The Great Western Enduro Challenge - 5,500 miles of dirt out west

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by CoyoteThistle, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

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    Ventura, CA
    Hmm, how about a smart wuss. I think it may have been ridable, but 10 or so of the miles probably would have been slick (that road 191). I probably would have bailed when I got to that, not knowing if it was 60 more miles of that or just a few.

    I like it - enough of these state-based routes. We need more creativity like that!

    Turns out the Wikipedia page for Kamela is quite interesting:

    Kamela is an unincorporated community in Union County, Oregon, United States. It is located west of Interstate 84 about 20 miles northwest of La Grande.

    There are several stories about how the community got its name. Among the explanations are that it was made up by combining the initials of the civil engineers working on the local railroad construction, or that it is the Cayuse word for "tree". Another informant stated that when the locale was a stagecoach station, it was called "Summit Station", but when the Union Pacific Railroad was built through the area, a different name was needed. Local doctor W. C. McKay was asked to supply a number of names of Native American origin to be used for various stations along the line. Kamela was selected from this list. According to an interpreter at the Umatilla Agency, the word meant "tamarack" in the Nez Perce language, however, L. C. McKay, the daughter of Dr. McKay, was sure the word meant "summit". Another station on the line, Mikecha, was made up of the names of three civil engineers—Mink, Kennedy, and Chalk—and the compiler of Oregon Geographic Names believed that this name was confused with Kamela. Kamela post office ran from 1887 to 1949.

    Kamela is the highest railroad pass in the Blue Mountains, with an elevation of 4,206 feet (1,282 m). Kamela had a roundhouse and served as a wood and timber handling point for the railroad. In 1904, the population of the community was 220. In 1940 Kamela had a population of 27. At one time the community had a school. One of the last Oregon train robberies began in Kamela in 1914.
  2. spuh

    spuh Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,384
    Thanks for the history lesson. That's a large part of my choice to ride alone, the ability to stop at my leisure and learn about places and things I had no idea were there. I've likely never heard of Kamela, as I try to avoid interstates and Kamela is on a little stretch of old highway long since bypassed by the interstate. In other words, in the middle of nowhere. Exactly where I love to travel.

    Great to learn the origins of the place names and of the continuity and development of the logic for the names as the namer travelled along his chosen path. My favourite remains the Kettle Valley Railway; the lead engineer, as one of the few literates on the work crew would read Shakespeare to the men around the campfire each evening, so the tunnels and stations are named after characters in the bard's plays.

    Looking forward to your next installment.
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  3. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
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    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Day 11 – June 8

    Packed up and headed out early. I have a bit of an agenda today. My gloves have officially worn out.
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    A little research last night and it looks like Burns, OR has a “powersports” shop, which, curiously, has the same address as the Ford dealership. Well, they should have something. I won’t hit another real town until I’m almost to California so this is my chance. Blisters are forming which is no good.

    It’s almost 200 miles to Burns, less than ten miles is paved though. Most of the first 175 miles or so is through national forest then there will be some questionable roads to get down to Burns. That shop closes at 5:30 so I’ll have to keep moving today. I’m rolling by 7:30am.

    Ten miles or so of typical forest road gets me over to Hwy 7. I cross the highway and find myself on another OHV trail. Geez, now what? Turns out it’s just a little connector and I’m soon back to good forest roads. Temps are still nice and cool and the clouds of the last few days have cleared.
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    The riding this morning was simply brilliant. Mile after mile of curving forest roads that were just a blast. Not particularly fast, but great fun. Here’s something I haven’t seen for a while – sagebrush!
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    I’ll be seeing plenty of this stuff in the coming days. Reminds me I’m moving south now, towards the Great Basin again.

    Not out of the northwestern forests yet though. Roads continue to be great fun and eventually I get some views.
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    Still some snow up high even further south. Crossed Hwy 26 and dug into the snacks. I’ve got five slices of pizza on board to keep me fueled up today. Peanut M&M’s for now, it’s still early.

    From here I started climbing to over 5,000ft. Getting pretty close to the elevation of that snow on the slope ahead.
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    Through a big burn scar and, as they tend to be, the roads are pretty beat up where things have burned recently. The road soon improves and the lack of trees makes for some great views
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    Up to 7,000ft and the roads are wet. Snow must have melted quite recently. Yeah, just
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    Happily this is where I topped out for the day and as I dropped down the roads dried out again. Down and down and I was soon on a pretty rough two-track. Slower going but nothing tough.

