Hacking our way through the Heart of the West

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Strong Bad, Aug 29, 2015.

  1. davebig

    davebig Another Angry Hun !

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    Well done Mr & Mrs Bad :clap
    #21
  2. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    We continued north to Whitefish to visit old friends who have recently bought a beautiful log home:

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    After spending a couple of days in Whitefish we decided to take yet another detour down into Idaho along Hwy 93 to Bonanza (below Challis & up the canyon from Sunbeam) to see if we could find where in 1934/35 my father-in-law lived with his family at a CCC firefighting camp. The trip along Hwy 93 along the Salmon River was an excellent excursion:

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    Found it!

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    We had planned to stay and do a lot of exploring to take pics for SWMBO's dad, however, we soon discovered that Bonanza was currently being used as a USFS fire camp for 500 firefighters! These guys are up in the hills all day and then get to come home to this:

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    Huge respect for these young men working that hard while living for weeks out of tents!

    We couldn't find exactly which house SWMBO's dad lived in, so we took pics of all of buildings hoping he will remember which one.

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    The current Guard Station:

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    After looking around the Fire Camp we went up the canyon to look at the former gold mining operation at the historic town of Custer. But wait.... what!??!! A dredge on a small stream up a canyon in the middle of Idaho?? The dredge actually makes it's own lake to float in as it progresses up the canyon!

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    We then went back several miles down stream and found a nice little campground:

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    The next morning we packed up and headed back up Hwy 93 to intersect one of the many Alternate or Optional routes that the HOW package provides that would take us west back over into Montana.

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    #22
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  3. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    After crossing back over into Montana and back on the HOW trail we were headed west up into the Gravelly Range an absolutely beautiful part of Montana I had yet to see! Coming down from the Beaverhead National forest into Wisdom offered more vistas I just can't get enough of:


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    Further west:


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    Locals:


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    A wee bit more fall color starting to appear:


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    Fairly remote ranch, sure would be a long way to go for groceries:


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    I don't think this building is as old as it first appears prolly less than 20 years old at the most:


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    I could prolly spend quite a while fishing here:


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    The only sign of bears seen on this trip!


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    We camped next to the West Fork of the Ruby River after a long search for an unoccupied camping spot. So far the only drawback to traveling at this time of year is the HUGE number of hunters and outfitters who have filled almost every camping spot! We first came across the large number of hunters/outfitters in Utah and western Wyoming, by the time we got to Montana it was almost unbelievable. Hunters apparently like to pull into a camp spot with a trailer, park it and then leave only to come back a week or two later once the season opens. The Outfitters are pretty obvious with their large canvas tents and strings of horses. This early in the hunting season is only open to bow hunters and there is only a very small percentage of bow hunters as compared to full open season for rifle. We saw this throughout Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho & Colorado. I had miscalculated timing on our trip as I seemed to have forgotten that the whole hunting scene started at Labor Day rather than a couple of week after. The USFS does have time limits for occupying campsites (16 days) but with Outfitters this doesn't seem to apply nor does there seem to be any sort of attempt of enforcement for the guys parking trailers.


    Up in the high country:


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    High country locals:


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    A group of KLR riders coming from the opposite direction, they didn't stop to be friendly, only a casual wave.


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    Centennial Valley:


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    #23
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  4. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    So after an awesome time traveling through the Gravellys it was back into Idaho with the Tetons looming in the distance:

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    And then back into the forest and with the shade from the trees making it really hard to see the pot holes that jarred your teeth lose!

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    Loose gravel and washboard made riding like being on marbles:

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    We camped for the night along Boone Creek, finding a spot fairly close (200 yards) to a Outfitter's camp with no one there. As we were setting up camp a guy on horseback came up and we struck up a conversation. It turns out he was the local Game Warden and was checking on the hunters coming out of the Jed Smith Wilderness. I found out that his father and I were both at Idaho State at the same time! Seeing as we were in prolly one of the most probable areas to encounter a Grizzly Bear on the entire route, I asked about bear activity in the area. There was a lot of cattle being run in the area predominately cows with fairly young calves. I know that Grizzlys will attack a young elk, I asked about them attacking the calves. Surprisingly his answer was that in that area they have more trouble with wolfs than bears! Although he was sure we would hear wolfs that night, we did not hear a thing. The camp site had a fairly large bear box for food, so we took advantage of it.

