In search of new roads – Tres

After a burger at the Cougar Mountain Lodge we jumped the Hwy onto FR 626, which is a nice gravel road that climbs up towards Sage Hen Reservoir.

Twists and turns past firs and pines …. FR 626

…. and through a meadow or two

The winter snow of this past season has left this area’s landscape exceptionally green and the roads continue to be dust free. Still on FR 626

We pass Sage Hen Reservoir and 626 continues west to Hancock Road.

Meadows in bloom …

The day running long we point the bikes south and continue with a fast run down the Ola Highway until we hit Montour.

Finding our route to Johnson Creek blocked by water we rerouted through Horseshoe Bend, Pearl Road, and into North Eagle.

The days riding was fantastic … we experienced both rain and sun on some fun roads and we also found a couple of connecting routes that we had not yet ridden fulfilling the essence of dual sport riding … whats over that next hill or around the next corner?

Until next time ….

 

In search of new roads – 2nd Half

Once the bikes are properly fueled, or at least the DRZ since the mighty 690 is a tanker …. we headed north along the river. The days forecast called for potential showers of which thus far we have been spared. Until now ….

With the rain starting to fall one would expect moral to drop, but in this case the opposite was true. The rain seemed to transform a section of road I have only had the privilege to pass in the dustiest of conditions. With proper gear worn and water on the road …. the experience was …. different … and almost refreshing.

Left or Right

Our choice for today would be left. According to the map West Fork Creek Rd will connect over the ridge to Clear Creek Road and/or Hwy 55.

The map indicates a few miles of riding to find West Fork Creek Rd (600), but not before passing a cascading creek as it free falls down a drainage opposing the road.

Rd 600, Junction CJ, West Fork Creek

The rain has stopped leaving behind tacky dirt and clean air. We rail up the road following recent side by side tracks who, by the looks of their roost, are enjoying the day same as us.

 

The road has a few intersections that are not apparent on my map. Each direction recently traveled we flip a coin and choose a direction. We twist and turn making our way back up towards the ridge covering enough ground that we start to second guess the choice of the coin before another intersection comes into view.  Clear Creek Road is right, Hwy 55 is left …. as we descend towards Hwy 55 views of Cascade present before us … the clouds against the blue sky and the Green timber contrasting against the receding snow make for quite a view.

Hwy 55 across the valley

We make our way downward eventually coming to a closed gate. As we cross the gate we notice a No Trespassing sign only visible from the opposite direction. Not sure if the road we came down on was private as there were no visible signs up above … we close the gate behind and proceed.

Now connected with Hwy 55 we decide the best route into Cougar Mountain … time for lunch!

 

 

In search of new roads – Take 1

“True adventure lies in the road ahead”

I find myself always chasing new roads. Paved roads, dirt roads, improved roads, primitive roads, forest roads …. all roads that lead around the next corner or over the next hill. These are the roads that make adventure. Riding over those hills and around those curves feeds our curiosity to continue riding forward. It entices that seeded sense of exploration that all of us have in one shape or form.

For some time I have wondered about a route that would connect us from the small community of Crouch Idaho, just north of Boise, and over the hill into Long Valley. I know the route exists, this is just country I have not spent much time in other than riding a few of the single track trails in the area.

Our weather the last few days has been scattered with a bit of rain, but is forecasted to start clearing. The call goes out for a ride!

My friend John E answers the call and we plan a meeting spot on Bogus Basin Road with a plan to ride over Bogus and the Ridge Road.

John on the mighty 690 and myself on the Z … we make short work of the fun and twisty 16 mile section to the Bogus basin Ski Area.

Time to break and adjust layers ….

The heat of the Summer had not yet set in …. Winter snow had been holding a tight grip on the high mountain routes with reports of the ridge road just opening up.

The Ridge Road, which I’ve spoken of often as it being a popular connecting route to Garden Valley or Idaho City areas, flows unassuming along the ridge line towards Harris Creek Summit. Along the way you’ll pass a stand of mature Ponderosa Pines that I always have to stop and admire.

The Boise Ridge Road (374) deposits us onto Harris Creek Summit. While dropping down to Harris Creek I spot dust plumes in the distance which is an indicator of an annual event called the Idaho Rally.  As cool as the event is I always seem to find myself entangled in their spider web of course selections.

John E and the 690

FR 374

We ride into Placerville to find the town center, more or less a grassy park, to be the staging and pit area for the rally participants. We inquire with the local EMT’s as to which roads are effected by the days events and they confirm that FR 615 over Alder Creek Summit is being kept open into Garden Valley…. that’s a win this being our intended route and a detour could have cost us quite a few miles.

Placerville City Center

Alder Creek Summit

We successfully make it to the Banks/Lowman Hwy. With no traffic and great road conditions we steer the bikes towards Garden Valley/Crouch. We’ll top off fuel before heading up the Middle Fork of the Payette and for me on this day parts unknown.

 

 

 

May Wandering – Wandering Back Over The Hill

A huge part of dual sporting is taking what the road throws at you. Being dead set on one particular route will do nothing but set you up for disappointment and frustration. There is beauty and adventure around each corner. It might just not have been the one you had planned…. the same holds true in life.

Dropping down from Grimes Pass plants me on Rd 382. Road 382 runs parallel along the high flowing South Fork of the Payette in the direction of Garden Valley. Across the river running parallel is the Banks/Lowman Hwy …

Dodging road cones or pine cones …

Running high –

After a few miles I hit the intersection of Rd 615. A quick assessment of fuel status reassures me that I have plenty to make Horseshoe Bend … and maybe home.

