Three Bikes, Eleven Days, No Obligations!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by offthetrail, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton
    Welcome to our third annual dualsport shenanigan extravaganza. It’s not an around the world trip or even to South America but it’s still a good time exploring NW USA and a bit of Canada.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    The ride report almost never got written, but as had plenty of forced idle time recovering from a broken tibia acquired on my EXC300 this summer…<o:p></o:p>
    For this year’s adventure Jarrett and I have recruited another rider, our old college friend Mike.<o:p></o:p>
    So apart from having three peeps instead of two, this year would be different because instead of planning routes and following downloaded GPS tracks we will have almost no real direction and just ride wherever we felt like for about two weeks. We more or less just wanted to head into the states because it’s cheap, there’s lots to explore, people are friendly, and oh yeah, it’ cheap!<o:p></o:p>
    So here we are, just a bunch of dudes with some good maps, bikes, a few spare bucks, and most importantly: time off work. <o:p></o:p>
    Bikes will consist of a DRZ400 (mine), a heavy ass KLR (Jarrett’s) and a much lighter but still heavy KLR (Mike’s).<o:p></o:p>
    Always got to throw in a mid packing shot. Packing is probably one of my favorite things to do because it builds up so much anticipation!
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    This year my 'ol DRZ would get almost no new toys or mods other than a trail tech speedo/odo to replace the stocker that shit the bed on last year’s trip. I now have a tachometer and a temp gauge, both will be nice feature to have.
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    I decided to give some Pirelli MT21’s ago this year instead of the last year’s acceptable Dunlop 606’s. I usually try to mention gear at the end, but in a nutshell in case anyone cares: the 21’s felt a bit better for on-road handling, had similar off-road grip, but with faster wear. I also did experience a bit of chunking on the rear but I do tend to spin my tire A LOT.
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    Luckily, a day before the trip I stripped my main fairing bolt thread! I bought a cheap tap and attempted tapping the aluminum but it didn’t really work out so I ended up just using good ‘ol wood and bungee cords to help support the one good bolt. Hopefully it holds, time will tell…

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    Also on my last day of work I smashed my leg into the corner of a coffee table while carrying all my gear out of the office. I probably should’ve gotten a few stiches but I wasn’t too worried about it until a week into the trip it when appeared to be getting infected.
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    Ok more than enough banter, onto the trip! <o:p></o:p>
    #1
  2. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton
    First off Mike and I had to get from Edmonton to Calgary where we meet Jarrett. Since the ride would have been horribly flat and boring with nothing to see we decided shuttle the bikes the 300km in my pickup.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    Room for one more:<o:p></o:p>

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    Meet Mike<o:p></o:p>
    I had convinced him to pick up a cheap dual sport last year in the hopes of him joining us on these little adventures. So far the KLR had pretty much been used exclusively for commuting to work and I doubt it’s seen any off-roading whatsoever in its 30,000km life. That will change soon!<o:p></o:p>

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    Finally all loaded up and relatively securely strapped down, we hit the road an hour or two behind schedule.<o:p></o:p>

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    Fast forward through three hours and 300km of nothing and we find Jarrett creeping around in the garage putting the final touches on the KLR<o:p></o:p>

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    “Right then, let’s get these bitches off the truck and load up!”<o:p></o:p>

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    Now to fit all this crap onto the bike and decide what to leave behind…<o:p></o:p>

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    Done and done. Time to leave. Two hours later than planned of course.<o:p></o:p>

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    First we get caught in Calgary’s awesome Friday afternoon traffic and we need gas. No matter, this only makes anticipation of the quiet back roads that much better.<o:p></o:p>

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    Eventually we do find ourselves on the highway with the mountains just in sight. Life is all good at this moment.<o:p></o:p>

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    And it gets better and better<o:p></o:p>

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    Until finally…<o:p></o:p>
    Gravel! We had planned to follow the same route south into the US and to Whitefish, MT as last year, since A) it’s a good one, and B) it was crap weather last year and we missed out on some really nice scenery (probably). Plus it’d be a good primer for Mike since had needed to get a few dirt miles under his belt before we start winging it.<o:p></o:p>

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    A few hours down the Forestry trunk road and we have our first bike issue:<o:p></o:p>
    Jarrett’s speedometer cable is coming out of its socket so we just undue it and zap strap it out of the way. Keep the odo miles low baby!<o:p></o:p>

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    We had wanted to make it to Fernie BC today but we decided we’d rather not ride in the dark so we holed up in Blairmore BC for the night.<o:p></o:p>
    Stats: Not too impressive but considering we didn’t leave town until 2 pm…<o:p></o:p>

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    Highlight of the night was the sketchy local bar and the fire alarm going off in the early morning. Also, someone stole all the fire extinguishers in the motel during the night, which the hotel owner asked Mike about while giving him a very suspicious look. <o:p></o:p>
    #2
  3. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton
    With the bikes loaded up at 7:30am, we grab some quick grub from the local Timmy Ho’s.


