From here it's North by Northwest

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ShiftHead, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    389
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    UPDATE: Here's a link of our track
    https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=1e7255cff0ca622f79

    I'm sure this moniker has been used many times for trips like the one we are about to embark upon. A trio of riders, two hailing from the Carolinas and the third from the Lone Star state. I'm hoping for a thrill ride of Hitchcockian (?) proportions, sans the murder.

    We leave the wee hours this Friday morning and will be meeting the Texican in Wichita, he's riding up from Dallas. Since we have 21 days total to cover the better part of 11,000 miles, the first and last two days of the trip are all super slab and trailering for two of us. In Wichita we'll load up his bike and shag ass the wee hours of Saturday to Butte MT. There we'll unload everything and head NxNW from there the next morning (Sunday). That's the plan anyway...

    We have a rather optimistic goal of riding to Tuktoyaktuk, but there are a lot of things that have to go very right for that to be possible. Namely Mother Nature has to want us to make it. If there is any kind of bad weather then it's pretty much impossible and we will have to play it by ear. Once we get to Dawson City we can figure out where we'll go from there. I think maybe we need to make those decisions before the sour toes come out...

    As for what we're riding, the two Carolina boys are on early Vstrom 650's and the Texan is on a Triumph Tiger 800. The pic below is me and the two Stromboli's on the gravel road heading into Polebridge MT a couple years ago.

    Anyway, not a lot to say or show yet, just wanted to get the RR going. More to come... 20170713_184651.jpg
    #1
  2. Advie

    Advie n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2018
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Fort Worth, TX
    I am on a Tiger 1200. rawr. And I am ready to go!
    #2
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  3. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    389
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    1200? It's a good thing I'm twice the man, else I'd be feeling rather inadequate right now...
    download.jpg
    #3
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  4. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Day 1 started at 2:30am, rolling at 3am. It was a long and dull day of planning it to Wichita. Arrived just past 9pm CST, so a 19 hr day. Good times. Here's the overview shot of the day:

    Attached Files:

    #4
  5. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
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    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Day 2, the theme today is More Slab. Butte was just too far from Wichita for us to make it in a day. So we pulled into Billings for the night. It was a 0630 CST departure from Wichita and a 2200 MST arrival in Billings. So 16.5 hrs on the road today. Tomorrow we will head over to Butte and leave on the bikes from there. I'm so tired of the slab, but glad we've got all the flat mostly behind us.

    The goal is to ride from Butte to Polebridge MT tomorrow. Hopefully the torrential rains we drove through today will be gone tomorrow.

    Drinks in the Northern Lights Saloon tomorrow!

    Attached Files:

    #5
  6. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
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    Location:
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    Well we made it to Butte, but the free parking at the airport isn't as free as it appears online. Does anyone have an idea on where we can park, even for a fee, for 2.5 weeks? I can't even pay to park at the airport.
    #6
  7. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 3: It has begun.
    After a small debacle with parking in Butte, we got underway around noon. From there about 6 hrs to Polebridge. It's still an awesome little place to stop. Good food, great people, amazing scenery. The bar tendress told us about a spot just north of there on the river to camp. She was so right. When we get a chance I'll post coordinates, you want to camp there. We are 5 miles south of the Canadian border in Roosville getting lunch. Day 4 started out a little chilly with an amazing ride through Red Meadow rd (FSR114). Here are some pics for proof:

    Attached Files:

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  8. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
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    Location:
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    Day 4.5: we've made it to Canada. Waiting at the border was a bit of a hassle. Hot there in the sun with about 10 vehicles in front of us. Sun beating down on us it was rather warm. However once we got up to the agent, we were all sent on our way quickly. We continue North in perfect weather all the way to Radium Springs. However along the way we find a fuel stop and go inside to see what refreshments they offer. I admit to being very tempted, but ultimately passed on the Emu eggs. Shortly after that we cross a bridge that crosses a very fast moving creek about 40 feet below us. Once in Radium Springs, we purchased the Devils tonic and found a camp site on the map, then headed out of town to find it. When we arrive, though, we aren't feeling the site, so continue on around and down to the river where a Wildlife Refuge sits. However, once there we see there is no place to camp so we head down the road to a pay(!) campsite that is the closest to us. We've been riding for about 8 hrs now and need to stop. As we pull into the 4 way stop in the little town next to the site, we realize it's the same town (Radium Springs) we left a few hrs ago. We had just made a 40 mile loop! So we get to our $36/night campsite (seriously?) and start to setup camp. We get all setup and get the fire going with the wood the park ranger dropped off at our site (ok, big fan of that). Then we sit around drinking and smoking too much. It was great weather, dry, mid 70s everything was drying out from the night before, a good way to end a long day . We finally turn in around midnight. And I'm out in minutes.