I make a quick left turn and twist on the throttle towards Alder Creek Summit. I’ve  been along this route many many times before as it is the primary “dirty” connector to Garden Valley.  Right at that moment I notice a small memorial off to the left just off the road … again, I’ve been by this way many times and have never noticed this little landmark.

The memorial was put into place for one of the early settlers of Garden Valley. The significance of this individual is unclear other than he worked on a stone carving otherwise known as the George Washington Equestrian Statue … equestrian be horse .. this statue is of a squirrel on a tree? I’ll let you figure this one out …

Squirrel –

I race up Rd 615 towards Adler Creek Summit. The higher I ride more prevalent are the after effects of this years spring run off. Ditches four feet wide and a foot and a half deep run along the roads side…. void of water at this time.

Alder Creek Summit-

Now the ridge track that I had previously tried to traverse off Grimes Pass would have reconnected right at this point. Snow and downed trees be damned … next time!

I make my way through Placerville … passing the two guy’s who I met earlier on their mountain bikes. They indeed made it … I passed by with a wave, the second half of my loop is most likely going to be easier than theirs as they have a ways still to go.

Looking back on Granite Creek-

From here you actually have a couple of options. 1) Continue along Harris Creek Road to Horseshoe Bend …. probably my direction for the day. 2) Continue north along Hawley Mountain Rd … Hawley Mountain is an old decomissioned lookout now functioning as a communications site. 3) South off Harris Creek is the Boise Ridge Road … this takes you up over Bogus Basin and back to Boise.

Harris Creek Summit-

I drop into Horseshoe Bend and again reassess fuel … I’m 99.9% sure that I have plenty to get home, but I tend to be of the discipline … if there is fuel… stop and top off…. I get fuel.

My plan from Horseshoe Bend is to take Pearl Road back into Eagle. Problem is that you would normally need to run a stretch of Hwy 55 over Horseshoe Bend Hill … crazy traffic and all this really is not that enjoyable on the Z. The old hwy diverts off to the right as soon as you exit town making for a nice side track run to the top of the hill … minus all of the crazy ass goggle eyed drivers jockeying for position up the hill as they make their Nascar run out of McCall.

As I make my run up the hill I catch a glimpse of movement off to my right. It’s a Tom fully fanned out obviously trying to impress a lady. I see turkey’s all the time, but the is the first one I’ve actually seen strutting his stuff.

Turkey on cheese-

Looking back on Harris Creek-

Up the hill … old Hwy 55

Residual pack- Bogus Basin

Just following the strip of road ….

I follow Pearl Road as it drops back down to Eagle Idaho …

Great ride today … I was able to scout a few medium high passes (I’m sure the higher ones were still gated and might be so until July), but mainly it felt good to simply get the boots a bit dirty. On the bike for a few hours and 160 miles …. until next time, ride lots, ride safe!

May Wandering – Where thou road turns

“Not all adventures are measured in days or thousands of miles traveled”

Our long winter now behind us and with the oppressive snow steadily receding I decide it’s time to get the DRZ out of the garage. Time today only allows for a short day ride, which is ok. I’ve come to terms that a succession of day rides combined together can equate to longer adventures…. why not?

The loop for today will take me over Adalpe Summit out of East Boise. From there I will work my way north though Clear Creek, up Grimes Creek, and through New Centerville and Pioneerville. I want to see if there are any effects of last years Pioneer Fire along this particular route.

The approach to Rocky Canyon Road-

Rocky Canyon, the dirt begins here-

Top of Rocky Canyon, Adalpe Summit-

The run up to Adalpe was cooler than anticipated. The clouds hung low covering the near ridge line. Sprinkles of rain fell with small puddles present as a sign that more significant rain passed through earlier. My OBR ADV Gear Grip Mitts kept my fingers agile and on the controls.

Forward progress equated to dropping down the east side and heading north towards Clear Creek Summit …

Rd 261

At this point I ran into a couple of guys on mountain bikes who also enjoy a bit of dual sporting. Their adventure today is going to take them into Placerville … my initial thought is that’s quite and ambitious loop! … but they look fit for the day.

Through Clear Creek and up Grimes …

Rd 364

You always here the term “Super Bloom” … but what about “Super Green”

Evidence of tom foolery …

I run up on a group of six or so trail riders also enjoying the day … I’ve ridden my share of trails in the area, but these guys give me sense that there is much more to explore than I realize. I make my way by with a wave and keep on course.

The road twists and turns by New Centerville and proceeds north towards Pioneerville. Traction is at a prime with the DRZ on it’s game. The DRZ is the multi tool of bikes … you can take them any where and they will get the job done … some situations maybe outside it’s comfort zone, but fast two track … this bike is planted and predictable. On the throttle with full drift!

Beaver pond off Rd 382-

High flow-

A bit further up the road I pass an old homestead … I’ve passed here before multiple times, but from the opposite direction and can’t recall these steps? … rode right past I guess.

Evidence of heavy run off is now becoming ever present. Heavy flow within the creek and fairly deep washouts are starting to appear. Residual snow along the hill sides is evidence that Winter is still fighting to retain her grip.

Surprisingly evidence of last years Pioneer Fire has not shown itself … the western flank must be further east. I make my way past the intersection that will take you to Pilot Peak, still snowed in I’m sure, so I head up to Grimes Pass.

Garden Valley from Grimes Pass-

Atop Grimes Pass and behind a fence lies a series of graves. Memorials from way past to reasonably present. The largest being for the gentlemen that the pass is named after, George Grimes. Part of the local mining history I’m sure.

