Ketchum-Stanley Loop

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”                                   – Miriam Beard

This past July, amongst the regions triple digit heat wave, an overnight loop through Ketchum and Stanley was planned. Being chased out of the Treasure Valley by the oppressive heat isn’t such a bad thing when your destination is the Stanley Valley that rests at a cool 7000′.

Our friend Travis had just purchased a new Triumph Adventure 1200 … and with only a few hundred miles on the clock, this would be a perfect break in trip!

The plan was simple …. we would meet Travis in East Boise, connect Hwy 20 through the Camas Prairie to Ketchum, up over Galena to Redfish Lake for the night, then take the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway (Hwy 21) back to Boise the next day.

-Departure

IMG_6156

IMG_6158

This was our first two up overnight camping trip on the bike …. made easy by some custom made dry duffels strapped to our side boxes.

-Meet up

IMG_6159

-New ride

IMG_6160

-Eastward, Hwy 20

IMG_6161

-Soldier Mountains

IMG_6165

As we continued east, the temperature never really warmed up and with looming clouds hanging in our direction of travel, rain seemed a real possibility.

IMG_6170

Hwy 20 runs fast and true splitting the scenic Soldier Mountains to the north and the Bennett Hills to the south. The air remains crisp, a welcome change against the recent bought of heat.

We make a quick stop in the ranching community of Fairfield to add a rain layer. We notice another ADV bike towing a trailer with a kayak. We visit a few minutes to find out this guy (sorry can’t recall his name) was from Reno and was on a loop that would take him up and through Montana … the trailer was of his own make with exceptional simplicity and clean welds.

IMG_6174

We chat a bit longer and then all hit the road at the same time continuing east, and can report that the trailer did not slow him down ….

-North

IMG_6176

We’re paced into Ketchum by a KTM 450 Enduro …. Dude, you need some sweet OBR ADV Gear!

IMG_6178

Lunch is found at the Wrap Shack in Ketchum along with a bit of warming sun before we head up Galena …

IMG_6179

We point the bikes north along Hwy 75, skirting the edge of the impressive Boulder Mountains and up towards Galena Summit.

IMG_6180

IMG_6181

IMG_6182

IMG_6183

It wasn’t long before our luck ran short and the rain began to fall. Deployment of full rain gear made quick work of the atmospheric saturation.

IMG_6184

-Galena Summit

IMG_6186

Hwy 75 as it climbs up and over the 8000′ Galena Summit is full of curve and flow … under normal conditions a good scrubbing of the tires edge would be in order, but todays wet pavement lends a bit more caution.

The view from the summit into the Stanley Valley is as always an impressive sight.

A quick portrait before dropping down the hill.

IMG_6187

We carefully make our way down the few twists and curves to the valley floor below.

As we hit the bottom the sky starts to clear presenting before us a pleasant ride into Redfish Lake.

IMG_5194 - Copy

Once at Redfish, we locate our camp spot and quickly deploy our tents just in case more rain makes it’s way in.

IMG_6189

IMG_6190

With camp set we wander down to the Redfish Lake Lodge where we were lucky enough to score some comfy seating under the lodges front deck area.

IMG_5198 - Copy

We enjoy the seating for a spell while frequenting the lodge bar for mixed refreshments and enjoying the lake view, then just as the dinner hour arrives, so does another round of rain clouds and resuming rain. We gravitate towards the outside grill for burger and fries to wait out the shower in our comfy chairs.

Bellies full and the rain ceased… we retreat back to camp ready for a campfire and a full full sky of summer stars.

We awake the next morning to an odd gloom … I poke my  head outside the tent to see thick fog restricting visibility to maybe 50 yds … a little concerned that our ride home might be of the foggy variety, we take our time getting up and breaking down camp.

Luckily it took only about an hour or so for the fog to fully lift and dissipate …

IMG_6193

Travis’s dad was going to ride up from Boise Sunday morning and make the ride back with us. We were going to meet up in Stanley when we stop for fuel.

The sun is out and were off ….

IMG_5204 - Copy

 

Hwy 75 as we ride through the Stanley Valley runs between the Sawtooth Mountain Range to the West and the White Cloud Mountain Range to the East. Each are equally impressive with their jagged rocky peaks and color contrast.