    First real challenge of the day turned out to be some stupid cattle (are there any other kind?). A dozen or so calf-cow pairs hanging out right in the road, which is rutted and rough. I slow down but these idiots are not moving. Until that is, they all panic and go in every different direction. I swerve to avoid one and the ruts and other stupid bovines conspire to send me off the side of the road into a muddy ditch. I have enough time to think “I really don’t want to crash in cow-piss mud”. I punch the throttle but the engine just revs and I go nowhere. “This mud must be slick as shit” I think to myself as I come to a stop. Puzzled for a moment, I realized I’m not sunk in mud but rather I somehow shifted into neutral during the chaos. Odd. I curse the dumb animals and carry on, hoping that’s the biggest drama of the day.

    The rough trail continues for a few more miles and then I realize the drama has just begun.
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    Oh crap. I tend to eat shit going through mud puddles, how am I supposed to get across that? I stop to scout it out. It’s about 150ft to the other side. I’ve never tried to ride across anything like this.

    I decide to check it out since backtracking seems absurd, I haven’t been on a decent road for what seems like hours. I can see that the crux is the last 50 feet or so where the current is strongest and it looks deeper. I walk out through the first bit and soon learn my waterproof boots are no longer waterproof. I retreat but my reconnaissance indicates that indeed the first 100ft or so look fine. 12-18 inches deep and a firm bottom, mild current. That last bit turns to bigger cobbles and a proper current. Can’t tell how deep. I look at the map. North Fork Malheur River it is.

    I haven’t seen another person or vehicle all day. I know it’s another 30 miles or so to the Malheur River, where there is a campground at least. I’m feeling way out there and in over my head again. In surprisingly quick order I make a decision about what to do and mount up…
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  4. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

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    Ventura, CA
    Day 11 – Part 2

    I didn’t even think to double check that all the sensitive equipment is in its waterproof place or anything. I just head into the river. My plan, as it is, is to get through the easy bit then punch it and pop out the other side. Easy peasy. The river won’t know what hit it.

    First part goes well and as I get a look into the deeper part I have just enough time to think I’ve made a big mistake. Too late now, I stick to the plan. To my dismay, though, I have almost no traction once onto the cobbles and instead of popping out the other side, I’m barely moving but things are happening fast. The current tries to push me downstream and I correct and soon I’m actually riding directly upstream. Headed towards the willows I turned again and now I’m headed directly downstream. This is no way to cross a river. I’m doing anything to keep moving but I’m no longer making directional choices, I’m just trying to stay upright. When I come to a stop, miraculously the front tire on more or less dry ground. I’m not on the exit road but half-on a little grassy terrace just downstream. That green patch at lower right:
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    Adrenaline is at about 11 but there I sit. Boots comfortably on some rocks and just about across. It takes some doing to get moving. Turns out those cobbles in the river have a nice layer of algae that is slick as snot. I carefully get out, ride 30 feet up the road and shut her down. I notice the seat and my butt are soaked. That got pretty deep.

    I take off some gear, sit on a log and stare back at the river. It’s beautiful, remote, and not another soul for miles I reckon. If not for the adrenaline hangover, I’d be in heaven. As it was, I just wanted some cold pizza and some time to relax. It’s 11:30. The road ahead looks to stay rought. I check the map to try to gauge what’s ahead. Maybe better roads in the near future. Something called the Malheur Ford in my future. That’s the mainstem of what I just crossed. I reassure myself that surely that must be the old name from before they built a nice bridge. Well, that’s still 30 miles away. First things first.

    Roads do improve pretty soon and I’m making good time. I re-route at one point when I get a bad vibe from a little road. Google Earth check later confirms it would have been a dead end even though topo shows it going through. That bit of luck saved me some time. Soon I realize I’m dropping down into a bigger valley. Must be the river. Looking off to my right I struggle to get a look at the size of the thing. Can’t see through the trees until I’m almost all the way down. That’s a lot of water. My first thought is relief that there has to be a bridge for that thing. Now I’m straining to hopefully see a bridge. Of course one does not appear.
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    I see the government pickup truck across the way and fantasize for a moment, “That must be the kindly ranger who ferries hikers and bikers safely across the river in the back of his pickup!”. I’m losing my mind maybe.

    I get off to inspect the situation. Half as far across as what I just crossed, but consistently deeper and a consistent current. The bottom seems to be nicely manicured with big no cobbles or anything. Well, here we go again. I start towards the up-stream side thinking the current will want to move me towards the line of rocks. It’s about wheel deep and yes, I’m steadily moving downstream. The current picks up near the middle and I realize I’ll be into the rocks about 20 feet from the end. I luckily arrive at a larger one and am able to push off with my left foot. This, and the slower current over here, allow me to get on a good trajectory and I’m across. That little encounter with the rocks got the adrenaline going again.

