Western TAT and then some MET ride in September

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by contacterich, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    My friend Mark (on his Suzuki DRZ 400) and I decided to ride the western part of the TAT and then some MET (Mark & Erich Trail) - we rode a total of about 2K miles. We started on Friday, 09-18 (after work) with a Penske one-way rental truck, loaded the bikes and headed towards Colorado Springs. 21 hours of "straight driving" later (we the occasional gas & bio-break stop, etc.) we arrived on Sat around 7:00 pm in Colorado Springs; weather looked good. However the forecast didn't - it mentioned "this year's first snow" coming on Sunday. Oh well, we went to bed and enjoyed a good nights sleep at the "something Inn" and started our trip on Sunday morning after returning the truck...

    A quick (and really good) pizza before we get on our way from Mark's house before we leave the Bay Area.
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    Getting some gas somewhere near Vacaville, CA. The bikes are "resting" in the back of the van...
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    Mark driving through Nevada on Hwy 80 somewhere past Fallon, NV.
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    The Bonneville<wbr>, UT salt flats with beautiful morning clouds.
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    Big sky and flat plains near Cheyenne, WY.
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    We are getting ready after returning the truck to the Penske shop in Colorado Springs, CO. It was about 7:30 AM, already mid 60's - perfect riding weather!
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    Mark is preparing the roll-chart for today's ride. We will ride about 80 miles to Cotopaxi, CO where we will jump on the Transameri<wbr>ca Trail.
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    The first few miles on the TAT - a beautiful gravel road leading us up into the Rocky Mountains.
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    More to come shortly...
    #1
  2. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Mark enjoying the road up into the Rockies from Cotopaxi, CO.
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    Incredibly beautiful landscape with colorful Aspens everywhere<wbr>. Temp in the high 60's - great riding!
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    Lots of open space slowly gaining elevation.
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    Easy-to-ri<wbr>de dirt roads.
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    This was the first ride "fully loaded" with all our gear - no problem at all. Couldn't really feel the weight too much.
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    Mark with his fully loaded bike and the Rockies in the distance.
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    Near the base of Hancock Pass. Checking the map and the rollchart to make sure we are going the right way.
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    Mark going up Hancock Pass - it must have been raining here not too long ago. Lots of traction and no dust - perfect!
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    ...more to follow.
    #2
  3. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Erich riding up to Hancock Pass - further up it got a bit rockier and steeper. No problem though ;-)
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    The mountain tops in the background<wbr>. It took about 45 minutes from the valley to get to the top of the Pass. Temps were dropping a bit too.
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    We reached the top of Hancock Pass at 12140 feet. Time for a "Salami" lunch break and a quick breather.
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    View from Hancock Pass towards the west (Tomichi Pass). The sky looks dark, but so far we've avoided getting rained on.
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    View from Hancock Pass to the East.
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    Time for a Salami lunch before we leave. It was interestin<wbr>g, because both Mark and I were a bit out of breath up on top of the mountain - definitely felt the elevation.
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    Mark riding down from Hancock on the western side of the Continenta<wbr>l Divide. It was a pretty steep drop.
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    ...just getting started.
    #3
  4. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Like a pro - Mark is riding down the pass.
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    Mark riding down Hancock Pass with Tomichi in the background (road visible on the left side).
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    While Mark "works" his way down the mountain, you can see the road up to Tomichi Pass in the background<wbr>.
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    Erich riding down Hancock Pass.
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    Starting our ascent towards Tomichi Pass. Views are incredible<wbr>.
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    Mark riding up towards Tomichi with the road coming down from Hancock Pass in the background<wbr>.

