Pony Express ride

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by wobbly one, Jan 19, 2020.

  1. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
    113
    Location:
    Billings, MT
    Hello again Fellow Travelers. I am here taking a second stab at a ride report, largely to prove to my hot wife that I was not just off fooling around on her this last summer. Plus, when I'm gone, and my kids are standing around asking “just what did the old bastard do anyway?” there will be this report.

    Last winter seemed 10 months long here in Billings and I really had the itch to put a few miles on a new-to-me horse that I bought the previous fall. I had stumbled upon a post by inmate Pitster about a planned ADV ride that was put on as part of the Pony Express Days down in Eagle Mountain Utah. There were two guided rides – one for lighter dual sports, and one for bigger bikes and/or bigger out-of-shape dudes. Well that second option sounded right up my alley, so a great plan was hatched. This would be a very manly trip where I would camp out and survive by just sheer outdoor savvy and my wits alone – kinda like Lewis & Clark did, only different. Step one would be shopping for several hi-tech bits of camping gear. It mattered not that I had most of the stuff already. I had to be prepared for the unknown and the unforeseen, and this required new stuff.

    My plan was to head out 5/29 and return 6/3, with a total mileage of around 2000, give or take. Ended up being just shy of 2300. My route would take me down the west side of the Tetons, over the Uinta's on highway 150, over to Ft. Duchesne, then west to Eagle Mountain for the start of ADV ride. My return trip would take me back up through Idaho's Sawtooth mountains, over Lost Trail pass and then back to Billings. Thanks for coming along.

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    New-to-me GS, day-after Christmas smile, que up Jimmy Buffet and shove off with another wave from my hot wife. 1200GS-1.jpg

    My first stop a few miles out of town. These are the Beartooth Mountains – Granite Peak, Montana's highest is in the center. What a miserable day to start this adventure on. I hope things get better.
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    Next up are the Crazy Mountains – about 100 miles out. Day's not getting much better. P1000813-1.jpg

    Beartooth range, looking towards Yellowstone.
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    Tobacco Root Mountains west of Bozeman
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    The Madison River – a beautiful river. Also my Granddaughter's namesake – how appropriate. The Madison is one of three rivers that all come together near the town of Three Forks, just north of where this photo was taken, to form the Missouri River. Lewis & Clark camped here in 1805 and named this river in honor of James Madison, then Secretary of State. Also named were the Jefferson River for President Thomas Jefferson, and the Gallatin River for the Secretary of Treasury, Albert Gallatin. And now you know.
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    Another view of the Tobacco Roots. Spring time in Montana carries with it a beautiful softness that is hard to describe. I am kinda feeling sorry for all those who aren't me right now. I que up some Merle Haggard and muddle on.
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    Just north of Ennis Montana – the Bozeman Trail, seen just above my tank bag. I will criss-cross these old historic trails throughout this trip – fascinating to stop and read about the journey west. Hardy people back then.
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    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. Kampfire

    Kampfire Trucky on two wheels

    Joined:
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    614
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    Napa. California- U.S.A.
    I'm in.
    Planning on heading up that way next year.
    #2
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  3. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Oct 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Billings, MT
    In case you wanted a little reading material.
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    Looking south up the Madison River valley. Anybody ski Lone Mountain at Big Sky? Peeking up there on the left.
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    Big sky country – easy to get lost in your thoughts. Interesting fact – Montana was the last state in the union to implement a speed limit. Reasonable & Prudent was the rule of the day until the late 90's. I do miss those days. Probably a good thing that this horse isn't as high spirited and is content to run a little slower than my other horse. I do find myself picking up a few more details along the way when I'm not charging along with my hair on fire. Must be getting old.
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    Rolling along south of Ennis, just minding my own business when something catches my eye so I circle back to take a closer look. Instantly I start to formulate my new retirement plan – rather than work until I tip over, I am going to win the lottery and buy this place, and spend my days fishing and eating fancy things. Apparently my hot wife is not going to hold her breath waiting for this new plan to take shape.
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    Smoking into Ashton Idaho I realize simultaneously that I am dangerously low on fuel, and that I have not yet had a tasty coffee drink. As I sit here reflecting on the state of the world I begin to notice that my Gawd I have packed a lot of shi, uh stuff. Who is the jebroni that said “two is one, one is none”? Do they even ride? On previous trips on my other horse my failing memory seems to recall that I just brought a handfull of cash, a couple changes of underwear, and a credit card. Dang, what the heck happened to that guy?
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    So I start to head east of Ashton on Idaho State Highway 32 and skirt along the western slope of the Tetons – I was alone on this road until Tetonia and owned it in it's entirety – once again, it's good to be king. I highly recommend this gem.
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    The Grand Teton – a serious eye magnet. I was so distracted along this stretch of road that I'm sure I appeared as a drunk driver. Good thing the road was empty.
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    If you weren't on Idaho State Highway 32 on Wednesday,5/29/19, here is what you missed.
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    Somewhere around Driggs
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    Attached Files:

    #3
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  4. WRC51

    WRC51 Long timer

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    Location:
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    Awesome report, great photos.
    #4
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  5. Umpire

    Umpire Trapped in Time, Surrounded by Evil, Low on Fuel

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
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    Some trail in Michigan
    Great ride report, Wobbly

    You have some beautiful riding country right your back door:thumb
    #5
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  6. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Billings, MT
    Thank you for the nice comments.
    I've got to take a quick moment and give kudos to the State of Idaho DOT and their interpretive roadside signs – awesome job folks! Some of the finest I have encountered. I suppose I should really curse you though because these had noticeable impact on my scheduled daily eta. Like a magnet, each one pulled me in. Only to leave me feeling wholly deficient and small – more on that to follow.
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    Ok, John Coulter, I hate you. Set out from Missouri by yourself with a 30 pound pack in search of beaver, travel 1500 miles, explore Yellowstone, fight Indians and kill bear, get a hot spring named after you, and return after 2 years? You probably even started a bingo parlor upon your return. I am left feeling wholly deficient.
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    South of Driggs I spontaneously stop and reconfigure my retirement plan. I think this may be the place.
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    Top of Teton Pass looking down on Jackson Hole. Hard to read the bottom line of the sign, but it humbly states “LAST OF THE OLD WEST”. I say hogwash. If this is where you roost, your part of the New West. Nothing wrong with that - I'm just jealous.
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    Day 1 in the books – about 500 miles. Finally make it to the KOA in Montpelier Idaho and get the Taj Mahal set up before dark. I pass on setting up the reflecting pool. Looking forward to a nice cold beer and a deluxe cigar...
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    KOA in Montpelier Idaho does not sell nice cold beer, but they do sell soon-to-be-out-of-date Blue Bunny ice cream. I try to make the best of the evening.
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    #6
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  7. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    I wake up refreshed after a night of ice cream and cigars, get packed, and set off to find a delicious omelet, complete with all the trimmings. I can almost taste it. Montpelier is just a couple miles down the road. After several loops around town I come to the disappointing realization that there doesn't appear to be any such place. So with a long face I stop in the Maverick store and load up on Little Debbies. Again.

    As if this day is not starting out bad enough I come to this a few miles south of town. Pegleg Smith. Amputated his own leg (probably from a grizzly bear attack gone bad), packed a plow and tools to this location from Salt Lake City – about 180 miles (probably by himself), farmed – failed, established an early day Home Depot, then pulled in a sweet $100/day (about $3000 today if my financial calculator is functioning correctly). I hate you Pegleg Smith.
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    Feeling withered and worthless I muster the strength to ride on, only to come to this a few miles further. Big Hill. Only the biggest and baddest obstacle on the Oregon Trail.
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    #7
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  8. Kampfire

    Kampfire Trucky on two wheels

    Joined:
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    I love to stop and read the signs, great way to look back and "try" to imagine what life would have been back then.

    Awesome RR, keep it coming.
    #8
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  9. RJ44

    RJ44 Been here awhile

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    Mar 7, 2015
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    Location:
    Thunder Bay, Ontario
    Fantastic stuff so far.

    Rob
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  10. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism! It's a bad drug!

    Joined:
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    Peoples republic of Kalifornia, East...Kolarado
    Pix of "Hot wife" please, and time frame of when you will be gone next. :imaposer But seriously, nice report. I enjoyed the pictures. As said, wonder what it would have been like. I'm sure it was hard, and not romantic at all. But an amazing time. I would like to explore more of that.
    #10
  11. squidchief

    squidchief Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2015
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    1,058
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    Northern Nevada
    Must concur with fellow inmate above. Pics of hot wife or it didn't happen!! in all seriousness, excellent report. Well written and fantastic pictures. At about the same time as you, I was doing the Pony Express Trail a state over in Nevada.
    #11
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  12. 2 SPOT

    2 SPOT bring the rape whistle

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
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    Location:
    Payson AZ
    good cigar choice
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  13. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the nice comment folks. Sorry oldmanb777 and squidchief - I wanted to oblige but hot wife insists on staying anonymously hot - sorry sorry. Would sure enjoy reading about your adventure squidchief if you decide to do a ride report.
    #13
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  14. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