From this juncture I need to decide if I need to drop down into Garden Valley for fuel or take a road from the pass that runs west along the ridge connecting to Alder Creek Summit.

Alder Creek Summit it is, Rd 395

Road 395 is a tight two track that flows west and brushes through ridge top timber. It’s a fun road that gives a sense of solitude and exposure once on top.

The ridge opens up with a view of Garden Valley and the Payette River upstream drainage.

Some of that snow I spotted a bit earlier, up close

Pruning required… I thought this day would contain no yard work?

At this point I’m starting to wonder if passage of this road is an option. I figure that I will clear out just enough to get past this deadfall and see what the road presents. I pull out my folding saw from my OBR ADV Gear Tool Pouch and get to work clearing a path.

…. and about a 1/4 mile up the road

There is still a good 12-18″ in spots. Passage not possible this trip.

The road made up my mind for me … double back and head down Grimes Pass towards the Payette and Garden Valley.

Intermission –

 

 

 

 

 

Two Track into Loon Creek – Part 7 … Back to the truck

After finally reaching Sunbeam I find myself on a stretch of Hwy 75. This particular section of Hwy 75 I find quite enjoyable as it twists and turns continually for the next 10 miles making it’s way towards Stanley while scrubbing my tires side knobs of any residual soil from the past miles of dirt.

Hwy 75, Stanley

Hwy 75, Stanley

After a few miles the Sawtooth Mountains start to come into view …

Hwy 75, Stanley

Information on the Salmon River Scenic Byway, which I find my self traveling along ….

Hwy 75, Stanley

Hwy 75, Stanley

Entering Lower Stanley … my map indicates a potential bypass around Stanley that I have yet to travel over. The Road (633) is not clearly marked and I actually ride right past it the first time, but a few parked cars prompt me to reverse direction and jump back onto the dirt track.

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

The track winds it’s way around Stanley and regains elevation. It crests a pass with the Sawtooth Mountains coming back into view along it’s southern edge …

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

Pano –

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

With recent fires it is nice to finally have reasonably clean air providing a view …

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

Never have traveled this short section of road is proof that your next adventure might just be one road away. Passing a section of Hwy 21 that I have traveled over dozens of times to only reveal fresh views just a mile or so off the main Hwy proves that sometimes it might be worth slowing down every once in a while taking the road less traveled.

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

Old homestead …

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

Rd 633 finally winds it’s way around reconnecting with Hwy 21 … with the day getting long I put the final few miles of pavement behind me concluding one more daily adventure ….

Stanley, Sawtooth Mountains

Speed limit 65 🙂

Two Track into Loon Creek – Part 6 …. Sunbeam

Passing over Loon Creek Summit the road opens up into a southern exposure overlooking the Yankee Fork drainage. A single lane two track guides me down past exposed edge and through multiple switchbacks.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Blind curve-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Visible in the distance is the old Sunbeam Mine site currently under reclamation.

Sunbeam Mine

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

As I near the Sunbeam entrance … the road widens from it’s previous stature of single lane two track.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Riding this loop in it’s clockwise direction … I take note of buildings that I have previously flown right by …. it’s evident that there is a long mining history in the area, as with much of wild Idaho.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Old mine tailings deposited by the Yankee Fork Dredge many years ago. As disruptive as they were to the landscape .. it still amazes me how in their era they were able to float such a large piece of equipment down a relatively shallow low volume creek.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Yankee Fork Dredge

Yankee Fork Dredge-

Yankee Fork Dredge

The area surrounding the dredge was once a very active community … Custer to the Northeast and Bonanza just down the road. Life here at the time was hard and full of challenges and sacrifice…. all for the sake of carving out a living within the gold industry of the day.

Custer, Bonanza

Custer, Bonanza

Bonanza Guard Station

Bonanza Guard Station

Custer, Bonanza

Bonanza Cemetery-

Custer, Bonanza

Custer, Bonanza

Peaceful rest-

 

Bonanze Cemetary

Custer, Bonanza, Yankee Fork

A few more miles down the road and the Sunbeam Dam appears.

Sunbeam Dam

The dam only operated for a few short years supplying much needed power up to the Yankee Fork operations, but gold/mineral prices of the day barely covered operating cost, which lead to the shut down of the dredge to where it sits today. The dam was breached years later to help restore lost Salmon runs.

To be continued…

 

Two Track into Loon Creek – Part 5 …. Loon Creek Summit

Just past the bridge is the main population base …. Loon Creek Guard Station and the Diamond D Ranch. The Diamond D is an all inclusive guest ranch with all the amenities required as a getaway from the 9 to 5.

Up the road-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Diamond D-

Diamond D Ranch

Loon Creek Guard Station-

Loon Creek Guard Station

The run out-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

The road runs hard and fast along Mayfield Creek before veering up and south towards Loon Creek Summit.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Down Stream-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Before the summit-

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek, OBR ADV Gear

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

The road tops out at 8600 ft. A wide area allows for multiple vantage points back into Loon Creek and the Frank Church. The minerals within the surrounding mountains present an impressive mosaic of colors that are difficult to capture with the cameras lens.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek Summit

Next stop Sunbeam –

 

Two Track into Loon Creek – Part 4 …. Into Loon

Remaining snow levels up top of Pinyon were minimal, So I concluded that the road must be open down into Loon. Proceeding down the ridge my optimism faded as I rolled up onto this drift.

Pinyon Peak

I’ve seen this drift once before a few years back. The geographic position of the ridge is a wind funnel that during winter blows snow over the top accumulating into a sizable drift. The drift freezes solid, slowing it’s melt so that once the surrounding snow has since melted off, the road still remains impassable … at least for 4 wheeled vehicles.