“The Sawtooth Range is a mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in central IdahoUnited States, reaching a maximum elevation of 10,751 feet (3,277 m) at the summit of Thompson Peak. It encompass an area of 678 square miles (1,756 km2) spanning parts of CusterBoiseBlaine, and Elmore counties, and is bordered to the east by the Sawtooth Valley. Much of the mountain range is within the Sawtooth Wilderness, part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Sawtooth National Forest.” – Wikipedia

-Sawtooth National Forest 

-The Salmon River running through Stanley

IMG_5207 - Copy

We make our connection in Stanley and get ready to ride the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway …

Idaho State Highway 21 is the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway,[2] primarily a two-lane highway from Boise to Stanley. With two-thirds of its length in Boise County, it passes by historic Idaho City and the village of Lowman to the western edge of the Sawtooth Mountains, then along their northern boundary to Stanley.

The road is designated as one of Idaho’s scenic byways and provides access to Sawtooth National Recreation Area from Boise and the Treasure Valley. It primarily follows the Boise River and its tributary Mores Creek to the Boise Basin and beyond, and then the upper South Fork of the Payette River and a tributary from Lowman to Banner Creek Summit. – Wikipedia

The Stanley Valley I believe has an impact on all who pass through … for me I always leave with the thought of when I might return …

-Over Banner

IMG_5213 - Copy

We enjoy the road headed towards Lowman …

IMG_5251 - Copy

Once we reach Lowman we have a couple of options … make a right through the South Fork Payette Canyon to Banks, or ride another fun section of road over Moores Creek Summit.

IMG_5253 - Copy

… we choose the latter and make our way into Idaho City where we stop at the infamous Trudy’s Kitchen for lunch before the final stretch home.

Another quick trip enjoyed by all, Travis’s bike amply broke in, with anticipation of the next!

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 9

Now that we are back on the Bear Valley/Landmark-Stanley Rd … we will backtrack a bit back through the expansive Bruce Meadows and then along the north side paralleling Elk Creek.

IMG_6436

Stopping at the airstrip ….

IMG_6438

We cross over the Bear Valley bridge and continue on to the Elk Creek Work Center. The dust is wanting to linger, so we spread out enough to allow the air to clear.

IMG_6440

WE kick it up along Rd 579 turning south on Rd 571 over Deer Creek Pass …. This particular section of Rd 571 was one of my favorites … it had great flow, little dust, and spectacular views over Deadwood Reservoir.

IMG_6441

Rd 571 eventually connects with the shore of Deadwood Reservoir … and then the dam itself. Built back in 1929, the concrete arched dam holds back approx. 3200 acres of irrigation water.

IMG_6442

Poseur Shot- OBR ADV Gear 38l Adventure Saddlebags doing their job!

IMG_6443

Gangway-

IMG_6444

Puddle-

IMG_6445

Release-

IMG_6446

The Deadwood river flows south for approx. 20 miles before its confluence with the South Fork of the Payette near Lowman ID.

IMG_6447

Right below the spill way there is a nice singletrack that also runs back to the South Fork of the Payette via Deadwood Ridge … the last time I rode this section of trail was with my friend Jason on an out and back day loop from Boise.

Here is Jason’s posting of the day ….

We stop at the dam for a quick break…  we all comment to the fact that it is starting to get warm. 20 miles to the pavement.

Quick stop along the top of Scott Mountain … notice fuel is getting low!

IMG_6448

Dropping into the furnace- Could be worse … it could be August! Banks/Lowman Road is below.

IMG_6452

We make our way into Garden Valley … on fumes. Total mileage from Stanley/Loon Creek/Garden Valley was 165 miles … I should have 10 miles to spare … maybe? This is the first time I’ve rolled into a gas stop with literally a splash of gas left in the tank.

We fuel up and then head up over Alder Creek Summit where John E is waiting for us.

Placerville-

IMG_6453

We continue through Placerville and then over to the Boise Ridge Road.

IMG_6455

We make our final stop at the Bogus Basin Ski area …. the day is long, so from hear we will split up and make our individual runs for home.

This trip was a bit shorter then expected, but none the less just as fun. Adventure is what you make of it regardless if it is a weekend, a week, or a month. Being out in the wide open with friends recharges the spirit and creates stories that will last a lifetime… go find your adventure!

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 8

At the point where the Pinyon Peak Loop Road starts its drop down into the Beaver Creek drainage … there is one more site of interest… that of the old Feltham Peak Lookout. A side track climbs for approx. a 1/4 of a mile to the old lookout site.

IMG_6420

The lookout is since long gone, but the piling blocks still remain confirming the site location. Removed back in the 1960’s, presumably replaced by the current and higher Pinyon Peak Lookout. I have this adversion to lookout attendants. So many these days are grumpy and seem to not want to be bothered, understandable … I guess, so I prefer to visit the sites before and after the season so that I can mill around and enjoy the view on my terms … with no remaining structure Feltham qualifies as a mid season exception.