    I think Mark is having a great time ;-).
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    Mark riding towards the top of Tomichi Pass.
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    A few more minutes and Mark will reach Tomichi Pass. Despite some worries, carburetor jetting on the bikes worked ok (not perfect though in this elevation)<wbr>.
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    KTM with Hancock Pass road in the background<wbr>. The bike worked great and it was still pretty clean at this point.
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    Erich riding up towards the top of Tomichi Pass. As on Hancock Pass, it got a bit rockier towards the top.
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    Erich reaching the top of Tomichi Pass.
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    #4
  5. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    The view and road on the western side of Tomichi Pass.
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    Erich riding down from Tomichi Pass.
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    Little time to sit - with the rocks we were riding mostly standing up.
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    Mark riding down from Tomichi Pass. I think we must have spent over an hour to get back down into the valley area.
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    Some rockier sections on the way down from Tomichi Pass.
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    Time to take a quick break on the way down from Tomichi.
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    A quick break on the way down from Tomichi. The full Camelpacks were awesome - get a quick liquid refreshmen<wbr>t at any time during the ride.
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    Mark going down the hill...
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    Erich riding through the trees to lower elevations<wbr>.
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    Mark crossing a litte creek going across the trail coming down from Tomichi Pass.
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    Taking shelter under some corral at a ranch we just reached in time to avoid getting wet. It was a quick break as it stopped raining after a few minutes.
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    Ominous skies over the ranch where we are waiting out the rain.
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    Mark trying to put on his raingear - after struggling with it for a few minutes, he decided to forget about it and pack it up again.
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    Rain stopped and on we went. We just got a little moisture from the road but in general avoided getting rained on all day. We've reached this big valley with a farm in the middle of it.
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    Nicely groomed roads through some farmlands. The dirt was moist and offered lots of traction without any dust!
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    Beautiful Aspens abound.
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    ...more later.
    #5
  6. Trailryder42

    Trailryder42 Long timer

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    Great read so far. You guys were just starting your ride as I was finishing up. You got some great pics of the passes as you came over them, vantage points I missed aparently.

    In for more.
    #6
  7. GotMojo?

    GotMojo? Long timer

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    :clap:clap

    Great stuff guys. Love the pics!
    #7
  8. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Thank you for the nice comments ;-)

    Mark having a good time on the trusty DRZ 400.
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    Time for another quick bio and photo break. The scenery was just amazing. Roads still wet - but no rain for us ;-)
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    Aspen sky.
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    Time to get back on the trail - many miles to cover to Lake City, CO.
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    Back on the trail we follow more beautiful dirt roads through sparsely populated areas.
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    Beautiful roads with beautiful views and the high peaks in the background - yes, first snow of the year for the area.
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    Breathtaki<wbr>ng Rocky Mountains scenery.
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    Reaching the bottom of another valley after a long descent.
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    ...more...
    #8
  9. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    We pass a beautiful lake on our way to Lake City, CO.
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    Time for a Powerbar and some "reflectio<wbr>n" on the day...
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    Got to Lake City around 6 PM just before it started raining...got a Pizza, cleaned up a bit and got some needed rest.

    Lake City, CO in the early morning - 30 degrees, snow up on the mountain tops and frozen puddles on the roads.
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    As mentioned, we reached Lake City last night, had a great dinner and stayed in a little 60's room overnight. The bikes stayed inside the room also to avoid getting rained on and us having to unpack them. Time to go now though...
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    We had to forego Cinnamon and Ophir pass because of snow. Instead we created our own route over the mountains out of Lake City, CO.
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    Higher elevation meant snow and ice ... and very careful riding and a bit of freezing our asses off.
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    Trying to figure out where to go next - we picked a nice route and didn't get lost at all.
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    After fueling up in Salida, CO we made our way west in lower elevation. Weather was perfect in the high 60s - scenery with lots of Aspens continued.
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    Break time and some quick check-in phone calls to our significan<wbr>t others.
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    A little farm house gem near Dove Creek, CO.
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    Beautiful roads and views on our way to Cahone, CO. Time for a Powerbar.
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    More beautiful Aspen with a backdrop of a perfectly blue Sky. It doesn't get much better than this.
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    The Dolores River in the background near Cahone, CO.
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    ...more later. Gotta go ride my supermoto bike for a few hours ;-).
    #9
  10. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Just got back from riding a bit of supermoto. Before I get back to the TAT photos two pictures...Mark and that DRZ (this time in Supermoto trim) can handle anything ;-)
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    My other KTM...
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    ...okay, okay back to the TAT / MET trip.