I stare at the drift for a few minutes with options reeling through my mind …. do I chance it and drop over the edge? … or do I reverse course playing it safe and head back to the truck? … Decisions such as these do not come easy. I, like most, once I have a route decided in my mind I find that I have an internal drive to finish that intended loop … today is no different.

Off the bike I walk over to the lower edge and survey the road surface below. I do see bike tracks, along with a few ATV, and even a set of vehicle tracks. This is good as it does present heavy evidence that the lower road is open. I now direct my attention to the actual embankment. How does it look? Remaining cognizant of the one golden rule of off road “Do not ride or drive down anything that you cannot ride or drive back up” …. I’ve broken this rule a time or two and have no desire to do so again today.

I identify a track where other bikes have dropped over the edge, so I walk this track assessing if I can actually get back up if the lower path ends up be impassable. I conclude yes, so over the edge I go …..

Loon Creek or bust …

Pinyon Peak

Once over I continue on my course down the backside. Thankfully the road ended up being clear the rest of the way down with only a few wash out sections that were easily navigated.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Road cleared … thankfully as the size and qty of this dead fall would have ended my forward progression.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

I pass by an old mine that we stopped at on our trip last Fall. In the Fall as we were checking out some of the old buildings we met the owners and operators of the mine. Evidently it is still active to some capacity and they didn’t really want anyone around … fair enough, but in our defense nothing was posted.

Now it is ….

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek, Packer John

I continue down the hill with my next objective Loon Creek ….

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

I reach Loon Creek and a sign declaring the ridge impassable due to snow …. Ha!

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

Loon Creek is a beautiful little river that runs north-northwest into the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Fishing on this small tributary is reported to be pretty good. One of these days I’ll have to pack in my fly pole.

Pinyon Peak, Loon Creek

…. to be continued

 

Two track into Loon Creek – Part 3 …. Decisions

Clicking along Rd 172. Rd 172 runs along a high ridge for approx 6ish miles before passing below Pinyon Peak. The views on either side of the ridge are incredible on clear days. Closer up towards the peak the panoramic perspective really opens up.

Pinyon Peak

The views off the ridge section of 172 are amazing …

Kidney Lake, West side of Ridge (Note all the burned/dead trees, all too common these days, a staple amongst Idaho’s forest)

Pinyon Peak

Down Canyon, East side of ridge (More burned trees)

Pinyon Peak

What once was …

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak, 9800 ft

Pinyon Peak

This draw drains into Loon Creek with the Diamond D Ranch residing at the bottom.

Pinyon Peak

I asked Bambi if I could pass, she said yes

Pinyon Peak

In short time I arrive at the junction of Pinyon Peaks driveway. I snap a few pics before I continue down the north side. Most that know me also know that I’m not a real fan of visiting manned lookouts. Early season or late season yes, but these days it seems that some of the individuals working the lookouts like the seclusion a bit too much … apparent in their lack of interest in visitors. Not all, but a lot these days don’t seem to thrilled when you ride up.  I always get a sense that I’m intruding … and to a degree I probably am as this is their home for the season.

Pinyon Peak, OBR ADV Gear

Pinyon Peak

Taking it in …

Pinyon Peak

Panoramic sequence …

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

I remount the mighty DRZ and continue over the top, down the backside …. only to run into ….

Pinyon Peak

Decisions? …. To be continued

 

Two Track into Loon Creek – Part 2 …. Beaver Creek

Over the hill and around the next corner … that is what drives adventure!

Pinyon Peak

Continuing up Rd 172 … it’s almost like a new road. Creeks that I’ve passed by a few times in the opposite direction present themselves in a different light.

Cliff Creek …. who’s Cliff?

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

I pass by a number of over grown tracks that I decide explore…. they all eventually conclude as old hunting camps …. (I’m making mental notes of potential  camp spots for future trips and the fact that they all have accessible water)

Over the bridge and up the next hill ….

Pinyon Peak

No name lake …

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

NW Overlook …

Pinyon Peak

I stop at the first saddle … the overlook is to the East. The valley is vast as are all the burned trees… Oh what this must have been with Green timber.

Pinyon Peak

Pano … and were not even to the top yet!

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

Pinyon Peak

(One of these days I’ll purchase the software that will allow me to stitch photos, but for now I’m too cheap)

Continue the climb … so far the road is relatively easy, but do take into account I’m on a light bike. A fully loaded ADV bike will require a bit more skill and attention.

Pinyon Peak

Finally reaching the ridge… the road snakes its way along a precipitous edge.

Pinyon Peak

Now into the wilderness … Rd 172 runs along a 100 yd easement into Loon Creek.

Pinyon Peak

… to be continued

Two track into Loon Creek – Part 1…. The beginning

“Adventure is worthwhile.”

                                                     – Aristotle

An adventure is an exciting or unusual experience. It may also be a bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.[1] Adventures may be activities with some potential for physical danger such as exploring, skydiving, mountain climbing, river rafting or participating in extreme sports. The term also broadly refers to any enterprise that is potentially fraught with physical, financial or psychological risk, such as a business venture, a love affair, or other major life undertakings . ~ Wikipedia

Adventure, whether it be on two feet, two wheels or four …. I find is necessary to cleanse the soul. Too many consecutive days of alarm clocks, project deadlines, and repetitive life cycles requires one to break from the life mold. I find that adventure can be experienced through a single days journey or of many, but the desired outcome is the same …. a clearing of the mind, rejuvenation of the body, and cleansing of the psyche.