Feltham specs-

IMG_6421

Clockwise pano …. Pinyon Peak at center

IMG_6428

IMG_6427

IMG_6426

IMG_6425

IMG_6424

IMG_6423

This last photo is of the Beaver Creek drainage that we are now headed down ….

IMG_6429

The area is heavily burned from the Halstead Fire, but still pleasant to ride through …. the Lodge Pole Pine is pretty small in diameter, easy enough to hop with a bike, but if in a truck… I would carry a saw.

IMG_6430

The Beaver Creek/Pinyon Peak Loop Road (172) eventually connects to the Seafoam/Vanity Summit Road (008)…

5th gear-

IMG_6431

We’re making good time when we roll up on a logging operation that was just finishing up loading a truck …. only delayed a few minutes.

IMG_6432

Hwy 21-

IMG_6433

A quick blast down Hwy 21 puts us back onto the Bear Valley – Landmark/Stanley Rd (198)

IMG_6434

Our next destination is Deadwood Reservoir. We will pass along the North side of Bear Valley following Elk Creek.

To be continued ….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 7

The road continues with a final few gradual switchbacks before cresting the ridge ….. The ridgeline is right above the tree line leaving little protection from the wind. My guess is that the wind blows pretty much non stop as the few trees that are around have that permanent lean.

Final turn-

IMG_6400

We stop at the saddle right below the peak and walk out a short distance to a open knoll with full 360 deg views.

View starting south and panning north ….

IMG_6402

IMG_6403

IMG_6404

IMG_6405

IMG_6406

IMG_6407

Pics or it didn’t happen-

IMG_6408

IMG_6411

We remount and continue up the road to the lookout cutoff…

IMG_6414

We contemplate making the run to the top, but with hazy conditions and the lookout still manned, we decide to forego the summit for another trip. I visited this lookout a couple of years back on a crystal clear day and the views are amazing! …. Pinyon is one of those “have to do at least once per year” rides.

Pics from my previous visit ….

976639_4979596093694_1658899187_o

981259_4979598373751_1027930349_o

1008350_4979596973716_2061423216_o

1008527_4979600573806_884245088_o

1014545_4979597853738_1004700523_o

1014760_4979596573706_1885691795_o

That day I was stop just before the saddle ….

1009305_4979601093819_956304657_o

Pinyon Peak Fun Facts

Pinyon Peak Specs

We are still about 20 miles out from our reconnection to Hwy 21, so we push on. The Pinyon Peak Loop Road runs along the ridgeline for approx. 7-8 miles before dropping into the Beaver Creek drainage.

IMG_6415

IMG_6416

Shelf road-

IMG_6417

Kidney Lake-

IMG_6418

IMG_6419

To be continued ….

 

 

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 6

As dawn draws near the valley darkness starts to fade with the sun making it’s presence known just beyond the eastern ridge. Rested, we emerge from our tents with breakfast and coffee as our main priority.

IMG_6372

Breakdown and packing ensues as we all know that we have a full day of riding ahead of us just to make it back home …

IMG_6373

From our camp spot, we will be connecting Rd 172, Pinyon Peak Loop Rd, up out of the Loon Creek drainage.

IMG_6369

The road climbs steadily exposing the surrounding topography …. high ridges in front of us and river drainages just off the exposed side …. definitely gods country!

IMG_6374

IMG_6375

IMG_6376

The road climbs up towards a sort of dog leg where it veers south towards the peak. At that point we pass the old Packer John Mine. Curiosity demands that we stop for a quick look.

Buildings of past times ….

IMG_6378

IMG_6379

IMG_6381

IMG_6382

IMG_6383

Mess Hall-

IMG_6386

Rec Hall-

IMG_6387

Main Office-

IMG_6388

John V enjoying some morning sun-

IMG_6389

Relic-

IMG_6390

Right about that time two guys emerged from the backside of the claim … they confirmed that  they were of the original family that owned the claim …. and that we were indeed trespassing! … “Time to post some new signs, eh”

Friendly enough they chatted briefly about history of the area. Respecting their space we geared back up and proceeded up the road.

Pinyon Peak-

IMG_6395

We enter the burn area left behind by the Halstead Fire from a handful of years back. This fire burned fast and hot consuming a large swath of acreage. I feel unfortunate to not have seen this country before the burn.

