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

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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

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-New ride

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-Eastward, Hwy 20

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-Soldier Mountains

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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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.

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-Galena Summit

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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 …

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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 ….

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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

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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

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We enjoy the road headed towards Lowman …

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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.

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… 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 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 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-

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)-

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Sunbeam Dam (Present)-

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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

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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)-

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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.

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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)-

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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 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!

 

 

 

 

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 ….

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The scenic Johnson Creek …

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

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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 …

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Looking back north through the burn …

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Pushing on …

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Arrival – Landmark Ranger Station …

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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.

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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!