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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by CoyoteThistle, Aug 20, 2017.
What are your temps like?
High 80's to high 90's - miserable. 10-20 degrees above normal. No breeze, just smoke.
Dang. Need a "Don't Like" button for those temps.
Day 13 - Grey River Camp to Yankee Fork Camp
Was indeed a chilly night. Packed up camp in a leisurely fashion. Mmmmm, cold wet boot to start the day. Got out by about 9AM.
Just a few miles down the road to Alpine WY. Seems like a good day for a big breakfast. The Yankee Doodle Cafe seemed to be the only option. All very red, white and blue here. Ordered the "American Toast". Drank lots of coffee. Studied weather and fire reports. Decided to just keep on track until the heat, smoke or road closures forced my hand.
Gassed up and headed out. In no time I said goodbye to Wyoming.
Pleasant road through the trees then, well, what else - sagebrush!
Think I'm headed for those mountains. Some grassland to pass through first. Good and fast though.
Climbed steeply up and in to the trees.
And then down the other side through a narrowing valley.
Emerged in to the irrigated oasis of the Snake River Valley. Kind of shocking to see such greenness.
Got in to Firth for gas and a cold drink. Consulted my route. It's a convoluted attempt to get across the fairly well populated valley over some questionable farm roads. Considered the heat (low 90's), the probability that some of my route would end up on private property and the low aesthetic potential - got on the highway and headed across to Arco. Passed the Idaho National Lab - not sure exactly what it is, but it is/was lots of nuclear stuff. To wit, the weather station also has a Geiger counter (environmental radiation) built in.
On to Arco. Temps in the mid 90's again. Lunch at the only gig in town - had a pickle theme and air conditioning.
Headed north for several miles on route 93. Then off to dirt.
Nice roads but the heat is oppressive. Shade hard to come by. Climbed through Peck's Canyon.
Then descended towards some fork (south?) of the Salmon River and then the famous river itself.
Stuck to the dirt road on the south side side for a while then crossed back to the highway.
Made it to the Yankee Fork and soon found a camp site. A real one with a picnic table and everything. Hung my food in a tree. Don't want any visitors tonight.
Still warm at 7PM. Smokey here.
Tale of the tape
100 miles or so paved.
Are you on "schedule" for what you had planned?
Haha. Not even close.
Lots to catch up on though. Haven't seen good wifi for a while so haven't been able to upload pics.
Updates to follow...
Day 14 - Yankee Fork camp to Lolo MT
Broke camp and headed up the Yankee Fork - an historic mining district. Guess the gold was in the alluvial sediments so they dug it all up, processed it and got the gold. The road cut through lots of piles of dredged gravel and rock.
Several old structures, some preserved and serving tourists. Others, just waiting to collapse.
Smoke didn't dissipate last night.
Eventually came to the behemoth responsible for all the dredging - the dredge.
Tours available but I'm too early for any of that. Onward.
The road climbs until the Yankee Fork is a dribble and then drops down to Challis. My plan was to stay in the forest and avoid Challis.
Oh well, down to Challis it is. Smoke is lifting a bit.
Topped off gas, got a snack/breakfast and called home. Few miles up the highway and back towards my planned route. It's getting hot again. For some reason thought I'd be in the forest. Not really. Morgan Creek road becomes FS55 (IIRC), which goes on forever. Starts in a narrow canyon,
soon climbing to a pass. Then it's all downhill (gradually). Small streams got bigger and the road was always good.T his deepening canyon led down to the Salmon River (which flows right by Challis incidentally).
Getting smokey again.
Expected to stop at a place called Shoup - little store along the river. Well, Shoup is currently out of commission. For Sale the sign says.
It's hot down here, wish I could get some elevation.
Be careful what you ask for. Turned off on FS38. Up past some homes and in to a burned out forest (fire must have been a few years ago). And then the switchbacks started. I estimated I climbed about 3,500 feet in less than five miles. All on really slick roads with tight washboarded switchbacks with huge steep drops. Straightforward but unnerving. Coming down this stretch would not be fun. Views were obscured by smoke.
Got up to a high ridge and meandered along, still through burnt out forest with lots of smoke hanging around. Not real inspiring. Didn't take many photos. GPS says this is where I entered Montana - looks like the sign burned.