Never know what one might find alongside the road-

IMG_6397

IMG_6398

We continue our push towards the ridge and closer to the peak ….

To be continued….

Winds over Pinyon – Part 5

As we point our bikes up Rd 172 the track starts to narrow and the trees begin to close in, indicative of a more primitive road. We approach the first minor switchback where the road begins to start it’s climb up towards Loon Creek Summit, we take notice of a fairly large primitive camp spot down off the road.  This is the first “Non-Campground” spot we have determined worthy of inspection. The spot is spacious and otherwise not too bad, but a fair hike from water … we ride on.

The road begins to climb and wind around switchbacks making it obvious that we are gaining elevation quickly. Right before the final turn at the top we stop and take notice of the drainage we just road up as with the now quiet Sunbeam Mine.

IMG_6359

Final gap before the top …

IMG_6360

Loon Creek Summit –

IMG_6362

Right as we crest the summit we cross paths with a group of KLR’s working there way out … as we’re chatting one of the riders appears to be in a bit of discomfort.  It is then disclosed that he is riding with an injured foot …. no doubt a product of some midnight refreshment induced hooliganism of the previous evening … and with little sympathy from his riding buddies. My guess was that this guys injury was cutting their stay short and they were making a late day run back to Boise to get checked out.

We drop down the back side of the summit where the road runs along Mayfield Creek. The views along the upper stretch are awesome, but regrettably since the day was running long I failed to stop along this stretch for pictures …. next time.

As we work our way down Mayfield Creek and towards Loon Creek we pass a number of camp spots … the first nice one was of course occupied, the next was a nice spot, but with a lot of noticeable dead snags around the camp area waiting to fall on an unsuspecting tent with the first real wind… we’re near the bottom so we continued on.

….. Loon Creek GS and the Diamond D Ranch

IMG_6363

The Diamond D is one of those off the grid remote ranches that have carved themselves a niche as a vacation destination … a beautiful spot for those looking to get away, but I still default to the adage of … “Your vacation is my weekend”

Our sights at this point are on a little campground a few miles down the road called Tin Cup. Right as we pass the ranch and make the turn towards Tin Cup an opening comes into view on our right, a trailhead actually … I make a hard right turn to inspect … nice open view, Loon Creek in close walking distance, a table, and no people … we have a winner!

IMG_6365

Tents are set up, bikes are allowed to rest, dust from the day rinsed off in the creek, water on boil for dinner, and evening libations are pulled from panniers.

IMG_6366

We spend the rest of the evening enjoying company, sharing past adventures, and solving most of the worlds problems. Then to turn in in preparation for the next oncoming day ….

…. To be continued

 

 

 

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 4

Reconnecting to our next section of pavement was a pleasant reprieve to kick up the pace and blow off some dust… Although only for a few short miles since we will be jumping back onto the dirt at the Horn to follow Rd 203 (Cape Horn Rd). Cape Horn Rd parallels the paved Hwy 21 for approx. 7-8 miles before reconnecting.

Rd 203-

IMG_6350

The views of the Stanley Valley start to open up, but unfortunately with continued lingering smoke from recent wildfires…. absent smoke … the views are amazing! Rains of weekends past, while extinguished most all of Idaho’s wildfires … Washington and Oregon are still ablaze with jet stream winds directing the smoke into Idaho’s back yard.

IMG_6349

My hope is that as we change our direction north we will find the edge of the smoke allowing the views to open up.

We ride the next few paved miles into Stanley where we take advantage of the next fuel stop. From this point I have estimated our loop over Pinyon and into Garden Valley to be somewhere around 130-140 miles. Well within our fuel range, but not with much to spare …. we stuff our tanks.

The days plans are open ended …. I figured we could camp anywhere around Stanley … the afternoon is still young so we opt to grab some lunch and refreshment at the Bridge Street Grill in Lower Stanley to decide our next move.

IMG_6351

Bellies full and refreshments consumed … we opt to continue down Hwy 75 towards Sunbeam and our turn off towards the Yankee Fork. We’ll keep our eyes and options open for just the right camp spot.

The paved stretch of Hwy 75 from Stanley to Sunbeam is fantastic fun. The road rides the edge with the beautiful Salmon River on the right and sheer rock walls along the left. There is hardly a straight stretch of road allowing a nice workout of our tires perimeter lugs.

IMG_4840

Most all of the camp spots along this stretch are associated with designated camp grounds …. some are pretty nice and mostly vacant, but not what were after this day. So we push on to Sunbeam and the Yankee Fork Rd.

