7 days 1300 miles Canyonlands, Beef Basin, Lockhart Basin: Husky 701 and BMW GS1200

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Frontpointer1000, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    Sun blazing, sweat rolling, muscles aching, I'm lifting my Husky 701 for the 30th time today, trying to navigate and lift the weighted-down back end of this nimble beast over yet another bed of red rocks on a mountain side that I have no business being on. It's day 2 of a 1300 mile trip my buddy and I have dreamt up. We're resting, smiling and sweating like stuck pigs. We're somewhere on the Lockhart Trail, going north to south and loving how painful this is. We will be camping and riding dirt, mud and rocks for next week. Hotels are against the rules. Crying is also against the rules.

    I'm a street biker. I am not a dirt biker. I own a WR250F and have been on it maybe 4 times. Ever. That's the extent of my dirt riding experience. In fact, I've done more dirt on my FJR1300 than I have on that WR. So that's why I have no business being out here, in the middle of Southern Utah madness, Desert Solitaire on steroids.

    We've both been riding bikes since college, My buddy and I - in fact he’s the one who got me into riding. Now 20 years later we find ourselves in this heart of darkness, the desert that is both my home and a strange mystery. I am as much a noob as you can be when it comes to ADV riding. I had a BMW F650 GS and certainly did some fire road riding and had a few little adventures that way but this is different. We are alone and will ride over 1300 miles, mostly on dirt and trails, mostly in the gorgeous, God-hammered desert wilderness of southern Utah.

    I've been camping and hiking there for the better part of my life but everywhere we went on this trip - I've essentially never been to. It was all new.
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  2. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  3. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    “The canyon and her dories embody and elusive riddle. It is a paradox rooted in the dream that many of us share of immersing ourselves so deeply, so inextricably, into a pocket of landscape, or a stretch of river - anything that seems to embody the wildness we have lost - that we may somehow take possession of those places and make them ours. Yet the truth, like an eddy, runs in the opposite direction.
    In the end, it is they that claim us. And we who belong to them.”
    ― Kevin Fedarko, The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon
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  4. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    So this wilderness had taken ahold of our hearts, and made her ours, and made us, hers.

    I live near SLC, my buddy is in MA. He shipped out his GS. I was in charge of team gear and food, he developed the route. Both of us had little knowledge of the trails we were riding on, but had substantial knowledge of the general areas. We rode down from Provo area on pavement to Green River, leaving on Sunday Oct 28th. We had wanted to leave in the morning but I had stuff until the evening, so we were riding in the dark. Got to Ruby Ranch area just outside of Green River. This was the first dirt of the trip We stopped to let out some air in the tires. My buddy dropped his bike. 10 feet of dirt, one drop. Loving this already.
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  5. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    We went out to 10 mile point/10 mile bench along the 10 Mile Road and camped overlooking the green river, we rode this for a couple of hours in the midnight with the moon light which was phenomenal. Deep sand, dropping the bike was painless but tiring.

    Next day (Day 2) rode out through some beautiful deep sand, awesome sand washes and incredible spires, around red mad mountains I have never seen before. We got out to Route 313, rode south toward Dead Horse Point State Park and just before the entrance, we took Long Canyon Road east (a plowed gravel road that turns tortuous with exquisite overlooks just above Pucker Pass). Turns tight and steep, connects to Route 279 (Potash Mine Road). The last time I was on this road it was gravel, so seeing Potash paved was novel. Went in to Moab to gas up, get water and get some goodies for the bike: The bike had thumpered its way loose of a left handguard (barkbuster) bolt and the foot brake pedal. Long Canyon without that brake was fun.
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  6. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  7. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  8. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    So this is Day 2. Late afternoon. I've dropped the bike a handful of times but nothing really serious, nothing has really broken, a couple of bits were lost but all were easily replaced. I'm wondering what Hell I'm going to do to this bike. This is the part where I tell you "my" 2018 Husky 701 Enduro isn't really mine.

    I had my eyes on a Husqvarna 701 Enduro but it got bought just before I could get it. Literally. Like 15 minutes. Then I just couldn't find the right bike for this trip. Then alluvasudden it's T minus 30 days and my buddy JS just says, "Take my bike." Fully loaded. Turn key operation. All I did was add my Garmin Montana - he had a hard-wired cradle already installed. Mosko Moto everything, even some tools. Seriously, this guy gave me his bike and said, "Only requirement: bring it back broken."

    With gear packed and bike weighted down, he even helped me adjust SAG just for me. Unbelievable.

    JS - thanks man, you have given me the key to Pandora's Box.

    Leaving Moab, we followed the paved road on the southern side of the Colorado River to Kane Creek. We quickly hit the dirt and rode up over Hurrah Pass, hitting this just as the sun was surrendering its hold on the day. The sunset was golden and glorious, made more intense by pinks and purpled, with valleys bleeding into other valleys, rough dark mountains undulating into canyons, repeating endlessly until sky and mountain were the same.

