Written By: Brent Cheney- Editor, ASTORIA MOTO
I have been riding off and on since I was a kid, but never really started to ride until I returned from living in El Salvador in 2006. As soon as I got back, I got a job and headed straight to a Honda Dealer to buy a brand new 2006 CBR600RR in the flashiest Orange you have ever seen on a bike. I rode the bike over 7,000 miles the first 3 months I owned it, the freedom and exhilaration the bike gave me was unrivaled. I would work all day and ride all night, sometimes we would ride till the sun came up then run home to change our clothes and head into work again an hour after we had finished riding.
I didn’t sell the RR when I bought the GS. The GS was to become my adventure machine while the RR would continue to be my commuter/ track bike. The first thing I did when I bought the bike, was order protection to try and prevent the inevitable. I submitted an order for the full meal deal at Alt Rider (Crash Bars, Skid Plate, Engine Head Covers, and the most Medieval Headlight guard you have ever seen). Once the parts were installed, I was ok with whatever would happen to the bike from that point on. I did not buy this bike to be my pretty bike, this bike was always intended to be my workhorse. My ultimate goal would be a trip to Argentina on the bike. For the first few months I did an ok job of switching back and forth between the RR and the GS, but it really didn’t take long to realize that I was enjoying the GS much more than the RR. Eventually I sold the RR because I just wasn’t riding it anymore.After a year of riding riding the GS on local trails and going on a weekend ride with some of the local ADVRider guys, I decided it was time to go on a real adventure with the bike. Originally I was planning on just riding alone to South America, combining both dirt and paved roads as I trekked across the Americas, but the more I talked about the trip, the more interest my Dad and Brothers had in participating in the adventure. Because it has been years since my Dad has ridden a motorcycle, and because my brothers both have very limited experience on bikes, I decided that it would probably be smart to look at something a bit more local.
We started with a few phone calls, originally thinking that the ideal ride would be from Alaska down through Canada. This would allow my older brother to split off easily and head back to his home in Utah, while the rest of us would return to our homes in the Portland, OR area. We wanted to ship the bikes to Anchorage, then ride up to Prudhoe Bay, and come back down over a two week period. The more we looked at it in detail, we realized that it would be very difficult to get the bikes shipped to Alaska, and would be much easier to ride up then ship back home. After a few conversations that were probably more confusing than this paragraph has become, we decided to scrap the idea and look for something else.
It seemed like everyone’s schedules were getting more and more complicated, and no one was able to do much trip planning, so I decided to take the wheel and just come up a route that would be considerate to everyone’s locations. I had ridden the ORBDR previously and was aware of the other BDR’s but had not ridden them. After going through them all, I decided that the best route would be to start on the WABDR then cross over to the IDBDR and complete as much of it as we could before time ran out. Because of Idaho sits right in-between Oregon and Utah, I knew that no matter where we made it to down the IDBDR, we could easily find a main road and be home within 2 days of any point on the trail. This plan would allow us to complete the WABDR and just take the IDBDR at our own pace. The most difficult/ gray area of the ride would be connecting the Northernmost points of the BDR’s.
I looked at a few different routes that connected the routes via normal paved roads, but they either took us into Canada, or backwards. Eventually I was able to look at the roads and kind of guessed on the best routes combining other routes I had found and just some guessing. I had no idea what the condition of the roads would be, but they all seemed to be normal forest roads with no stipulations on who could enter/ when. It wasn’t as easy as just downloading the WABDR into my Garmin, but I was comfortable enough with the route we had come up with to connect the BDR’s with a path between Orolville, WA AND Priest Lake, ID (just East of Bonners Ferry).
Here is a rough version of the route we finally decided on. I was estimating around 2,000 miles.
It may not sound factual, but with just 3 weeks before our departure date, neither of my brothers had purchased bikes! This was a bit of an issue because the two of them had the least amount of experience, and every opportunity to ride before the trip would be very beneficial to their comfort, safety, and the group’s ability to complete the trail. Eventually they were able find their bikes, and we were all able to finalize plans and packing lists for the trip.
The trip was to be a total of 12 days, so we tried to pack for 4 day rotations to minimize the weight on the bikes. This rotation was intended for food and clothes. The BDR’s cross through a number of towns, so we knew that we would be able to stay in a motel occasionally, shop for food, and wash our clothes.
Now that you have a short introduction, I will introduce you to the members of our adv party.
John- This is my dad. He is in his later working years, and has ridden bikes for ages. Born and raised in Idaho, John is a man who gets things done. He is an Eagle Scout, an Executive, and a Father. He is a great planner, and a leader.
For this trip, John rode a 2012 BMW R1200 GS Rallye.
Craig- My older brother, do I need to say much more? Craig started this ride with little to no motorcycle experience, but he does race downhill bicycles, so I wasn’t incredibly worried about how he would do on the big bikes. He is also an Eagle Scout, so I know that he shouldn’t die in the woods too easily.
Craig’s weapon of choice? 2013 BMW R1200 GS.
Brad- My younger brother. He is a passionate and outgoing father of 1 with 1 on the way. Brad can be a bit of a lone-wolf, but that only adds to the fun. He has ridden a couple of dirt bikes and owned a road bike for a few months, but he was going into this ride as a real wild card. We all knew he would survive at his pace, but we just didn’t know what that pace would be, or how far he would push it.
I still think he did it just to be different, but Brad chose a 2014 XR650L for the 2,000+ mile adventure.
Brent (Later given the name “Marco” Polo)- This one is me.
I was riding a 2016 BMW R1200GS.
Gary and Debbie (www.thebackseatrider.com) aka @Africapikipiki – A couple from Kenya who have flown to the United States to take on all of the BDR’s riding two-up. They are both very knowledgeable and experienced. Although Debbie says she is not much of a rider, Gary used to compete professionally as an enduro rider. He knows the bikes mechanically as well as the best ways to ride them. There is a lot more to tell about Gary and Debbie, as well as how it is they joined our party, but that is all to come.
Gary and Debbie ride a 2015 BMW F800GSA
As for a packing list, we were confident that we would be able to find food and locations to wash clothes every few days, so we packed for 4 days of wilderness at a time.
Here is a rough list of what we each made sure to bring:
- 4 days of clothes
- Sweatshirt, extra gloves, and raincoat for cooler nights (these supplies obviously change based on the trail conditions)
- 2 full days of emergency meals (lunch/ dinner)
- Snack Foods
- Tire Plug kit and a spare tube for a total emergency
- Tire Spoons
- Electric Air Pump
- Water Purification
- Water Pack
- 1 man tent
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad
- Necessary tools (There are things you just cant do in the woods)
- Spare shoes (If I did it again, I would just have a nice pair of water socks)
- Small Towel (Craig actually packed a car shammy because it was so much smaller)
- Burner cook stove with 4 days of gas (we had two burners for the group)
- Folding hand saw for any small obstructions in the path ( I really recommend the gerber freescape)
- Cell Phone
- Ipad/ computer if possible to download/ back up the photos and videos from the day
- USB Adapter cable to charge electronics off of the bike
- Garmin Navigator V GPS
- I think that about sums up the introduction to our trip. I will continue to post up the trip a few days at a time as I can. I am hoping to write it all up as soon as I can so that I don’t forget the details.Day 1- Tigard, OR to Lydel Park (Glenwood, WA)
After lunch, I pulled up the Routes that I had made for my Garmin using the WABDR tracks that were provided to us by RideBDR.com. I have never really used these before other than briefly on the OBDR. A few minutes into activating the first leg of the journey, I realized that every single point of interest on the route would activate a message on my screen and interrupt the map. I am not sure how I did it exactly, but there were literally POI’s every 30 seconds along the way. This quickly became an issue, and I had to pull over and think of another way to use the routes/ tracks that I had loaded into the Garmin. I was a complete novice when it came to the Garmin for anything other than searching addresses, POI’s, and major cities. It took me a few minutes, but I was able to find a way to overlay the tracks onto my main map so that I could at least follow along as I rode the tracks. The biggest issue with this was that you can only put 15 of these on the map at a time, and I had around 30 sections to upload, so I had to keep track of the tracks and delete them as I finished each one. The lucky thing, was that the night before the ride, I had made a hand written list of each section telling me the order of where each track started and ended. This became a critical tool for me as I was searching through hundreds of different tracks that I had loaded onto my garmin as I was learning to trip plan using Base Camp and my Navigator V.