Sunbeam Dam (past)-

misc4

Sunbeam Dam (Present)-

IMG_6353

Built back in 1909 to supply power to the operating mines and dredge of Yankee Fork …. the price of ore dropped negating the economic feasibility to continue extracting. The dam ceased operating in 1911. A caretaker maintained the structure for a number of years until the fish ladders reached disrepair, which at that time the most feasible option was to breech the dam restoring normal river flow.

Sunbeam

misc2

We turn off Hwy 75 at the Sunbeam Village and head up the Yankee Fork Rd. The Yankee Fork Rd runs along a North/South valley with mountains of the Salmon/Challis Nation Forest looming in the distance. The soil/rock makeup of these mountains differs from the mountains we have already ridden by and through. As the sun hits the mountains they take on a majestic red hue.

Yankee Fork Rd (First image from a past ride)-

IMG_4842

IMG_6354

We speed along the Yankee Fork Road still looking for a camp spot …. after about 10-12 miles we pass Bonanza and the they old Yankee Fork Dredge.

Yankee Fork Dredge (Photoseek.com)-

Yankee Fork Gold Dredge operated from 1940-1952 near near Custer Historic Site, in Idaho, USA. This floating gold dredge chewed a wide swath of stream gravel leaving rocky dredge tailings along 5.5 miles of the Yankee Fork, a tributary of the Salmon River, near Stanley, Idaho, USA. It recovered an estimated $1,037,322 in gold and silver at a cost of $1,076,100. Visit Land of the Yankee Fork State Park in Salmon-Challis National Forest near Stanley, Idaho.
Yankee Fork Gold Dredge operated from 1940-1952 near near Custer Historic Site, in Idaho, USA. This floating gold dredge chewed a wide swath of stream gravel leaving rocky dredge tailings along 5.5 miles of the Yankee Fork, a tributary of the Salmon River, near Stanley, Idaho, USA. It recovered an estimated $1,037,322 in gold and silver at a cost of $1,076,100. Visit Land of the Yankee Fork State Park in Salmon-Challis National Forest near Stanley, Idaho.

misc3

In most cases of dredge history the dredges operated at a high level of profit, not such the case for the Yankee Fork Dredge. The dredge now sits as a tourist attraction with guided tours available.

The old Ghost Town of Custer is located about a mile up the Custer Motorway with the Forest Service maintain the history of the site for visitors.

Custer (Images from past ride)-

IMG_4849

IMG_4850

IMG_4851

IMG_4852

Today we bypass Custer and turn up Rd 172. Rd 172 turns off directly behind the dredge and takes us up towards Loon Creek Summit. Still on the lookout for just the right camp spot ….

Custer and the dredge are highly recommended for anyone to visit should they have an interest for old mining history. I myself find all mining history, the good and the bad, interesting as it has shaped the country that we live in with roads, infrastructure, towns, etc. It is a nice ride… or drive.

To be continued …..

 

 

 

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 3

After a fast 10 mile run up Rd 582 the road departs from the creek side and starts to climb up towards Clear Creek Summit. The road bed switches from loose gravel to a more typical dry slick surface with meandering rain ruts and embedded rock. As I near the top I start to feel a loose sensation from the back of my bike ….. a quick glance at my rear tire confirms that it is indeed going flat. I’m nearing the top, so I ride the noodle the last 100 yards or so to the summit.

7050 feet –

IMG_6333

Right when I hop off the bike and start breaking out my tools, another rider (not from our group) on a Triumph Tiger rolls up and asks if he can hang while we tackle the flat.  Regrettably I can’t remember his name, super nice guy from Canada riding the IDBR. His goal for the day was Burgdorf Hot Springs, so he picked our brains for some local knowledge on the route.

I was thankful that he chose to stop. I discovered during my road side tire service that I had neglected to include a 13mm wrench for my bead lock and neither John V nor John E had one either. Our Canadian friend had a full kit including a 13mm …. and he even broke out his electric air pump! …. I like those Canadians!

IMG_6328

We immediately identified the flat tire culprit …. a brand spanking new framing nail! …. of all places to pick up a framing nail?

IMG_6330

We pulled the wheel, using my trail stand for the first time (worked great suspending the rear of the bike while the rear wheel was removed) and made short work of swapping out a new tube.  I will make sure to add in a 13mm to my OBR ADV Gear Tool Roll!

Tube exchanged and wheel back on … we extended our thanks to our new friend for his assistance and parted ways.

