After rescheduling several times and work obligations threating to cancel the trip, I finally set out on the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route. I don’t know if this was truly an epic adventure, but it was a terrific week-long diversion before delving headlong into a stretch of work-related torture. Thursday 9/9/21 Day One (sort of) We set out from Montana at 6am, trailering the bikes to Garden City, UT. It made the most sense for our group of six to ride the route from North to South. The smoke was so thick all the way through Montana and Idaho that we were worried we weren’t going to see anything along our route. It was so bad at one point it was raining ash on the truck when we stopped. Once we began to head east along Rt. 30 in Utah the smoke began to clear. By the time we made it to Garden City there was blue sky, and we breathed a (refreshing) sigh of relief. Hitting the Bear Lake/Marina Side KOA Holiday around 4pm we promptly set about making some grub and prepping our bikes for the next day’s ride. One of our riding buddies showed up shortly thereafter and after some well needed food we decided to see what Garden City was all about, so we got on our bikes and cruised the strip. Garden City is one of those little lake towns out west that likely went unnoticed for decades but is now seemingly exploding. We were all a bit taken aback by the amount of new (and expensive looking) construction on and around the lake. The water level was quite low due to drought conditions in Utah, so we took the opportunity to ride our bikes along the beach and then cruised up the hill overlooking the lake to catch the sunset. The rest of our group rolled in around 8:30 and we grabbed some pizza and retired to the campground for some suds and conversation. View attachment 3202931 *For those looking to ride the UTBDR north to south, the KOA offers long-term parking for $1.50 a day in an empty lot adjacent to the campground. But by the time you read this that lot will probably have been turned into high end commercial/residential property. Friday 9/10/21 Day 2 (really day one, but you get the idea) View attachment 3201462 Our group was comprised of two KTM 790 Adventure R’s, a KTM 890 Adventure R, a KTM 950 Adventure, a BMW 1200GS, and a humble 2005 BMW 650GS. We were geared up and ready for adventure. We loaded up the bikes, parked the trucks, and retreated out the back gate of the KOA on an epic trip…directly across the street for breakfast. After a quick nosh at the Campfire Grille, we were finally underway at around 10am. The route immediately climbs out of Garden City and up into the hills on a nice twisty highway. In fairly short order we were on the trail and I was stoked for the ride ahead. We were quickly met with a trail full of baby-heads that crossed underneath the highway and out into the high-country. Our group were all experienced riders, some more so than others, but I was a bit concerned about the guys on fully loaded bikes hitting the chunder first thing in the morning. All was well and the trail smoothed out a bit and we meandered through thick forest, clear skies, and beautiful scenery. View attachment 3201445 View attachment 3201459 I and one other rider had downloaded the GPS files from the BDR website and loaded them into our Garmin units. I also loaded the tracks into Gaia GPS as a backup. I like to have paper maps with me as well, but I neglected to buy the updated Butler map before the trip. One member of our group had an older map, and the other two guys were just along for the ride and weren’t too into navigation. After one little standoff where someone thought the trail went one way, though my Garmin and Gaia said the opposite, we got along just fine. This same scenario where we would get to a crossroads and split up became a common theme later in the ride. For a time, we didn’t encounter many people, nor much wildlife, until we came upon a large sheep herd being carefully looked after by a small pack of dogs. And by carefully looked after, I mean that one dog barked at us a bit, and the other slowly roused himself from his midday, mid-road slumber only as my buddy nearly stopped on top of him. They couldn’t be any less concerned about a bunch of dudes on motorbikes. Had we been wearing wolf-skin coats, perhaps they would have reacted a bit more aggressively, but I digress. View attachment 3201453 We came out of the hills into Woodruff. I blinked and nearly missed it. The guys wanted to stop for gas, but the pumps weren’t really working so we pushed on toward Evanston, WY. As we made our way down the highway, we could see some rain up ahead. I stopped and threw my jacket back on just in time for a torrential wind and rainstorm. We were riding leeward trying our darndest to keep the shiny side up and just hoping for a gas station to appear and offer some respite. We made it into Evanston and huddled in a car wash bay and waited for the storm to pass. Once the skies cleared, we headed into town to find some lunch and dry off. There wasn’t much happening in town, and we struggled a bit to find an open lunch spot. Finally someone hipped us to a cool little joint called Suds Bros. It was a kinda fun little dive bar/classic rock/hillbilly bar with an eclectic crowd, and the food and drink proved quite delicious. I don’t drink, but the other guys were pleased to be out of Utah for the moment and to be able to enjoy a cold beer with their lunch. View attachment 3201457 Leaving Evanston, we headed off into the open skies of western Wyoming. There were some stray storm clouds here and there that threatened to divert us, but just as it seemed we faced imminent downpours, the trail would bend and lead us towards blue skies. The dirt roads were quite pleasant, having received just enough moisture to rid them of dust, but not enough to turn them into quagmires. The trail followed some nice wide country roads before entering some private land owned by 2 Bear something or other. I don’t know what the proprietor of 2 Bear was all about, but one thing was for sure, he hated smooth roads. The road going through the property had been scraped up by a bulldozer that left innumerable, jumbled patches of baby-heads and small boulders. After many miles of that nonsense, we came to our first real water crossing. The first four guys made it through just fine but the fifth and sixth guys…never showed up. So we waited…and waited, and eventually two of us crossed back over the creek to search for our missing companions. The 650GS apparently was struggling with a loose ground wire that the 1200GS didn’t notice and who just drove on by him. After smacking the side of the bike enough to make contact, the 650 finally got rolling and we came upon him first. The 1200GS, we were then informed, had hit a rock sending his front end one way and his back end another leaving him in the dirt with a malformed aluminum pannier. I continued along the trail until I saw the 1200 ambling along having regained his composure, and we made our way back to the creek crossing. The 1200 made it across the creek just fine, but the bank and bushes on the other side proved more challenging. Adventure riding isn’t just a clever name. View attachment 3201454 View attachment 3201455 View attachment 3201461 We regrouped and continued along, enjoying the late afternoon ride and keeping our eyes peeled for a campsite. Being the start of hunting season, the hills were overrun with giant campers and RV’s with side by sides and ATV’s everywhere. We finally found a relatively secluded campsite just west of Mirror Lake Highway and made camp. One of our group chatted with a nearby group of campers who gave him a few beers and informed him the fire regulations had just eased in Utah, so we built a campfire, the boys had their drinks, and we had a lot of laughs trying to straighten out the bent BMW pannier, fix the loose ground on the 650, and shooting the moon around the fire.