    The next morning we had our first real close call with oncoming traffic s we passed through the John D Rockefeller Parkway. Frigg'n tourist Hipsters in a Honda accord going waaay too fast and we were only doing around 20 - 35, we both ended up with a wheel off and missed each other by an inch or two by the time we came to a complete stop!!!

    On into The Grand Teton National Park:

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    And now time for our next detour! Our son has just recently moved to the Denver area and it was decided that with tomorrow being Saturday, we would meet up with him down in Haydon CO and all camp together. So the HOW route was sacrificed through the Great Divide Basin in favor of a more direct route to Rawlins WY. You should remember that we basically did this section last year while on the CDR so we stuck to pavement to Rawlins. Surprise! It just so happens that the Wyoming Regional High School Volleyball Tournament was being held that weekend and EVERY room in Rawlins was taken! The gal at the counter at one motel suggested that we go to Rock Springs or Laramie for a room!! Crap! So out come the maps and we decide to head to Saratoga WY. In Saratoga we found the Saratoga Spa Resort & Brewery and you can see from the pic SWMBO was pretty happy about the brew pub and all that spa stuff while on her way to see one of her babys:

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    #24
  5. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Now here is the deal with trips like this from our perspective: It is more about the journey than it is miles covered. This was not a race and we were not trying to be the fastest sidecar to complete the HOW. What we were doing was taking advantage of Tony's routes with his knowledge/experience on how to get to some really awesome country we might not otherwise see. Bypassing areas I've been to before to have the time to see friends & family is not a big issue.

    So we spent a real nice evening at a "Spa" and in the morning we picked up the HOW route before entering Colorado.

    Once again plenty of aspen lined sections!

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    And lots of sheep!

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    And lots of private land. It seems like every rich guy in the USA is buying up huge sections of land and then even though they only visit the land once or twice a year they are real aggressive about keeping people out. The following pic is a political statement:

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    We finally met up with our son in Steamboat Springs, and we headed up Buffalo Pass to camp for the evening:

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    Back on the route in Northern Colorado and the fall colors really starting to "pop":

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    #25
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  6. WU7X

    WU7X The Old Fart

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    Wonderful RR Strong Bad! Great photos and perfect time of the year for this trip. I'd like to try the HOW on my DL650 hack. But because of the subframe I don't have the clearance you do. What do you think? BTW, I love my wife but I doubt if I could ever convince her to do such a trip via hack. You are one lucky fellow!
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    #26
  7. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Thanks!! Yes, I am an extremely lucky man. Ground clearance is not a huge issue. One of my biggest issues is with roads that are badly washed out or that have damage from people driving on muddy roads causing deep ruts. As you prolly already know, being precise with 3 wheels is not as easy as with 4 and your choice of lines through technical deteriorated dirt roads can be limited. A moderate pace is the key to both the HOW & the CDT with a siecar. My subframe has a pretty healthy skid plate and I did tag more than a few rocks with it, but usually it was due to my having a bit too hard of a pace (aka: going too damn fast for conditions). Look at the washout on the road in the pic above with the sheep, if you can handle that you will be just fine for the most part.
    #27
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  8. WU7X

    WU7X The Old Fart

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    Thanks for the input. I'm bringing a 2,000 lb come-along and a small shovel as part of the recovery gear. I should be able to fill most holes enough to get through them, or if necessary, hand winch my way through my boo boo's. Sorry for the hijack. Now, more pics and story line please.

    What kind of camera are you using? Phone, point and shoot, or fancier? Your pics are really good!
    #28
  9. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    I have the small Warn winch and a folding "entrenching tool". Fortunately I have yet to need the winch. I used the entrenching tool in Utah to get me through a section of washouts, at some point however you have to decide just how much time you want to spend doing trail repair to get a fairly short distance in the overall scheme of the trip.

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    The camera is a little point & shoot style Fuji which SWMBO machine guns at a lot of stuff, I then get to sort through all of the excess and pic out the beauties. which is why it has been taking me so long to get this RR done! Hahahaha!
    #29
  10. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Onward through the great fall colors of Northern Colorado forests and back into an area that us Geologists love it where we can see the rocks like Dinosaur National Monument:

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    Camping near the Green River in DNM:

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    And "Out of the Blue" this guy shows up!!!

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    It is fellow inmate Potholz who has been several days behind us, rides into the campground with a big grin on his mug and says: You must be Strong Bad!