    I rest again for a bit at a picnic bench. Another slice and some hydration as I look at the map and my notes. 75 miles of forest roads headed west and south to get to Hwy 395. It’s 1pm. Once I get to the highway I can head directly to Burns and try to get some gloves. I’ll have to backtrack though to continue the dirt route to Burns west of the highway. Better get moving.

    The roads stay good and I make good time. I’m supposed to turn off onto a two-track here at Call Meadows.
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    I don’t see a road though. Consult the map and see that I can stay on this road and get to the highway at the right spot. The mud I've been carrying around since Wyoming is all gone!

    I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was just about at this point that I left the Columbia River watershed and entered the Great Basin, pretty close to its northernmost point.
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    Bit larger than the Great Divide Basin, but once again, the rivers never reach the sea. The GWEC will stay in the great basin until somewhere in the Mojave Desert near the southern tip of Nevada. I won’t get that far on this trip though.

    I finally reach the highway at about 3:30pm. My intended route from here is 19 miles on questionable roads over to the Silvies River. It’s about 14 miles down the highway to town. Hands are in rough shape so I drop down the highway, don’t want to miss my chance.

    I ride around in circles looking for Eastern Oregon Powersports. There’s a Ford dealer and an empty building attached to that. Finally broke down and called. They’re in the process of moving. Just a block away, I find it. They are still unpacking stuff and it seems like more of a auto parts store than anything to do with riding. I ask a guy about gloves. Closest thing they had were mechanics gloves. Might work in a pinch but both pairs are too large. The guy suggests I try Big R on the other side of town. If you haven’t heard of Big R, think mega Walmart with a little bit of Home Depot and Tractor Supply mixed in. I wander around and best I can do is gardening gloves. Must be the start of gardening season or Covid supply chain issues, but not much to choose from that doesn’t include pretty little flowers in some way or another. I settle on the least bad choice.
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    They’re awful, but I don’t have much choice. Back up the 395 to see if I can complete the route. Lots of cattle and some rough little roads and I come to a locked gate
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    Damn it. I try some other roads and they all end in locked gates. No private property signs or anything, just shiny new locks. Suspicious. Well, after consulting the map one more time, I see I’m out of options. There’s a dozen or so extra miles of pavement in Oregon I guess. Back to the 395 for the third passage of the day.

    It’s a pretty ride so I’m not complaining too much. Somewhere along here is where the Feds ambushed the Bundy’s during that Malheur National Wildlife Preserve stand-off. When I came through here last Fall, I chatted with a tow truck driver, who happened to be towing my truck, about that whole ordeal. I guess it was an awful experience for the town, which is just a couple miles from the Preserve headquarters. Seems that a bunch of militia types came to town to feel like part of the party. They wound up harassing local law enforcement’s families – following their children around in their dress-up commando outfits and AR-15’s, sitting outside their houses armed to the teeth, and that kind of crap. Anyway, the guy had some strong opinions and it’s a side of that whole thing I wasn’t aware of. I’ve been through here a few times now and I like Burns, glad it’s out of the headlines.

    Need a plan for the night now. There was a commercial campground I saw last time through town that had a grassy area. Tent sites? I take a look. Office is closed due to Covid. Reservations only. I don’t see anything about tent sites, just a bunch of big RV’s. It’s 6:30pm. I know it will be a while until I’m on public land if I carry on. Decide to just get a room and be done with it. The lady behind the desk tells me about a great Thai restaurant just up the street. Sounds Great. I unpack (still two slices left!) head out for dinner. Thai place is closed on Tuesdays. Damn it. Chinese or Mexican are the other choices. I try the former. Serving size is massive but the kung pao chicken is terribly bland. Quick stop at the supermarket for a fresh 6-pack and some extra food. Next two gas stops have a combined population of less than 200 – I don’t expect much in the way of food choices.

    Long day but I feel pretty good. That quasi rest day yesterday was a good call. I did some bathroom sink laundry and ate my fortune cookie for dessert.
    [​IMG]

    Hmm.

    Tale of the tape
    [​IMG]
    (ignore the timers)
    About 225 miles of dirt.
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  5. Clef

    Clef n00b

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    Sounds like a nice adventure, hopefully no more wet feet from those river crossings for the next days.
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  6. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
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    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Day 12 – June 9

    Got a nice early start and headed west out of town by 7am. I asked a few folks in town yesterday about Steens Mountain loop road. I figured it was early in the season but wanted to ride it. No one knew for sure, but the consensus was that it usually doesn’t open all the way until July. I know it goes up to around 10,000ft so that makes sense given what I’ve seen so far with snow sticking around. I’ll stick to the planned route then and I hit a county road after a dozen or so miles.
    [​IMG]

    Long way to go across the sage brush prairies now. Passed a few ranches and once I cleared the last one, the road deteriorated a bit. Last sign of civilization for a while
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    I’m mostly on wildlife refuge land it looks like. Little signs here and there as I pass through gates and over cattle grates. The seemingly endless shrubland is broken here and there by some cliffs.
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    My GPS route is telling me to take a little side trip to Harney Hot Springs. Okay.
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    Not for soaking, but neat and very isolated spot. Descent roads continued on and on.
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    I think that might be Steens Mountain in the far distance.

