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.

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-

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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 ….

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Pics or it didn’t happen-

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

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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 ….

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That day I was stop just before the saddle ….

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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.

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Shelf road-

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Kidney Lake-

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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.

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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 …

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

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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!

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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 ….

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Mess Hall-

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Rec Hall-

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Main Office-

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John V enjoying some morning sun-

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Relic-

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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-

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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-

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

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 –

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First stop Aldalpe Summit –

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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)-

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Idaho City, getting gas and checking in –

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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-

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Arrival at Moores Creek Summit –

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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!