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    We had a few miles of highway to knock off before we got to the good stuff, but riding in the mountains on a quiet morning is not so bad.<o:p></o:p>

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    And it only gets better as we turn off the main highway<o:p></o:p>

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    We did have to wait about 15mins for a train to idle along the track crossing<o:p></o:p>

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    Once onto the gravel I had a mini rematch with a little side hill that I somehow bailed on last year<o:p></o:p>

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    Not this year. Looking back at the boys. They were not interested in ripping the mini hill climb. <o:p></o:p>

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    Back down the road<o:p></o:p>

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    First creek crossing for Mikes KLR ever! (Probably)<o:p></o:p>

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    Bombing along the power line trail<o:p></o:p>

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    We take a break and immediately Mike is foraging for berries. This would be a common occurrence throughout the trip. <o:p></o:p>

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    Eventually we pop out onto a nicely graded road that leads us into the mountain town of Fernie BC.<o:p></o:p>

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    Outside of Fernie we had to ride highway again due to the upcoming border crossing.<o:p></o:p>


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    Hard to see, but I demonstrate to the guys the easiest way to turn around a bike…<o:p></o:p>

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    Border xing. Almost no line going into the states, but maybe a hundred cars waiting to come back into Canada. Typical Sunday in the summer, many Canadians coming back from their much cheaper weekend in the states.<o:p></o:p>

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    Ah Montana. Such a dualsporting treasure. For the rest of the day into Whitefish, we intended to follow the continental divide tracks from last year. So far it was a real treat. This part of the ride last year it was raining/snowing non stop and we could barely see 20 feet off the trail.<o:p></o:p>

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    We stopped for a break at this incredibly clear lake (Red Meadow Lake, I think)<o:p></o:p>

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    A swim was very enticing but we were all too lazy to change out of our gear. I would have paid an easy ten bucks for a cold beer at this spot.<o:p></o:p>

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    The road takes us into the back way of Whitefish Lake. If you’ve got a million or two bucks lying around you can pick up a very sweet property on the lake<o:p></o:p>

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    Once into Whitefish we made our way to the ol’ Downtowner motel, a past favorite of ours.<o:p></o:p>

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    We got a sweet deal on a huge dorm room<o:p></o:p>

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    I even got my own little dorm room<o:p></o:p>


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    After cleaning up we hit the town to see what kind of trouble we could get into. Whitefish can be a really fun town, but the time of the year and day of the week makes a huge difference as to how busy it’s going to be. Luckily today was a decently happening night. <o:p></o:p>
    From here on out we no longer had a route planned so we settled down with beer and maps to try and figure out where we would head tomorrow.<o:p></o:p>

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    Meanwhile, there was a contest going on at the bar to see who could hold out a pint glass straight out the longest. One person from each group could compete. We nominated Mike to represent our group. Winner gets $100 gift card.<o:p></o:p>
    Mike is the striped shirt in the center<o:p></o:p>

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    Mike represented well and came in third. He probably could have even come in first or second if the judges had been paying more attention since the other contestants were constantly lowering their glasses past disqualification levels when the judges weren’t looking. <o:p></o:p>
    Proof of the win!<o:p></o:p>

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    And the pipes and will power that got us the win! Good for at least another free pint each<o:p></o:p>

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    We stayed till closing and enjoyed a really good solo cover band dude. I didn’t get his name but he was solid.<o:p></o:p>

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    We tried to hit another bar or two but by then the town was really winding down with back to school just a couple days away so we called it a night.<o:p></o:p>
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    #3
  4. oh100

    oh100 n00b

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2
    Excited to see how this RR goes, keep em comin'! Hope the recovery is coming along well.:super
    #4
  5. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton
    We woke up a little hung over and to light rain but still managed to be on the road before 7:30<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    The plan for the day was to head generally South-West and find a road we had dubbed the “Seizure” from the map the night before because it had so many switchbacks... After a bit of missing turns and backtracking we found ourselves on a nice back road.<o:p></o:p>
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    Soon after we found the seizure road and it was perfect. Barely travelled and windy to the point of being silly, which is perfect. Here’s a straight<o:p></o:p>
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    And here’s a switchback<o:p></o:p>
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    We saw no vehicles the whole time but plenty of cows to keep us honest<o:p></o:p>
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    Eventually the road opens up a bit and you can really start cruising<o:p></o:p>
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    The road goes up and through some passes<o:p></o:p>
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    Once we descended the pass the road grading improves substantially and turns into a cold mix or “Chinese pavement” as I often hear it being called. <o:p></o:p>
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    As nice as the road is, we all prefer gravel and so we turn off onto another back road<o:p></o:p>
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    We rode on through some more nicely graded fast roads<o:p></o:p>
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    It’s almost as if these roads were made for bikers as we pretty much never see anyone. As you’re riding you really have to remind yourself that despite not seeing another vehicle in an hour or more you still need to ride defensively and expect one around every corner.<o:p></o:p>
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    Mike and I switch bikes here for the last half hour or so ride into the nearest town of Thomson Falls, MT. Funny how both of us were very eager to switch back to our respective machines once in town. The higher strung but much lighter and faster nature of the DRZ is right up my alley while the lazier riding, lower revving KLR is more enjoyable for Mike’s laidback, sightseeing style. <o:p></o:p>
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    In Thompson Falls, we hit up a little café called The Little Bear. The wait was insanely long for three starving bikers… At least an hour and twenty minutes!<o:p></o:p>
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    But when the food came out it was fully worth it. Only food pic I promise!<o:p></o:p>
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    Feeling stuffed we head out in search of more riding.<o:p></o:p>
    First we had to ride a bit of tedious highway<o:p></o:p>
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    We had to do a bunch of backtracking as we tried to find a good back road. Each road off the highway was either gated or too degraded to ride.<o:p></o:p>
    We would start off on a new road that seemed promising, but after a mile or two there’d be a downed tree or wash out making it impassible. Each time we had to turn back there’d be tensions in the group as Jarrett didn’t want to waste any more time and just wanted to take the highway and make some miles, whereas I really wanted to avoid the highway at all cost. Having Mike along was good because he would often serve as a tie breaker and luckily for me, today he also was uninterested in highway riding so we kept looking for an alternative.<o:p></o:p>
    Eventually we found this sweet road. Jarrett looks pissed! He claims he was not and that the sun was in his eyes but I think he was just annoyed that we had spent so much time looking for backroads… <o:p></o:p>
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    Anyway, despite the tensions and wasted time, the road was killer with really fun anti-erosion bumps (big dirt mounds) that made perfect jumps for the DRZ. This road was a highlight for me, no doubt.<o:p></o:p>
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    Top of the pass<o:p></o:p>
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    Coming down the pass, the road was extremely rough, I crossed my fingers no one would get a flat.<o:p></o:p>
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    We had crossed into Idaho at some point on the road and started to see some interesting mining remains<o:p></o:p>
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    There was quite a bit of mining infrastructure and a lot of it appeared to be from only recently shut down mines.<o:p></o:p>
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    There were working on remediating this large processing area. Mike, who at the time did a lot of work in northern Canada remediating cold war lookout camps and mines was pretty interested in talking to a worker about the reclamation work.<o:p></o:p>
    There he is looking for someone to chat to.<o:p></o:p>
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    More plant stuff<o:p></o:p>
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    Turns out this little place is known as Burke<o:p></o:p>
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    Only a small handful of residents remained in what was no doubt a pretty crazy mining town<o:p></o:p>
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    Acid drainage anyone?<o:p></o:p>
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    Old structures dotted the sides of the canyon<o:p></o:p>
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    A little ways down the valley we see this mess<o:p></o:p>
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    Apparently it used to be a mill with some colored history<o:p></o:p>
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    Just a few miles down the valley we hit the town of Wallace, ID. This place seemed as good as any to stay. <o:p></o:p>
    Wallace has some pretty interesting history. One being that on the coast to coast highway (I90), Wallace had the very last stop light as the interstate went through town. Eventually they built a viaduct over the town since they couldn’t demolish any buildings due to their historic protection. So you have a small town in a valley, with a huge concrete interstate right above you. It makes for an odd feel.<o:p></o:p>
    The Stardust Motel caught our eye with its flashy style so that where we holed up for the night. I think it was even the cheapest motel of the trip at $60.<o:p></o:p>
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    After we unloaded I gave my bike usual once over, and my tires are looking a little worse for wear. At least 30% tread is worn down and starting to get some chunking. So far not too impressed with the MT21 for just three days riding, but trust me your results will vary as I do ride with no mind towards fuel economy or tire wear. <o:p></o:p>
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    Wallace has a very liberal policy towards ATV’s on the streets and so seeing loads of people riding quads two up with no gear down Main Street was quite an unusual sighting for us. Apparently in the winter the same deal goes for snowmobiles.<o:p></o:p>
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    The food was good, the people were friendly, and the bar was kooky. What more could you want from a small town visit.<o:p></o:p>
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    Also, they have a mini UFO since Wallace is the self proclaimed “center of the universe”<o:p></o:p>
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    #5
  6. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton

    We hit the road around 8am after a tasty breakfast from the local diner. Today we were shooting for Sandpoint ID as our endpoint and we were going to loosely follow some BigDog tracks I had loaded in the GPS just in case. I think I prefer following existing tracks as it really makes it easier to just enjoy the ride as opposed to constantly pulling out the maps and trying to figure out where to turn and what road might be worth taking.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    We knocked off a bit of smooth windy pavement before hitting up some old mining trail.<o:p></o:p>
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    It just kept climbing in elevation. <o:p></o:p>
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    You can see the road following the side of the mountain<o:p></o:p>
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    Before heading endlessly down hill<o:p></o:p>
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    Eventually we pop out onto another nice paved road<o:p></o:p>
    This horse was trotting down the road with this little goat beside it that seemed to think the horse was his mother and wouldn’t leave her side<o:p></o:p>
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    We got stuck behind some bridge construction and the flag person told us it could be up too 4 hours before the road was put back together enough drive through! Luckily for us being on bikes they lets us sneak by on the narrow road in about 15minutes. Score one for the bikes.<o:p></o:p>
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    In this county in Idaho, apparently ATV’s are allowed on the road which is pretty neat.<o:p></o:p>
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    Took a break on the bridge.<o:p></o:p>
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    More nice skinny road cruising<o:p></o:p>
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    Occasionally the tracks would take us on roads obviously rarely traveled but still in great shape<o:p></o:p>
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    Then we got on this sweet power line maintenance trail that followed the lines roughly and just went up and down over the hills. We have similar maintenance trails back home in Alberta but they are pretty well only useable in the winter on snowmobiles because of the endless bogs and muskeg areas. <o:p></o:p>
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    Back on a bridge, time for another break<o:p></o:p>
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    From here the road opened up but was still pretty enjoyable<o:p></o:p>
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    We descended quite a few miles again and popped back out on the highway. Only this time it was pretty flat and boring so within a couple miles we had pulled over to discuss an alternative.<o:p></o:p>
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    After consulting the map we found a trail that looked like it would punch through and bring us right into the back side of Sandpoint. At first it looked good but after a few km the trail started to get pretty tight and questionable.<o:p></o:p>
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    I rode ahead a couple of miles to check it out and decided it was not suitable for two loaded up KLR’s. It quickly turned into single track and had fairly steep hills. Had we all been on smaller bikes I would have really pushed for it but I knew the boys would not enjoy it at all on their current steads.<o:p></o:p>
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    Back on the highway cruising into town<o:p></o:p>
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    Sandpoint was our priciest hotel yet, but we scored a ground floor unit with a patio leading right into the parking lot so unloading was a snap.<o:p></o:p>
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    It was pretty earlier afternoon and hot when we rolled into town but before hitting the patios we had a few chores to take care off.<o:p></o:p>
    Laundry<o:p></o:p>
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    And airfilter cleaning<o:p></o:p>
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    Meanwhile I picked up a sixer of tallboys to make the task more fun, like beer does for almost everything…<o:p></o:p>
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    Sandpoint has the most spiders infestations I have seen in a long time. Every shrub and awning was covered in nest and webs.<o:p></o:p>
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    We wound the day out with some good eats many pints. Sand Point is nice little city with lots of pubs and bars. Stats:<o:p></o:p>
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    #6
  7. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton

    Anyway after a good night out we woke early to a the usual mild hangover and that “just not enough sleep” feeling despite not hitting the road until well after 9am this morning<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    Got to love the quick access airfilter on the DRZ. Jarrett and Mike had to break out their tools to get their filters back in. Enjoy the small victories when you can.<o:p></o:p>
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    More road construction delays us leaving town<o:p></o:p>
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    But soon we were ripping on fun roads again. Hangover and fatigue are easily put to the back of the mind<o:p></o:p>
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    We stopped at Priest Lake for an early lunch and to warm up. It was our first fairly chilly day<o:p></o:p>
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    After lunch we cruised around the lake to check out cabins and found a little museum<o:p></o:p>
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    From the museum on we had a bunch of bad luck finding our way on the trails. At first we were enjoying a nice scenic ride<o:p></o:p>
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    But soon after the trails began to deteriorate and the signage becomes less clear. Trails showing on our GPS and map simply did not seem to exits.<o:p></o:p>
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    Left or right? Let’s try right, GPS says it goes right through to the highway.<o:p></o:p>
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    So far so good, nice trail<o:p></o:p>
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    But eventually it dead ends. You can see the highway just a mile away in the valley and yet to get back the way we came is quite a trek.<o:p></o:p>
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    We go back to the fork in the road and head left. Eventually the same thing but this time it’s gated.<o:p></o:p>
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    So with that we head back the long way to highway wasting plenty of time and fuel. This is not our first backtrack on the trip but it is a frustrating one for me because I was sure that this way would get us through and had put myself on the line insisting we could get through on the back roads. Plus who likes being wrong?<o:p></o:p>
    No matter, we’ll get there eventually. Back at the highway we find a decent frontage road.<o:p></o:p>
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    A while later we see this sign. Granite pass sounds familiar from other ride reports in Idaho and I suggest we give it a try<o:p></o:p>
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    A little ways down the road we find this sign and a closed gate leading to the pass. Jarrett immediately starts to turn around and head back to the main road. I’m about to do the same when luckily Mike notices the dates of closure and points out there is still a few days left where travel is permitted! And the gate is not locked, just closed! Happy dance!<o:p></o:p>
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    Granite pass should be on your list if you are in the area. Starts easy<o:p></o:p>
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    Gets a bit narrower<o:p></o:p>
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    A bit more washed out<o:p></o:p>
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    [​IMG]And a bit rockier<o:p></o:p>
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    But it’s loaded with Huckleberries<o:p></o:p>
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    A tasty fruit we don’t have back home<o:p></o:p>
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    Back on the pass<o:p></o:p>
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    Amazingly we did see someone camping with a pickup along the way. Must have been a horribly rough and slow drive in!<o:p></o:p>
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    As with any pass trail, there is of course a long decent down<o:p></o:p>
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    After the pass we ride some more pretty nice roads<o:p></o:p>
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    The sun was even coming out! Had to take off some layers<o:p></o:p>
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    As with many mountain roads, a mistake near the edge would almost certainly be death. Or at least a horrifically long fall. <o:p></o:p>
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    Mike cruising by<o:p></o:p>
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    More windy descents<o:p></o:p>
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    Back in civilization we stopped by the Sullivan Lake damn for a break and stretch. We had crossed into Washington at some point on the trail<o:p></o:p>
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    While we were stopped we discussed the next suitable place to hold up for the night. We had originally planned to go much further and possibly back north into BC but we noticed a dam and cave tour along the way and decided to hole up for the night in the next town with a hotel so we could check out the tours in the morning. There were two small towns coming up Linton? and Metaline Falls, only separated by the Pend Oreille River. Both looked equally dead but Metaline Falls at least had one bar so we choose to stay there.<o:p></o:p>
    We stayed at the Washington Hotel which was an experience in itself. Checking in was tough because no one was around. We had to inquire at a nearby dinner where they tracked down the owner and then we had to pay the owners wife whom we had to find at the bar. The last item would be no problem since the bar was the next logical stop anyway.<o:p></o:p>
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    This was my room; there was no lock on the door.<o:p></o:p>
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    The communal bathroom was down the hall<o:p></o:p>
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    And there’s even a lounge with a big screen<o:p></o:p>
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    As a side note, the only reason I cared about not having a lock on my door (aside from my valuables of course) was the guy in the room next to me. He was a very odd fellow to say the least and when I met him he was sharpening and cleaning his rather large collection of knives. Apparently he was a travelling butcher who went from town to town preparing meat. Call me paranoid or crazy, but he was odd enough to make me strongly consider sliding the heavy dresser in front of my door at night so I could at least hear him approaching to slit my throat.<o:p></o:p>
    Ah 5<SUP>th</SUP> Ave Bar and Grill. Here’s where we spent the entire long evening. <o:p></o:p>
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    As I said, it was the only place in town so we got know a few of the locals, hear most of the songs in the jukebox and try all the beers on tap, - twice. And play a bunch of pool. <o:p></o:p>
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    Here’s main street at night. It’s a real party!<o:p></o:p>
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    Stats:<o:p></o:p>
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    #7
  8. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton

    Amazingly I survived the night without getting butchered. Actually the guy next door had silently left before we were up at 7:30 or so.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    After a tasty breakfast at Cathy’s served by who I’m sure is the best looking woman in town we loaded up<o:p></o:p>
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    A local had told us the night before that we could easily ride right to the top of the small mountain that overlooked the river, so that was the goal of the morning before checking out the dam and cave tour.<o:p></o:p>
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    We followed his directions up some trails that Mike somehow remembered and were rewarded with a pretty wicked view of the two towns<o:p></o:p>
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    It was pretty well a vertical drop to the road<o:p></o:p>
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    Call me immature but when I see a rare opportunity to pee off hundreds of vertical feet I don’t waste it!<o:p></o:p>
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    The MT21 were looking pretty sad after only 6 days and about a thousand miles<o:p></o:p>
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    The same local that told us about the lookout point also mentioned going around a barrier and seeing something neat that none of us could remember exactly what it was supposed to be.<o:p></o:p>
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    We couldn’t really find anything too great at the end of the road. There was river crossing that he had mentioned but no one really felt like riding down the steep bank and crossing the shallow but rocky and wide river so early in the morning. <o:p></o:p>
    On the way back there was a bit of old mining stuff on the hills<o:p></o:p>
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    The barrier on the way out was a bit trickier since you had to run up a short but steep hill and then immediately turn sharp left in between some boulders placed as a barrier. Jarrett powering up the hill<o:p></o:p>
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    I sadly experienced the first bail on the trip. Having the lightest bike and being the only rider with years of dirtbiking experience I wasn’t going to live this one down anytime soon. In my defense I might have been able to save it, but it’s so ingrained into me to bail when in doubt instead risking a loaded bike falling on my ankle or leg.<o:p></o:p>
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    Next up was the damn and the cave tours. After riding to the Boundary Damn we found we had a couple hours to kill before the next one so we headed for the Gardner Cave.<o:p></o:p>
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    Waiting for the tour guide. When she arrived you could tell she was not expecting anyone to be there, the season was obviously winding down for tourist.<o:p></o:p>
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    Going inside the bat piss central. Honestly I’ve been in many caves but this one really stunk bad! But it was free so what can I say.<o:p></o:p>
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    There were some neat features<o:p></o:p>
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    This feature was aptly named after Nixon<o:p></o:p>
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    This was the signature of someone named Pearl that apparently was in the caves in 1912 at the age of 12 or something.<o:p></o:p>
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    And finally a group picture in front of the giant turd looking thingy<o:p></o:p>
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    With the caves done we still had some time to kill before the damn tour so we rode around looking for another lookout spot that the same local had mentioned. It’s supposed to overlook whole damn. Close but not it<o:p></o:p>
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    He told us to ride past a large transformer station<o:p></o:p>
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    Here we go, this must be it!<o:p></o:p>
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    Panorama, sort of<o:p></o:p>
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    Back at the damn we chilled on the dock for a little while<o:p></o:p>
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    Finally on the way to the tour<o:p></o:p>
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    A bat nappin’ on the wall<o:p></o:p>
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    Flood gates<o:p></o:p>
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    The security guy at the gate told us that we couldn’t go on top of the dam but when we asked our unenthusiastic tour guide she was said “sure whatever” and so we followed her in a pick up on our bikes and she led us to the top. Another tour guide who was clearly expecting a slack day without 3 dirty biking on the AM tour…<o:p></o:p>
    Garbage shoot is on the right. <o:p></o:p>
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    Better shot of it on the left<o:p></o:p>
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    I’ve never seen powerlines at that angle<o:p></o:p>
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    That’s it, cruising back to get our gear we left with the security guy at the gate.<o:p></o:p>
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    After we got our stuff we headed out further towards the boarder on some logging roads. We had a blast ripping down these roads. Fast with little dust.<o:p></o:p>
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    Really nice consistency for predictable power slides<o:p></o:p>
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    The road went fairly close to the international boarder a few times and roughly paralleled it for about 20km. At one point there was a chopper flying above us, seeming like it was tracking us through the trees. Might have been my imagination or maybe it was the border patrol checking us out.<o:p></o:p>
    Signage, we must be getting closer to civilization<o:p></o:p>
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    Canada is just across the river<o:p></o:p>
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    “Mike, where to?”<o:p></o:p>
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    After crossing back into BC we rode a bit of highway before I suggested we try taking an old rail bed I had read about in the area<o:p></o:p>
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    We ended up riding it for all of two km before heading back on to the highway. It was just too whooped out to handle for the soft suspension on the heavy KLRs.<o:p></o:p>
    Our general direction was Nelson, BC. We tried some more gravel roads and saw this little ute.<o:p></o:p>
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    It looked pretty good, some grown up double track<o:p></o:p>
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    Newer bridge, usually a good sign.<o:p></o:p>
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    Until we hit this sign.<o:p></o:p>
    The gate was not locked, but it looked like it had been forced open. Mike was keen to keep going, Jarrett was not. For once I was the tie breaker. I decided that even though the gate was open on this end, it may be closed on the other end (been there…) and on top of that we really don’t even know if this road takes us where we need to go. So we back tracked yet again to the highway. <o:p></o:p>
    Really starting to miss following known tracks, something next year will have more off. <o:p></o:p>
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    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
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    After the uneventful ride along the highway to Nelson, we spent a fair bit of time trying to find a reasonable hotel. Nelson was fairly booked and we ended up spending $180(+ insane BC tax) for a room, the most expensive yet by far. Welcome back to Canada, the land of expensive hotels, beer and gas.<o:p></o:p>
    BUT, also welcome to a city with loads of good looking girls and a huge selection of tasty beers so it’s a fair trade off, especially coming from Metaline Falls.<o:p></o:p>
    Stats:<o:p></o:p>
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    [​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
    #8
  9. Tgpatrsn

    Tgpatrsn Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Oddometer:
    25
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Looks like a great trip!!!! Enjoy!!!!
    #9
  10. sunbandit

    sunbandit Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 14, 2012
    Oddometer:
    35
    Pictures were great. Makes me want to give a visit to the states out West.

