Wandering from my meandering (Latest: WABDR in Nov)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by ScotsFire, Dec 10, 2017.

  1. Oldschoolrocker

    Oldschoolrocker a.k.a. EZE Supporter

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    We are looking forward to be on that side of the mountains thats for sure. We just bought a place notth of Reardan so soon we’ll be joining you! :beer
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  2. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    There’s some good riding around there, and it’s not far from a lot of great riding, including being nearly equidistant from both the IDBDR and WABDR.
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  3. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    One of the risks of riding a BMW have come to roost.

    Starter clutch parts have to come from Germany. Normally four weeks shipping.

    SOOOOO glad this happened when it did as I was planning on riding to Panama in a couple weeks. This would have sucked so much more in say Nicaragua.

    Looks like Baja and other parts of Mexico this winter will be the next significant ride (unless I suck it up and drag the WR450 somewhere).
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  4. simbaboy

    simbaboy Lansing MBS Supporter

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    I hope we get to meet 'New GF' in Moab 2020.

    Imu
  5. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    November 5, 2019: WABDR Section 2 - Umptanum Ridge

    After completion of FirstWinter, one of the coldest Octobers in NW history (which was preceded by a snow storm in SEPTEMBER), as well as the bike being back in service, I took advantage of a very nice weather window to try to complete the two southern most sections of the WABDR. I left North Idaho around 9 am, given that it was pretty and sunny, but still chilly. And I was fiddle farting around packing too.
    I-90 to Ellensburg WA was uneventful. The air was pretty hazy as the high pressure keeping the skies clear is also holding in the smoke from chimneys and even some small wildfires in the region. After a coffee and panini sandwich at a coffee house, I FINALLY hit the trail around 1:30. I was hoping to complete section 2 as the nights are quite warmer over the Cascade crest so that I could camp. Not so much.

    Starting up towards Umptanum Ridge, Mt. Rainier was often in sight.
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    As were more of the Cascades to the north, which I'd been closer to in September.
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    It was just about here that I noticed that my GoPro was missing. The swivel mount had sheared off. I was hoping that it had just recently fallen so rode back and forth a couple of times on the couple miles of dirt roads hoping to see it in the road or to the side. To no avail. So no video for these two legs, and significantly driving up my cost per mile on this trip.

    This really didn't dampen my mood, as it was so nice to be back on the bike headed into the hills.
    Dropping down into Umptanum Creek.
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    The water crossing at the bottom was dry, as was the all the route for the day excepting a handful of puddles on north faces that don't get any sunshine during the day (already). These were all frozen over, despite the 50+ degree (F) air temperature.

    At the first saddle on Umptanum Ridge, the inversion layers became very obvious in the distance, especially to the east and south.
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    And Mt. Rainier even more visible.
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    Around a couple bends and just a little higher, Mt. Adams also came into sight.
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    The route sticks to the top of the ridgeline for quite a long time.
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    The infamous "Baby Heads Hill" is on this segment, and I was wondering if it would be an issue or not. Once I got to it, I stopped at the top to pick my line, shifted my weight to my right, where there wasn't a spot to place my foot, and promptly dropped the bike. So for the record, it's a relatively challenging little hill climb, and stupidity aside, isn't as big a deal as made out to be. It appears that some jeeps or such have been cutting around these challenging sections and if you'd rather have ruts in dirt than rocky roads, they're available.
    At the bottom of Baby Heads Hill.
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    As always, it's steeper than the picture shows.

    Beautiful day though.
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    All this is not to say that this route should be taken lightly. It can be quite rough and rocky in spots, almost always on a hill of course. Several were much worse than in this pic. But I don't stop for photos when I'm working on keeping the bike upright.
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    So the other bad parts are that my ABS and Traction Control lights keep coming on, signaling some sort of problem with those. I am going to ignore them for the rest of this short trip and have them looked at back at my home shop. I'm sure it'll be expensive. Also, the low beam headlight seems to have blown when I dropped the bike. I did swap the high beam lamp into the low beam fixture (one nice piece of engineering by the Germans to ensure you always have a spare with you), but that bulb is quite old and I am not real comfortable with pushing my luck given it hasn't been very good and shadows were deepening amazingly fast. So as soon as I hit pavement, I dropped down to Yakima for a replacement bulb, a hotel, and also to catch Gonzaga's opener (beating Alabama State 95-64). Even though I only got around thirty miles of WABDR in, it seemed wisest to call it a day early. Having a burger and beers is me making better decisions!
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  6. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    November 6, 2019: WABDR Section 2 - Cleman Mt, Bethel Ridge

    Woke up entirely too early, even more so as the hotel had not set their clocks for standard time yet. This worked out as I got yesterday's report up before breakfast, yet still so wrong. Note: Day's Inn in Yakima has some hinky billing practices. It's clean and updated, but I'd avoid it in the future personally. After a coffee down the road, I finally got back on the route around 0930. Still just over 40 degrees at that time, but warmed up ten degrees a bit before 10.