And more of this...
On the long descent to Hwy 93. Eventually reached Road 473. Had some side trips on dirt planned to avoid this pavement but skipped them in light of the smoke and fire activity - some of it might have been closed anyway. Reached the highway and headed north to Darby.
Strange thing, down in the valley where there is a lot of smoke, it's actually much cooler than up in the mountains. Can't see the sun down here at all, like an overcast day. Bank sign says 68F, supposed to be in the high 80's today.
First civilization (cold drink) since Challis this morning. Got a sandwich to go with it and sat out on a bench and pondered my next move. Biggish group of riders, all on big BMW GS's trickled in. Most were not chatty at all. Talked with one guy (the trip leader I believe). We talked about fires and smoke and they, like I were headed west towards Oregon. He suggested I take the Lolo Motorway - 100+ mile dirt track that parallels Hwy 12 (which is what I had resigned my self to). I'll do some research on that...
Late afternoon now, decided to head up the highway to Lolo for a motel. Need to do laundry, charge up batteries on all these fancy devices and get out of this smoke.
Tale of the tape:
Maybe 80 miles of pavement.
Hope you are close to your completion. Tomorrow is the 14th.
Day 15 – Lolo MT to Dayton WA
Pretty fancy motel last night by this trips standards – I counted seven pillows on one bed. I have a theory that number of pillows per bed correlates pretty well with cost – need more data though before I publish this one…
Anyway, I knew today would be decision day – continue north in to the fires and hope for the best or escape west and start getting back south. No way to complete the whole loop on my current pace anyway, so something’s gotta get cut. Choice became clear last night after a call home to my brother. He’s been dealing rather heroically with family issues (elderly uncle and dementia) that came to a head just after I took off on this trip. I need to get down there to help out. Instead of a Sept. 14th deadline, I now need to be home by the 10th.
I did the research on the Lolo Motorway last night. Looks pretty cool and delivers me to southern Washington. With that, I might have time to complete Oregon before hitting the asphalt for the long slog back to SoCal.
Got a nice early start in the cool morning. Stopped twice to add extra layers of warmth as I climbed up Hwy 12 headed west. Big fire just south of the highway. Eventually got to the forest read that heads north up to the Motorway. Climbed up and found the route at Powell Junction. Time to shed some layers here.
While I was stopped, I heard some motos in the distance. Few minutes later the fellas on the big BMW’s came rolling through. The leader stopped to chat for a minute. I thanked him again for the tip on this trail and off they went. I’d pass them a few miles later when they pulled off - probably shedding layers too. Didn’t see them again.
Up in the forest, variably burnt out and nice and lush. There are neat interpretive signs every couple dozen miles or so.
I stopped at most of them and learned a little. Some are about Native American history and some focus on the Lewis and Clark expedition that famously came this way (and had a hell of a time).
Fun riding on good roads.
Views, not so inspiring.
Originally thought I might finish the ~100 mile road by lunchtime. Nope. Not a technical road but not a groomed gravel track either. Some time after noon saw a turnoff to a lake. Sounds like a place to rest and have a snack. Small (empty) campground had benches, shade and was steps from a nice little lake.
Smoke gave it a kind of eerie feeling though. No azure alpine waters today.
Forest really changed character as I reached the western (windward) slope. More lush and dense with mosses hanging from the trees.
Different feel, kinda nice to be out of the arid forest thing.
Road turned to nice gravel on the descent. Ah, this is how I pictured forests up here
Soon hit pavement and in to the little town of Kamiah. Ice cream, cold drink and some extra psi’s for the tires – longish pavement leg now over to Dayton WA, where I would be back on my planned route and hopefully out of the smoke.
Pulled in to Dayton around dinnertime. Smoke still thick. Temps in the high 80’s. New state, same story. Couple cheap-looking motels to choose from – flipped a virtual coin and pulled in. Yep, cheap. Exactly two pillows on the bed.
Tale of the tape:
About 120 miles of dirt.
Shame to see all those burnt areas. I know it does the forest good but man takes too long to grow back!
Here's one of the places you mentioned riding past north of Steamboat Lake.