My ride time so far this season has fallen short of expectation. Usually by the time that mid summer rolls around I have multiple trips logged with many adventures to share. This season has proven to be a bit more challenging in terms of commitments and scheduling, so when a weekend opened up …. a cleansing of the psyche was needed!

Electing to not ride from the house poses the next question of where to ride? …. Trailering to some might seem counter intuitive to the concept of dual sporting, but I find that staging spots an hour or two out from the house helps to provide more quality track time vs spending most of the day riding transition.

This past Fall we completed a counter clockwise loop over Pinyon Peak. Caught early enough before the thick air created by the heat of Summer or inevitable wildfires … the views from Pinyon can only be classified as amazing.

-Boundry Creek Staging off HWY 21

Boundry Creek Rd

-Maps at the ready, my OBR ADV Gear High Basin Tank Bag includes a detachable map pocket that will easily hold two USFS maps.

High Basin

Boundry Creek Rd

I have only been over Pinyon a handful of times and each have been in the counter clockwise rotation. My one attempt at a clockwise circumnavigation was thwarted by a ominous snow drift just past the lookout.

So today will be perfect for another clockwise attempt …..

-Seafoam Rd, North off Hwy 21

Cape Horn

Seafoam Rd

Seafoam Rd

-Wilderness Kiosk …. Idaho’s wilderness is rapidly evolving into forests of burned timber …. a long topic for another day!

Seafoam

From here of venture onto Rd 172, Beaver Creek Rd.

Pinyon Peak

Which is evidently steep and narrow …

Pinyon Peak

I contemplate the risk …

Pinyon Peak

… and off I go

Pinyon Peak

…. over the hill and around the next bend … to be continued.

April Extreme – Following the Pioneers

There are many paths through the Ring of Life. They are a constant movement toward self-fulfillment through growth of your mind.”

– Frosty Wooldridge, Golden, Colorado

With a mild Spring and the urge to ride becoming more persistent, my friend John E sent out a txt …. “weather looks good, we should ride Immigrant Rd and Prairie“.  The route we had in mind was attempted about a month prior, but rains helped to maintain the roads in a slimy muddy condition that forced a postponement. However with sun in our forecast … this weekend we shall not be denied!

The first part of our days route will actually be following a section of the old Oregon Trail otherwise known today as the Oregon Trail Back Country Byway. As the Oregon Trail extended northwest from the Snake River plain, it followed along the foothills of the Danskin Mountains on what we know today as Foothills Rd passing through old stage stops and Mayfield pointing towards Boise.

TrailStart

While our equipment is not quite as primitive as from the day …. the remoteness of the route still reflects the solitude that must have been felt along this section of trail.

oregontrail

Fueled up I point the DRZ towards John E’s house. The air is cool and perfect allowing the Z to properly atomize the on board fuel translating into flawless forward propulsion. I connect with John E and we head onto another staging point where we meet up with another friend of Johns … Mike who will also be joining us on this loop. John E and Mike typically ride mid week taking advantage of less congested roads, but they make an exception this weekend to accommodate my 9-5 schedule. We’ll refer to Mike as Honda Mike in this write up due to the 650 XR that Mike was saddled up on this day!

John E and the Mighty 690!

IMG_6798

We start our journey down Hubbard Lane …. a snake like country road that consists of nice flow. John E and Honda Mike, both being on 600 plus cc fire breathers wick up the pace leaving my mortal 400 to play catch up!

After Hubbard we point our fenders east along Kuna/Mora Rd with Backs Creek positioned right along the tip of our visors.

More flow-

IMG_6801

IMG_6803

John E and Honda Mike stop to let their beasts take a breather. They’ve been twisting it hard enough on the last stretch that we need to let some of the atomized air molecules catch up! … We reconnect along the Blacks Creek turnoff. At this point we are officially on the byway beginning as Slater Flat Rd, Foothills Rd, eventually connecting with Immigrant Rd.

Fresh knobbies were indeed harmed in the making of this ride!

IMG_6804

Redneck target practice-

IMG_6805

Mileage for this day is a little bit unknown. My DRZ will reliably get 160-175 miles out of my Clarke 3.6. I can extend another 50 miles with my Rotopax that is carried on my rear rack, and about another 20-25 miles from a couple of fuel bottles carried over my tank in my OBR ADV Gear Fuel Bottle Wraps.  A 250 mile range should be good for today.

IMG_6806

Foothills Rd flows smooth and fast over dragons backs and around hidden curves. The surface consists of hard dry pack with sections of loose gravel (that can turn to impassable mud if it is raining). Attention is a must if one is to avoid overshooting a turn.

IMG_6807

Foothills Green with prehistoric stone-

IMG_6809

Big Sky- John E and Honda Mike

IMG_6810

Over yonder-

IMG_6811

The Byway-

IMG_6812

Foothills Rd continues it’s south easterly path skirting the sage brush edge and the transition up into the Danskin Mountains first passing by the old ruins of Mayfield.

Old Homestead-

IMG_6815

Creek side-

IMG_6819

First point of interest would be Inscription Rock. Travelers of the Oregon Tail would lay over in the immediate draw. When boredom would win over few would write their initials on the rock using wagon grease.

Pioneer graffito-

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Moving on-

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Dust monkeys-

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Foothills Rd eventually bumps into Rd 167 (seen extending up into the hills in this shot) which climbs up towards Danskin Peak Lookout and connects to a few trailheads.