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    Gardnerville NV
    Following...........Im a Pony Express nut myself
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  15. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    And then there is this. Tom McAuley. After roping the wagons down off of Big Hill – nearly sawing trees clean through with the rope, decided to fish a bit & take a ramble around the country, only to discover a sweet bypass, assembled a road crew and built several miles of new toll road, hung around a week or two to get paid, then headed out the remaining 1000 miles or so to California. I think I hate you too brother Tom McAuley.
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    Well now I feel completely emasculated and I'm not even 20 miles into the day. I guess I just never have been challenged anywhere near what these folks were challenged with. Not one day have I ever considered amputating my leg or felt the need to set off by myself & trap beaver. As I ride off I realize that the only real hardship I face is that I'm only working with 110hp, and sometimes my hip hurts.
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    Looking towards Utah en-route to Evanston Wyoming.
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    Rolling on to Evanston on Utah 16, I pass through the “small” town of Randolph. And in that small town they have the “Smallest Store in Utah”. Hard to believe but its true. Sorry for the Google Earth screen grab but this store was so small I was 5 miles out of town before it dawned on me that it might be of interest to you folks. I seem to recall that the customer count looked a little thin, probably just another victim of Amazon. Pricks. They do have an online presence though – eproper.blogspot.com, so apparently they're trying.
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    And come to think of it, Montpelier was in the “smallest” game also... Must be a thing. Would be a good location for an omelet shop if you ask me.
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    I pull into Evanston a little later than I had hoped. I find a restaurant attached to a Best Western that looks like it might specialize in omelets, only to discover that they are no longer serving from the breakfast menu - it's like 11:00 in the morning. After some negotiation they agree to prepare an omelet. A good step forward and the day is starting to look better.

    I am soon reminded that the world must remain in balance, and for for every step forward a step backward must be taken. After checking the weather ahead I find that a big winter storm has dumped a ton of snow and closed Utah 150 over the Uinta's. Well poop. Riding that over to Ft. Duchesne was one of only a few “must do” items I had on my list for this trip. Ft. Duchesne is the approximate location of Skinwalker Ranch http://www.skinwalkerranch.org/. A well known location of supposed paranormal activity that a man of my superior logic, good sense, and intellect should have no interest in. But I guess I just wanted to relive that feeling of my early motorcycle days in the middle of the Black Hills – ground zero for all things Big Foot as far as I was concerned. That fact was “settled science” in my 9 year old brain back in the day. So I was kinda looking forward to rolling into another sketchy area to check things out – engine running, clutch covered, head on a swivel. Aw well, another day perhaps.

    I end up slabbing over to Park City Utah on I-80, south through Heber City, and then on to Lehi - this evening's destination. With this redirect I now have some free time to poke around a bit. Looking at the back side of Mt. Tipanogos, I realize that this is where Sundance Mountain Resort is located, my friend Bob Redford's place. I decide to wheel in and say hello, and see if I recognize anyone from Jackson Hole. I do not recognize a soul, and Bob apparently is either away or is just blowing me off.
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    Anyhoo, I decide to sit a bit and enjoy my first delicious beer of the trip – they called it Bob's Beer. Highly recommend.
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    #15
  16. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Dang, this is quite the spectacular place. And if you ever wondered what Bob looks at when he wakes up – here you go.
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    One thing not to be missed if you find yourself anywhere around Sundance – be sure and take the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. Stunning.

    Well, made it to Lehi and day 2 is in the books – around 200 miles. Decided on Motel 6 rather than the Taj Mahal, and Olive Garden rather than Mountain House or ice cream – both good choices. Tomorrow the Pony Express ADV ride.
    #16
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  17. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism! It's a bad drug!

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    Great ride report. I really want to do some of that. But I'm missing "hot wife" and feel totally neglected...…………...:nod But totally understand. I sure hope you keep writing. Interesting stuff.
    #17
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  18. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Hey oldman - thanks for the nice comments. Its a great ride if you get a chance to get over that way. Sure sorry about the hot wife thing - I'm feeling neglected too.
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  19. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Day 3 – ADV day and it feels like Christmas morning. It is a bluebird day and I get over to the rally point about an hour early. If memory serves me right this was advertised as an approximately 250 mile event spread over two days, with a camp out. Riders start to dribble in as well as a 5 ton troop carrier that was hired to haul all our shi, uh stuff to the day's end point. Cool, going to be perhaps more of a “glamp out”. I wisely choose to off load my side cases that contain most of my “two is one, one is none” stuff and get more towards fighting weight.
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    A quick shout out to GPX Moto (https://gpxmoto.com/) who was the promoter/sponsor of this event. Well done and thank you Gary. They had a couple of guys there on GPX machines and they looked like great rides. Check them out. I know there are other sponsors that I am unable to name, in particular one business that fueled up all our bikes for free at our lunch stop. Thank you thank you. Anybody reading this that may know – please post who that was. I also need to point out that the cost for this event was only $25.00. Dang, I can't hardly get my hot wife to give me a back rub for $25.00.