    Wide open spaces
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    The sagebrush continues for now but after a while, turns to grassland. I’m surprised to see some large shorebirds out in the open grassland. I stop and realize they are curlews. They are not happy to see me. One hobbles along pretending to have a broken wing while a few others circle around making a ruckus. They’re nesting out here in the middle of nowhere. Not a far flight to the wetlands of the refuge though I guess. The road is rougher but still fine.
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    After about 50 miles since leaving the pavement, I can see Hwy 205 ahead. I parallel the highway for a bit until I start hitting gates.
    [​IMG]

    Earlier in the day I found they have a unique way of securing these barbed wire “gates” in these parts. Usually, you put the post in the loop of wire connected to the bottom of the fixed post then use varying amounts of energy to stretch the gate tight to get that second loop of wire over the top of the gate post. Same drill here but they have a steel bar chained to the fixed post. Took me a second to figure out what to do with it. Turns out you put the bar around the post on the gate and use the extra leverage to pull the gate tight and easily get the upper loop on. Nice!

    Anyway, these gates don’t employ that new technology. That’s my dirt road angling up the hill in the distance. I decide it’s easier to just hit the highway for a mile or two rather than deal with gates.

    Sure enough, I’m easily back on route. I expect, and get, just good gravel roads as I head towards Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.
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    I think that is Hart Mountain itself in the distance. This refuge, along with a few others in this area, were formed in the 1930’s when they realized the pronghorn were becoming increasingly rare. A combination of hunting and the introduction of cattle and horses were causing populations to crash. I only see a couple antelope before the refuge and none on the refuge today. I saw lots though last fall when I came through here, so I guess it worked. There also happens to be a nice hot spring here and I’m hoping for a quick soak.

    Eventually I reached the refuge headquarters. I need to ask about road conditions as I plan to head south from here and I know I have a couple options. Visitor center is locked up for Covid. I walk around to the maintenance yard where I see a couple official looking guys. I ask about my preferred route and he says the first part (Blue Sky Rd) is open but the rest is closed until June 15th. It’s not a snow closure, but a “don’t bother the antelope and their new-borns” closure. I ask if there are other options, he rattles off a list of maybe twenty roads that are closed. Overwhelmed, I asked for the list of open roads: Blue Sky Rd, the one I just came in on, and Hot Springs Rd. That would have been the easier way to explain it. I thank him and go back towards the visitor center where there is a big map. It shows a road going the right direction if I drop down into the Warner Valley. I’ll have to hope it is dirt (and open), otherwise it’s 20+ miles of pavement to Adel. I feel like I can’t afford to miss to many more miles of dirt in Oregon less I drop under 500 total.

    Well, first things first, it’s a few miles up to the hot spring. It was a busy spot last fall, but only two cars today. There’s a developed tub with a nice wall around it and a couple natural dirt tubs as well. I hear folks in the developed tub so hang out and on a nice rock by the parking lot and eat a slice of pizza and check the maps. 145 miles done and it’s 11am. Solid morning ride. After a few more minutes, the tubs all mine
    [​IMG]

    Oh yeah, that feels good
    [​IMG]

    Then the worst crash of trip happened. As I got out of the tub, walking on the concrete, I had one of those slip and falls where you’re on the ground before you even know what happened. I landed on my shoulder and bounced towards the water, just catching myself on the rocky ledge inside the pool. That hurt. I have no idea why it was so slick (minerally water, algae on my feet??). Worst damage was to my foot – I must have kicked the rock wall or something. Flap of skin on the side of my little toe and a chunk of skin missing on the bottom of my foot. Only the former is bleeding. First aid kit is on the bike. I find a napkin in my jacket pocket a wrap the toe. Good enough for now. Time to get moving again.

