases. I might actually have money again someday, so why not? :rofl
    [​IMG]

    I found the turnoff for the scenic route to the park. The skies were clear above me but looked unhappy ahead, but I figured I would have no trouble getting to the loop road and taking it around the lake to the other side of the park. It got steadily colder until I found myself at the west entrance. There weren't too many cars on the road, and pretty quickly I was going to find out why.
    [​IMG]

    I rode further up the road and started seeing a few cars coming down the hill with white dustings on the roof. I chose not to think about it too much and promised to turn around whenever I started feeling too uncomfortable with the conditions. Finally, the road turned completely white and I pulled over to walk around and get a feel for the surface. I managed to brake, accelerate and corner mildly without feeling any slips, so I kept in second gear and eased my way up the road. I was pleasantly surprised by how confident the bike felt rolling over the white stuff and I was getting a real kick out of the looks from drivers coming the other way.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I took some video while testing the road surface.
    <iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/93538906" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/93538906">Some fun in Crater Lake National Park</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user27265141">Hunter Petersen</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

    I got to the visitor's center as it really started coming down. As soon as I walked in the ranger looked at me and laughed. When I asked him how far the viewpoint was, he informed me there was no chance of a view today and that I should probably get back down the hill while I still could. I took him up on his advice and made my way down at a much slower pace than when I had come up. Downhill in the snow was proving to be a lot more dicey. I couldn't use the brakes. Pulling the clutch in first let the bike speed up to quickly and re-engaging it was breaking the back end loose before it would start slowing down. I had an almost off when the rear kicked out in a downhill right hander. I hadn't been accelerating, braking or doing anything other than coasting when it did, it just didn't have enough traction to hold the wheel up in the curve. I managed to keep the bike upright and continue on, second gear feeling like a victory if I could get to it. For braking, I found a new meaning regarding the significance of "digging your heels in". Seriously, it works. :lol3
    I was pretty happy about making it back to the park entrance, but when I went to stand up and stretch I blew a foot off the peg. When I pulled over to check what happened, I saw that my pegs had turned into little igloos.
    [​IMG]

    The highway from Crater Lake to Eugene was scenic, warmer and lower elevation. I took refuge in a gas station where the same guy who pumped gas made the burgers. He gave me some confidence, promising conditions wouldn't be as bad going over Willamette Pass. Thankfully, he was right and I enjoyed a winding highway next to the Willamette River going downhill into Eugene. I hit the first bar I could find, downed an IPA and shacked up at the Whiteaker Hostel. There were some very interesting folk there, but I went for the trusted dry-the-gear-hit-a-brewery option, only to find out Ninkasi Brewing closed at 8:30 every night. :cry
    #18
  19. climbinghobo

    climbinghobo n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1
    I'm so impressed. The pictures are breath taking and the adventure looks epic. I'm super jealous, I once planned a similar ride west from China that never took place... keep up the good work.
    By the way, I'd have to agree with that drunk guy, you were most definitely high.
    Your biggest fan, Alon :norton
    #19
  20. dannyf

    dannyf n00b

    Joined:
    May 1, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1
    awesome thread so far man.
    #20