    Attached Files:

    #8
  9. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
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    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Day 5: Mountains and campsites
    The day starts dry and peaceful. Showers are really nice, and makes you remember the modern world has its charms. We get packed up and ready to go when we discover one bike has a dead battery. Much pushing and sweating does not result in a running bike. So we unpack 2 bikes and jump start the dead one. An hour later we are off. We are into Banff NP now, and it's truly spectacular. Really, words cannot do this place justice. We ride on through Banff and onto the Bow Valley Parkway before We head to the Icefields Parkway. On the way we find a nice pull off and have our lunch alongside a beautiful fast moving stream. This is followed by the Icefields Parkway, and it does not disappoint! Along the way we realize we can't traverse the entire parkway today and need to find a campsite for the night. Once we find a campground with room we found our site, and what a sight it is! We setup under the watchful eyes of these noble monolithic giants overseeing our progress. We setup camp, drink too much, again, and get to bed around 12:30a. But in our defense, it doesn't get dark here till about 11pm. I snap a pic of the moonrise behind one of the mountains surrounding us.

    Attached Files:

    #9
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  10. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
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    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    Day 6: The Icefield Parkway
    Today we woke up to mountain tops covered in a fresh duting of snow. We packup and continue up the parkway. It seems to go on forever, and after every turn seems to get better. A couple years ago we rode through Glacier NP and I feared heading into this trip that we had peaked already. Clearly this fear was unfounded. The Icefields Parkway is Glacier, times 10. And that is my impression even though we could not see a fair bit of it because of low cloud cover.

    As we ride on the light drizzle starts to turn white. The temps are falling again, I see it drop to just above freezing. 32.3 was the lowest so far. But the roads are clear. After a few miles we are riding in a decent snowfall, thankfully nothing is sticking to the road. We arrive at the visitor center and find it completely entombed in clouds. We head inside to start warming up a bit and find a guy just inside about to head back out to his bike. He has come from where we are going and was interested in what we had run into. We trade notes and head a our our own ways. We walk around the center for a bit, but it's a madhouse. Absolutely packed with tourists, most are from the busloads of foreign tourists. We buy some stickers and make our way out through the crowds to the parking lot.

    Once outside we see that the cloudbase is lifting and now are able to see the peaks across the road as well as the glacier. I had seen the photos of what the glacier looked like in 1918 and what it looked like in 2011 and it's dramatic shrinkage. Even so it's still a massive thing. The snowcat buses driving up to the top of it look like ants.

    We get back on the road and head back into snowfall. It really quite beautiful, and with the right gear on, quote pleasant. I've got several layers. Thermals, heated jacket/pants/insoles/gloves, armored pants/jacket, and rain gear. As the temps hover just above freezing I am running all the gear on Hi and am quite toasty.

    We ride into a couple campsites and find them full. Finally we find Graveyard lake campground. We ride to the very back, and find open grassy area that we have all to ourselves. We setup camp and start to wind down. I head into the tent to start to copy off all my photos and videos to my usb drive. It started raining a little harder and eventually I just climb into the sleeping bag and call it.
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    #10
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  11. Monzo

    Monzo n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2015
    Oddometer:
    6
    Location:
    NH
    Great pics...thanks for sharing.
    #11
  12. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    389
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    The sun is setting later and later now, it's not really getting dark at night anymore. It's been raining all night, going on two days now. I like the sound of the rain on the tent, but this is getting ridiculous. After I finish my nightly business at around 3am, I climb back into the sleeping bag, pull my blackout mask back down over my eyes and drift back off. I wake up again at 7:30, it looks the same as it did at 3am. The rain is still coming down, but it sounds a little different now. Hmmm, like crispier? I look outside and see the unmistakable evidence of sleet on the rainfly. And it's getting a bit colder too...ugh, this is going to be a tough days ride.
    20190620_092636.jpg

    I climb back in and proceed to get completely dressed inside the dry, "warm", tent. I carry a 4 person tent so that I can put all my stuff I want to keep dry in it at night. I put all my layers on, climb out into the sleet and rain and start breaking down camp. I roll up the very wet tent and strap it down to the bike. It weighs about twice what it did a couple days ago in Radium Springs, when it was dry. We load up and start moving. The rain is cold, but in all honesty with all the gear on and I've got heated pants, jacket liner, soles and gloves, it's just not that bad. I'm dry and warm underneath everything, so riding through the rain and sleet, it's just not that bad. We are climbing in elevation, our destination for today is Grand Prairie. It's only about 4.5 hours away, should be an easy day even with the rain.