Once I had the GPS figured out, we were back on the road. It was early in the journey, and even though these small issues (a late start, an early lunch, navigation issues, etc) were a bit irritating, our excitement to finally be out of work and on the road really overpowered any negative feelings. None of us really knew what was coming next.
The first town we passed through was Stevenson, WA. This is a very small place. The city is under 2 square miles, and has around 1,500 residents. It is right along the river though, and absolutely gorgeous. Life is simple here, but they appear to have everything they need, and are in very close proximity to Portland. The track runs right through the center of the town and along a nice road up to Carson, WA before entering the forest roads. It was an interesting start to the trip, coming from Portland, watching the roads narrow, and the buildings slowly disappearing as we rode further away from town and into the woods. As the road narrowed, it also slowly turned to gravel, and eventually hard packed dirt as we headed up the first winding hill leaving everything we knew and were comfortable with behind us.
Because I had the tracks/ gps, I decided that I would lead for the first few miles at least. I wanted to go just ahead of them and relay road conditions and hazards to my brother and dad using the headset. Brad was a brand new rider and I not only wanted to help them identify road hazards, but I also wanted to try to set a pace that I thought would be safe for him as he was getting used to the bike and riding in general. This was my great idea and intention, but I quickly found out that those headsets are TERRIBLE off road. They were loud and constantly distracting all of us as we tried to trouble shoot them throughout the trip. When they were working, they were AMAZING, but that was maybe 30-40% of the time. These were also the top of the line Sena device (20S), I can’t even imagine how bad it would have been if we had gone with a more budget oriented headset. Actually, knowing my luck, I bet a cheaper device probably would have also worked better.
As we moved through the first few miles, we quickly figured out which bags had been properly attached to the bikes, and what items would need to be reattached now that the dirt had helped rattle them loose. My Dad and I both had the BMW Vario Panniers and soft bags mounted on the rear seat, but Brad was using all soft bags. His entire kit looked like it would fit inside one of my pannier cases. I still don’t know where he was putting things, but it seemed like he had everything I had, and they were all better versions too.
Once everything had been properly secured, we started moving along at a good pace, and the bikes started to ink out small gaps between them. At about 10 miles into the road I saw something that I had never seen outside of a ZOO (Yellowstone is basically a Zoo so that doesn’t count), it was a brown bear streaking across the road, crossing maybe 15-20 feet ahead of me! I actually have a video of the bear crossing, but am having some technical difficulties with the SD card. I will post the video as soon as I have access to it. I would love to get some feedback on what kind of bear it is. I originally had though it was a brown bear that had recently come out of hibernation. It was skinny and brown, it didn’t look much bigger than the size of a large wolf, but it was moving so fast, that I really didn’t know what kind of bear it was. I looked into the species of the area later that night and found that Washington State only has black bears and grizzly bears, but they also have a sub species of black bear that is called a “Cinnamon Bear.” It sounds like Grizzly bears are VERY rare in Washington and especially this far south (along the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon), so I am guessing it was a young Cinnamon Black Bear. HOPEFULLY I will be able to recover my video file so that we can all make the call on what we think it was. Regardless of the species, I thought it was really really cool to see the bear that close and within the first couple of hours of our trip. It may be because I am a little bit crazy or more likely it was because the bear wasn’t running towards me, but it really didn’t scare me at all to be that close to an animal that could have ended my life in seconds.
^WHO HAS THE TIME TO LOOK FOR THESE CHARACTERISTICS WHILE BEING EATEN???
As soon as I saw the bear, I called out on the headset, “A BEAR JUST RAN PASSED ME!” I was yelling because I was excited, but this actually really made Brad nervous. As soon as he heard my message, he stopped his bike right where he was, scared that he may encounter the beast around the next corner if he had gone any further. Once I had assured them that the bear was gone, they caught up to me and we had a chat about the animal and what our chances of seeing another would be. This is the time of year when the bears are coming out of hibernation and even though they are skinny, they are hungry. It is very rare that you see a bear in the wild, but they are still there, and you must always respect them and be aware of them.
Once the excitement of the bear was over, we headed further up the road. The road was basically a forest service road. It was nothing technical, but the surfaces constantly changed, and there were quite a few big holes and varying ruts. One of these great ruts even tipped me over. I won’t lie, I was a little bit too confident and found myself in a deep rut coming around a corner that just dumped me. I wasn’t moving fast, and there was 0 damage to the bike or to me, but regardless, it dumped me. It was a nice reminder that even the most gentle roads can take you out at any moment.
I got the bike back up and we headed back along the trail moving north towards Packwood.
As we moved along the roads and trails, we saw a number of large puddles, and fun whoop de dos, but we tried to avoid the temptation knowing that it was only day 1 of 13, and the risk really wasn’t worth the reward. We had to keep a nice smooth conservative ride as breaking parts on day 1 could quickly end our vacation. We still made sure to have some fun, but we definitely rode a bit more conservatively as we moved along.
As we continued along the roads, the whoops and bumps started to level out until it was just a normal gravel road moving down the mountain. This road quickly became a beautiful siren along our path. It was so easy to ride along at speed. There were no hazards, and as I led the pack, I started to put my guard down. I was moving faster and faster, watching for the occasional water bars/ ditches slowing down to cross them, but I gained speed and confidence as I continued along. I thought that I was doing a great job of spotting the water bars until I didn’t. I was traveling around 35-40 mph when it came out of nowhere. I tried to get on the brakes and stand up as quickly as I saw it, but it just wasn’t enough. As my front tire hit the ditch, I leaned back knowing the bike would try its hardest to buck me off as the bike has a tendency to dive in the air. As the rear tire hit the other side of the ditch, the bike went air-born and threw me up over the handle bars. I clutched the grips and in the moment I was facing the gauges with my back bent like the tail of a scorpion. My legs were bent back and my legs were above my head. As I flew in slow motion, I told myself not to let go of the bike and to just try and get my feet back underneath me. I was able to bring them down and get the bike back to the ground. Now that both tires were on the ground, I was trying to get back on the brakes, but I was still out of control. One side of the road was a cliff, while the other was a ditch. I did my best to steer the bike towards the ditch, but was unable to stop it before riding along the ditch and eventually coming off of the bike.