    So to set the stage a little bit for this ride – as I see it there are two groups – fat dudes on big bikes, fit dudes on small bikes, just loosely speaking. I'm in the former. Fit dudes are doing a lot of single track. Us others are doing more of a ride-a-bout. All to meet up at the end of the day to share incredible tales of extraordinary skill. On previous year's rides, they followed a route that incorporated much of the Pony Express Trail heading west toward Nevada. Apparently this was a bit boring since it is generally a gravel road/trail, so they decided to mix things up a bit this year and chart a route that was more “in the vicinity of the Pony Express Trail”. Also, and very important to note, it had rained buckets the day/night before.

    Jumping onto the Pony Express Trail heading west towards Faust. Gravel, but 60mph gravel. To the casual observer the puddles appear to be inconsequential, hardly worth mentioning. Don't know why I even did. Lots of smiles.
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    Shortly after this nice stretch we bear south and find some less travelled roads to get the party started, and the puddles start to take on a bit more significance.

    This next will probably be old and boring stuff to many western riders, but to those who have not travelled out this way, and especially those that are thinking of doing so solo and remote, a quick caution about the general geography of this region. This is part of the Great Basin, a 200,000 square mile area that is comprised of many small basins, with no outlet to the ocean. A big bathtub without a drain.

    https://www.nps.gov/grba/planyourvisit/the-great-basin.htm
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    Because of this, many areas within it are nothing but fine clay and silt. I take that back – it is a cruel and insidious mixture of axle grease, banana peel, and baby shit. You may be an A rider, but this stuff conspires with water and gravity to make it extremely tough to stay upright. Couple this with the absence of cell service in most of the remote areas and it could possibly lead to a dangerous situation. I would invite you to read an excellent ride report by inmate liv2day who documents riding in the basin, and the risks, better than I ever could. https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-big-empty-bites-er-abandoned-bikes-search-rescue-chopper.1409804/

    So keep an eye to the weather and plan your ride accordingly out here.

    After an hour or so of alternating dry/not-so-dry riding we discover that we have lost our last rider in the chain (sigh). It can happen to anybody. But a good reminder on group rides to look over your shoulder every once in a while to make sure everything's cool. So we take a pit stop and send a scout back to pick up our lost buddy. We wait an hour – nothing. With no cell service and not knowing what else to do, our group leader finally gets us rolling towards our lunch rendezvous spot in hopes we will get cell signal or encounter our lost souls. Well, encounter them we did - about 300 yards ahead of us up the trail and behind a small rise, waiting for us apparently (sigh).
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    A couple of pretty happy souls.
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    Like Montana, springtime in Utah is pretty hard to beat.
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    Onward toward a delicious lunch in Eureka Utah, and a free tank of fuel (thank you again anonymous donor). After lunch we strike off on some additional trails for a few hours but the previous rain has impacted the master plan and we end up just heading into the mountains to our glamp site. Day 3 in the books – mileage really not worth reporting.
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    The day was a bit of a bust but the glamp out and tall tales were enjoyable. We'll see what tomorrow brings...
    #19
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  20. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Billings, MT
    Well. After a night of constant rain we all wake up a bit concerned about the trip out. We're only about 6 miles and 1000' in elevation to get to asphalt, which doesn't sound bad at all, but it turned out to be quite challenging to say the least. To make matters much worse, our troop carrier is way late and it looks like we are going to have to bag-up and ride out with all accoutrements strapped and attached. Troop carrier finally makes it – flat tire had to be repaired. So that is a step forward ... I'm waiting to see what the step backward will be. I'll try to attach some video.

    A couple of happy but weary survivors. The standing water on the side says much.
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    This guy looks a little wobbly though.
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    Nothing that a $20 dollar bill can't fix.
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    Well, thus ends the 2019 Eagle Mountain Pony Express Days ADV ride. All-in-all a fun adventure and one I would like to do again. We only had one casualty – a loaded up Africa Twin with some 70/30 tires. Had to leave it behind on the trail and the rider hitched a ride in on the troop carrier. Just prior to leaving on this trip I swapped out my TKC70's for a TKC80 on the front and a MOTOZ Tractionator Adventure on the back – one of my better decisions. Now on to clean the ol' girl up, find accommodations for the evening, and call my hot wife.

    Yup, $20.
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    I backtrack a bit and stay the night in a town I used to live. Despite this being a manly trip I am not going to set up the Taj Mahal. I decide to get an AirBNB. I have not done this before. How bad could it be I ask – thousands of people, no – millions of people do it every day. So I roll in to my new crib for the night (whoooooh). Google screen grab – but it was identical.
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    To be fair, I had the whole basement and it was nice and clean, and the folks were kind and pleasant. But dang, that first impression...

    Start making my way north tomorrow.
    #20