Just over the summit the road drops into a high meadow we refer to as Bear Valley. Passing through the meadow in the spring right after the thaw you’ll find yourself amongst vast wild flowers …. this time of year, early Fall, the surroundings are just as impressive, but with just a bit less color.

IMG_6336

IMG_6337

IMG_6338

IMG_6340

Bear Valley has quite a history … the area was used extensively for sheep and cattle grazing with buildings still present within some of the large meadows that skirt the valley. The situation at the time required the local Forest Rangers to mediate between competing ranch outfits using the area for summer grazing. Beyond the grazing there was also a large mining presence during the early Cold War. Evidently the area contains a rare radioactive mineral essential to the strategic defense systems of the day. Heavy dredging took place from 1958-1959. In an effort to restore Salmon/Steelhead spawning beds, an extensive rehabilitation project was completed that returned the meadow landscape and the Salmon/Steelhead runs.

IMG_4689

We continue along Rd 582 skirting the south edge of Bear Valley Creek passing through Bruce Meadows. Note – For you pilots out there, Bruce Meadows has one of Idaho’s many back country landing strips.

IMG_6344

… and then reconnect to Hwy 21

IMG_6348

… to be continued

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 2

Concluding our “coffee relief” break at the summit, we point the bikes towards the downstream side and shove off. Headed now towards Lowman we will be turning off the pavement just a few miles down the road onto Rd 588. This trip is going to be a combination of hardtop and dirt with the bias being more towards the terra, however I do enjoy a balanced combination of both as jumping onto some nice hardtop after a dirt section can be a nice mental change of pace.

RD 588 is a nice 5-6 mile dirt section that skirts the backside of pilot Peak, opening up with pleasant views of both Deadwood Ridge and the Clear Creek drainage we will be heading up shortly.

IMG_6318

Hwy 21 …. 6 miles –

IMG_6319

We’re headed into those hills –

IMG_6321

obrianmcc –

IMG_6322

John E and the mighty 690 –

IMG_6323

On top of the regular Forest Service roads Idaho is also a scattering of State Endowment Lands and  Forest Products properties …. all of these areas are packed full of access roads that provide connections that we as Dual Sport Riders utilize extensively to connect the dots on our route maps.

Respect your resources if you wish to keep access! …. Leave no trace, other than maybe a loamy tire track or two!

IMG_6325

We reconnect with Hwy 21 and blast down 10 miles of super fun pavement before connecting with our next dirt track, Rd 582 otherwise known as Bear Valley Rd.

IMG_6326

Next stop Bear Valley –

IMG_6327

And then this! –

IMG_6330

….. to be continued!

 

 

 

Winds over Pinyon – Part 1

‘”For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

With a long and hot summer now behind us and recent rains over the past Labor Day weekend extinguishing most all of the seasons wildfires, adventure is back in the air.

I’ve been contemplating for a few weeks now on a route appropriate for a quick end of the season trip. My first choice being over Dollarhide Summit, Ketchum, Mackay, and through the Pahsimeroi’s … but good ole Murphy had to step in and cause a significant washout on RD 227 between Fairfield and Dollarhide leaving the road impassable.  So, on to plan B, except I have no plan B? …. after all Idaho is an expanse of open space and it shouldn’t be that hard to find another route. A reach out to my two riding partners for this trip, John V and John E reaffirmed that all participants were still in regardless of destination.

I break out the map book, which naturally points me towards Stanley ID with my eye catching the little squiggly line down Hwy 75 to check out Bayhorse, Challis, the Custer Motorway, through Yankee Fork, and back over Pinyon Peak . The original plan was to depart on a Friday to break up the loop into three days of riding, but work commitments interfered reducing the trip down to two days and shortening the route to just Yankee Fork and Pinyon.

Now, I’m naturally one to stick pretty tight to routes and schedules, but I’m stepping out and breaking my mold on this trip with just a basic destination/direction and we’ll see where we land at days end. Yes, against my nature, but the route is good with some beautiful country to pass through and camping off a motorcycle allows for more camp spot opportunities.

We scheduled our meet up for Saturday AM. We would then rally up Rocky Canyon Road, over Aldalpe Summit, down through Robie Creek connecting Hwy 21 into Idaho City.

OBR ADV Gear luggage packed and leaving the house –

IMG_6310

First stop Aldalpe Summit –

IMG_6312

Weapons of choice for this trip would by John V and Myself on almost identical 2006 DRZ 400 E’s and John E on a 690 Enduro KTM ….