    P.S I was really hoping you had a pic of Cathy, so as to set the standard :wink:
    #10
  11. nickgindy

    nickgindy KLR Basher

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,690
    Location:
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Great ride report.
    #11
  12. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,534
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    Nice trip, Great photos, Thanks for the time and work to share. Enjoyed much. :clap:clap:clap
    #12
  13. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton
    Thanks for the replys! Sadly no pic of Cathy...
    #13
  14. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton


    Next morning we had a real late start after an extremely filling but painfully slow breakfast service. It seems that as the trip progresses, we’re leaving later and later. On top of that Mike needed oil and I had to grab some crap from the supermarket so we departed even later still. I too had started bringing oil with me because my bike was starting to consume it at the rate of about 500ml / 1000km. All the sustained high-speed rpms must be taking their toll on the top end.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    Leaving town<o:p></o:p>
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    Had a scenic little back road on the way to the ferry<o:p></o:p>
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    Arriving at the ferry terminal, the line was long but as with most ferries, bikes get moved right up to the front which is pretty sweet. Score two for the bikes.<o:p></o:p>
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    18.7km/hr was the max ferry speed. In case you were wondering<o:p></o:p>
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    We only got ride a few km of the supremely awesome highway 3a along Kootenay lake before we had to turn off for the Grey Creek pass. Jarrett and I did this pass a few years ago and both felt it was worth a repeat.<o:p></o:p>
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    I especially enjoy the forgiving sweeping switch backs. Power slide central.<o:p></o:p>
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    The road climbs up the pass for quite a few clicks, some of it where you can just hold the gas pinned for a km of so at a time before you have to back your speed off… (maybe not so much on a more powerful bike…)<o:p></o:p>
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    Top of the pass<o:p></o:p>
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    Going down isn’t nearly as fun since it more about breaking than gas..<o:p></o:p>
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    Eventually the roads pops out near Kimberly, a small mining town turned touristy. We ate a nice lunch here after which Mike decided he had to start heading home solo in order to get back to a wedding in time.<o:p></o:p>
    Meanwhile, Jarrett and I still had a few days before we had to head back so we decided to head back south into the states to take advantage of the cheaper - everything.<o:p></o:p>
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    Back at the boarder for our third crossing of the week<o:p></o:p>
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    Originally we planned to stay in Bonner’s Ferry for the night but when we got there and rode through town it was much, much smaller than anticipated so we decided to just book it south back to Sandpoint where we knew it’d be a fun scene.<o:p></o:p>
    In Sandpoint we checked into the same hotel from a couple days prior <o:p></o:p>
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    Stats:<o:p></o:p>
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    Our room came with a free bat near the door…<o:p></o:p>
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    Sandpoint turned out to be a huge party town that night. It was packed with students back in town to start the college season. We had a good time drinking with the locals and the best part was we decided to take the next day off to sleep in and take care of some bike maintenance<o:p></o:p>
    #14
  15. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton
    After a late sleep in and a relaxing moring drinking coffee, we made a little trip down the interstate to the local walmart for oil and a cheap container to drain the old oil into. BTW, the dark spot beneath my bike is not oil, just a wet spot. We are faily careful with the parking lot changes



    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p>[​IMG]<o:p></o:p>
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    On top of the usual oil changes and such my fairing was really starting to get floppy and I was worried a total failure was just a hard bump away. We picked up some industrial strength glue and got to work. Here I am mixing the “batch”. I might be a little high from the glue fumes.<o:p></o:p>
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    All glued up, only time will tell it it’ll hold<o:p></o:p>
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    Rest of the day was spent lounging and visiting the various fairs and things going on that weekend and waiting for the evening to get our drink on. I’ll spare you the blurry drunken bar pictures, but coming back to Sandpoint was a good call!
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    #15
  16. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton

    We woke up late feeling relatively well rested (minus the headach) and ready to get back on the road. In the morning we knocked off a few miles of highway before turning off onto an interesting road that looked like it would cut through the mountains.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    I had a really close call with a deer while riding through this straight, narrow wooded section way to fast.<o:p></o:p>
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    I had to pull over and regroup after realizing how bad that could have been. Hitting the deer at 110km/hr would be one thing, but the resulting flying into a tree and coming to an instant stop would likely have been much worse.<o:p></o:p>
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    I insisted that Jarrett ride in front for a while to keep my speed in line. I don’t always ride fast but at times when the riding is good I tend to just slip into the zone and get a bit carried away and before I know it, I’m doing highway speeds on a narrow dirt road.<o:p></o:p>
    More cruisey roads <o:p></o:p>
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    Very smooth and very narrow<o:p></o:p>
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    Hard to see but the is a massive drop just off the side of the road<o:p></o:p>
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    We found the old Leona cemetery<o:p></o:p>
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    Short life. RIP<o:p></o:p>
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    We also came across some old structures <o:p></o:p>
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    Further down the road it began to narrow up to a quad width<o:p></o:p>
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    The ‘road’ wasn’t looking too promising since we had to cross the fair sized Kootenai river, but my GPS claimed this trail was a road with a bridge, so we carried on. Eventually we got to a steep very sandy hill on sharp corner. We didn’t think Jarrett’s bike would be able to make it back up if we had to ride back up, so it was decided that I would ride ahead and scout out the bridge first. It was still a long ways down to the river and there may be more tough areas as well.<o:p></o:p>
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    Ridding ahead solo, the trail was narrow and almost like some sort of rail bed only it seemed too steep and the corners too sharp for a train. It was a long series of switch backs.<o:p></o:p>
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    There were a few sections that had large berms built up to keep vehicles out but were trampled enough by quads for me to ride over without bottoming out. (barely) <o:p></o:p>
    Eventually I descended far enough to see the bridge. It was big sturdy looking steel structure<o:p></o:p>
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    But wait? Do my eyes deceive me?<o:p></o:p>
    Is there no bridge deck!!? <o:p></o:p>
    You’ve got to be kidding me. Why would they decommission such a well built and no doubt expensive bridge? Only thing I can think of is that at this point, the river is right on the boundary between two states and maybe they wanted more control of access points. All I know for sure is that we’re not crossing the river here and that some considerable backtracking is ahead of us.<o:p></o:p>
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    I head back up the trail towards Jarrett really, really hoping that he didn’t start coming down the trail. But sure enough just as I got to bottom of the dreaded steep, sandy hill, there he is! He had just descended… Bloody hell. This is not going to be fun.<o:p></o:p>
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    Time for a little planning. How are we going to do this? Ok first thing let’s get my bike up. Due to the sharp corner on the hill there is only a little bit of momentum we can use before the corner becomes too fast. With Jarrett ready to push midway up just around the sharp corner, I hit the gas hard. Engine screaming and tires clawing through the sand, I make it about half way up the slope before my bike loses all traction and stops creeping forward. While still hard on the gas, I paddle hard with my feet while Jarrett jumps in and pushes the bike from behind. All this, plus a little bouncing on the seat for a touch more traction and we inch the rest of the way up the hill. My poor bike, it was just about sitting on the rev limiter at times during the ascent. But it’s up! One bike down and one much lower, much heavier bike to go…<o:p></o:p>
    Here’s the corner right before the base of the hill<o:p></o:p>
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    For Jarrett’s beast we unloaded the panniers and gear first. I was elected to be driver since I was a bit lighter and had much more experience riding bikes in sand, plus Jarrett could probably push a bit more effectively then me with a much longer reach. We aimed for the same plan of attack only this time Jarrett would start pushing a bit sooner and I would try for a touch more momentum before the corner. We really had only had one decent shot at this since my bike had chewed up the sand track and made it even softer, and the rut deeper.<o:p></o:p>
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    Ready go! I give the KLR a healthy amount of throttle and dump the clutch. The heavy bike starts charging toward the hill and we get ready for the final battle of heft vs sand. About a third of the way up, the bike loses all traction and slows to a crawl. I know that if we let it come to a full stop we’ll never get moving forward again and we’d have to start over. So still on the gas, I start my mad feet paddling and yell to Jarrett to Push! Push! Push! I could feel the tire digging and the bike dropping into the sand. It felt like just as the swing arm was almost completely buried into the sand we’d push it forward just enough for the bike to inch ahead and get the rear wheel back on top until it would start sinking again. Slowly, slowly we fought our way inch by inch up the hill. Finally, with the bike at the top I kill the engine and we both collapse in exhaustion and relief. The coolent warning temp light on the bike is lit up from the engine screaming with no airflow. I’m not sure how many attempts we had in us but I’m sure glad we made it up! <o:p></o:p>
    Here’s how narrow it is<o:p></o:p>
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    Gives you an idea of steepness<o:p></o:p>
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    After a little rest we load back up and head back out towards the highway. We wanted to get away from the sand hill asap. Instead we took a break at this nice little creek.<o:p></o:p>
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    At the creek we consulted the map and found another road that would at least give us a different view on the way back to the highway and save us a good 15km of highway. It was a nicely paved windy road<o:p></o:p>
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    And offered beautiful views of the river<o:p></o:p>
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    Finally back on the highway we at least had bridge with a deck on it. Much easier to cross…<o:p></o:p>
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    Just for kicks I found the road that we would have emerged from had we been able to cross the first bridge<o:p></o:p>
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    Road still looked good fairly close to the river<o:p></o:p>
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    And then we hit this sign. Obviously homemade. I guess we’ll never know what the deal is with the bridge closure. Might have been some private land sale with the new owner removing the bridge deck?<o:p></o:p>
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    Back on the highway, it was at least scenic and had a few good curves<o:p></o:p>
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    We took a break to check out the beautiful Kootenai River<o:p></o:p>
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    This will be the last year I bring such a poor camera, as I really could not capture the stunning beauty of the area<o:p></o:p>
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    It was a crazy hue of green<o:p></o:p>
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    On the way back to the bikes we took a little shortcut under the fence<o:p></o:p>
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    Over the tracks and scramble up the slope…<o:p></o:p>
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    And finally, a short walk back along the highway<o:p></o:p>
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    At Libby we turned off on Hwy 2 and headed north towards the dam and Lake Koocanusa<o:p></o:p>
    At the dam we could ride along either side of the long lake, but we chose the west side because it looked much windier, and less travelled.<o:p></o:p>
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    Turned out to be wicked 65km of third and fourth gear bombing alongside the lake and a mountain. We enjoyed a spirited cruise on some rough but grippy paved road until we got stuck behind a couple of Harley riders. For a while until they eventually pulled off on a turn out, we were stuck behind them riding at what felt like half our previous speed. You really don’t realize how fast you can corner on a dual sport until you watch a heavy cruiser slowly take a curve and still be almost scraping it’s belly and pegs. These guys couldn’t go much fast even if they wanted to. <o:p></o:p>
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    Eventually we hit the bridge and crossed back over the lake for our ride out to the highway. <o:p></o:p>
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    Since it was already after 6 and we had missed lunch, we really just wanted to get to our destination to eat and drink. We had a few option but opted just to hammer out the 50min highway cruise south back to Whitefish where we had stayed our second night. <o:p></o:p>
    In Whitefish we didn’t quite have as much luck as we did the first night. There was a rodeo going on or something and literally every room was booked. It was now looking like we’d have to ride another 25km into Kalispell. But on the way out of town we noticed one hotel still claimed to have vacancies. A stop into the sketchy office should have been enough of a hint to keep moving but by then we just wanted a room. Well we got quite a room. 90 bucks for this gem!<o:p></o:p>
    Executive Kitchen:<o:p></o:p>
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    Luxurious bathroom<o:p></o:p>
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    Even two bedrooms! (sort of)<o:p></o:p>
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    Plus check out the sweet room art. Not creepy at all!<o:p></o:p>
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    In any case, we unanimously decided that beer, and lots of it, would be the only way we could sleep with the bed bugs biting us all night.<o:p></o:p>
    Stats:<o:p></o:p>
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    #16
  17. nickgindy