This was a very fast scary accident, but I was really fortunate to have been able to get the bike down and convert a high side to a low side accident. The ALT Rider bars did their job, and the only real damage sustained to the bike, was that the front guide/ support for the right side pannier had broken. The brackets were still in one piece though, so I was able to just zip tie the broken piece in position. It was at this point that I realized how fragile these Vario cases are. I should have listened to my ADV buddy when I was looking for bags and he told me to be sure not to buy these if I intended to really ride off-road. I didn’t listen and chose the bags based on their ability to collapse/ expand as well as the level of security as I could lock them. It was interesting to see that the case had a spot that looked like it was engineered to take on zipties once the guide broke. It was as if BMW already knew the cases would brake, so they had engineered them to be rigged up in other ways.
Once I got myself together, we got back on the bikes and continued northward. As we moved on towards Packwood, we passed the sign for Takhlakh Lake and continued up the road. About a quarter of a mile beyond the sign, we started to see some snow on the ground. Eventually the snow covered the entire trail and was deep enough that our big GS’s were getting stuck trying to cross the snow. We maybe could have found a way through the visible snow, but we didn’t know if there would be more and more snow beyond these initial patches that we were already getting stuck in, so we decided to bypass the section. We turned out of the trail and headed backwards towards Trout Lake.
When we pulled into Trout Lake, we stopped at the first gas station that we saw (which also turned out to be the only gas station and only restaurant in town). We wanted to top off and look at alternate routes to bypass the snow. Because of the limited routes in the area, and having knowledge of other closures on the BDR between here and Ellensburg, we decided to get on the main road and ride towards Ellensburg to start the next section. After having an early dinner at the gas station (Which was actually really good food), we headed to Lydel Park to set up camp.
The camp wasn’t too far (maybe 30 minutes from the gas station), and was absolutely empty. It was a dry camp, but it was very clean, pretty, and right on the river. It was picturesque and the perfect spot to stop at the end of a long day getting to know our bikes, each other, and getting a small taste of the way that backcountry riding works. It was at the end of day 1 that we all knew that not everything was going to go to plan. We were prepared to be flexible and adjust as we needed to. This was supposed be a vacation, an adventure, not another source of stress, so we needed to keep that in mind as we took on the challenges of the trip that we had planned for.
That night when I pulled off my boots for the first time since going down, I peeled my socks off and realized that a large piece of skin and blood came off with the sock. I had hit my shins so hard on my crash bars during the wipe out, that I had actually cut my leg open. If I had this kind of damage from the impact through the heavy Alpinestars boots, I can only imagine what would have happened to my leg if I had not had them on.
Once we had all crossed the creek we continued up the the path until we finally came across a Toyota Tacoma coming towards us on the trail. As I got closer to the car the driver called me over to him. As we both slowed to a stop, he smiled and asked if we were riding the BDR. I told him we were, and he continued to tell me that there was an impassable landslide just ahead of where we had crossed paths. He was on his way back down to find a detour to bypass the landslide. It was at this moment I realized that the landslides that I had read about were probably after Ellsensburg and not before (I told you I am a rookie at this stuff, so try not to judge my rookie mistake 🙂 ). As my dad and brother pulled up and started talking to the man and his girlfriend (maybe wife?) in the truck, I rode on to get my own look at the impassable landslide. Even though I believed the guy, I really did need to see for myself. He was right, there was no way over or around it.
Day 2 was turning out just like day 1, we came to a stop and were forced to backtrack. Luckily we found another way to Cashmere that required very little backtracking and only a little bit of a ride on the 97 into Cashmere.
When we arrived in Cashmere it was getting late, and the stress of the day had my Dad wanting a hotel for the night. We had dinner at Brians Pizza then started looking for a hotel, there was only 1 in the city lol. If we had known how much bigger Wenatchee is, we probably would have gone there to look for a hotel, but we had no idea, so the three of us shared a small room with 2 queen sized beds, and no extra blankets, pillows, or space for a third person to sleep on the floor. I volunteered to sleep in the closet. I am pretty outgoing and wasn’t in the mood to argue over who gets a bed. I wanted to trip to go as smoothly for my dad and brother as it could be. I had done some ADV riding and wasn’t dealing with all of the new experiences the way they were. I knew it had been a long couple of days for them both, so I just followed my Harry Potter side and slept in the closet. Oh and in case you were wondering, Brian’s Pizza is actually decent for a small town buffet. If you are trapped in Cashmere and hungry, you should try it 🙂
After the post office we topped off our fuel, and I grabbed a roll of duct tape to wrap around the broken section of my vario case. I don’t think that it was going to seperate and fall off, but the fall had jammed the case and broken the seal, so I wanted to do what I could to re-enforce the box and try to keep out any moisture that the box might take on for the remainder of the journey. I was keeping all of my clothes and my hand gun in the box, so I really did want to keep everything dry and clean in there. The tape wasn’t as ugly as I had thought it would be and seemed to be pretty robust, so I was happy once it was on.
Now that the bike was taped back together, it was time to ride back to Cashmere and get on the trail towards Chumstick and eventually into Chelan. The trail started out as a dry gravel road. There weren’t a lot of trees, mostly just farms and acreage as we wound our way up the mountain. As we got further into the trail it became very apparent that this was a trail used by many of the locals to gain access to hunting areas and other weekend getaways in the woods. The ruts were so deep that you were forced to ride the centerline and hope that your balance was good enough to keep you from falling into a hole that would require the entire party to help you get out of.
As we continued along, we noticed that the bike traffic coming from the north was getting very busy. It wasn’t until we stopped at the summit for a photo, that we started talking to a guy who told us it was the weekend of the Touratech Rally. I felt like a fish swimming upstream against all of the bikes, but it was fun to see so many people out there who share the same love and passion for bikes and ADV riding that we did. Everyone was very considerate, staying to the right and telling us how many bikes were in their groups behind them. The trail runs along a lot of rocky steep faces and constantly changes surfaces so it was difficult at times to navigate the terrain while watching for riders. It wasn’t until the turnout for Kloochman Creek or so that we started to see the numbers of bikes riding in the opposite direction had begun to decline. By the time we got to Ardenvoir, we were the only ones on the trail again, just the three of us, and an unexplored road ahead.
The road down to Ardenvoir was fairly smooth, nothing too challenging. Our water was getting low, so we were excited to get into town and refill. We road around every corner watching for signs of life, but there really was nothing there. We kept going around each bend until we finally saw the quaint town of Ardenvoir nestled in the valley below the ridge we were riding down. We rode the switchbacks and eventually found ourselves crossing the small bridge into town. There were a number of residences, but none of us saw anything like a gas station or convenience store (even though the BDR map does show there is fuel available in this town). I am guessing that we didn’t need water or fuel enough, as we took a quick look then headed towards the next part of the trail.
After Ardenvoir, the trail changed drastically again. The trees had disappeared, and the hard packed dirt and rocks had become soft deep dusty dirt with large ruts and small plants / bushes all along the trail. It was a good chance for us to learn to ride on a new terrain, but it was also very difficult to keep the bikes in check while maintaining a good pace that would move the bikes along and keep them from losing traction on some of the hills. After a few miles of riding, I once again found myself stuck in a rut that pulled the bike down to the ground. I literally just stepped off of the bike as it was pulled down. Because of the deepness of the rut, I had a hard time getting leverage on the heavy bike, but was eventually able to lift it back up. What I didn’t notice as I lifted the bike, was that I had lost my USB cable connection as the bike laid on that side against the dirt.