Rumor is that the art collection right there in the hallways is worth way more than the lodge.
Enjoying the Ride Report Matt!
Like you, I miss brother Al's input.
I'm sure Al was glad to NOT be along when it came to "ass doctoring" time!
You boys are a potent one-two punch on a ride report.
Thanks for posting your adventure.
I'm enjoying your report! It is a bummer that the Shoup Store is closed!!! I've stayed there, and stopped there for good food and conversation with the owner and his son(s). 'Kind of remote though, and I guess they didn't have enough traffic to "make it". They had the only gig in "town", so sorry to see it closed.
Arco was America's first town powered by nuclear energy. The Lab was the experimental power plant. You go inside and it's amazing how crude it all was, and how much it looks like a 50s sci-fi set.
I agree. Pretty amazing to think of the acreage, just in the small sample I rode through. I did see a few older burns with small trees sprouting up, yeah, forest will return. But yep, slow process.
Thanks for that link! been meaning to try to get to the bottom of what those places are about. That one is pretty ridiculous - $900 a night per person?
Yeah, I hope Al gets the bug again and wants to head out. I think he'd have fun on a nice modern bike instead of the 35 year old beast.
Glad you're enjoying it. Yeah, I knew about the store from my research and was looking forward to getting a cold drink there. Was a little bummed. It really is a long way from anything else. But hey, it looks like it's for sale . Maybe someone will re-open in the future.
Oh wow, that's really cool. Sounds like the kind of thing I could geek out on for sure. Next time...
Few more days to report on, coming soon!
Day 16 – End of the Road… (Part 1)
I’ve got five more days to ride now on the shortened timeline. If all goes smoothly (and why the hell would it??), I might just finish Oregon on the route and then be able to do the 700+ miles home in time. Lots of lingering doubts though if this is even realistic given the heat and my state of mind and body. Nevertheless, leaving Dayton early with a full tank, that’s the hope.
Road went from paved to dirt pretty quick as I climbed east out of town towards Kendall Skyline Road. First order of business, drop tire pressures back down. Front, after almost 4,000 miles is pretty much done for. Despite the near-baldness, it still seems to be working okay. Good tire. Up through the grasslands and fields, looking forward to the trees. Enjoying the coolness of the morning.
There are some nice ride reports around here from KS Road with many nice shots of all the epic views. Do a search if you’re curious, because I didn’t see or photograph any of them. Cursed smoke, I shall not escape thee.
Road was all in good shape, a few rutted or rocky areas and some powdery silty spots, but all fun. Sometimes the road was right on the ridge, big drops (views?) both ways.
At what seemed like maybe the halfway point, came upon the official marker. Neat.
Typical road conditions and scenery on this day
The KS Road officially ends at Hwy 204 at Tollgate. From here it was east and then south on paved roads for a while until I encountered good fast gravel heading south.
In and out of patches of forest and dry grassland. Some time after noon I reached Interstate 84 near the little hamlet of Kamela. I stopped under a tree for a snack and water. The heat is really building, high 80’s, low 90’s again today. No breeze to speak of. I jealously cursed the engine for having a radiator and fan to keep it comfortable.
Paused and did some route preview/review to check on my progress. My next gas stop is Sumpter Oregon, which is about 240 miles via the planned route. I’m just about at the half way point now. Gonna be a long afternoon if I’m to make it to town.
Across the interstate and a short section of pretty awful road brought me to the train tracks and the few houses that make up Kamela. Southward I go, but not for long.
Easy but slow going on a rocky road for a few miles. In, but mostly out, of the forest. Not enough pace to get air flowing through the vents on my jacket. After a few more miles of just stewing in my own juices, I paused under the first shade tree I had seen in a while. Shut the bike off, pondered my position. I came to the realization that this first attempt at the so-called Great Western Enduro Challenge had come to an end.
I was too tired to argue with myself anymore –
“I think I just stopped having fun. Lets go home.”
“Fine, lets go home.”
“Okay. Can we get rid of these knobbies since we have 1,000 miles of pavement to cover now?”
“Can we head for the coast where it’s cooler?”
“There are some nice curvy roads between here and the coast.”
“Could be some fun yet to be had, eh?”