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Over the horizon-

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Yonder getting closer-

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Speeds naturally pick up through this section spreading out the group a bit, which is good as it allows a few moments for the drifting dust to clear out.

As the road continues its meandering path we crest over a rise only to quickly drop into a little creek side oasis known as Canyon Creek. This was another known lay over point for wary trail travelers with an actual stage stop being built sometime around the latter 1800’s.

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Just past Canyon Creek the road splits and we jump onto Immigrant Rd to the east.

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Over the pass-

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The valley from which we came-

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Over the hill to Hwy 20, our next stop-

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Once on Hwy 20, we make a 5-6 mile run to Prairie Rd otherwise known as Cow Creek Rd. Cow Creek Rd is subject to winter closures, but with our recent stretch of good weather it should be open.

Bennett Mountain-

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Cow Creek is a nice transition road that eventually drops you down into the South Fork of the Boise River, but not before displaying still green mountain tops with a contrast of snow.

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Cow Creek Bridge-

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We point our bikes north and run along the river for a few miles before Rd 131 starts it’s ascent away from the waters edge and out of the canyon.

This stretch of the South Fork of the Boise below the Anderson Ranch Dam is a very popular stretch if you are keen on fly fishing. It is for the most part a catch and release section with monster trout if your so lucky to hook into one.

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That’s a view-

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Out of the canyon, we are now running over the Prairie Plateau.

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Next stop Y Stop-

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Our next planned rally point is to be the Y Stop, a local store/cafe’. From there we will grab some lunch and seek out local intel on snow conditions and whether or not we might be able to make it over Long Gulch to the Middle Fork.

Reports or in our favor …

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Long Gulch runs about 20 miles to the North out of Prairie. The road winds over a couple of passes (hence the snow intel) and through a few valleys. There is a mixture of open range land and recovering timber corridors from past fires. This particular stretch of road is really nice in the Fall once the Aspen trees change color.

-Re-group

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-Pressing on through one of those valleys

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-Honda Mike

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-John E

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Honda Mike takes point as John E and I leap frog each other on our way to the Middle Fork ….

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-John E stunting it up across the Long Gulch/Middle Fork Bridge

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From here we continue our run west towards Arrowrock Reservoir passing by  what ends up being the hords of lake sheep clustered together like cattle at a feed trough. BLM patrols … Boats and Jet Ski’s racing in every which direction as a simple reminder of why we enjoy dual sporting like we do … to escape such chaos!

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The day is running long. We make Hwy 21 and promptly point our rides towards Boise. My mileage registers approx. 170 miles … I make note of this as my bike sputters to a stop before I can activate my reserve. No worries though … my 1 gal Rotopax sits in reserve on my rear rack.

-Top side of Arrowrock

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-Bottom side image from a previous ride

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…. and so comes the time at the conclusion of each ride where we split off on our own separate ways until the next ride!

 

Situational Awareness

We’ve all had those moments where we find ourselves riding a bit to overconfident only to find that our reactions are not in sync with road info that is being presented to us …. or we’ve had that moment where the hair stands up on the back of your neck right before you meet a car mid corner, travelling the opposite direction on a back road …. This article caught my attention from Motorcyclist Magazine, April 2016, written by Ken Condon (MC Garage, Street savvy)

“Let’s say that you are an expert road racer with a shelf full of trophies. Will your ability to brake and corner to the extreme edge of control keep you from harm on the street? Those trophies didn’t win themselves, it’s true, but if you were quick to answer “yes” then you are fooling yourself.

Don’t get me wrong. Your highly advanced track skills can save your bacon when dealing with a curve that tightens suddenly or when you have to stop rapidly to avoid a collision. However it is a fool who relies on superior skills alone to arrive home unscathed because, unlike on the race track, street hazards are unpredictable and less forgiving. You might get away with it enough to think you’re doing fine, but you will eventually face a hazard that even your awesome skills will not be able to handle.

What trumps badass corning and braking talents is superior brain power that avoids the need to use those bitchin’ skills in the first place. Up first are strategies to deal with common hazards. You already have a lot of these strategies in your pocket. Some are so obvious that you might not even think of them as strategies. Examples include slowing down when approaching a busy intersection even if you have the green light, changing lane position to be more visible, weaving just enough to catch the attention of a driver waiting at the intersection, and covering your brakes to reduce reaction time, just in case.

Having expert-level control skills and smart strategies are great, but even they aren’t enough. Without situational awareness you might recognize when a hazard is developing and fail to act in time. Situational awareness makes you alert to clues that allow you to “read” the environment and predict when a potentially bad situation is about to unfold before anything obvious actually happens. Unusual changes in traffic flow or the sight of unexpected brake lights can indicate trouble ahead.

The best riders have finely tuned, hi-def  radar that can pick up subtle anomalies like a flash of sunlight off a windshield or the head and arm movements of a drive about to advance across your path. Scan the road ahead and ask yourself if the “picture” looks as it should. If not, then slow down and cover the brakes!

Situational awareness covers more than just your most familiar senses. It also includes your sixth sense. You know … that gut feeling you get when something just isn’t right. Developing your sixth sense takes a deeper level of awareness and conscience attention. Start by recognizing what your intuitive voice sounds like and pay attention when it speaks. Every time you listen to that little voice it makes it louder and clearer.

Situational awareness is critical when mixing it up with other drivers, but it also plays an important roll when it’s just you and the open road. Stay sharp so you can spot the often subtle clues that help you identify a corners radius and determine whether conditions require a reduced entry speed or altered cornering line. Does the surface camber slope away, reducing ground clearance and grip? What are the chances of sand, gravel, or a recent rockslide just around the corner.