We connect Hwy 21 and make the run into Idaho City. Traffic is light, which makes for a nice twisty morning run alongside Moores Creek. John E’s 690 has significantly longer legs on the hardtop than our DRZ’s. John V and myself have geared the DRZ’s a little bit low to still be able to ride trails, but regardless of how well they are running, still no match for the 690!

Low water at Robie (Lucky Peak Reservoir)-

IMG_6313

Idaho City, getting gas and checking in –

IMG_6314

Idaho City is a remnant of mining’s past. Mostly a tourist attraction with the old boardwalks and shops about. Tragically this summer, a fire broke out within one of the old buildings and burned a few right to the ground.

John V and I top off our tanks. The DRZ’s are running aftermarket tanks with an extended range to approx. 175 miles. John V has also chosen to bring along his 1 gal Rotopax extending another 50 miles, but Idaho backcountry roads can be deceiving in length, so when a refueling opportunity presents itself … we partake. Now the 690 is short of a super tanker with it’s Safari Tank…. requiring fewer fuel stops.

We head up Hwy 21 towards Moores Creek Summit ….

Not a straight road-

IMG_6315 - Copy

Arrival at Moores Creek Summit –

IMG_6317

We’ve made good time to the summit with John E in the lead. Unfortunately he has to wait a few minutes as John V was required to lift my bike off me as I lay pinned on the side of the road. I failed to remember that I had gear bags strapped to the back of the bike and when I stopped to snap a pic of the “not straight” road sign I attempted to swing a leg over and found myself on the ground! … good to get that one out of the way early!

Hwy 21 from Idaho City to Lowman is part of the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway and is comprised of 30 miles of motorcycle nirvana. The next 30 minutes did not suck!

 

 

 

 

Swanholm – Part 4

While walking the perimeter observation deck enjoying the view I take notice that someone before me has pried the lock mechanism from the door jam. My curiosity gets the better of me, so I take a quick look inside.

IMG_6290

The interior is simple and tidy. Obviously cleaned up and organized after it’s last occupant …. which my guess was some time ago. Area maps still in place  ….. although the turntable has long since been removed. The aged interior makes one take thought of decades of summers past when this lookout was staffed. What was life like on top of this peak. Did the people who staffed this lookout appreciate every sunset and sunrise, or did it turn into just another monotonous task that had to be done?

I close and re-secure the door ….

IMG_6293

View down the roads final stretch just below the peak ….

IMG_6288

IMG_6296

Even in the day when the road was probably a bit more maintained I can’t imagine it being a very fun drive up …. only visited by ATV’s and Motorcycles these days.

I enjoy a bit more of the view before contemplating my accent …

IMG_6295

IMG_6298

My ride down from the peak is quick and uneventful … Right below the peak there is a trail that peels off the road on the north side. I’ve ridden up this trail once. It was super fun, but does have some exposure that would make any kind of incident while riding solo problematic, so I remain true to the road.

Bottom …

IMG_6300

Deer Park …

IMG_6302

I make my way past Deer Park and along the North Fork Boise to Barber Flat … from Barber Flat you can either ride back over the mountain to Alexander Flat or over Rabbit Creek Summit into Idaho City.

IMG_6303

IMG_6304

I point the direction of Rd 327 to Rabbit Creek Summit and Idaho City ….

IMG_6306

Idaho City below

IMG_6307

Reconnecting with Hwy 21 and refueling in Idaho City…. I enjoy a nice paced ride back to Robie Creek, over Rocky Canyon, and back to Boise ….. ride time was right around 6 hrs with a daily mileage at approx. 150 miles…. an easy day ride from town.

 

 

 

 

Swanholm – Part 3

After the bike cooled down enough to allow the expanded coolant to transfer back into its radiators …. I continued my way back up the trail, around switchbacks … and over loose rock.

The lookout comes into view ….

IMG_6267

IMG_6268

Big sky ….

IMG_6270

The Middle Fork of the Boise river drainage (image center) that I rode up this day ….

IMG_6273

I turn the corner and attack the last stretch of loose rock to the lookout …

IMG_6274 (2)

Swanholm Peak  …. originally built in 1922, is currently unmanned, but at the ready should it need to be recommissioned into service.

Deck view to the west ….

IMG_6277

South/Southwest

IMG_6278

Southeast towards Warrior Peak

IMG_6279

East towards the Sawtooth’s and Graham below

IMG_6280

Graham Guard Station and airstrip

IMG_6281

IMG_6282

Panoramic sequence from Northeast to Southeast …

IMG_6283

IMG_6284

IMG_6285

IMG_6286

IMG_6287

Spectacular country …..To be continued …..