    Asking a farmer for directions to Dove Creek to get some gas and supplies. "Only about 12 miles down the road" it is...
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    On the way back to our campground at the Dolores River we pass the abandoned farm house.
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    The ranch from the past.
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    At the Bridgefiel<wbr>d campground near Cahone. Looking at our campsite options.
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    Here we go - campsite at the river. Tents set up. Temps in the high 60's.
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    Time to "get rid" of some of the gear and get ready for dinner and a good night's sleep.
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    Mark after a full day of riding - ready to rest.
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    Temps drop dramatical<wbr>ly overnight - now at around 20 degrees, I decided to get up and make a fire to try to warm up (after freezing for a few hours in the tent and the "light" sleeping bag).
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    It was freezing - literally!
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    A breakfast cheese sausage helped us forget how cold it was.
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    The river looked beautiful in the morning light - and it was so cold.
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    Cold temps & cold river - my "swimming plans" evaporated quickly.
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    Morning light at the Dolores River.
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    #10
  11. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Back on the trail we go over many beautiful mountain tops and through many beautiful valleys.
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    After reaching La Sal we start our ascent up the La Sal Mountains.
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    Erich riding up towards the pass over the La Sal Mountains.
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    Mark riding up on the eastern slopes of the La
    Sal Mountains.
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    Erich on one of the section with a few more rocks on the road. This is on the eastern slopes of the La Sal Mountains in CO.
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    Mark stops to enjoy the view of the La Sal Mountains. The ride up was a couple of hours starting in the little town of La Sal, CO.
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    As we get near the top there is a nice open meadow that the road crosses.
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    Erich stopping to take in the view on the western slopes of the La Sal Mountains with Moab slickrock in the background<wbr>.
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    Mark stopping to take in the view from the eastern slopes of the La Sal Mountains with the town of Moab and the famous slickrock in the background<wbr>.
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    Erich on the western side of the La Sal Mountains - beautifull<wbr>y colored trees everywhere in these higher elevation. A big change of what we are about to get into...
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    Mark after crossing the La Sal Mountains in the background<wbr>.
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    Getting closer to Moab and the scenery changed dramatical<wbr>ly - red slickrock and sand everywhere<wbr>.
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    Erich getting closer to Moab - temps now in the low 80's (much better than the 20's earlier today).
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    Stopped for lunch and gas in Moab - and also to take off some of our gear since it was really nice and warm now!
    #11
  12. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Had to ride a 7 miles or so of slab then...Mark riding the shelf road a few miles outside of Moab towards Gemini Bridges.
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    Erich riding the shelf road outside of Moab towards Gemini Bridges. It's now warm, dry and (finally) a bit dusty.
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    Mark on the way to Gemini Bridges.
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    Mark walking around to check out Gemini Bridges and the rock formations in the area.
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    A view into ??? Valley near Gemini Bridges. In fact, this is where the TAT went - we "somehow" ended up on a different dirt road though - no problem!
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    Near our campsite not too far from Gemini Bridges area.
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    Desert evening near Gemini Bridges.
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    Our campsite near Gemini Bridges, looking southeast towards the La Sal Mountains in the background<wbr>.
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    Mark, the DRZ and all the stuff he brought (Talk about being prepared; good person to travel with - he was ready for pretty much anything)
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    Our campsite in the evening light - it was a warm, peaceful and very quiet. Perfect after a long day of riding.
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    A beautiful desert campsite evening. Initially, we wanted to make a little campfire, but turned out we were too tired and ready to just call it a day instead.
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    #12
  13. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Another day (of riding and exploring) is about to begin.
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    Erich riding towards Green River, UT.
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    A nice (relativel<wbr>y) cool morning to get on our way to Green River, UT for gas and some stocking up on food.
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    After a good French Toast breakfast in Green River we cross some dry lakes and and up in a wash - lost! It took about an hour and a lot of work getting the bikes down the side of some hill to get back on our way...
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    Where the heck are we? ...and where is the trail?
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    Getting the bikes back down to the main trail in the wash was a lot of work. Temps are getting up there into the 80's too. Thank god for Camelpacks<wbr>!
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    #13
  14. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Mark entering Black Dragon Canyon, UT.
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    Erich entering Black Dragon Canyon. Let the fun begin.
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    Mark across many, many rocks in Black Dragon Canyon - at least there was a lot of shade which was really good as the temps got warmer.
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    Erich riding the 640 through Black Dragon Canyon. So much fun and so beautiful!
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    Time for a quick break. Riding over many rocks in the canyon was a lot of work.
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    Rocks, sand, steep canyon walls and total solitude (except Mark) - just what the doctor ordered.
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    After we exit Black Dragon Canyon we end up on Hwy 70 which we took for a few miles before we could get off it on the frontage road to rejoin the TAT.
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    Mark on red sand roads heading towards Eagle Canyon, UT.
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    Erich riding down into Eagle Canyon. We had no idea how many miles of deep sand wash we would soon encounter.<wbr>..
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    Mark riding down into Eagle Canyon on his Blue Beast.
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    ...and further down Erich goes on the rather small ATV trail.
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    Looks like some rain fell here a few days ago - right now the weather couldn't be any nicer. Temps in the low 80's.
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    Mark at the bottom of Eagle Canyon in the sandy wash.
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    (The famous shot) Riding the wash under the Hwy 70 overpasses<wbr>