“Was that a smile?”
“I think that was a smile!!”
“Shut the fuck up.”
Yeah, maybe I’ve been alone with myself out here long enough if this is what my inner dialogue is sounding like.
Without regrets, and maybe with some relief, I turned around and headed back to the interstate.
The stuff dreams are made of ......
Always love that feeling when you know you're headed for home......
Damn fine job Matt....!!
Epilogue – On My Way Back Home (Days 16-19)
Bounced back the handful of miles of dirt to Kamela and jumped on a frontage road that paralleled I-84 for a while headed east – don’t know why I chose east, but so be it. Wound up in short time in La Grande OR. Saw a promising Mexican restaurant (air conditioning!) and settled in for food and an attempt to plan my next move.
Would be good to get some different tires sooner than later. Checked to see if La Grande has any motorcycle/powersports shops. Two listed – called the first, didn’t sound promising. Second was close so I stopped by. Nothing in stock but the guy suggested I head south to Baker City where there are a couple shops. Three o’clock now, still a chance to get this done today. Onward.
First stop is a Yamaha shop. Friendly owner showed me all he had, a few possibilities for the front but nothing in the right size for the rear. He suggested I try the Honda dealer (Cliffs Saws and Cycles) a few blocks away. Found it, went in back to check the tire rack. Success. Any chance I can get two mounted today? It’s already after 4. If I pulled the wheels he said he could do it. Deal! Pulled the bike inside and put it up on a stand.
Wound up with a matching set of Kenda Something-or-others
The owner of the shop rolled up his sleeves and did the work himself since all his techs were busy. Really appreciated this. I was out the door just after five for under $200. Awesome.
Google says just over 1,000 miles to Ventura via the shortest route (Interstate 5 mostly – yech). Will need to plan something that avoids the interstates if possible and hopefully gets me over to the coast. For now, I decide to just start moving south and west – Hwy 7 it is. Sun is getting low, deer are coming out. I don’t like seeing deer. Saw the turnoff for Sumpter after 30 miles or so – hmm, where I was hoping to get to via dirt tonight. Pulled in to the only motel in town. Called the number on the door. Price is right. “Grab a key out of the box on the door and choose your room. I’ll be over later to run payment.” says the woman on the other end. Okay. Went in to the office later to pay. Couple comes out and the guy says something like “I see Cliff got you set up over there.” Say what? Then I recognize him as the owner of the Yamaha shop I stopped at earlier. Jeez, small town(s).
Tale of the tape for Day 16
Going to bed I had thoughts of picking up dirt again (I’m back on course after all) but upon waking, such thoughts disappeared. Gonna be a long haul back as it is.
Morning started cool and comfortable. Smoke diminishing. Moved west and the south on Hwy 395. Not much out here. Abandoned buildings and sagebrush.
Something unfamiliar appeared as I moved further south. Blue sky. And the clouds are white! I think I have escaped the smoke. Lunch and gas in Lakeview. Early afternoon brought a welcome sight
In my home state already! Oh crap, it’s a big state and I couldn’t really be further from home in California than I am now. Keep moving. Another couple hours found me on Hwy 119 and up in a national forest. Campsite. Checked it out. Other than a tanker truck pumping something (pit toilet?), looked good and quiet. Set up just before dusk. Nice spot.
Guy came wondering through camp. Turns out he does lots of touring on his Goldwing. We talked moto travel and vintage dual sports for a while. He was sleeping in his truck en route to Laughlin for a guys-week on the river. Godspeed sir.
Tale of the tape for Day 17
Awoke soon after drifting off to the sound of that damn pumping truck again. After 10 or 15 minutes I got up to see what was going on. Walked over and asked the driver what was going on. He was pumping water out of the creek to take it up to firefighters fighting some fire somewhere. Guess I can’t argue with that. Said he’d be coming and going all night. I slumped off back to the tent, hoping the earplugs would dull the roar. I didn’t wake up again – I kind of think maybe the guy had sympathy and found another place to pump his water for the rest of the night. Peace.