Swanholm – Part 2

The Middle Fork Rd twists and turns always alongside the rivers edge acting as a divider between tall granite walls…..

IMG_6245

Soft luggage by OBR ADV Gear

Alexander Flat …..

IMG_6246

A quick link somewhat related to the flat as it was used as a camp spot for the CCC right at the tail end of the depression ….

http://www.justinmuseum.com/oralbio/smithmmbio.html

Continuing up stream to Swanholm Rd…

IMG_6248

IMG_6249

The road up to Swanholm is a few miles up Swanholm Creek Rd, very unassuming, not well marked, and turning off eastward through a series of old logging roads turned ATV trails ….. right before the Barber Flat trail.

IMG_6250

IMG_6252

Today with an open gate ….

Sun bleached sign warning of a not so maintained road ….

IMG_6254

The start of the climb is as I remember, but the further I ascend I take note to how loose and rocky the track has become …. obvious in spots to be more of a creek during the Spring run off. I try my best to maintain some essence of momentum to keep cooling air flowing through my radiators in hopes to avoid any boil over.

The inevitable ….

IMG_6255

The bike eventually starts to hiss, so I chose to stop for a cool down in hopes to avoid any actual coolant loss.

While the bike cools I wander about taking in the view as it starts to present itself …

IMG_6256

Up trail …

IMG_6261

IMG_6262

IMG_6264

IMG_6265

IMG_6266

The “rolling over loose softball sized rock” climb up thus far reminds me very much of a ride into Goat Lake taken last season with a friend of mine … Jason.

http://www.trailimage.com/switchbacks-to-goat-lake

The bike cools and the summit calls …..

 

Swanholm – Part 1

Rewind exactly a year back to a sunny Fall day in October 2014, I set out on a day loop with my sights on Swanholm Peak Lookout only to be denied by a seasonally locked gate …. missing access by only a few days. I told myself that this season I would make another attempt, but much earlier in the season, which brings us up to July 2015.

Denied …

44

My route this day begins with a few miles of tire warming pavement along Hwy 21 through East Boise to connect RD 268, the Atlanta/Middle Fork Road that runs along Lucky Peak and Arrowrock Reservoirs.

Lucky Peak …

IMG_6221

Arrowrock

IMG_6223

IMG_6225

A break in our mid summer heat wave makes for a cool morning and a nice ride along the waters edge …

IMG_6226

IMG_6228

Middle Fork/South Fork Confluence …

IMG_6229

Rd 268 twists and winds along the lakes edge eventually making the flowing current of the Middle Fork Boise River …

IMG_6232

IMG_6233

IMG_6238

As Rd 268 makes it’s way towards Atlanta, it works it’s way through jagged canyons, remnants of the Idaho Batholith. Within the Batholith is the presence of Gold and past sites of attempts to extract such gold.

IMG_6241

No entry …

IMG_6242

Water access only ….

IMG_6243

IMG_6244

To be continued …..

Cinnabar – Part 7 (Cinnabar down Johnson Creek)

Johnson Creek Rd (413) runs north/south connecting Yellow Pine and Landmark while also following the scenic Johnson Creek.

Landmark 25 miles ….

IMG_6129

The scenic Johnson Creek …

IMG_6130

The road parts impressive ridgelines from either side …. where’s my fly rod?

IMG_6131

The road continues past the Johnson Creek Airstrip, a popular fly in destination amongst pilots … the Johnson Creek Guard Station … and a few summer cabins. There was not much in terms of traffic, but I did pass a car or two … this effects how often I can stop to take pics as the dust is a deterrent to me in regards to letting those cars back by.

U turn …

IMG_6132

Looking back north through the burn …

IMG_6133

Pushing on …

IMG_6134

Arrival – Landmark Ranger Station …

IMG_6135

From here I reconnect with the pavement for a quick 10ish miles back into Warm Lake. Some don’t like hardtop … I on the other hand actually enjoy a few miles of smooth running to conclude a ride.

Hmmm … which way shall I go. This point is actually a junction that will take you to the Landmark/Stanley Rd, Deadwood Reservoir, Scott Mtn, Cascade, or back up to Yellow Pine …. all part of the current IBDR.

IMG_6136

IMG_6137

IMG_6138

All and all a good day …. 130ish miles … the bike and the OBR ADV Gear luggage performed flawlessly …. and reason to return with some still unexplored country!