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    Erich gassing his bike results in a black cloud of smoke. The KTM is not running perfect due to jetting/el<wbr>evation. But overall, this is no big issue.
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    Mark riding the Eagle Canyon wash - for many miles.
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    ...and more miles. As always, it's nice to have some shade.
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    Erich having fun on the 640 in Eagle Canyon.
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    Mark and the DRZ take a quick "nap". Only seconds later and they both seem to be ready for some more sand riding in the wash.
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    #14
  15. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Mark on his way to Muddy River crossing a moist sand wash.
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    Erich in the rocks near Muddy River, UT.
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    Erich riding the sandy dirt roads near Muddy River, UT. It's warm and quite dusty now. Scenery is beautiful though.
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    Erich on an excursion through the sand and sage.
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    Mark looking north into the Muddy River Canyon.
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    The roads in the Muddy River area are generally very smooth, sandy and make for great, fast riding.
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    Mark going through the tunnels on the frontage road following Hwy 70 through the mountains in eastern UT.
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    Erich crossing one of the many tunnels on the frontage road.
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    A perfect stretch of riding to end another great day.
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    Erich going through yet another tunnel on this road.
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    Erich crossing through a creek after we tried a shortcut and got lost.
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    Mark carefully crossed the creek to get back on the trail that we are supposed to follow.
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    Ended the day around 7:30-ish in Richfield, UT.
    #15
  16. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    After staying overnight in the little town of Richfield, UT we head up into the mountains on very silty-dust<wbr>y ATV trails.
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    Another great day of riding lay ahead. It started to get pretty warm quickly.
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    The fall colors of the trees were just amazing!
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    Erich following the dusty ATV trails through the mountains.
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    Mark riding into a "sea of color". We had to keep a rather large distance between us because of the silt.
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    Just amazing - we must have picked the perfect time of the year.
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    Erich riding up and down the mountains many times over the next few hours. He had so much fun that he forgot about all the luggage and gear on the bike until he was reminded by the suspension bottoming out.
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    We get out of the mountains, get some gas in ??? and then it's off into the flatter desert...
    #16
  17. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    Coming down from the mountains in the desert. Found some cars from a different era.
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    A restoratio<wbr>n project - not!
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    Time for a Powerbar - Mark relaxing for a few minutes after hours of high-speed desert riding.
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    Lots of white dust on our tires (looks kinda "artsy").
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    Mark adjusting the chain on his DRZ - that's about all that the bike required during the entire trip!
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    Going up another mountain range we run into this big "white" mountain (aka "Crystal Peak"). It looked really cool and very different from the surroundin<wbr>g landscape.
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    Mark passing the big "white" mountain going down into the next desert valley.
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    Mark with a long and fast desert gravel road ahead.
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    Mark at full speed across the desert on the DRZ (that didn't miss a beat).
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    Erich following Mark through the desert. As long as we kept riding the temps were very comfortabl<wbr>e.
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    Mark heading towards Baker, NV. We had to do hours of wide-open gravel roads. One really gets a sense of how much open space there is in the West.
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    After fueling up in Baker, NV we have to open/close many cattle gates while following this two-track back and forth across the UT/NV state line.
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    The trail brings us to this abandoned ranch with a little spring in the middle of a large desert valley.
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    We had immense fun and were riding pretty quickly on the two-track across the desert - from one big open valley to the next.
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    The fast and super-fun two-track we followed for hours. Mark leaving a trail of dust.
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    A few hours later we end up in the mountains looking for another wash that the trail follows. First we get lost a bit, but finally we found it.
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    The wash was an incredible 5-miles (or so) of fun. Just unbelievab<wbr>le single-tra<wbr>ck fun!!! My personal favorite of the trip ;-
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    Erich riding out of the wash into another large and empty desert valley in NV.
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    Mark riding into another valley we needed to cross before getting to Patterson Pass, NV.
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    Evening sun rays over the mountains.
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    Erich riding up Patterson Pass. A few minutes later a big elk would cross the road in front of us.
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    Last sunlight hitting the mountains at the top of Patterson Pass.
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    Erich taking a quick break on the top of Patterson Pass.
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    Time for a break for Mark as well. The scenery and light is beautiful. Temps in the high low 70's.
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    #17
  18. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    A view from our campsite in the evening light. Reminded us of the African Savannah.
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    Our campsite after crossing Patterson Pass. This was a perfect campsite - no wind, no artificial lights anywhere, no noise other than the desert animals - like coyotes howling - all night.
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    Erich playing cow-pattty frisbee.
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    eaving our campsite going towards another wide valley - we have now left the TAT and making our own trails.
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    Erich coming down the mountains where we camped last night.
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    Erich riding a few miles of "slab" to get us to the next dirt road.
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    Mark starting on another 20 miles of high-speed riding through this big desert valley in central NV.
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    We found an abandoned ranch while riding through another set of mountains.
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    The DRZ got to rest while we checked out the old structures<wbr>.
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    The house was in surprising<wbr>ly good shape. It was build with big desert rocks, loam, and large, rough beams and a wood/loam roof.
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    A view from inside the house with the DRZ between the sage.
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    Erich riding the beautiful, winding road through the high-deser<wbr>t mountains.
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    Mark riding between Sage and red rocks towards Currant, NV.
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    We headed to Currant, NV for gas just to find out that it was a ghost town - and I am almost out of gas.
    #18
  19. the toe cutter