Remember the superior cornering and braking skills are your second line of defense, not your first! Developing your physical skills to a high level will allow you to respond correctly and accurately if things go wrong. But believe me, your odds of a crash go way up if you think your physical skills alone will save you. Dulled attention leads to knee jerk reactions and the need for heroic measures that might not save the day.”   

Hopefully this article, or just parts of it, will hang in your sub-conscience making you just that much aware during your next ride. Returning home safe ready for the next ride makes for a great day!

 

Railroad Ridge (2014)

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads”

– Rosalia de Castro

So, the weekend immediately after our Ross Fork trip opens up and I figure it might be a good time to plan a day loop out of Stanley. I contact my brother in law, John who with no hesitation is up for some riding.

We load up early Saturday morning and make the 2 1/2 hr drive finding a nice spot to stage a few miles past Lower Stanley along HWY 75.

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We arrive right around 10:00 am, the air is cool and should make for a nice brisk start to our planned loop.

Off loading the mighty DRZ’s

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The start of our trip requires about a 10 mile run along HWY 75, following the Salmon River.

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Salmon River

We make good time along our initial stretch arriving at the old Sunbeam Dam.

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Sunbeam Dam

This will be our turning off point up Rd 013 along the Yankee Fork. We enjoy a dust free ride all along the Yankee Fork until we hit Bonanza and the old Yankee Fork Dredge.

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The colors present in this part of Idaho are nothing short of amazing … my camera doesn’t do a very good job at pulling in the colors, but the green of the forest in contrast with the red rock makes me want to stop constantly to take pictures … I resist knowing that we do have a long day ahead of us.

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The Dredge …

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Yankee Fork Dredge

Just past the dredge, the road splits … 172 heads up over Loon Creek Summit as part of the loop over Pinyon Peak … this will be a ride and report for another day because today we are going right along 070, the Custer Motorway.

Once we’re past the Yankee Fork Dredge and turned east onto 070, the Custer Motorway, we immediately hit the small mining ghost town of Custer. The Forest Service has turned this into an attraction, next to the dredge, to give people a glimpse of what mining life was back in the day. While well intentioned I still don’t think all the pretty displays or staged buildings really reflect the true hardships that these people endured.

Custer

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Hello Mr Forest Ranger on the porch …

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A little farther up the road we come across more structures along the hill side …..

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and then ….

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… again it seems a bit staged for the benefit of the viewing public, but the cemetery did exist for the poor souls who’s remains could not make it to the main cemetery due to weather, etc.

Hopefully when I go it won’t be for being “Over Drunk” … on the other hand you know the saying …

” Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but to rather skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting … Holy Shit, what a ride!”

After the sights we head on down the Custer Motorway, sliding sideways, but hopefully avoiding any graves …

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The Custer Motorway is virgin ground for me, so I’m excited to see where each corner and bend in the road takes us …. I take notice that the road surface is hardpack with loose gravel on top, making for a bit of a loose “skittery” ride.

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Eleven Mile Barn … Evidently the Custer Motorway was also a main stage line between the Yankee Fork and Challis. There are multiple stopping points along the way where the stages could and would exchange horses for fresh teams. These stopping points also offered accommodations for travelers should the weather turn bad.

Eleven Mile Barn/Tollgate Station/Homestead Station

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Homestead Station before Mill Creek Summit … another stopping point for the stage. Another stopping point is also on the other side of the summit. The sign describes a long and arduous climb for the horses … I figure the stages of the day probably had 4-6 horse power, but today we are atop 40 hp which over comes the pass with ease!

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Mill Creek Summit ….

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As we crest Mill Creek Summit and after the signs we had read up to that point I was expecting (or hoping for) a grand view with maybe a panoramic perspective, but the summit actual passes through a saddle, so the views are of the road fore/aft … and of the tree’s … we all like tree’s …. right?

:D

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The summit is nice and temperate being at 8800′, so we opt to stop, take a break, and eat our lunch. We are kicking back when we hear the faint sound of what I thought to maybe be a UTV, but as the sound grew near and they popped into view it was actually another set of riders, one on a F800 and the other on a GS1200.

We chatted for a bit, realizing that they were both from a small town in Southern Oregon from where I had originated, Grants Pass …. small world again. Sounds like these guys both log quite a few miles and were on there way to Montana…… They pushed on.

As do we ….

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The motorway continues to wind it’s way east along Mill Creek and through the forest for a number of miles. The road surface starts to clean up a bit with a bit less of the loose rock allowing us to pick up the pace without fear of drifting off the road.

As Mill Creek veers off away from the road the landscape starts to take on a different look. The last few miles we had run parallel along some impressive rocky hillsides and we are now starting to climb back up to pass over a grassy saddle before our last stretch into Challis.

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From where we came….

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To where were going ….

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Once over the last saddle were are treated with the view of a nice glacial valley ….

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We drop down into Double Spring Creek … the surroundings open up with a bit more flavor of the desert and we make our way into Challis.

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I have never been through Challis before, but as we roll in it has that small town feel that most smaller ranching communities have in rural Idaho. Along the old main drag I could get a sense that there are small businesses making there way in like coffee shops, art shops, etc.

Challis Idaho

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Challis will be our refueling point before heading down HWY 93 …..

Once fueled up (No corn 91) we depart Challis and head south along HWY 93. Our next destination is approx. 25 miles (+/-) off 93, Road Creek Rd …

HWY 93 right outside of Challis …

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All along our southern route on 93 we are running parallel to the west side of the Pahsimeroi’s, part of the Lost River Range. These mountains are so impressive that both John and I rode the almost entire 25 miles gazing off to our left. There are a few routes on my to ride list over the Pahsimeroi’s that I have yet to complete…. after seeing these at a distance … I’ll be back for sure.

