A Solo Dirty Loop Through Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by avejoe, Aug 1, 2019.

  1. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    It had been two summers since I had done my last two week solo through the west. In 2013, I rode my 1150RT in a counterclockwise loop from Sacramento through Yellowstone, up to Glacier NP, made a hard left through Cascades NP, San Juan Islands, and back down the coast to Sacramento. 2014 I rode my KLR through Montana. In 2015 and 2016, I rode my 1150GS along pretty much the same loop up into Montana. If you have not ridden western Montana, you’re missing out. It is some of the most incredible country imaginable.

    In the spring of 2017, my wife was diagnosed with cancer and the summer of 2017 was spent dealing with that. I’m happy to report she is now cancer free. Summer of 2018 was a one week dual sport tour of Nevada and Idaho with three good friends. All good stuff, but for 2019 I was ready for another solo tour.

    I like to have a theme for my trips. For 2019 my plan was to do as many of the red dashed lines on the Butler Maps as possible. The red dashed lines are recommended dual sport dirt roads. I’ve done a bunch of them and they have proven to be awesome roads. My plan was to slab from Sacramento to Winnemucca and then hit dirt roads and back roads as much as possible. I didn’t care if I rode all day, but I wanted to drop my daily average miles from previous years.

    My bike this year would be my new baby. It’s a 2011 1200GSA. I absolutely love this bike.

    I hope you enjoy the following ride report. Here’s a few teaser pictures.

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    #1
  2. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    Day 1: Sacramento to Jack Creek, NV

    I had spent the previous weeks getting the bike ready to go. New brake pads, tires, and an oil change. I had the bike all packed the night before I launched. The weather report looked awesome. Not too hot and no hint of any thunderstorms. For once, I got on the road before 8:00AM. The trip across 80 from Sac to Winnemucca was uneventful. I gassed up in Winnemucca and hit some high speed dirt headed towards Midas. I was looking forward to a cold beer at the Midas saloon. At 60mph plus, I hit Midas pretty quick. I rolled up to the bar and it was closed. Bummer. I headed back out and continued east. I made it to the Jack Creek area late afternoon and looked for a nice place to camp. I rolled past the spot we had camped the night summer before to find something better. I thought I had found a good place just off the main dirt road down a short spur. As soon as I started down the spur it became apparent the spur quickly deteriorated and crossed Jack Creek. Nope. I stopped and did a 30 point turnaround. At point 25 I rolled into a rock that I did not see and I dropped the bike. Noooooo! Picking up a fully loaded GSA with a mostly full tank is not fun. Fortunately, the bike fell uphill and I was able to upright it without pulling all the gear off. I decided to go back and camp in the same spot we did on our dual sport trip the prior summer.

    I started to unpack my bike and realized my cot was nowhere to be found. That was not good as I really need my cot to have any chance at a good night’s sleep. I uttered many bad words. I unloaded my gear and panniers and rode back to where I dropped the bike. The cot was not there. I remembered I had taken a picture of my bike in front of the Big Horn Saloon in Midas. I zoomed in on the picture and confirmed the cot was still attached in Midas.

    I decided to backtrack to the highway to see if I could find the cot. Sure enough about 7 miles back I found the cot in the road. There was much rejoicing.

    I had dodged two bullets the first day: picking up the bike without too much effort and finding my cot. My first day string of luck would continue and amplify throughout the rest of my trip.

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    #2
  3. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    Day 2: Jack Creek to Five Points Campground

    This was a pretty routine day and basically a transit day to the start of the good stuff. I packed up at Jack Creek and now ran my rock straps through the shoulder strap of my cot. I really would have been bummed to lose it. As always, the ride into Jarbidge is fantastic. Lots of greenery and flowers. I ate lunch in Jarbidge and pumped a couple of gallons of gas. I had plenty of gas to get to Glenns Ferry, but I wanted some insurance in case I had to double back for some reason. The temps crossing into southern Idaho were really nice. It’s pretty barren so reasonable temperatures were appreciated. I rolled into Glenns Ferry for gas, water, and some food.

    I headed north on the IBDR to intersect Hwy. 20. This section of the IBDR is really nice. The Mormon crickets were back, but not in the numbers of the previous summer. I turned right on 20 and then north at Fairfield. I found a nice Forest Service campground on NFR 094. Five Points Campground just south of the turn that would take me the back way into Ketchum the next day.

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    #3
  4. Socal996

    Socal996 Been here awhile

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    In. 1200 BMW GS/As are such great bikes to travel on.
    #4
  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    In for this one, sounds like a fantastic trip and you're hitting some of the sights I really want to explore. I'm heading down to SE Oregon to ride some of that terrain and then head into NV to ride around Battle Mountain for a couple days before heading back into OR.

    Excellent opening and I really dig the teaser shots, such a great variety of terrain!

    So great that you were able to backtrack and find your cot, not getting sleep on rides like this could easily be a deal-breaker, hard to function without sleep. Pretty smart to think of checking the picture.