    the toe cutter Adventurer

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    Yep it was a fantastic trip. It's hard to put into words. Thanks for posting up the pics E and acknowleding how bad a** that DRZ really is :wink:
    #19
  20. contacterich

    contacterich Been here awhile

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    We took Hwy 6 southeast and after about 10 miles - with another 10 miles of gas in the tank - found a refinery! How incredible is this?!!
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    This guy - Ty - unlocked the pump for us and filled up our bikes! After we left we saw the sign on the road that said "Next gas - 96 miles". I guess we got lucky!
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    Finding our own trails off Hwy 6. View west towards the Monitor Mountains.
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    Mark riding our trail which was barely visible. We just knew we had to cross this big valley in front of us. On we went.
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    Beautiful desert color and stillness. Only the sound of the bikes and the wind.
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    More two-track to follow through the valley. We got a bit lost on the very faint trails.
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    ...and ended up at Petroglyph Butte near the Monitor Mountains. Time for a break in the shade. Temps were in the mid/high 80's. Mark is enjoying the shade.
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    Mark is checking out the petroglyph<wbr>s on the rock walls.
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    Found this little guy relaxing in the shade as well.
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    Went on to Tonopah; got gas and ate at Burger King. Here is Mark after riding on some fast desert roads to Silver Peak, NV.
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    Strange, windswept landscape near Silver Peak, NV.
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    After talking to an ATV racer in Silver Peak we were headed towards Fishlake hot spring. Mark is riding down the western slopes of Coyote Pass.
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    Sunset at Coyote Pass, NV.
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