    Mt Rainier is present (on clear days at least) well towards Yakima.
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    Perhaps not too overbearing, but there nonetheless.

    The road going in from Wenas Valley Rd looked promising immediately.
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    The rocky mountains of the Cascades to the north made a couple of last appearances.
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    While Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier came closer and closer.
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    The second of three ridgelines in Section 2 tops out on Cleman Mountain. It is afflicted as many of the taller points are, with communications towers.
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    Yet still has an awesome view.
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    Any water in the shade stayed frozen, despite the now 50+ degree air temps.
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    Parts of the route coming off the mountain got pretty rough, mostly ruts but also basalt gravel at times.
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    The drop into the Nile valley was pretty in the sun.
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    The pavement along Rattlesnake Creek still had frost on it around 11.
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    The climb back up to Bethel Ridge was marked for a State timber sale, and the road was being "improved" to accommodate it.
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    Apparently it was more of a two track before.
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    The perpetrator.
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    All of Section 2 was overall more technically challenging that the more northern sections, including the spots that had been washed out.
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    Mt Rainier creeps closer and closer.
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    And then the basalt gravel became common.
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    Bethel Ridge alternated between the rough basalt stretches and frozen mud.
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    There were several workarounds for fallen trees or rutted out spots.
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    Oh yeah. And snow in spots.

    But some nice views regardless.
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    Rainier wasn't about to go away quietly.
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    Geologically, the WABDR is very interesting given the variance in rock formations. Here are some basalt columns, the more interesting given they are splayed out from each other.
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    Oh yeah. Mt Rainier is Washington's tallest peak.
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    The last (first?) thirty or forty miles of Section 2 is pavement on US12 over White Pass. This is fine as it still is the longest ride time of any section (excepting Section 1 which I haven't done yet) in around six and a half hours. None of the other sections were much longer than four hours. The down side to this is that given the short days, getting into Packwood at 1400 still didn't leave me enough sunlight to get very far along Section 1. At least the temperatures are warmer on the west side of the Cascade Crest. Will complete the route with one more day of riding.
    simbaboy, sealsam and Oldschoolrocker like this.
  7. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    November 7, 2019: WABDR Section 1 - Packwood to Cascade Locks

    A decent nights sleep and raring to go! Well, I sucked it up anyway and got my pansy @ss on my bike despite the 35 degree temperature (even waiting till 9-ish). It was a trend for the day as I'd climb up the mountains a little and the temps would rise to around 40, at least a little bit before the elevation brought it back down. The high pressure system held the cold air in the valley floors all day long. It wasn't until I got well south of Mt. Adams did it warm up above 40, peaking at around 55 down along the Colombia River.

    Once I got going though, it wasn't so bad. Section 1 is faster again, only taking me around four and a half hours to complete. It would take quite a bit less under "normal" conditions as you'll see.

    They aren't kidding.
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    The forest roads on the west slopes of the Cascades are different than on the east. Lots more deciduous trees. And therefore leaves.
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    As wet and muddy as it looked, it stayed pretty firm. Mostly.
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    One last hazy look at Mt Rainier.
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    Lots of fun after the challenges of Section 2. The forest roads were not very technical, flowing through the forest well.
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    Till they didn't.
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    The ruts kept getting narrower, though at least it was still frozen mud at the bottom of them.
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    Till there wasn't.
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    Cold enough at this elevation that the stream was frozen solid.
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    Though the air had warmed up to around 30F.
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    The forest meadows did have a different look than I'm used to.
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    The elevation, as it always does eventually, did start to drop, And the road surface improved with it.
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    If slowly.

    I think the best part of this was the confused and surprised looks on the many hunters throughout the area as I rode by.

    Mt. Adams took over center stage.
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    A couple of short side trips also didn't help my time on the route.
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    But they were fun.