    nickgindy KLR Basher

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,690
    Location:
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    I find the picture of the hand holding a.flower kind of.creepy.
    #17
  18. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton

    After sleeping in a bit and a slow breakfast service at a busy dinner we weren’t on the road until 10am or so! Since our park pass was still valid for another day was decided to head back into Glacier Park and ride some of the unpaved back roads up towards the border. Being a weekend, the park was packed!<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    Took us close to 30min of idling to get into the park, then just as it looked like we were home free Jarrett’s bike stalled out and wouldn’t restart after many attemps. <o:p></o:p>
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    We had no idea what it could be so we started pulling it a part to check the basics<o:p></o:p>
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    It was hot and cars were constantly driving by and staring. Not an idea break down spot.<o:p></o:p>
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    It had fuel, but with the plug out we couldn't seem to see a spark. We weighed our options and decided that it being a long weekend, if it needed an electrical part we’d have to wait at least two days for any bike store to open, plus get the bike into town. Jarrett called his GF and asked her to call around and get a truck rented in Calgary and then come down and get his bike.<o:p></o:p>
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    While we waited, we put the bike back together. Just for kicks, since it didn’t matter if I drained the battery or not, I held down the starter and let to work for a good twenty seconds. It sputtered a bit just as I let go! I tried it again and after about ten seconds it started! Could it have just been stalled and flooded (probably, in hindsight)? Or some breather hose temperarely clogged? Or a loose electrical connection? We didn’t know why it stopped except that right now it was running and we should head north while we can in case it dies again.
    Unsure if it would simply quit again, we decided to skip the backroads and just head north on the highway. This was a huge disappointment but felt like the most sensible course of action
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    Passing quads on the Highway<o:p></o:p>
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    Not sure where they were headed but sure seemed sketchy to be riding so slow around a corner on a narrow highway. It would be too easy for a semi to round the bend and clip these guys. Also, isn’t that guy’s tread on backwards?<o:p></o:p>
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    The highway was brutally boring. It gets real straight and fairly flat. Here’s where I can see the merits of a cruiser bike...<o:p></o:p>
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    Before we can even see the border crossing we hit a massive lineup of cars. Had to be at least a mile long<o:p></o:p>
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    Luckily for us, we knew about the back road that would pop us out right near the border.<o:p></o:p>
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    From there we just snuck back into the lineup only a few hundred meters from the crossing. Had to of saved us at least an hour or two.<o:p></o:p>
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    By supper time we were back in Fernie, BC. Even if Jarrett’s bike failed again at least we were only three hours from his home and I could easily get my truck to pick it up. But so far it was running perfect again.<o:p></o:p>
    Stats:<o:p></o:p>
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    #18
  19. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton

    Bigtime. I think it's supposed to be busting out of the ground at a grave? like a zombie or someone buried alive?
    #19
  20. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton

    We geared up and Jarrett’s bike fired right up. This gave us the confidence to ride some more back roads again. Just outside of Fernie<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    We picked up the power line trail again<o:p></o:p>
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    Back through the creek<o:p></o:p>
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    Past Crowsnest Mountain<o:p></o:p>
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    And back on the FTR<o:p></o:p>
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    Here’s why my rear tires don’t last. Second gear clutch dump spinning all the way up to speed. Too much fun!
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    Jarrett cruising by<o:p></o:p>
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    Until finally, we say goodbye to the last of the gravel. <o:p></o:p>
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    Saw a few goats<o:p></o:p>
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    Saw my shadow<o:p></o:p>
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    Calgary<o:p></o:p>
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    We never did find out why Jarrett’s bike died. But if anyone read our last year’s trip, we never did find out why it died on that trip either. I’m sure it’s simple but without knowing the cause it’s hard to fix and frustrating.<o:p></o:p>
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    My tire after just under 3000km. I might have gotten another 500-800km on it had I ran it completely bald<o:p></o:p>
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    Final day Stats:<o:p></o:p>
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    Final trip thoughts? <o:p></o:p>
    My ol’ DRZ, other than consuming some oil, ran flawlessly as usual. I wore a MC jacket this year instead of dirt bike body armor and preferred it quite a bit. The fairing did give me trouble again but I’ve since re-enforced the bracket with piece of aluminum and hopefully resolved the issue for good. I don’t foresee any major mod for next year’s trip. Might try some more street oriented tires like the continentals, as mud seems rare and gravel can be ridden on street tires.<o:p></o:p>
    Next year’s adventure I will attempt to capture better pics and we’ll hopefully ride some more ambitious trails, and get into more trouble... <o:p></o:p>
    If you made it to the end, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the ride! Oh and if you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world that has no snow at the moment, for god’s sake get out and ride!<o:p></o:p>
    #20