    We were both surprised to see how many BLM-established camping spots had been developed.
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  9. IceCreamSoldier

    IceCreamSoldier suffering somewhere

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    Oh boy.... gotta feeling this one will be entertaining !
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  10. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    Going up over a Hurrah Pass is where things started to get a little interesting. Recall, I have really done essentially no back country or sophisticated dirt riding. Its embarrassing and funny to consider that on this first dirt road with really the first little bit of 2 or 3 inch shelves on a tight corner with a bit of a rise I stalled out because I was anxious about this being the most difficult "obstacle" I had up to that point encountered.

    My husky 701 had after market large aux fuel cells that were plastic and when I stalled, I dropped it to the right and she landed perfectly on an outstretched (like a desert middle finger) corner rock which split open the gas cell on the right. Despite my best efforts, I emptied out all kinds of hydrocarbons back into the Desert. Unfortunately we had just gassed up so my other two tanks were full and I had nowhere to put that extra gas.

    Dirt road desert Hell - 2 points
    Me - Zero
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  11. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  12. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    Coming down from the Pass we encountered two individuals in Jeeps and one guy on a dirt bike all going the other way.

    Night #2 was spent overlooking the Colorado river about 15-20 miles below Hurrah Pass. We camped on a little outlook with the Colorado River below us surrounded by vermillion cliffs on all sides. We hiked down to the river, beat our way through the devilish tamarisk and went swimming in the Colorado River under darkness. With total cloud cover and no moon, and an absolute crazy jungle of tamarisk, we got ourselves appropriately lost and spent two hours trying to find our way back. That was fun.

    This when I realized the desert was trying to kill us. Not maliciously, but if you want to enter the gates of her sacred wilderness, you have to be worthy. She was putting us to the test. Was I worthy? I would ask myself this question many times on our lonely desert pilgrimage. I am reminded of Dante: "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate"

    Desert- 3 points
    Me - zero
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  13. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  14. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    Day 3 - a little lazy start, then down into Lockhart Trail. The first two nights weren't too cold and we slept out under the stars, but the morning was chilly.
    The jeep road was manageable and fun, then we got to Chicken Corners and the fun really started.

    My buddy had used satellite imaging and Google Maps and some other mapping software to set out all of the trails we would be doing. H incorrated some general areas I wanted to go to and voila! All routes were made into GPX files and loaded into our Montanas. He did all the work and I could blame any crappy riding on him, but at this point neither one of us had any idea about the difficulty of any of the trails. We figured if someone else has been there on a mechanized vehicle, we could go there too, perhaps it would be harder for us but we were ready to spend time, break things, sweat and bleed. We are no strangers to figuring it out on the fly, Macgyvering the Hell outta something and pain is just pain. We had a week to figure it out and plenty of food and water (but not as much gas as I would have wanted - thank you Middle Finger Rock) so whatever, right?
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  15. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  16. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  17. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  18. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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  19. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    This Canyon was hard.

    Yes, we bled, broke a lot of stuff and had a total blast. What a beautiful canyon! The Basin was movingly beautiful, I feel like the hours spent in Lockhart were like drinking from a fire hose attached to the "Encyclopedia of ADV Riding" connected to an 850 Horsepower supercharged Hemi running on rocket fuel. We broke stuff. We fixed stuff. We figured out stuff.

    At some point my buddy disappeared. I waited and nothing. Turning around I imagined he had fallen off a cliff. I backtracked and found him on the trail, tearing things apart. His bike had simply died. Quickly diagnosed, it was the stupid kickstand kill switch. He had hit a rock and destroyed it, so there was no signal - the bike was too smart for itself, and thought the kickstand was down. Kill switch mod - was on the list but never got done. We used a concoction of magic, sagebrush, electrical tape and zip ties to convince the bike that the kickstand was working, and she started up. No problem with this issue throughout the rest of the trip!


    Rode out of the Canyon and through Lockhart Basin, along the Lock Hart Rd toward Needles. Gassed up at that little Needles OutPost, right outside of the Needles Visitor Center, $6 per gallon. Fresh water at the Visitor Center, and the sun was starting to set. Our next camp was planned in Beef Basin, so we had to jam down 211 to Bridger Jack Road (aka Route 107 or Beef Basin Rd). This is a clay/mud/sand road depending on weather.

    Up to this point the weather had been amazing for us. It has rained earlier in this area but we had missed the rain, however the road was still muddy and the clay was slippery. Riding in the wet red clay in the dark was like riding in whale blubber with baby snot and dish soap mixed together. We were sliding everywhere. Amazingly, the GS didn't go down but my Husky found the ground a couple of times. Nothing broken.

    We rode until just after midnight, riding to elevations over 8000 feet, there was snow on the ground and it was COLD! The GS said 27 degrees, we had heated gear plugged in and encountered ice in a few areas. I had my heated grips blaring, the heated jacket, my brights on, and I was powering up the GPS and my phone.

    Once in Beef Basin, we were hitting lots of deep sand. I've lost count of how many times I dropped the bike that night. Nothing broken, sand is soft. Floating in that midnight sand, like surfing at night, cold and quiet, the voicelsss desert, almost like a dream.

    Camped in Beef Basin, tented up. There was frost on the bike within 10 minutes of finding camp.
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  20. Frontpointer1000

    Frontpointer1000 Chillin' like a villain

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    Hard to believe that 33 miles could be so grueling and take SO long. Totally worth it, though.
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