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    Mt. Hood made some appearances too.
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    I did not see Mt. St. Helens, which is supposed to be visible along this section. I'm guessing that it is easier to see when traveling south to north.

    The last twenty miles of dirt did get pretty muddy with the much lower elevations. Nothing too slick for the most part, though I slid on some leaves a couple times.
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    This is the main route.

    The last bit was interspersed with pavement, which never went in a straight line, so was quite fun too.
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    Section 1 was a real hoot, even with the snow and ice. Lots of very slow speeds at times, but no bike drops at all.

    After a coffee in Cascade Locks, I took WA 142 up from the Colombia River to Goldendale for the night. I have to say that this highway running along the Klickitat River is a spectacular motorcycle route. It's really worth taking if you get a chance.
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  8. Oldschoolrocker

    Oldschoolrocker a.k.a. EZE Supporter

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    Pretty damn awesome you riding that this late in the season! Love it!! Cheers and thanks for the write-up as usual.
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  9. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    "Riding season is over," is not in my vocabulary.
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  10. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

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    Northwest Backcountry Discovery Routes thoughts and impressions

    Having completed both the ID and WA BDR's in the last several months, they kind of beg a comparison (even if you don't). So here are my unsolicited thoughts on these two routes.
    • There was a certain symmetry in riding in snow on the "last" sections of the WABDR given I hit snow repeatedly last spring on my "first" sections of the IDBDR. It was cool that I was likely the first person riding Idaho's and the last on Washington's.
    • The BDR web site claims that the WA route is overall more difficult than ID. I would agree with this assessment. The IDBDR is quite a bit longer, but the roads are nearly all easy to moderate forest/desert roads. Very little of it is technical at all outside of some seasonal weather damage (excepting a couple of "red" expert sections). While the WABDR is absolutely big bike friendly, and actually seems to have higher average speeds (paradoxically), it is overall slightly more challenging. This perception may have something to do with the more extensive water damage throughout the route. But without a doubt, Section 2 of the WABDR is the most challenging section of either route. Certainly this is not to say that there aren't some technical challenges on the ID. The two water crossings on either side of Lowman come to mind. Interestingly, the first one (north of Lowman) has in the last month or so been removed from the official route as being too "unsafe." I would agree that it was a pretty tricky crossing, and would easily become life threateningly dangerous with any sort of recent precipitation, but the route just south of that crossing was really pretty and a fun ride. Kind of sad that part is removed.
    • Idaho's route is much more remote. Wallace, with a population of 784, is the largest stop on the entire route, though it does pass through Glenns Ferry (1,235) and several decent sized towns on US93 in Montana. Whereas WABDR goes through Chelan (4,222), Cashmere (3,159), Wenatchee (34,329), Ellensburg (20,997), Packwood (1,330), and Stevenson (1,550). This resulted in a need for better logistical planning in ID, though this still wasn't that hard. I've got a minimum 250 mile range on my BMW F800 GS Adventure and never came close to running out of fuel. Food, even if you only eat from restaurants, is readily available on both routes. The ability to camp is more of a necessity on the IDBDR.
    • The BDR organization does a phenomenal job of keeping the web site up to date with closures and challenges. Sometimes these stay on the web site longer than is accurate "out in the world", but this has to be very challenging for an all volunteer group. The couple of interactions I've had with them have all been quick and professional. That these routes are available for free is amazing. I encourage anyone using them to donate to the cause. BECOME A SUPPORTER
    • The tools on the web site are extremely helpful. I consulted the interactive map many, many times in both planning and while on the route. The snow level app in the map was spot on both this spring and fall.
    • I did not use the Butler Maps, but having looked at the IDBDR map after I completed the route, think it they are very well done and would greatly assist someone in planning and also having a better understanding of the route, especially for someone not from the NW area. Many's the time I blew past a turn off I didn't expect as the base map in my GPS sucks. Being able to study the route on a map ahead of time would have reduced the occurrence of that.
    • Both routes are big bike friendly. But given how the routes have been unofficially ranked, and the little that I've ridden on the UTBDR near Moab, can see how a smaller bike would be much better suited for some BDR's like the SoCal and NV ones.
    • CABDR and NVBDR seem like they'd make a good loop for me (including the Camino del Diablo across southern AZ) sometime in the future. I'm also quite interested in completing the UTBDR. Not that I'd refuse to do any of the others mind you.
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