    We continue to climb, and I'm watching the thermometer. 39 degrees and falling. The rain has more sleet in it now, the trees are starting to turn whiter now. 36 degrees and it's more sleet than rain now. The trees are white and we are seeing a little film of slush on the road now. My gloves are starting to feel a bit damp...or is that my imagination? Can't tell. 33 degrees, the slush is thicker, we need to stick to the tire tracks in the road now. The slush is deep enough to splash up on my boots if I veer outside the tire tracks. 31 degrees, I'm getting worried about black ice now, the sleet has been accompanied by snow for a good while now, and now it's sticking to my visor. The slush is probably 3 inches deep now in the slushy ruts, this is a bit nerve wracking. 30 degrees and we moving at about 35 mph now. I am having to clear my visor about every 10 seconds or I'm totally blinded by the snow sticking to it.

    It has taken 2 hours to go 97 kms (~60 miles). My gloves are definitely soaked through. My fingers and toes are frozen now, even with the heated gear cranked to max. I can't imagine how miserable this ride would be without the heated gear. Not that I'm comfortable, by any means, but I'm not hypothermic either. Finally, we are seeing buildings, we are entering Grande Cache. We need gas, and need to just get off the bikes for a bit. The snow has subsided for the past 5 miles or so as we came down from the high elevations, it's above freezing now and we have found a gas station.

    As we are filling up some folks gives us a heads up on what we can expect between Grande Prarie and Grande Cache. More of the same, as it turns out, a lot more. Oh hey, look, a hotel! We are all in agreement, that's enough fun for one day. They don't have a room ready yet, but they have free coffee and a lobby. Best damn coffee I've ever had. An hour or so later they have a room, we are checked in and drying out. It's been a long tough two hours that felt like eight. I'm glad to be sleeping in a bed tonight and intend to thoroughly enjoy that shower.

    The only pics I got for today were the ones I took in the morning at the campground.

    Attached Files:

    #12
  13. ShiftHead

    ShiftHead the f is silent.

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    389
    Location:
    Fort Mill, SC
    June 21, 2019
    There's something about roughing it a bit to make one appreciate a hot shower and a warm bed. Mind you, I like camping, love it really. But I have to admit, I was not looking forward to leaving that hotel. Looking outside I could see it was still damn cold. Everyone we've talked to said this was a freakish cold and wet June. Lucky us. At dinner the night before we'd talked to a couple of locals at the restaurant while the power, to the whole town, was went out. Gotta say they really are used to doing more with less up here. Not a single person flinched or look around as it went out and we all sat in the dark. Thankfully we already had our meals, and it wan't *really* dark, since daylight shines into the windows all day and "night". Anyway, we sat there eating and chatting about the trip and life and what-have-you there in the darkened restaurant as our server handed out bills by flashlight. Good thing I'd gotten some cash a few days ago. Gotta say, Canadians are a generally nice bunch.

    Anyway, I digress, it's time to get up and get moving again. Loading the bike confirmed my suspicion, it's still damned cold. However, everything has dried during the night. The tent seems so light now, and my gloves, well, actually, they are still a little damp inside. Oh well, I'll live. We get all loaded up and I'm wearing everything again, fire up the bikes and turn on the heated gear and get rolling. Next stop is Grande Prairie where we will find a WalMart and more gas. The hard part of getting moving on a chilly day is always that first 10 miles or so. The cold is finding little crevices to get in, but I get used to it after about 15 minutes or so.

    We are climbing again, and the temps are falling, but it's not nearly as bad today. Lower 40's, no rain, so really, not bad at all. The heated liners and rain gear have already paid for themselves a week into this trip. We pass by the worlds biggest Otter, a picture is taken.
    20190621_152622.jpg
    We continue and finally get into Grande Prairie, to find a hell of a lot of traffic. Clearly, this is THE city for miles and miles. It's a city of 70,000 according to the sign as we enter the city limits, but the traffic seems like something way bigger. Maybe it's because I've seen almost no traffic now for a week. We find WalMart on the map and head there. The other two go inside and I take advantage of the cell service to call home.