Once I was back up and going we continued along the trail which although wide enough for a car, had gotten very narrow, and almost no matter which side you chose, had you running against the brush that grew along the side of the road. I think that my bike got more scratches during this portion of the ride, than it did from any of the tip overs or other accidents throughout our journey.
As we continued along the road, it started to climb up Baldy Mountain. As it climbed, the surface went from soft and dusty, to gravel, and eventually a very rock surface with sharp rocks sticking up all over. I warned the party to be cautious of their lines and speed through the section as it would be a disaster to tear a side wall or get a major puncture along this section of the route. It was a higher elevation, running along a lot of cliff faces, and was very remote. A break down would have been really bad here.
The trail continued around the mountain until we were finally able to get a nice glimpse of Chelan Lake down below. The map looked like it would be a number of windy roads taking us from the mountain top down to the edge of the lake. As we moved along the road the surface got less intense and eventually was just a nice set of gravel switchbacks running down the mountain.
Up until now we had done a really good job of staying on the tracks I had downloaded to the GPS, but at some point I missed a right turn as we rode down towards Lake Chelan. It wasn’t until we were a mile or two beyond the turn that I realized we had somehow missed the turn. Rather than turning back to look for the missed turn, we decided to continue along the road and just see if it looked like it would rejoin the other trail. From what I could tell looking at the GPS and following our trail, it was going to rejoin at some point, so we just kept watching the tracks and monitoring our position.
I was riding in the front as I was trying to check the course and make sure we weren’t deviating too much. Riding in the front of the pack is nice for a number of reasons, less dust, you can ride with your windscreen open on a hot day, and best of all you get to see a lot of the animals before the bikes scare them off. As I rode ahead this time, I got to see something that I had seen just days before, ANOTHER BEAR! This bear was much much larger than the one I had seen on day one. It’s body was filled out. The fur was brown and it had a large hump on the shoulder. The way the light hit the hump made it look golden/ yellow against the chocolatey brown on the other parts of his body. This bear was moving just as fast as the other bear I had seen, but this bear was absolutely a Grizzly. If anyone reading this has ridden this trail, the point on the trail where I saw the bear is very easy to find. There is a campsite with a mock Teepee and a fire pit right where the bear crossed my path. Unfortunately it was late in the day and I was not recording when this bear crossed, but I am still thinking it would be fun to ride up to the campsite and look for tracks. I am 99% sure that not many camp in the site where I saw the bear. There are much better sites just below closer to Chelan Lake, and I saw no other signs of life above those sites.
I yelled out on the communications device that I had seen another bear. My brother on the switchback above me stopped until he was sure that it was completely out of site. He rode down to where I was. I told him that based on the direction the bear had been running, and both of our locations, there was a good chance the bear had actually probably started out closer to him than it had been to me. I don’t think that is actually true, but it surely gave him a very concerned look as he contemplated the possibility that he had been just a few feet away from a large adult grizzly bear.
We rode further down until we arrived at the campsites below where we had seen the bear running. I told the families that I had seen a large grizzly running towards them, and everyone just said how cool that was and they’d keep an eye out for it. Although I would think/ say something like this, it really did surprise me to see families with young children showing no concern at all that I had seen a large bear running towards their camp. Maybe they just didn’t believe me. Who knows?
After riding through the sites, we crossed this small bridge and headed towards the main road that runs along the southern border of Chelan Lake.
We followed the road around the lake and pulled into Chelan to fuel the bikes and look for a pressure washer and food before finding our campsite in Manson.
After washing the bikes, we rode to Lakeview Drive in where I partook of a delicious BLT and Fries out on the sidewalk. I would recommend this burger joint to anyone who stops in the town. It is across the street from an IGA grocery store and next door to an RV campsite.
When dinner was done, we were off to the Wapato Lake Campground just passed the casino in Manson. I wish that I had taken a picture so that I could show you, but it was BAD. We pulled into the site and it smelled terrible. the beach area at the campground was covered in geese and geese feces. The water looked slimy too. I would say it looked more like a fishing hole, and nothing like a place you would want to camp at. I started to get off my bike to check in (this was literally the only site with space), when my dad pulled up next to me and said, “We are getting out of here.” We told the site manager that we had changed our minds and would not be staying, then headed to the closest gas station to regroup and decide what to do before the sun had set.
I wanted to head up the trail beyond Echo Ski resort, but Dad looked at the map and didn’t think we could get to the National Park boundary and find a spot before the sun would go down. We were really banking on the campsite working out, so it was kind of stressful having to decide what we were going to do when we only had about 45 minutes of sunlight remaining. All three of us had our cell phones out in the gas station parking lot scrambling to find another campsite that had no shows, or possibly a hotel room, knowing that if nothing worked out, we would be headed up the canyon and forced to possibly ride and set up camp in the dark.
After a few calls, we found a couple of hotels with rooms, but they were all $5-600 a night. These are not rates that your average ADV rider can afford, and I am well below average in the financial department, so that just wasn’t going to work out. Eventually I called Darnell’s Resort on Lake Chelan and was able to negotiate with the girl at the desk, getting our room for $212 a night! It was the last minute, but I went off the price and decent online reviews and just booked the room. When we arrived, were very surprised at what $212 was getting us. A nice king sized bed in one room, and two pull out beds in the other, a great view of the lake, a pool, a hot tub, and a large variety of other amenities, including tennis courts, and putting greens!
As soon as we were checked in, I went straight to the hot tub. My shoulder was really hurting from my accident on day 1 and I wanted to try and let it soak for a bit. As I was sitting in the hot tub, my dad and Brad both came and joined me. They were both very happy to finally have a real hotel room, and were both as happy to have the hot tub as I was. The property wasn’t the most amazing place I have ever been to, but I will say that it was very clean and quiet. You could really relax there. Although it wasn’t the most ADV thing we could have done, it was supposed to be a vacation, and staying at Darnell’s really did feel like a vacation.
As we sat talking in the hot tub, my dad said he would pay for another night in the hotel if we wanted to take a day off and just relax/ do laundry and regain strength. I personally did not want to lose a day for this, but I could see that it would probably be a good idea for everyone to have a day to just catch up, and I wanted to watch the Dutch GP, so we spent Day 4 in the hotel as well. We did laundry and watched MotoGP. Other than that we just relaxed there rather than riding onwards towards the end of the WABDR in Oroville. We also told Craig so that he could ride to meet us in Chelan rather than Oroville.
Around 4pm on Sunday afternoon, the fourth member of our party, Craig, arrived at our hotel where he would get a good night’s rest before we headed north toward’s Oroville on Day 5.
A view from our room at Darnell’s
Craig’s Arrival at big Darnell’s Resort in Chelan, WA
It was HOT in Chelan last week, so we wanted to start our day early. No one was in the mood to be riding in the hot sun, so we loaded up the bikes and checked out around 8am so that we could start making progress and get into the trees before the sun was too strong.The road that leads into Echo Ski Resort is paved, but has some nice curves to ride as you work your way up the mountain. The GS has different ride modes (Road, Rain, Dynamic, Enduro, and Enduro Pro) that adjust the bike to all riding conditions. I was switching between Road, Rain, and Enduro Pro throughout the trip. The difference between Road and Enduro Pro is a night and day difference. Road mode allows the bike suspension to stiffen up and the bike to lower. You are able to ride it like a road bike without all of the softness (which is actually also adjustable) of the Enduro Pro mode. The modes also change the throttle response and the ABS and ASC algorithms to allow more or less wheel slip as well.