    I backtrack to the visitor center and continue west on the main road. First view of Warner Valley
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    The lower part of the valley is pretty lush by great basin standards. Lots of wetlands (most of which are part of ranches) and are grazed. Further north there are what I guess are seasonal lakes. They’re dry now, but the ring of yellow flowers and green vegetation around their banks suggest they were flooded recently.
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    Steep but good road gets me to the valley. After a few miles, it turns to pavement. Not a good sign. Happily though, after a few miles, the main road turns right and I can continue straight on Hart Lake Rd. The lake is on the right with some access spurs. It gets a little rougher as it leaves the lakeside, but seems to be continuing on for a while.
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    Quite a few stops to double check the map when I come to turns and forks. Just keep heading south. Further south it starts to green up and I start seeing fences. This will be the crux. I could well end up at a private property dead end. Eventually the “road” is pretty dodgy.
    [​IMG]

    I’m in a big wetland. I may have missed a turn here as these tracks soon grew pretty faint. Consult the map. Should be another road if I turn left then that connects to my original route in less than a mile. I come to a fence line and follow a very faint track to the left. It dumps me on the road at a gate. To my relief, it’s not locked. In no time, the purple line of my planned route appears on the GPS. Whew, lucky that worked out. After a dozen or so more miles I hit pavement at Hwy 140. Then it’s a half dozen miles to the tiny hamlet of Adel…
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  7. spuh

    spuh Long timer Supporter

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    "anything worth doing can be done"

    I suppose that means you'll have to bring bolt cutters from now on.
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  8. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Day 12 – Part 2

    It’s about 1:30pm as I pull into Adel, OR, which consists of a few houses and a little store/gas station/bar. Gas is 87 octane only. Store doesn’t have much, but I expected that. I did find a cold iced tea.

    Sat in the shade and downed my final slice of pizza. A couple trucks full of cowboys pulled in. A couple of them even had spurs on their boots. They came out of the store with a 6-pack of Coors Light each (one guy had a 12-pack, he must have been the head honcho). They all seemed very happy, must have finished moving the herd for the season. Must be hard work. Overheard one guy say “I’m gonna get so drunk tonight I’m gonna shit my pants!”. I figure he should celebrate in any way he wants.

    Looks like 150 miles or so to the next gas stop. Probably won’t get that far today. I’ll hope to find a decent campsite out there somewhere. I ride south out of town and soon hit dirt. I think this is still Warner Valley
    [​IMG]

    Good gravel and I’m making good time. Into Nevada in no time. Oregon might be complete. Hope I got enough dirt miles to make up for the paved re-routes.

    Continuing south. Stunning day
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    Soon I reached the entrance to:
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    A quick climb up to about 6,000ft and into the preserve on good roads. Soon I turned off on the main road on to Bitner Butte Rd. This is mostly two-track. Rocky but nothing tough.
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    The scale of the wide-open spaces in this part of the world are hard to comprehend. I like it though. Back to a good county road after about 15 miles of that little road
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    Working my way east and south now on a series of mostly good county roads.
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    Clouds coming in. Chance of showers tonight. Temps are wonderful though – mid 70’s. On and on the roads went.
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    I wanted to ride High Rock Canyon, which is a jeep trail. It looks scenic and fun but there is a pretty wild looking water crossing, long, deep, and muddy. I had two GPS tracks, one that went that way and one that went around on the east side on easy roads. As I came to the turnoff, I decided to take the long way around. My guess was that there would be a moto-friendly way to avoid the mud hole but I didn’t feel like risking it on this day. Here’s about where I would have come out the other end.
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    It’s about 5pm now and I’m pretty beat. I start watching for anything that looks like a camp site. I passed Summit Lake a bit ago, seemed to be all fenced off. High Rock Lake is a few miles off course from here. Mud Meadow Reservoir is on my route a few miles down my route. I’ll try that one. First spur road towards the lake is marked with lots of private property signs. Maybe this won’t work. A little way further as I reach the dam, I see another spur road. This leads down to the lake and some dusty rarely used campsites. This will have to do.
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    I see showers in the mountains nearby, but still dry here. Wind is blowing pretty good and there is no shelter from it really. It’ll be a pain to get the stove out of the wind so I settle for a snack and promise myself a big breakfast in town (though I don’t know for sure if it will have any places to eat). I open a warmish beer and wander around. I found a plastic barrel lid to sit on and a plastic mallard to keep me company.
    [​IMG]

    I awoke to light rain on the tent at some point. For some reason I was convinced I was doomed to be stuck for days by impassible wet roads. I swig of whiskey helped shut down my over-active brain and I got back to sleep.

    Tale of the tape
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    Almost 275 miles of dirt today.