    One thing I've noticed on this trip is how many RVers take advantage of the "park overnight at Walmart" deal. This one has about a dozen RVs in the back of the parking lot, practically a campground at this point. Not my cup of tea, but hey, it is free, so I get it. The other two rejoin later and one is in possession of a new tent. It looks small to me, but options are limited out here, it was this one or a $300 giant family tent. We mount up and start rolling again.

    Getting out of Grande Prairie is fairly easy, even if Garmin wanted to take us on some pointless loop for 10 minutes. Honestly, how does Garmin not have better routing than Google Maps? Anyway, we are out and rolling through the very flat countryside north of Grande Prairie. It's a nice change, to be honest, one actually can get tired of mountains. Especially when it's pissing down rain in the mountains all the time. This is all agricultural land and the soft rolling hills are nice and green and full of color.

    We press on till we reach Buckinghorse Provincial Park, and find a campground to stay for the night. Buckinghorse River Campground, and find a spot in the back. There is a big motor home setup back there, but empty otherwise. We start to setup camp, and immediately break out the DEET 100%. The mosquitoes aren't as bad as I feared, probably because it's a cold June, but they are still thick in places. I brought 100% DEET, which works like a champ, but have to learn the same lesson the hard way every year it seems. Don't spray it on your face! It's burns immediately, then my lips go numb, then later when I sweat I am blinded by the searing pain of DEET in my eyes. I am sure this shit will kill me eventually. But hey, no mosquitoes.

    GrandePrairieToBuckinghorse.jpg
    BuckinghorseRiverCampground.jpg
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    Also, I forgot to mention, on the way out of Grande Prairie we stopped at a liquor store and I bought two 2 liter bottles of Cider. The intent is to have enough to last a while, and carrying 2 liter bottles seemed like a good idea. Not so much as they are almost too big to fit into the panniers. Anyway, camp is setup and we break out the social lubricant. As we were setting up camp a Tacoma with a cap pulled into the site between us and the motor home. We see the girl go pay her fee and that was the extent of her camping setup it seemed. We start chatting with the lady from the motor home as she walked by and we all converged at the picnic table by the motor home. The girls name is Maya (sp?) and she is driving her boyfriends truck up to him in Alaska where he is working as a fishing guide for the summer. She is/was attending school in Oregon (?) I think, I just remember the name of the school is Evergreen. Anyway, we all stay up way too late, I end up drinking three of the four liters of cider I brought and finally head to bed. Turns out this is the real reason I should not buy liquor in 2 liter bottles.

    Ow. Uhm, why can I not remember the fight that I obviously lost last night? And why is the ground moving? Who turned up the river volume? These are the questions running through my foggy head the next morning to pee. I welcome the darkness again as I close my eyes, pull down the blackout mask and put my earplugs back in... I wake up a few hours later, it's not better. The daylight seems especially bright today; Cavscout85 gives me some coffee, I'm sure this'll fix what ails me. "Please fix what ails me dark goddess." I whisper. 20 minutes later I decide it's not going to fix what ails me. I guzzle some water and lay back down. The ground is still moving underneath the cot, but at least I am able to focus on the top of the tent and have some sense of equilibrium. Note to self: No more 2 liter bottles of booze.

    An hour or so goes by, I have to give back the liter of water I chugged when I climbed back into my tent. Good news though, now at least the Earth isn't moving. But I feel like my head is stuffed with wool socks. Time to suck it up, I've got to get moving, so I start to break down camp. Super fun thing to do with a hangover. We wave to the RVers as they head out, Maya too. Turns out, the tent didn't make the cut. The packaging clearly states that it's a two person tent. Those must be some small freaking people. He can't even lay in it corner to corner, so it's left still setup near the trash cans in case someone wants it. The campground host makes his rounds and we chat. He recalls his rides and takes note of the tent. He passes the message on to another group in the campground and a few elderly ladies come and acquire it for their grand kids. We roll out.
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    #13
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  14. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
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    Location:
    God's country, Western North Carolina
    :freaky
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  15. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
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    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    That's not an Otter. It's a beaver and you were in Beaverlodge, Alberta. :lol3
    #15
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