The change you can really feel is the throttle response. At the push of a button you get the equivalent of pulling apart the throttle mechanism and changing the cam. Dynamic mode gives you lots of power in a minimal twist of the grip. Rain and enduro modes require more twisting. That makes the bike not overly responsive so you won’t break traction due to too much power in wet or on the dirt. Switching between modes feels like you changed bikes.
As we passed through Echo, I switched the bike into Enduro Pro and crossed over into the gravel. The road right at the ski resort is really nice. It starts as gravel then transitions to a nice packed dirt. It was funny because the previous days had been quite a bit rougher riding with many more risks along the way, but now that Craig was here, it was actually some of the easiest and most forgiving surfaces that we had encountered. I was glad though because it was his first day ever riding the big GS off of the road. I knew that with his mountain bike experience he would be ok, but it takes a minute to get used to 700 lbs of bike and gear below you compared to a 15lb bicycle.
The further we got passed Echo Valley Ski Resort, the roads begin to get rougher, but they were still relatively smooth. The nice dirt started to get some ruts as we really started to climb the hill up into the forest. This was an area that had seen a major forest fire back in 2009, The trees were burnt, but the forest showed so many signs of life. The mountain only reaches around 4,000 ft at the summit, but the views were really nice along the way.
As we continued up the Cooper Mountain, something happened. It was ANOTHER BIG BROWN ANIMAL that came trotting out of the trees in front of us, but this time there were TWO of them! It took me a moment to process what it was even though I was around 30 feet behind the pair, and then it hit me, it was a Moose Cow and her Calf. They weren’t as scared of us the way the bears had been though. They were just trotting along the road in front of me. I stopped the bike after a few seconds realizing that the pair were not going to leave the road right away. I have heard a million stories about how dangerous a Moose can be, and where this was a mother and her child, I just wanted to give them space and let them decide what they wanted to do. As I stopped I turned around and luckily both Craig and Brad had caught up to me and were able to see these majestic creatures that had crossed our path. I actually have a video of this and it is not on the bad memory card, so I will be able to upload it later on for all to see.
The funny thing about a moose, is that until you see one in person, you kind of think of them as the size of maybe an elk, but once you really see one, you realize how huge they are. The first time I saw a moose, I was driving up Provo Canyon in Utah in my car. A large bull came out from the trees alongside my car and towered over us. I gained instant respect for the huge animals once I realized how incredibly huge these things are.
The Moose eventually left the road and we were back on the warpath. The trail was fast moving and we were starting to really put some distance between us and the beautiful resort where we had found refuge the night before, but then another animal came running out of the woods, a Vanilla Gorilla!
As I rode around the right hander, a man came running out into the trail with his arms raised above his head. He was in his underwear, and and speaking loudly. Just as I was about to leave this lunatic in the dust, I saw it back by his tent, an F800GSA. I stepped on the brakes and let the wild-man approach me. He told me his name was Gary and that he and his lady Debbie were from Kenya. They had come to the states to ride all of the Backcountry routes. They had our full attention as they shared stories of their adventures and rides in Africa, camping near elephant and riding through the catacombs. We talked for a bit and exchanged information, then we were back on the trail.
There are other photos of our meeting with Gary and Debbie, but this seems to be the only one on my phone. If they get me the others, I will post them as well. I want you all to see the pictures of Gary as I saw him that morning lol.
As we continued on, we eventually made it down off the mountain and into the small town of Carlton. We stopped here at the Carlton General Store for gas and a nice gas station styled lunch. I think I ate 2 of those amazing Reeses Pieces Big Cups, an ice cream snickers, some beef jerky, and a gatorade (I am a health nut, what can I say?). We took our time finishing off our meals and we were back on track.
After Carlton we continued north, towards what looked like we would be rejoining the 20. We rode on through the woods and eventually made it to the road. We pulled on and started down it. As we rode we saw that there were some major landslides and in portions, half of the road was actually completely gone. It seemed really strange that the road had just been left like this, but we just kept to the right and continued down the road. As we continued on, we started seeing road work crews working on the road. No flaggers, no signs, just the trucks and equipment moving all over the road.
As I pulled up to one of the workers to see if there was room around the paving machines, the man asked me how it was that we were even on this road. He told me that it had been closed for miles in both directions. I told him we had come out of the woods, and he looked at me like I was the legendary Sasquatch. It took him a minute to register how it was that we had gotten there, but he let us ride the shoulder and get back on track beyond the construction.
We only rode for a few minutes on the 20 before exiting onto a new stretch of forest road that took us up Loup Loup Creek. Early into the ride we started seeing “Road Closed” signs and other signs of road work ahead. As we continued on, we came across a dump truck that was followed by a large excavator which was filling it. The driver of the excavator saw us behind him and motioned for us to go around him. We went around him, but got stuck behind the large dump truck as it crept along the road, blanketing us with dust and rocks. We followed the truck for some distance until it stopped and begin to do a multi point turnaround. As it began to turn around, another truck which had been following us stopped, and 3 men got out of it to approach us. They told us that this was private land and that road was washed out ahead. It was because of this that the trucks were there. The owner of the land was in the excavator and they were working to repair the impassable road. The owner had given us a nod though, and seemed ok with us crossing his land, so our next obstacle would be finding a way to cross the river on the side of the washed out road.
Just to the right of the road there was a dip and what appeared to be a crossing that some vehicles had been able to cross, so even though the three of us were not sure how we would do crossing the small stream, we gained confidence from the signs that others had crossed, and we just went for it. It was VERY easy, and helped us to gain confidence and really start understanding the capabilities of these goliaths.
Not long after crossing the stream, we saw the collapsed metal building on the left of the road, and we knew that we were approaching China Wall, near Concunully, just south of Ruby. This “Wall” was actually the foundation that was built up for a silver mining refinery that was never finished back in the 1800’s in what is now considered the Ghost town of Loop Loop. What is left, is a really cool stone wall and a garbage can in the woods
After the wall, we were back on the trail and moving north towards Concunully. The trail was surrounded by dense forest, and would open up to small lagoons along the way. It was really nice and a fairly easy ride. There were some puddles along the way that were absolutely wretched. Even riding through them quickly, you could smell how vile they were. I hadn’t ridden through many puddles, but the ones I had ridden in the past were usually really muddy and if I didn’t keep good pace, I would get stuck in them. It was for this reason that I kept good pace crossing the puddles, even though my instincts told me I should be taking them a bit slower. Eventually I came to a stretch of road that was completely covered in water for 15-20 ft in front of me.
I approached the water going around 15 mph, leaned back, and just kept my speed. The plan was going great until I caught the mud on the edge of the puddle and was pulled down quickly. It wasn’t a really bad accident, but my head did get twisted a bit and my ankle was twisted when my leg got caught under the bike as it slid out underneath me.
When I got up, my ankle was killing me and I saw that I had broken the pannier off the bike again. I turned the bike off and surveyed the damage. It looked as though I had made it beyond the water (luckily) and the ALT Rider crash bars had again saved the bike from any damage other than the now broken pannier. This time the mount had snapped off of the bag though. Just as I was standing there looking at the scene, I looked across the water where my brothers and dad were standing, and saw Gary and Debbie pulling up. Of all of the moments they chose to catch up to us, it happened to be now as my bike was laying on the ground.