    Welcome to Nevada
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  9. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Super Ordinary

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    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    :beer

    You're right. It IS time for a swig of whiskey.
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  10. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
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    227
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Day 13 – June 10

    Up early. Things are moist but the muddy mess I envisioned in the night did not come to fruition. Chilly morning. There’s a dusting of snow in the Black Rock Range to my east and the Calico Mtns to my west. Snow level was probably down to less than 6,000 ft. I think I’m officially into the Basin and Range province now. I’m in what I think is called Mud Meadow Valley. As the sign yesterday told us, this is the path of emigrant trail. The spring that feeds this lake was a key stop.
    [​IMG]

    Soldiers Meadow Rd follows the old route through here now. Nearby Soldiers Meadow Ranch covers a modest 14,000 acres There two species of rare fish, the desert dace and the Lahontan cutthroat trout. Back in the Pleistocene when things were much cooler, many of the now mostly dry valleys of the Basin and Range were part of giant Lake Lahontan. It covered 8,500 square miles (a little smaller than Lake Erie) at its peak about 12,000 years ago. It dried down over the next few thousand years as the climate warmed and the resident trout retreated into what was left of permanent water; 11 lakes and several hundred streams scattered throughout the region. They’re in a fraction of those streams now and in five lakes. Summit Lake, which I passed yesterday, is one of the five. The desert dace is found only right here at Mud Meadow Lake.

    Packed up without making coffee – Gerlach is only about 50 miles away on what should be good gravel roads. The wound on the bottom of my foot from the hot springs is pretty painful. I never upgraded the napkin bandage and just left my socks on last night. I don’t feel like trying to deal with it in the dirt here so let it go for now. Limping around, I’m packed up and rolling a little before 8am.

    Pretty morning
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    Fine road heading up the valley until it dropped down into the next one
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    After a while I got a view of the Black Rock Playa
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    There will be more playas in the next couple days, but this is the big one. Burning Man, land speed records, etc. You can drive/ride on it too. Good way to avoid some of the final pavement into town
    [​IMG]

    My hope to set a personal speed record here was thwarted by a stiff head wind. In fact, I couldn’t even maintain 60mph. Oh well.

    Into town, first step is to make sure there is gas. Like Adel, there’s one pump. 87 octane only. This one is a 24 hour pay at the pump variety though. Population here is about 100. I think I counted three bars. Filled up then headed back to the bar that looked open, Miner’s Club I believe it was called. Turns out they have some breakfast things and of course coffee. Lively place too. I learned a lot as I sipped my coffee and devoured a deliciously greasy sausage and egg sandwich.

    A fun high-energy character (don’t remember his name, but it was something like Bucky) came in telling everybody about his new business venture. He has a bunch of trailers and he wants to start a trailer park somewhere east of here. He’s starting to move the trailers today. When he leaves the club for a bit, the other locals mused about how long it was going take him (weeks was the consensus unless he takes the dirt roads, but that would destroy the trailers, etc., etc.). Bucky comes back in and once again dominates the room. His son-in-law showed up from some “nearby” town. Apparently, he’s an archeologist and a very good kid. Everyone was happy to see him. When Bucky left the room, I could chat with the other folks. Couple guys at the bar and the bartendress. Heard more about city folk moving in since Covid. In a town this small, it seems they don’t mind. They did wonder why the new folks never seem to come out of their houses though. The old timer said Gerlach is better known now because of Burning Man, but it is still best known for its drinking. While the bartendress was away, his buddy got up and poured him a second shot of Jameson’s, took his money, and put it in the old-time cash register. Told them I was headed towards Austin, NV. They thought it had a population of about 400, and seemed a bit jealous of that. Got a good weather forecast from the guys. Bucky comes crashing back in and tells a story about his son-in-law (he is a very good kid) then disappears again. It’s generally agreed that at this rate, he’ll never get those trailers moved. It’s almost 10am, better get moving myself. The Bartendress returns and I pay. I say buy to the gang. They tell me to be careful out there. I assure them I will. The old timer orders another Jameson’s as I limp out the door.

    I’d spend every morning at that place if I lived out here. For today, it was just nice to have some human contact.

    I head south out of town on some weird little roads in order to avoid some pavement. Soon I get onto Jungo Rd. headed east. I skirt the north end of the Selenite Mountains (range) and make a right turn on a road with no name that takes me up Kuvima Valley (basin).
    [​IMG]

    It’s a fine road and it deserves a name. I’ll call it Mormon Cricket Rd. in honor of:
    [​IMG]

    The biggest ones are several inches long. They like the road, they don’t fly, and they don’t get out of the way real quick. They are numerous for a couple-mile stretch, then they are gone. This is the third herd I have encountered on the trip.

    Each of the little dark things in the road are one of these
    [​IMG]

    Long and straight road.
    [​IMG]

    That’s the Sheephead Mountains (range) on the left and the Blue Wing Mountains ahead (range). I start a gentle climb up into the latter range.
    [​IMG]

    I reach a saddle and make a left turn and follow a ridge for a bit, then start to drop
    [​IMG]

    Fine roads still and soon I see my next valley
    [​IMG]

    Granite Springs Valley (basin) ahead. Down I go and take a little break.
    [​IMG]
    That was a quick 70 miles since Gerlach. I expect the roads to deteriorate from here. Need to get over the Trinity Mountains (range).