    Looking forward to following along @avejoe :ricky :thumb
    #5
  6. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Great photos! Beautiful countryside.
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  7. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

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    I am like you with respect to a cot. Gotta have for a good nights sleep. Looking forward to the continued ride report.

    Oh, Rok Straps were a great invention.
    #7
  8. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    Day 3: Five Points to Sunbeam

    I loaded up and hit the road towards Ketchum. After just a few miles I saw a side road with a Forest Service bathroom. Nice! It turned out to be clean and well stocked. Best of all it was a there because the area was a hot springs complex. Turned out it was Worswick Hot Springs. I took the opportunity to do a quick soak and clean up.

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    The ride into Ketchum was nice. Lots of flowers and good vistas. Ran into a big flock of sheep.

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    Lunch in Ketchum at the red hot shack.

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    #8
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  9. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    My plan was to find a campground near Stanley, but everything was booked. I went past Stanley along the Salmon River and turned north at Sunbeam and up the Yankee Fork. After less than a mile I came to a Forest Service Campground which was awesome (shade, clean, and nice flat tent spaces). Best of all it was empty and I had my pick of the litter of spaces. Found a great spot and got set up. I rinsed my jersey, socks, and shorts in the creek and hung them up to dry. I rode into Stanley for a beer and some dinner. About halfway to Stanley they were winching a cement truck out of the river. Given the number and size of tow rigs, I have assume the truck was loaded. Hope the driver was ok. Looks like he took a turn too hot and rolled it.

    My favorite photo op spot in Stanley. Sawtooth Range in the background.

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    #9
  10. BarryB

    BarryB Been here awhile Supporter

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    What cot are you using? Thanks.
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  11. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Great couple of updates @avejoe! Man, the picture of creek/river flowing through the hills is outstanding, and what a cool find to stumble across the hot springs and be able to go enjoy them. One of the reasons I love heading to SE Oregon so much is because of the geothermal activity down that way, lots of great springs and I've found there's nothing better than soaking after a day in the saddle.

    You've put down a ton of miles since leaving CA, so neat to cover all that ground and experience the stuff you've hit. I've ridden through Idaho a couple times and the scenery in parts of that state are amazing - especially where you are with the Sawtooth range and then I really like it as you head north through Payette and Kootenai.

    Keep the knobby side down man, looking forward to the next update. Hope you post some pics of where you camped outside of Stanley - sounds like an ideal spot :thumb
    #11
  12. CrazyCooter

    CrazyCooter --Crazy MoFo-- Supporter

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    In!
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  13. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    The campground on Yankee Fork is called Blind Creek Campground. It has about 5 spots. At $5 a night, it’s hard to beat.

    A few miles upstream is the Yankee Fork Dredge. I highly recommend taking the dredge tour.

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  14. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    Day 4: Sunbeam to Medicine Lodge Road

    I was up early as I had a mission: breakfast at Stanley Baking Company. It’s outstanding. After breakfast I went back to camp to load up and hit the road for the day. My goal was to run all of Medicine Lodge Road from north to south.

    Medicine Lodge Road is a scenic backcountry route through a valley that is about 50 miles long. I have a history with this road. Four years earlier I was on MLR and missed a few turns. No big deal other than it cost me some time which allowed the thunderstorms to build. To make a long story short, I hit some mud and went off the road and dropped the bike. Because of passing storms, peanut butter mud, and pulling the bike uphill, it took me three hours to get the bike up and back on the road. I turned around and headed back the way I came. This year I wanted to complete the whole route.

    Hot tub on the Salmon.

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    I headed out of Sunbeam along Hwy 75 along the Salmon River. I cut east at East Fork and hit dirt. I saw a sign for Spar Canyon. Sounded cool so I took it. What an awesome road!

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    #14
  15. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    damn dave. you bring the best of the west and proving the big GSA can do it.
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  16. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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  17. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    Once I exited Spar Canyon I hit the typical sage brush foothills as I descended into the valley. I was rolling along and passed a guy doing some surveying. He had a truck that said “University of Southern Florida”.

    Florida! What the heck? I turned around and introduced myself to Brad out in the middle of nowhere Idaho. He’s a PhD student from Southern Florida studying vulcanology. I asked him if they all had pointy ears. He said not that kind of Vulcan.

    He’s doing research on gravity variation. As he explained greater density geology has higher gravity. Sediment, being less dense than bedrock, has lower gravity.

    He’s part of a project taking thousands of readings to map faults. He showed me some really cool maps. I dig maps.

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  18. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    Speaking of maps, I had been looking at my maps and intended to drop into Mackay and turn northeast onto Pass Creek Rd. Pass Creek Road was one of the highlights of my trip. I had no expectations, it just looked good on the map. Was it ever.

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  19. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    More Pass Creek Road...

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    #19
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  20. avejoe

    avejoe Long timer

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    It hit pavement near Clyde and had to go around the horn through Howe and towards Dubois which would hook me up on Warm Springs Road which connected to Medicine Lodge Road. Along the way I saw this; a huge hanger off in the distance.

    I’m not saying it’s aliens, but it’s probably aliens.

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    #20