Once everyone had crossed the water, and we had the bike back up on the center stand, Gary told us how they had basically been tracking us throughout the day. They had spoken to a number of people we had met during the day and they had confirmed having seen us earlier. Regardless of how they found us, they had somehow been riding two up all day and caught up to us very easily.
Gary had a look at my broken pannier as we all stood there being consumed by mosquitos. Craig had brought an essential oil that he swore would repel them, but I still think it attracted more as he dosed us all in the oils as we were trying to drill holes into the pannier and reattach it to the bike. Gary told me he had done two BDR’s with his case broken like mine, and had ziptied the mount, but also showed me how this case had an attachment point down below where you could run a strap and tie the case to the handles above the case to further support it. Once again, BMW must have had a few people break these in the past, and had engineered the case to be useable even once broken.
After going through the process of how to repair the case, we told Gary and Debbie to go on as we would take a few minutes to get the case fixed and get back on track. Eventually I had the case repaired, and we were back en route.
We rode for a little while longer and the case seemed to be doing alright, although my zipties were no where strong enough to support the weight of the case, even with the help of the strap running down the middle. The zipties were there to balance the case, but were stretching because of the bumps along the trail. We kept riding though and they held up just fine.
As we left the forest, we got back on the tarmac and were headed in towards Concunully. As we pulled into the gas station there, we saw the Gary and Debbie. Their bike was parked near the pumps and they were enjoying ice cream outside of the shop. We said hello and started to fill up the bikes. As we sat talking, we had mentioned that we were planning to ride on the back roads from Orolville to the IDBDR. They Were also planning on going to the IDBDR, but had not worked out a route. The city did not have cell service, but a number of people told us that city hall had free wifi, so Debbie and I walked over to try and get the maps loaded into her system I tried my hardest to load my maps to their garmin using Debbie’s Ipad, but it was unsuccessful. I am sure there is a way, but I am not experienced enough. She was able to get my tracks, but was not able to see them on her system. This created a bit of a predicament, as these two crazy Kenyans were now wanting to join our party moving forward!
We continued on, trying to keep up with Gary and Debbie as we were all sprinting towards Oroville. We wanted to get to the border and get some pictures then find a campsite all before the sun went down. We hadn’t left Concunully until 4:30 or 5, so time was not on our side. We wove through the forest, and my dad continued to tell us not to worry about keeping pace with Gary as we were screaming through the wilderness.
Eventually we came down off the mountain and rejoined the Loomis Oroville Road east of Chopaka Mountain. We rode along the road towards the Border crosing at Nighthawk. The road led through a picturesque valley that looked like it had come straight out of a novel. Beautiful fields and farm houses lined the floor hills and valley floor, intersected by a river and surrounded by tall mountains.
We rode north and eventually caught up to Debbie and Gary again at the Nighthawk Border crossing. The crossing was actually closed, so we just had a look and took some photos there at the border. We also stopped and took a few pictures in front of the old abandoned cabins on the road leading to the border. On our way out, a border patrol agent came up the road and motioned for us to pull over. Dad and Brad pulled over, but I continued forward following Craig, Gary, and Debbie in our search for a campsite. Apparently the officer stopped them to see if they had entered Canada, but was also very helpful in telling them where to look for campsites in the Area. We rode around for a little bit, and then found an available campsite right on the Osoyoos lake in Oroville (Osoyoos Lake Veterans Memorial Park). The site had water, electricity, and showers. It was perfect. I wish I had a picture, but because Gary and Debbie have been living on their bike, she had about 15 things plugged into the power outlet, and she basically just sat their camped out, connected to the internet, catching up on life.
It was a really long day, but probably one of the most eventful on the trip. We had gone a long distance from Chelan to Oroville, had a lot of great experiences along the way, and even picked up some new friends!
Standing with my new friend Rocket at the gas station in Concunully
At the border with Craig
The old cabin on the road to the Nighthawk crossing
Another mural at the Chevron in Oroville
The sunsetting at our campsite in Oroville
When we got to Oroville, Brad realized that his ALPINESTARS Boot was completely coming apart. He cut up a piece of hose for some reinforcement, then used duct tape to repair the boots. He was able to make this repair last the following week on this trail.
We took off from the camp and started east towards Idaho. The road was paved and windy, so I left the bike in “Road” mode so that I could carve some corners as I started to wake up for the day. We left town on Chesaw Road and made our way towards the Forest road that put us back onto the forest roads carving across the Okanogan Forest. We moved across and found our way to the very small town of Curlew. In Curlew we had a bite to eat at the Saloon where we were able to meet Gandalf the Gray, and meet a lot of really kind people before heading back towards Summit Lake. While in the Saloon there were a couple of twins and their friends having drinks celebrating the recent purchase of a new camaro! Everyone in the town was excited for the new car that would be terrorizing their streets.
During our brief hour or so in Curlew, we found that every single person there was extremely kind, humble, and willing to give of themselves to help us on our journey. They wanted to hear our stories and get to know us even though they probably knew that they would never see us again. It was really touching to see this side of life, nestled in the hills of Curlew.
The quaint city of Curlew along the PikiPiki trail welcomed us with open arms
The old Curlew Post Office inside of the Curlew Store
A Mountain Lion/ Cougar/ Puma/ Large Cat inside the Curlew Saloon
After we had all crossed the water, we continued on and made our way back up towards the national forest. We found a really neat meadow with an old abandoned cabin at one end, but the sun was still high and we decided that we would rather continue forward and see if we could make it to Summit lake before calling it a day. We pushed on and eventually found the small lake nestled on the side of the hill. It felt like we were absolutely in the middle of nowhere, but there was still someone camping there in his pick up truck! We set up camp and prepared a fire to warm up to as we devoured our much anticipated Mountain House Dinners.
As we sat eating, the man from the truck came up to join us at the fire. He told us all about how he was a “Big Foot Theorist,” and was there to watch for signs of the legendary beast. Obviously this did not make me think he was different at all. I know lots of people who would like to camp alone in the woods watching for a creature that is untraceable even in a day and age where we can find almost any man on earth in a matter of hours.
Crossing the bridge into Northport.
From there we rode to Northport for gas and I was able to find some industrial zip ties to hold my bag on my bike. Each tie can support 46lbs!
After gassing up, we got back on the road and were headed towards Metalin Falls, when Brad’s tire blew out. Gary was following behind Brad when it happened. Gary said that that it happened instantly and that the bike was all over the place at about 60 mph. No one knows how exactly, but Brad was able to keep it under control and slow it down to pull off the road. We all pulled over and started operating on the Honda. We got the tools out and started to pull the nut off of the rear wheel, but there was a problem, the previous owner of the bike had WAY over torqued the locking nut. We broke a wrench and bent another trying to break it free. Eventually brad was able to get it off and we were able to get the tube changed just as it started to rain. He made a quick run up and down the street to make sure it all felt alright, and we were back on the road.