    Indeed, from here the roads deteriorated pretty quickly.
    [​IMG]

    Then get a bit better as I near the saddle
    [​IMG]

    And soon I’m making good time on the descent
    [​IMG]

    Headed down there to the Humboldt River Valley (basin).
    [​IMG]

    Gas and lunch stop at Lovelock when I get down there. Roads stay good and I’m in town by 1pm. Starting to wonder about a camp spot for tonight. Austin is 150 miles and only the last 15 are paved. Got a surprisingly good sub sandwich and a shady spot to check the map. No obvious campgrounds or anything. I need to check on my foot wound and it would be nice to not have to deal with it in the dirt. Now would be a good time, but I’m anxious to get moving. I think based on my crappy notes that this next leg will include way less fast gravel than this morning did…
  11. txmxrider

    txmxrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Wandering in the mountains somewhere
    Damn! I just found this yesterday and I've been reading for hours and couldn't turn away. At first I was just trying to understand how a ride report could go from 2017 to 2019 to 2021 and then I got locked in. Will he make it all the way this time? Will he go through the river or turn around? Another locked gate and another backtrack? Days with nothing to eat but a cold slice of pizza, a warm beer, and a bag of peanut M&Ms? Shiiiiiit man, what an adventure! I have nothing but respect for you; doing the research, riding, then re-riding, exploring, stopping to take photos, then taking the time to organize everything into these excellent daily reports. I got a million questions for you but I'll wait to the end. Thanks for sharing this tale!
  12. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    227
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Thanks man! Glad you enjoyed all the fun. Just a couple days yet to report on the 2021 ride, then I can spend some time organizing and posting some GPS tracks for completed states.
  13. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    227
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Day 13 – Part 2

    Warning, many more pics of sagebrush!

    Fresh cold iced tea and leftover half a sandwich on board; so long to Lovelock. I head east out Airport Rd. which quickly turns to dirt. Then I turn off onto a minor two-track. I think I thought Airport Rd. was paved and I wind up wandering around a bit to get back to, yes, Airport Rd. I’m soon headed south along the Humboldt River. Like the rest of the rivers in the Great Basin, it just ends somewhere. The Humboldt Sink in this case, which is just a few miles from here. As a reliable source of water, of course the early emigrant trails followed the river. Plenty of 49’ers passed this way. It’s not a particularly scenic river anymore. I imagine there would have been willows and cottonwood in abundance back then. Now it kind of looks like an agricultural ditch. Sad.

    Eventually I ride up and over the West Humboldt (Range) at Wildhorse Pass and drop into the Carson Sink (basin).
    [​IMG]

    Eventually I turn off the good gravel onto a stretch of beat-up road following a powerline. That takes me to another gravel road, which I don’t stay on for long. Back to a powerline road that is barely visible. Time to consult the map. My route leading over the Stillwater Mountains (range) I knew was questionable. The descent down the other side drops over 1,000ft in three-quarters of a mile. It looked like a good road on Google Earth though so I thought it would go. This crappy approach road has me doubting the whole thing. I consult the map and see that I can stay on that last gravel road and probably cross the range some miles north. Up and over
    [​IMG]

    and down into the Dixie Valley (basin) where I rejoined my planned route.
    [​IMG]

    Post-trip Google Earth check revealed that the powerline road I bailed on connected to better roads in a few miles. Bummer, that would have been an interesting road up and over.

    Roads deteriorated a bit as I climbed into the Augusta Mountains (range). I climbed up a road in a wash that was gravelly and a bit squirrely in the slow-speed turns.
    [​IMG]

    I was relieved to turn off that road but it didn’t last long
    [​IMG]

    Now, in my travels I’ve encountered a pretty wide range of gates, but this is outside of my experience. No getting through this. I was imagining a Houdini cow that kept escaping and a frustrated rancher losing his shit and building this with whatever he could find. Well, it was enough to keep me out.

    Now, the avid reader may have gathered that I’m not a big fan of cattle. This is true. They slow me down, ravage the environment when not managed well, and, well, I just don’t see the redeeming quality of these dumb beasts (I guess because I don’t eat them). Anyway, the above photo shows how severely overgrazed this area was. Grazed down to the dust for miles. I called this area cowmageddon.

