The Big Empty Bites - ER, Abandoned Bikes, Search & Rescue Chopper

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by liv2day, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    308
    Location:
    Seattle
    Yep. That is our tube from June of last year. Damn thing literally split in half while we running at about 60 mph from Cedarville. Doug, the rider, just thought his bike was moving around due to the soft gravel. By the time we stopped, the tube was a molten mass of magma.

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    We felt bad about leaving it there, but it was basically on fire, even after it being out of the bike and on the ground for 30 minutes. Never seen anything like it. I tried to pick it up and it melted the tip of my glove. I did pour a bunch of dirt over it to bury it, but looks like the dirt blew off or was washed off during the wet season. I'll pack it next time I'm through there....in a few years.
    #21
  2. KarmaSect

    KarmaSect The Dude Abides

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    308
    Location:
    Seattle
    Last year, we saw a very large herd of horses up that same canyon, but higher up -- probably 40 head total. Super cool.

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    Toe rock. Should have been a bad omen for your group, given the mishap. The ride from there to the place you camped is pretty overgrown -- i can see how someone would kick a rock up there. One of our riders last year, Bill, hit such a rock in that same area and went over the bars hard. He is a solid A rider -- probably the first time I ever saw him fall. So instead of taping toes that night, we were feeding him pain killer for his ribs. He toughed it out and completed our ride fortunately.

    Looking forward to the rest of the ride report.



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    #22
    tundradirtbiker and liv2day like this.
  3. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,695
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Appreciate the comments folks, keep 'em coming. Time to get the 3rd day going when things went truly pear-shaped.

    @KarmaSect - I thought about picking the tube up, but actually kind of like it there - a reminder. And yeah, funny that toe rock turned out to be a foreshadow of what was about to happen. The ride from the 2nd day was completely awesome and I can't wait to go back down there and ride it again. The rip from the 3rd day was good too...until it wasn't :eek7

    Woke the next morning to the sound of rain hitting the tent fly...damn. A couple of the guys were already up and packing their stuff, so the rest of us followed suit and tried to minimize how much wet gear we had to stow and put on. Fortunately, it wasn't a hard rain - just one of those irritating things that made everything damp.

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    Our track today would take us out of the hills and into Gerlach for fuel and given my buddy's toe, we were also hoping to find someone to take a look at it. Between intermittent showers and some slick spots, we made our way without too much hassle.

    No gold under this one...lol.

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    Time to get some more gear on - note the dark clouds.

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    There were several water crossings to contend with and some were running quickly. Fortunately, no one took a bath like I did the previous day, though we did get plenty wet when crossing. Always good when the bike semi-disappears.

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    Made it to Gerlach with only one minor issue - seems the 4.5 gallon tank on my buddy's 500 wasn't going to let him actually use all 4.5 gallons of fuel. He had to stop every few thousand yards to tilt the goofy bike and get fuel over to the pump. He eventually just jumped up and down on the damn thing to get fuel sloshed over. Not sure what the issue was/is, but it's pretty dumb to make a tank with that capacity and only allow 3.5 gallons to hit the fuel pump.

    After filling with fuel, we took up shop at the Miner's Club - needed some hot coffee and a dry place to figure out the new plan.

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    My buddy went off to the volunteer fire department and they told him he needed to get to a hospital, closest one being Fernley. Umm, that's 80 miles to the south and the opposite direction he actually needs to go. He'd been texting with his wife as she's a nurse and she agreed, so he and another buddy who wasn't feeling it (shoulder issues) decided to bomb north on asphalt and hit the hospital in Lakeview. Turns out they found a hospital in Cedarville and that's where he was taken care of.

    That left 3 of us and our route was supposed to take us across the Black Rock playa and then up into the hills. The recent rain made this idea slightly stupid, but we decided to go check it out and see what it was like anyway.