We crept through Metalin, taking in the beautiful city. It was so small, the entire downtown was probably about the size of a city block. We passed through then headed up the hill out of town and onward towards Sullivan Lake/ Sullivan Lake Road. As soon as we pulled over I looked back and saw that the party was pulling over again, Brad had punctured his other tube within 10 miles of the previous repair. We all knew instantly that the reason would be related to the fact that we had not checked the tire to see if there was still a screw, or rock in the tire before inserting the new tube. We had been in such a hurry to change it because of the rain, that whatever caused the first flat had probably caused the second as well. Because this was the only tube he had left, we knew that we needed to repair it the right way. Dad rode back into Metalin to see if he could find any type of repair shop that may be open while we worked to mobilize the bike. After only a few minutes Dad gave us a call to let us know he had found someone with a small private shop that would be willing to help us with the repair. With this news, we filled the tire with air and slowly rode it back down into Metalin.
When we got back to the shop in Metalin, my dad told me that he had found the owner of the shop (Dave), riding his golfcart down the street in the middle of the town. My dad had asked him if he knew where he could work on the tire, and it just so happened that Dave was the man for the job. Dave was very happy to assist and invited us all to his shop to do the work. Dave helped brad with the change and was very careful to do the job right. Dave’s shop was an old shop/ factory that was over 100 years old. Dave had a fine collection of bikes and tools inside, including a 67 Honda CT90. Dave was incredibly kind and helpful. He even offered to let us sleep in his cabin near Sullivan Lake after we had eaten our Dinner.
Although Dave seemed to have done just about everything there is to do on this small planet of ours, he had spent many years as a musician. After the work was done, he offered to sing us a song before we headed to the 5th Avenue diner for dinner. The diner was also the only restaurant that is open after 5pm in the town!
After dinner, Dave met us outside of the restaurant and guided us to his small piece of paradise above Sullivan Lake, to let us campout in the cabin for the night. He told us that the cabin was more than likely well over 100 years old. It had originally been longer and located closer to the lake, but as the government wanted more and more of the land, they gave the original owner a new lot further up the hill from the lake, and he cut the cabin in half moving it to its new location. Dave had purchased the land and cabin from him years ago, and made it a refuge for his family over the years. He told us a number of stories, some of which included large bears stalking the perimeter of the home. It was a lot of fun to stay in a place with such a rich loving history.
The amount of love and care that Dave shared with us was far beyond any of our expectations. He was truly put in our path for a reason. He was a major help to us and allowed us to become a part of his life, sharing his stories, his tools, and his home with us. We will never forget Dave.
From Dave’s cabin, we headed down and around Sullivan lake, following the signs towards Upper Priest Lake. As we rode along the trail, my dad who was leading, slowed down and stopped. At first I thought it was just for a break, but he had actually seen some large fresh mountain lion tracks that he wanted to examine. We all looked around and made guesses at where the large cat would be, hoping to get a glimpse of the majestic creature, but deep down inside, we all knew how difficult it is to see a Mountain Lion in the wild. I am still sure it saw us though.
After looking at the tracks and taking a quick break, we got back on the bikes and rode towards upper priest lake. Almost as soon as we crossed the Idaho border, the erosion ditches started to show up. On this particular trail, they were all large mounds with ditches behind them, rather than being just ditches. This required us to slow the bikes way down to cross at fear of damaging the bikes. The ditches were placed every 50 yards or so, so they really slowed us down. After riding for a bit, they finally started to disappear, and eventually leveled out to a nicely groomed gravel road. We took the gravel road for a bit and finally connected to a dirt road that followed along Upper Priest Lake.
The road around the lake was nice, but they had sprayed some kind of oil on it to keep the dust down for the campers/ lake visitors. This in turn got all over the bikes and was mostly visible on our helmet’s windscreens. The road stayed dirt for a few more miles, but eventually joined the tarmac as it carried us southbound on the eastern side of the lake. At the bottom of the road, we stopped in the city of Coolin, where we enjoyed some great food at the Moose Knuckle.
We were all happy to be able to get some cell reception after a couple of nights in the woods. We needed access to social media and loved ones who were wanting updates on the journey.
After our lunch, we got back on the bikes and headed towards the Idaho BDR, stopping at Mama Mac’s Cafe (aka a gas station), to fill the bikes up. At this point, we were getting very very close to the IDBDR and I started to think about how Gary and Debbie would most likely be leaving us as soon as we got to a point where they had maps again. They needed us to get them across, but we were really holding them back, so I was ready for the “Its not you, its me.” talk. We would have to continue on towards Samuels though and see what would happen once we found the trail and everyone’s maps were back up and running.
After filling up and finding the IDBDR, we started back onto the dirt roads. As we left the tarmac, the road started through some private drives as we made our way to the forest road. Gary and Debbie were in the lead, and we were all stuck behind a pickup that was moving very slowly and throwing up rocks and dust. Gary started to overtake the vehicle when it swerved at him, trying to knock him off the road. Gary was able to avoid the collision and pull ahead of the truck, but no one else was brave enough to take on the psychopath. I was not recording at the time, but filmed the truck after in case it made more attempts at vehicular manslaughter.
We continued along the road and followed the signs for Lightning Creek heading towards Clark Fork. As we rode along the creek we were all taking in how beautiful the old forest was. There were a number of campsites, but only one or two had occupants. We were very surprised as it was 4th of July weekend in what you would think would be a pretty busy area for camping. We continued along the road until we found the reason no that the sites were all empty, the bridge was washed out. This meant that the only way into the sites would be to come from the North. The last campsite sitting there by the bridge was occupied by a man and his dog. He told us that there were three or 4 more washouts ahead that he had seen while hiking, but that this was the worst of the series. There were some boards making a ramp down from the bridge, so it was fairly obvious that others had attempted the crossing before us. This gave us courage to just go ahead and try it.
I think that someone had said something to irritate Brad just before this, because I don’t even think he got off of his bike to spot the crossing. He saw Gary make it across, so he just got on and went. As far as I can remember, no one helped him at all. He was doing his lone wolf thing and blowing off steam. He really didn’t even give me time to get off and take any pictures of him. Debbie may have gotten one though, so I will need to go back and look. Once he was across, he was very helpful with the other bikes needing to cross. The Honda fully loaded was probably around half the weight of the GS, so it didn’t do that thing where the GS digs a hole and gets stuck as soon as you lose momentum and stops.
Once everyone was across, we all celebrated a little bit. It wasn’t the most challenging crossing, but it did take some work and was a little bit intimidating. We followed the road for maybe a quarter mile before coming on another washout. This was was just as long, but there was no water running through it, and it looked much more manageable. Just as Gary was preparing to cross the washout, a forest service Razr approached from the other side. They asked us what we were doing there and informed us that the road was closed. Although they made sure we knew this section of trail was not to be used, they did not try to stop us from continuing on (I mean what choice did we really have at this point if the road was closed in both directions?).
We let the Forest Service Surveyors cross before we went. The crossing was very mild and everyone made it without needing help from the others. After this there were two more smaller crossings and everyone was tired and ready to camp.
We found a nice campsite on the river’s edge a few miles north of Clark Fork. The site was very quiet (because the road was closed so really no one could camp there anyways). Brad found a spot for his little worm tube one man tent about 30 yards from the rest of us (as was his normal behavior), while the rest of us put up our tents close to the river. The water was moving and there were not many mosquitoes in this campsite. The sun was getting low, so we hurried to set everything up and get a fire going.
