A few weeks ago I got a email from my buddy Steve inviting me to join him on a ride to Hat Point Lookout in the Wallowa-Whitman Wilderness Area, overlooking the Snake River in Eastern Oregon. The area, more commonly known as Hells Canyon, is brutally beautiful. A arid desert region at the 875 ft elevation of the canyon floor, gives way to a moisture-rich zone of timber and ends above 7,000 feet in barren high country. The 24 mile long gravel road rises steeply through it all. Hat Point Lookout offers one of the regions best views of the Snake River, Hells Canyon, and the surrounding mountains. Spending the better part of this summer without my V-Strom, I’d be crazy not to accept. Traveling out of Seattle, I arrived in Kennewick (some 250 miles distance) Thursday afternoon where Steve mounts a new Tourance front tire on my Strom. Friday we would travel to Elgin Oregon (a mere 120 miles away) and Saturday we would make our run up to the Lookout and cabin camp at Emigrant Spring State Park outside of La Grande Oregon that evening. Seattle to Kennewick, Tire Change, and Shakedown Ride, Thursday, Sept. 3 Looking back on Ellensburg from the Vanderbilt Gap, Rt 82 (2,800 ft.) Steve’s Tire Changing Operation, Kennewick, WA This is all I can show of Steve’s proprietary wheel balancing procedure… That evening we did a 20 mile shakedown ride out to the wind generators. Kennewick to Elgin, Friday, Sept 4. 120 miles to Elgin plus a loop of 80 miles (20 of which are on gravel) to swim at Jubilee Lake. A bonus ride thrown in for me! Looking confident…those reading along…I’m foretelling… Steve looks confident because he is. Travel to Elgin – Follow along as we cross the wide open plains of South Central Washington and Oregon and enter more mountainous terrain. Me, still looking way too confident… (MORE FORETELLING, YOU FREAKS!!!) Extra gear stashed at the motel in Elgin, we set off for Jubilee Lake so Steve can laugh his ass off at me flopping around in 4,800 ft lake water. We set off down the gravel road for Jubilee Lake The Swim Steve eyes the Lake, “This will be great fun…” Women and children rush away in horror at my approach No diving… The rest of the images have been erased because they are too disturbing. We came, I swam, we left… Steve, mercifully, took a single picture with no one in it. Steve suited up, women and children continue their retreat. The 12 miles of gravel out was even better than the 8 miles in, Lower Looking Glass Creek And then … disaster struck… well, not disaster but Steve’s chain guard came loose and wrapped itself around his rear sprocket. Alas, we were having such fun on the lower “paved” section of NF 63 and Looking Glass Road, that neither one of us paid much attention to the hard grind of plastic and sprocket. Back in Elgin, we inspected the damage and the repairs.