    Turns out, it hadn't rained that hard - at least over the playa. So we made our way across this huge expanse. What a trip - this is far bigger than the Alvord playa, we rode north for nearly 30 miles across it before coming to some sandier sections. And get this, the skies cleared up and we had blue above with the sun bearing down on us.

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    Wasn't all picking daisies though, the shot above was taken right after I helped the rider pictured pick his bike up. That stuck was slick as ice, nearly caused me to eat my arse as I slid across.

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    We took it nice and easy after his gentle off, at least riding across this marshy $hit. It took a bit longer, but we finally made it to the intersection that turned us up into the hills. Went from slick marshy stuff to rocks, at least the rocks offered some traction.

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    All was going along swimingly (lol) until we hit this nasty, loose rock-strewn hill climb. Pictures won't do it justice, but 'twas a hell of a climb on loose rock. Note in the picture below the tiny figure standing at the top - that's my buddy on the 500 that made it. I'll have to pull the GPX track off and check the elevation from that small section, it was steep and severe.

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    Oh, and it had a nice turn in the middle to make it a bit harder.

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    My buddy on the 790 tried a few times to make it up that climb and couldn't. Nothing taking away from his riding skills, but the front would hit something and he'd get off-line and lose momentum...screwed.

    After spending ~1 hour there and him getting spent energy-wise, my buddy hiked down and we had to figure out what to do.

    I'm not a fan of splitting up and in hindsight, not doing so would have saved a whole $hit ton of trouble. But, I had also planned big bike alternative routes for this very reason. As a group, we made the decision that if I could make it up the climb, he'd go back and hit the big bike route and we'd continue on the small bike route. So up I went, off we went, and off he went on the 790.

    The big bike route would take main gravel roads into Denio where we'd meet up with him. At least, that was the plan.

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    500 buddy has to hike back up after getting 790 buddy turned around and on his way back to the big bike track.

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    Our ride continued to be awesome, we enjoyed a ton of remote 2-track and just had a great time navigating our way north.

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    After coming out of the hills, we hit a major gravel road and bombed along that for what seemed like an eternity (was only 35 or so miles). We hit an intersection where the gravel road continued and our path hit 2-track and headed back up into the hills.

    Awesome!

    Except a thunderstorm was chasing us and it was starting to rain again. Damn. We pressed on, getting wet while hoping the storm would pass us to the south.

    Given the crap weather, I didn't stop for too many pictures. But when we came to Knott Creek Reservoir, I had to get the camera out. My buddy described it the best - it was like riding through middle earth. The rock formations were amazing, truly amazing. I would have loved to pulled my drone out and get footage of us riding through there, I most definitely will the next time. It pretty much rained on us the entire way through.

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    We made it past the reservoir and were faced with a pretty damn steep climb, with rock steps, and it was wet. Made me glad the 790 wasn't along as it would have been pretty hard, but we both made it up and were rewarded with some killer views of the valley below.

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    We were also rewarded with the worst damn mud around, literally went around this bend and hit the gumbo mud. I nearly ate $hit as my bike slid across the track while accumulating multiple pounds of this crap. I stopped to turn around and yell a warning to my buddy only to see him eat $hit upon losing the front.

    What transpired next can only be described as seriously suck ass. We spent over 3 hours trying to get down, and we didn't even make it 1/8th of a mile.

    Here's why.

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    At this point, it was after 6pm and we were ~30 miles from Denio. Talked it over with my buddy and we decided to just throw my tent up on the trail as we were both exhausted. Our hope was that this crap would dry up overnight and we'd be able to ride out in the AM. You know what they say about the best laid plans :eek7

    For those that ride this terrain and do this kind of thing, let me tell you how critical it was to have my Garmin InReach (or any satellite communicator for that matter). I sent a message to folks letting them know we weren't going to make it to Denio. I also let them know that my 790 buddy had split from us a while ago and that he should've been in Denio hours ahead of us and to please call Denio Jct to let him know we weren't going to make it.