    The bleakness of the hammered landscape, the re-route induced by the blocked road, and the long day were weighing on me. It’s about 5pm and I haven’t seen a reasonable campsite since leaving Lovelock. Well, back to the wash.
    [​IMG]

    Looks like there is a workaround to get me back on route. In and out of the gravel a few times, and soon I’m on a good road.
    [​IMG]

    Other than a near high-speed off when I came over a crest and hit a surprisingly steep and rocky downhill, things were proceeding nicely. Bouncing along, I saw a low, fat animal running across the denuded landscape towards the road, where it disappeared. Badger! I’ve never seen a badger so I think (hope) everything low and fat is one. I slowed down and saw a big burrow near where it disappeared. I stopped. Whatever it was, it wasn’t happy to have me stop there. It was kicking dirt out of the hole. I killed the motor. Eventually, I had my answer
    [​IMG]

    Awesome! American badger. First I have ever seen. Pretty darn cute.

    That lifted my energy level a bit. So did getting out of cowmageddon.
    [​IMG]

    The sun is getting lower and I’m feeling pretty tired. I see the purple line on the GPS and I’m back on route. After a short stint, I see the dreaded grader and I turn onto a road that has like 6-inches of freshly graded up powdery silt for a surface. What the hell is this? (Seriously, can anyone explain the process of grading these roads? I’d love to understand how this is good.) It’s awful to ride. There’s no traction and there are rocks or something under the powder that are impossible to see or avoid. I stop before winding up face down in the stuff. I carefully get off the road, onto a cattle track, and head back to the previous road. I am not up for this. I consult the GPS and to my astonishment, I find that while I am on route, I am headed the wrong way! I should have turned left when I hit the purple line, I went straight. Glad I hit that awful road or I would have wasted even more time.

    Back to my now right turn. Easy to miss. Pretty minor track. Soon this road was a slightly improved version of that powder silt. This road had had the same treatment, but at least a few vehicles have driven over it so the silt is compacted a bit. It seems like they have also pulled embedded boulders out of the road as there are fresh craters that are not like normal potholes. Makes for slow going and the need for concentration that is hard to come by at this point in the day.

    I’ve been in the juniper zone for a while but no actual campsites and nothing that looks level. Onward then. A short re-route to get around a planned road that didn't seem to really exist kept me on slowly improving roads, and I see Antelope Valley (basin) ahead.
    [​IMG]

    Hwy 50 is down there somewhere. At some point, my GPS asked me to turn off onto another narrow two-track. I’m officially tired. I consult the map. The goodish road I’m on takes me to Hwy 50, an extra 10 miles or so of pavement west of Austin. Sounds fine. Not done with the dirt yet though.
    [​IMG]

    Rolling through the foothills I reached the highway at 6:30pm. 25 miles to Austin. I weigh my camping options versus staying in town. No easy-access campgrounds on the map. I need to clean up the cut on my toe. I head towards town keeping my eyes peeled for camping options, crossing over the Manhattan Mountains (range) as I head east.

    I roll into town and am charmed by the little hamlet tucked into the mountains. One modern gas station/store, a smattering of historic buildings, and a couple extant motels. One No Vacancy sign so I try the other one. One room left. I take it. A two-room suite. I unload the gear and ride through town in search of some dinner. There might be three restaurants in town, but none are open. I tried the gas station market which had some stuff to eat. I sat on the porch and ate my leftover half-sandwich from Lovelock and sipped a beer that had an hour or so in the freezer. That’s okay.

    Met fellow inmate tppilot here. He kindly asked if I needed any food but I was well-enough supplied for now. Talked a little moto travel which was nice.

    Soaked off the rest of the napkin/dried blood mix stuck to the toe in the shower and was relieved to see it was all healing up well. Bottom of the foot still hurts, but only when I walk.

    Plug in all the charging stuff and I’m off to sleep pretty early.

    Tale of the tape
    [​IMG]
    275 miles or so of dirt

    Covered a lot of Nevada today.
    [​IMG]
    snglfin, Old Codger, bomose and 4 others like this.
  14. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    10,412
    Location:
    Arkansas near Oklahoma
  15. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    10,412
    Location:
    Arkansas near Oklahoma
    Cowmageddon?
    You lost me Nancy.
  16. Blaise W

    Blaise W Long timer Super Supporter Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,529
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Man I'm enjoying this read, although making the kind of miles you are isn't part of my plan anymore. Whip that little 250, it can take it~
  17. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Super Ordinary

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,092
    Location:
    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Yeah, I get cowmageddon. Right with ya, C-T.
    CoyoteThistle likes this.
  18. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    227
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Glad you're enjoying it! Yeah, that little bike never complains. Amazing machine.
  19. CoyoteThistle

    CoyoteThistle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    227
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    An old timer resource manager I used to know would say that if you can see the cow paddies through the grass, it's overgrazed. Cowmageddon is when you cant see the grass because of the cow paddies.
  20. sledrydr

    sledrydr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Iowa
    Good read! Another great small bike outing. Thanks for sharing.
    CoyoteThistle likes this.