Up early but took the time to brew up some coffee. Good choice. Headed south and hit Susanville, home to three (count ’em) prisons. Wanted more coffee and something quick to eat. Little funky coffee shop appeared. That should do. Turns out the coffee shop is kind of a front for a Christian meeting place that the owner (who was present) has set up. No food on the menu. Good cup of coffee and chatted a bit though. Got a little preachy eventually so I got ready to head out. Nice folks, interesting business model.
Time to get west. Down to Red Bluff and on to Hwy 36 towards the coast. Fun road. Would be kind of epic on the right bike. Still lots of fun on the loaded 250 with 50/50 tires. Eventually angled south on some single-lane roads – these mountains go on forever.
Almost no traffic though and lots of curves.
Crossed high over the Eel River (I believe).
And reached Hwy 101. Through the redwoods and past all the touristy roadside attractions. Bit south then picked up Hwy 1 – final leg to the coast. This is a super fun stretch of road that leads, finally to the coast
Overcast (real clouds, not smoke!). Cool temps.
Southward along the coast, clouds lifting a bit to reveal some of the iconic views of this stretch of road. Just drank them in along with the cool moist air. Dinner in Fort Bragg. I know there are several campgrounds along here, figure one will work out. Uh, not a good assumption. Turns out it’s Friday night (how was I to know?) – full everywhere. Guess summer isn’t over yet for the tourist trade. Keep moving south as darkness falls, looking for any patch of earth where I might be able to hide and set up the tent. No, landowners along here are wise to that – I see nothing. It’s after dark and after several roadside-deer flash their beady eyes at me that I come to a KOA campground. $40! Okay, fine. Nice kid behind the counter gave me a discount and a cold beer from the fridge was only $1.99. I asked for a quiet site, they stuck me way back in the corner. Good.
Tale of the tape Day 18
Was up and on the road before most of the happy KOAers were stirring. Chance to make it all the way home today. We’ll see.
Continued on Hwy 1 for a while then cut across to the 101 at Santa Rosa. Some white-knuckle traffic excitement (dread) on the freeway for a while and then had the pleasure of riding across the Golden Gate Bridge. Awesome. Stayed on the coast and found lots of traffic that slowed the pace to a crawl (it’s Saturday, beautiful surf, no wind, overcast is lifting – of course it’s crowded). Some creative lane splitting (following the lead of some other riders) kept things moving down to Carmel where I made a gas stop (should get me home). Out of town the back way, towards the 101 on G16 – fun and scenic road to break up the boring freeways.
Speaking of boring freeways, that’s gonna be the rest of the day and into the night. From here on out it’s the 101. Miles droned on. I curse myself for the millionth time for not bringing a +1 tooth countersprocket along. Speedo says 80. GPS says 62. Poor little engine.
Stopped in Pismo Beach to add some layers as the sun set. Darkness. More miles.
Sometime after 9:00 I was off the freeway and headed up the hill towards home. Bike sputters and almost dies. Huh? Few seconds later, does it again. What the heck, I really don't want to push the bike uphill the last half mile to home. Only about 250 miles since I filled up the tank. Can’t see the level in the dark but I’ve been getting close to 70mpg most of the time. 5+ gallon tank – can’t be out of gas.
Can you see the line? Hmm, that was pretty close. Pumps down in the wings were kind of working – enough to get me home, just.
Would have been a hell of a way to end the trip – running out of gas five blocks from home. Instead, I felt lucky as I sputtered and coughed my way up the driveway and shut her down. Had a pretty good run of luck on the slog home in fact. Pretty good run of luck the last three weeks if I’m honest.
Final day was about 540 miles of highways (GPS crapped out at some point and I couldn’t be bothered to mess with it).
Total tally for the trip is just about 5,200 miles. Lots of GPS files to go through, clean up and eventually post for others to enjoy. I think there was about 3,000 miles of dirt in there – respectable initial attempt at the big loop I guess. It will take a lot of work to pull the whole thing together. Probably makes sense to tackle this thing in sections and get them dialed and then piece the sections together. I might need some outside help. Either way, sounds like fun.
Thanks to everyone for following along.
Watch this space for GPS files and other updates…
Great RR- just read the other one as well. Thank you for taking the time and writing these up.
Nice job. Love the line "Nice folks, interesting business model.". Dry, very dry.