    Several minutes pass and I get a response from my broken-toe buddy...no one has heard from my 790 buddy and he's not in Denio Jct.

    WTF

    Several message exchanges take place and no one has a clue where the 790 rider is.

    F*ck.

    Given the mess we're stuck in, there's nothing we can do about it. But holy crap, talk about a completely helpless, awful feeling. Knowing that folks in cel range were working that problem, we hung out, finished the rest of my whisky, and hoped for blue skies come dawn.

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    Small hint for what happens tomorrow, we didn't get blue skies.

    And thus ends day 3 of the "ride".

    Murphy - always screwing with me. :dirtdog
    #23
  4. OG1

    OG1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Oddometer:
    123
    Location:
    Oregon
    Great RR. And ditto on the InReach. I wouldn’t do the majority of the solo riding I do without it. Great investment.
    #24
  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Thanks @OG1, appreciate the comments. And yeah - I use my InReach quite a bit - on hikes, whilst out trail riding in TSF, etc. It's not cheap, but it's priceless when the time comes.
    #25
  6. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,046
    Holy hell!
    #26
  7. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,915
    Location:
    Coventry, RI
    Wow. That mud is brutal. Great update. Also makes me think we should upgrade from our Spot tracker to the Inreach.
    #27
  8. motowest

    motowest Two-wheeled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,464
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    quite a story unfolding here... memorable, no doubt.
    #28
  9. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    823
    Location:
    Oregon City
    When I called SPOT to cancel the script they gave me to the sales dept. I just told them my whole crew went to In Reach and they cancelled the service. Check online COSTO prices in your area. It's down to $289 here. Might get better at end of year.
    #29
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  10. Catastrophic Failure

    Catastrophic Failure Catastrophic Failure

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    266
    Location:
    Tacoma
    liv2day - Enjoying your adventure report - glad all is well! That is how you do it, just plan, prepare and execute as best as you can :thumb:thumb:thumb
    #30
    liv2day likes this.
  11. FTL900

    FTL900 White and nerdy

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,137
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Following... and waiting for the helicopter.

    On a recent street ride, I carried my Spark drone with me, and at one point, I popped it about 15 feet in the air beside the highway, and started recording video. Then we rode off about a mile, turned around and came back, and had drone video footage of us riding past. It worked okay for the first trial. I kept looking for a rock outcrop or something to make the picture more interesting, but didn't get a good chance to try it again.
    Something like that might work well for a water crossing or another interesting landscape feature.
    #31
  12. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
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    Sherwood, Oregon
    Woke up shortly after 0400 to the sound of rain hitting the tent fly, and not a light rain.

    Fack.

    Laid there in the semi-dark hoping the stupid stuff would lighten up, nope. At this point, both of us were awake; realizing that the likelihood of us riding our bikes out of that crap mud was dwindling with each passing minute. I didn't have the weather option on my InReach, but a quick plan change made that problem go away and I had a detailed forecast. Any guesses?

    Heavy rain...the next 4 hours.

    Sounded like a Q-Bert game for a minute in the tent: @!%& repeated over and over.

    Sent a help message to my poor buddy with the busted toe asking if there was any chance he hadn't left for PDX yet - we needed a ride. We had enough food for several days, but like morons, only had enough water in our camelbacks for one more day. I mean, why would we need to fill our spare 2L reserves, we're going to be in Denio in time for burgers and beers. Lesson learned.

    After spending a few hours in the tent, the stream that had been running under the footprint submerged the footprint and eventually, the tent bottom started letting water penetrate. Fack. Oh, and there was ice on the tent too - rain mixed with sleet. Perfect.

    My busted toe buddy checks my location on my mapshare page (again...InReach!) and knows he's not going to make it up to us, but he finds the options I'm looking at that are lower in elevation (we're at 6k feet). I let him know we're going to hike down to Alder Creek Ranch. Couldn't tell the distance, but thought it was around 2 miles. He says he and my other buddy with the bad shoulder are on their way - should take them 3.5 hours to get there. Oh, and still no word from our buddy on the 790 :(

    Guess what. The damn hike wasn't 2 miles. It was closer to 5 miles and we were hiking in our dirt bike gear. Granted, it was mostly downhill, but it was in that @#$% mud and each step meant carrying an extra couple pounds on our boots. And it was raining...the whole time.