As we ride south the HWY approaches a canyon…. I’m impressed how the road builders did not advert around, but ran right through.

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It’s a short section, but fun as hell … riding twisties between sheer walls as the sound of our four stroke’s echo through the canyon!

We arrive at Road Creek and stop for a quick break and pic ….

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Road Creek (Dry Gulch)

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Road Creek circumnavigates around Anderson Peak, through desert and pines …..

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Pass on the backside of Anderson …

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John making his way up the pass …. the distance was far enough across the valley that I could her John before my eyes could pick him out as a little spec of movement.

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Once underway our road winds downward to intersect with Walker Creek Rd … there was a cattle camp below with a cowboy riding along the road … he promptly step off the road with his two horses to let us pass … I wave, but he seemed less than amused, sorry dude … public road!

White Clouds and Railroad Ridge in the distance …

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Road Creek follows the ….. wait for it …. Road Creek drainage. It very much desert and warm (not my favorite), so my inclination was the blast through in search of more favorable temps and scenery.

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After a number of miles we finally pop out on the East Fork Rd (Salmon River). This little valley is primarily populated with ranches all up and down the river. It is impressive how these folks have carved out their niche in life in these remote places.

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We ride about 10 miles down the East Fork before we intersect with Boulder Creek. We head up Boulder Creek with enthusiasm knowing Railroad Ridge lies ahead. This rock arch (diamond in the rough) caught my eye.

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First glimpse of Railroad Ridge ….

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Heading up ….

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Right at the end of the main road, just past the Boulder Creek Trailhead, which was friggin’ busy as hell!…. then we come across this old mine … Livingston Mine.

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Livingston Mine

Regardless of your political views of past mining… one fact holds true, most of these roads accessing these beautiful locations would not exist otherwise.

The road turns primitive at this point and continues up the mountain … Railroad Ridge is close!

Just past the rows of cabins we pass part of the old mill … evidently the mine had constructed a tram system that ran for 3 miles up and down the mountain. Evidence of the tram is still only apparent by some old cable lying dormant on the ridgeline above ….

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We continue up the rocky two track for a mile or two before we crest the ridge…. there is an established two track that runs along the ridgeline that steers us in the direction we need to go.

Once on top the views in all directions are nothing short of breathtaking. The air is clear, the sky is blue, and the wind is only a breeze. The view is so ominous that we are conflicted to what part of the ridge we wish to venture to first. We have a complete panoramic view off Railroad Ridge over to China Wall, Crater Lake, around to the north in the direction of Challis, the Pahsimeroi’s, and back around to the White Clouds. Railroad Ridge is truly one of those places that is impossible to describe, one needs to venture up on their own for their own experience.

Looking back down the Boulder Creek Drainage …. our route was up the bottom of the drainage with the road up to the ridge visible to the left.

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The mighty Z at 10,300 ft ….. bike was actually running great!

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The coming soon OBR ADV Gear High Basin Tank Bag …. seemed like a fitting back drop for the High Basin!

OBR ADV Gear

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John’s arrival to Railroad Ridge …

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For what it’s worth … a panoramic sequence of Railroad Ridge …

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There was a make shift memorial on top of the ridge where some artifacts and oddities like corral had been left.

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Crater Lake at the base of China Wall …

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View northwest …

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Mighty Z’s

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John … (China Wall – Crater Lake)

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Yours truly … (China Wall – Crater Lake)

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View down Railroad Ridge …

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As we were departing the ridge a group of ATV’s rolled up the track. A lady told John that there is actually access to the lake from one of the lower side routes. this we did not explore since we had a few miles still to ride back to the truck, but does give us an excuse to return another day.

Back down the road …. Railroad Ridge on the right …

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Rocky Road …

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Almost back to the mine …

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John and I make our way back down Boulder Creek, down the East Fork towards HWY 75. Once we hit 75 we have approx. 25-30 miles back to the truck.

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All in all what an amazing days ride in some amazing country!

One of the reasons that I wanted to complete this ride …this year is that we have a movement by certain environmental groups to establish the Boulder-White Clouds as a National Monument. This action I personally oppose because to me all it equates to is more governmental control of our lands and likely restricted access to places such as this. Now I do not feel that motorized access is appropriate in all places and the current SNRA manages this access as it pertains to motorized and non-motorized users.

Proponents of the monument will say that it is to curb development and mining …. the current SNRA restricts both to not harm or deface the scenic values of the area. They state to curb errant OHV use … show me where errant OHV use is occurring?

In the end it is really about certain political entities attempting to create a legacy for themselves and/or for certain special interest groups to limit access to any user groups that “they” do not approve of.

I think we would all agree that our natural resources are seeing a higher level of users than in years past, so lets allow local land managers to manage with common sense instead of a lock and key.

(Since this posting a compromise was made to establish a portion of the Boulder/White clouds as wilderness. This wilderness boundary encircles some of the higher elevation areas that 1) I do feel are not appropriate for OHV use 2) were not open to OHV’s as is, and 3) retains most of all other common OHV routes. The scaled down wilderness option allows the USFS to retain control vs the National Park Service …. lesser of two evils. The downsides are that 1) the local mountain bike community, not careful in their alignment on the issue has lost some fantastic mountain biking trails and 2) the enviro’s are probably back room planning another assault on our access)

Get out and enjoy your access to beautiful locations!