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!

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

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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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-

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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!

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Redneck target practice-

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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.

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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.

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Foothills Green with prehistoric stone-

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Big Sky- John E and Honda Mike

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Over yonder-

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The Byway-

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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-

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Creek side-

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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!