    This is what it looked like when we left our bikes and my tent with crap we didn't need (ie armor, etc). Lovely, no?

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    It took us 3 hours to hike 5 miles, but we made it to the Alder Creek ranch - like drowned rats. We didn't find anyone at the ranch at first, so we hopped up on the porch of one of the buildings to get out of the rain and a ranch hand came over to see WTH we were doing. Yet another reason why I like the people out here. Granted, I'm sure we looked pathetic, but he invited us into his home, put more wood in the stove, and gave us some hot coffee.

    Big thanks to Justin, though I doubt he'll ever see this.

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    Our two buddies arrived shortly after we did, picked us up, and we headed to Denio to figure out what to do about our lost friend on the 790.

    As soon as we got within cel range, my phone sounded like a flock of damn birds. Messages started flooding in from my buddy's wife and others, obviously quite distraught that there's been no word and no known location. She'd already contacted the Sheriff department and gave them the info she had, as had my busted toe buddy. The Sheriff has a deputy that rides and knows the area, we also gave them the GPX track for the big bike alternative route (pic courtesy of Humboldt County Sheriff).

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    With that in progress, the four of us decided to do what we could. My broken toe bud needed to get back to PDX, so he and I hauled arse back to Summer Lake to get my truck & trailer. The 2 500 riders headed off in one rig to drive the route with the hope of possibly finding the 790 rider.

    We get to Summer Lake and have more messages come in; the deputy didn't have any luck and neither did my two 500 buds.

    Crap.
    #32
  13. markinthailand

    markinthailand Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    989
    Location:
    Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand
    I've got three for work, and they are great. Always have one on me when riding solo out of cell phone range (e.g. when not commuting). Cheap insurance, and worth every penny. The don't have to be active all the time, and lots of options now. My original ones are still going strong. A little battered, but not a problem and still work really well.
    #33
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  14. Rock709

    Rock709 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
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    335
    Location:
    Newfoundland, Canada
    Following:*sip*
    #34
  15. Jackalay23

    Jackalay23 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2019
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    Louisville, KY
    Awesome - other than the carnage. Do tell what camera gear you are using.
    #35
  16. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
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    Sherwood, Oregon
    Thanks @Jackalay23! Most of the still images were shot with a Panasonic Lumix ZS200; it's a good point-and-shoot with a 1" sensor and solid optical zoom. I'd like to go with one of the mirrorless cameras, but I'm hard on stuff when riding like this. Some of the shots are from iPhones too, but not many.

    The video was shot with a GoPro 7 and I also have a Mavic 2 Zoom. Was really hoping for more drone footage to use, but only managed to get it out 2x during the ride - weather screwed with that plan too...lol.
    #36
  17. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
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    329
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    Moscow, Idaho
    Wuz gonna complain about the way you're dragging this out and stringing us along -- cut to the chase! -- but then realized I'm sorta enjoying the way you're dragging this out and stringing us along. :)
    #37
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  18. tundradirtbiker

    tundradirtbiker Been here awhile

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    Aug 5, 2009
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    823
    Location:
    Oregon City
    Donner Party ADV ride
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    #38
  19. ChicoProf

    ChicoProf Been here awhile

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    Aug 17, 2013
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    Location:
    Chico, CA
    This is one of the most captivating reads on ADV. Complete with cliffhangers!

    Looking forward to the next installment...

    Brian
    #39
  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Sherwood, Oregon
    :lol3 :lol3

    Sorry about that @td63, not intentional - damn day job gets in the way and if I have my boys at night, I'm generally unplugged.

    Going to get to what happened today :D
    #40
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