    We had a great time talking and finishing off the last of my Single Malt Scotch Whisky. We also talked a great deal about the weather forecast as it looked like it might start getting ugly. Plans "A", "B", & "C" are developed and are to be decided upon when we arrived at specific locations taking weather and road conditions.

    We followed Potholz up out of the canyon and on towards Vernal UT. By the time we get up out of the canyon it is raining and the wind is blowing like stink.

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    Looking back at how we came into DNM the day before:

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    When we got to our next fuel stop at Vernal, it was both cold and raining constantly. Plan "B" was put into place where we stuck to the highway up to where the route crossed the highway again, and then once the route left the highway, we would once again evaluate our situation. The weather broke and there was dry road so we were able to hit the dirt through the Ashley National Forest. There were several options which provided opportunities to "bail out" if the weather turned on us. We came across a real nice young forest service gal who had access to current weather radar in her truck and it looked like things were indeed going to turn for the worse fairly soon. So we bailed out and headed to Evanston WY for nice warm rooms in town. Sure enough soon after hitting the pavement it started raining like "a cow pissing on a flat rock". We got rooms and were able to get cleaned up, buy a bottle of Single Malt Scotch and walk to dinner without getting soaked. I was also able to reach a local tire shop who promised a new tire by 11 am the next morning! The tire that had the slow leak was also showing it was on it's last legs wear wise, and I doubted if it would make it all the way home so I ordered it up! The next morning we loaded up and headed to the tire shop where the crew was excited to see the sidecar. It took them only about 1/2 an hour and we were back on the road with a new tire!!! Yee Haw!

    Now for the weather......... Not good and looking to get worse! Crap! SWMBO was all buttoned up for weather so there were not many pics or stops for pics. We headed down Hwy 150 towards Provo UT. It started raining again soon after leaving Evanston and going over Haydon Pass it was pouring and the temp dropped down to 38 degrees! Really hard to see and a bitchen twisty road made life interesting and a bit of a challenge! The weather continued to degrade so we knew we would just have to abandon and additional dirt and that last small section that would have finished off the HOW loop for us. All we could do was to head for ELY NV. We hit what I think was a "micro-burst" south of Provo on the interstate and I had several occasions where with extreme cross winds along with standing water on the highway the rig hydroplaned and scared the crap out of me! Hitting Hwy 6 towards Ely yielded extremely strong cross winds and buffeting cross winds where it was just all I could do to keep it on the road. I had to stop every 75 miles or so just to give my arms a rest. By the time we got to Ely I was toast. It was all I could do just to get our stuff into the motel room and hit the bed.

    The next morning it was still raining and blowing, we parted ways with Potholz as he headed back to Northern California and we to Southern California. The rain finally stopped and clear blue skies appeared!! The wind continued for a while but by the time we got to Tonopah NV it had let up. We went south from Tonopah along Hwy 95 to just below Goldfield where we jumped on Hwy 266 into California where we got on one of the best paved roads we ahd been on the entire trip! Hwy 168 from Oasis to Big Pine is a roller coaster that needs to be ridden!

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    The view looking down into Big Pine:

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    #30
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  11. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum Super Moderator

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    Great stuff!! I'm hoping to get back out west this coming year and can not wait!! Thanks for sharing and nice hack!
    #31
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  12. diverdown

    diverdown Been here awhile

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    Great report strong bad, have added it to my favorites, will check out the HOW web site and see if I can drop down out of Canada and do the route, thank you and awesome pictures. I love Hack RR
    #32
  13. Mastercylinder

    Mastercylinder Been here awhile

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    Thank you, sir for that great RR and stunning pics. Love reports like yours. Take care.
    #33
  14. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

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    Thanks for sharing!
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  15. Bobmws

    Bobmws Curmudgeon At Large

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    Nice trip, great write-up, thanks for having us along!
    #35
  16. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    Good stuff. Like that 3 wheeler!
    #36
  17. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper Supporter

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    Nice report, looks like a great trip.
    #37
  18. DoubleM

    DoubleM Been here awhile

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    Loved your ride report! Now I have another trip on my bucket list.
    #38
  19. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Thanks everyone!! Here are a couple of shots of us taken by Potholz in the Dinosaur Natl. Monument area:

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    Thanks for sharing Potholz!!
    #39
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  20. CanadianRocky

    CanadianRocky No Bucket List... a Bucket full of Lists

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    Great RR, thanks for sharing. Love the hack.
    #40
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