While we were crossing the section where the bridge had washed out, Craig had twisted his ankle. He wanted to soak it a little, so he and I both having twisted swollen ankles, decided it would be a good idea to take a quick bath in the river. The idea seemed very refreshing, even though everyone told us it would be crazy to get in the water when it was so cold. We both stripped down to our shorts and stepped into the water. IT WAS FREEZING, but we couldn’t let on that we were cold. If they saw how cold we really were, we would never hear the end of it, so we just pretended to enjoy it. Craig even laid on the rocks and rolled around in the water. I was going into shock just sitting in it! I think Debbie got a good laugh as she sat on the shore watching the two thick headed Americans getting hypothermia.
After bathing in the river, it was time to cook some dinner and explore the area a bit. Within a minute or so of walking around, we found a number of elk droppings and bear tracks. We were hoping that if we saw anything that night it would be the Elk and not the bears. In the end, we saw neither.
For dinner it was freeze dried camping food again. This time I had Pad Thai with peanut butter and peanuts to go on top of the delicious noodles. They were nowhere near as good as the fresh Pad Thai dishes served at Tong Thai near my home in Tigard, but the food was surprisingly good. I wasn’t starving either, so my hunger was not dictating my ability to judge the quality of the dish. Everyone was very cautious of the local bear residents after having seen so many on the trip already, so we were very careful to pack up the leftovers and seal all of the food after dinner. Once everything was cleaned up, we sat by the fire for a bit then retired to our tents after the long journey.
Although we were getting to be pretty behind on our schedule, we were happy with what we had accomplished thus far during our travels.
Our wagon circle. I wish that I had slept between them.
Saturday started out alright. Everyone slept well and spirits were high. We had the camp cleaned up and packed up by about 8:30 am. We were all ready to roll when Craig went to start up his bike, and the battery was flat. He and my dad had been charging things off of their bikes religiously throughout the trip, and I was always weary of something like this happening. My dad would ask me to charge things on my bike occasionally too, and I would always decline. I have had enough dead batteries in my life to make me very paranoid of charging things off of them when the bike is not on. My dad’s bike was able to charge while the bike turned off, but Craig’s bike required that the bike was in accessory mode. That morning he had been charging his phone, and it just finished him off. My dad hooked up to his battery cable and tried to jump start him, but it did not work, so we dragged the bike out to the main road to try and push start it. Watching 5 grown men trying to get the two-wheeled tank push started, must have looked ridiculous from the outside. We made many attempts and it just wouldn’t turn over. Eventually we decided to try and jump it again using my bike. We inspected the connections and cables and found that the wiring was labeled backwards. This most likely had also shorted out the fuse on my dad’s bike. Once we made this discovery, we were able to quickly jumpstart the bike and get back on the road to the gas station in Clark Fork.
After meeting the “Mud Slut,” and fueling up, we headed back into the woods. The trail now ran through the Coeur D’Alene National Forest. This section was very scenic and was full of side by sides and four wheels for the first few miles into the woods. As we worked our way up the hill avoiding ATV’s and large ruts, I started to notice that I was gaining on Gary. This was very very strange. Gary is a man who you do not get close to on the trail unless he lets you. Something was wrong. I rode behind him giving him distance, but I saw that I was closing the gap. This just wasn’t right. Eventually he let me pass him and I pulled ahead. It was not an emergency, but I also was not sure what was going on. We finished climbing the mountain and came to a stop. When Gary pulled up, he got off and begin to examine his rear wheel.
After a few minutes of examination, Gary told us that his bike not only had a tire that was completely worn out, but that his rear brake pads were now non existent. He would be forced to ride the remainder of the trail using only his front brakes while carrying a passenger. We all knew that this meant our time with Gary would soon come to an end. It was the Friday before the Fourth of July, and if a shop didn’t have the pads in stock, there would be no way of getting them until late in the week just after the 4th of July Holiday.
There is a moose in the water in this pic. Can you see it?
We were able to get the bikes down the mountain, and we almost missed our turn off to cross Tepee Creek, but eventually we had made it through the section and arrived in Wallace. With the number of hold ups that we had had, and now the issues with Gary’s bike, we were very very happy to be pulling into this small town. There was little to no cell service, but my dad’s phone as well as my phone both had a bar or two of service (AT&T network). We were able to call around and eventually find a shop that would be open the next day (Saturday) and had the parts in stock that Gary needed. The biggest issue, was the the closest shop that had the parts in stock, was in Missoula, Montana. Although it was only a couple of hours away, it would take another day out of the trip. At this point I calculated that between staying an extra day in Chelan, late starts, early finishes, washouts, road closures and the chaos surrounding the flat tires on Brad’s bike, we were probably around 3 days off of our original schedule. We were now in Wallace on Friday night, and our plan was to be rolling into our driveways no later than Monday night, giving us just three days to complete the open sections of the IDBDR, and get back to Tigard/Portland.
We parked the bikes near the Center of the Universe in Wallace, ID and got dinner at the Smokehouse Barbecue and Saloon just across the street from the marked finish to this section of the BDR. At dinner we did not talk about our plans, we just took in the sites and enjoyed each other’s conversation. The food was good, but the company was great. We had enjoyed a lot of time together, and Gary and Debbie had not ditched us the moment we found the IDBDR as I thought that they would.
After having dinner, we started to look for a hotel in Wallace. There really are not a lot of options there, and we were worried that with it being 4th of July weekend, there may be no room in the inn. Luckily, the Brooks hotel had just 3 rooms left so we were able to get shelter for the 6 of us that night. By the time we had everything figured out, it was getting late and we still needed to visit a market for some snacks, and get our laundry done. The laundromat had closed at 5, and the only market was at the conoco on the other side of the town. I was able to negotiate with Tony (the owner of the hotel) to let us use the Hotel washer and dryer to do 1 load of clothes for us. I told everyone to prioritize what they wanted washed, because it would be one load to cover all 6 of us. It must have been funny to see 6 adults walking around the lobby of the hotel with our arms full of laundry as we waited for the owner to grant us access to the machines, but we were all willing to do what it would take to get the clothes cleaned. We were on day 6 since our last wash, and the front to back and inside out underwear method wasn’t working anymore.
While the clothes were washing, I walked to the market with my dad and brothers, leaving the honeymooners back at the hotel to relax after a long day. We found the essential candy and gatorade at the gas station and headed back. One of the candies that I have really enjoyed lately are the Reese’s Big Cups with Reese’s Pieces inside of them. I had given one to Debbie the other day and she told me she had never even heard of Reese’s! How can you live in America for 6 months and never hear of Reese’s? I swear they have to be one of America’s longest running candy brands!
Let me see…
“Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Reese’s Peanut ButterCups are a popular American candy consisting of a milk, white, or dark chocolate cup filled with peanut butter, marketed by The Hershey Company. They were created in 1928 by H. B. Reese, a former dairy farmer and shipping foreman for Milton S. Hershey.”
This actually just led me to another google search where I was able to find Reese’s cups readily available in Kenya too, so Debbie, you really have no excuse…
Anyway, back to my story…
I had just found all of the reese’s and headed back to the hotel to put the clothes in the dryer. I gave Debbie the bag of candy because although she had never heard of them before, they had quickly replaced Snickers as her favorite candy.
Once the laundry was done, we all went back to our rooms to clean our helmets, gear, and relax before starting the next day. We had not made any real decision, but it was looking like we would be separating in the morning.
Tony (the hotel owner) had told us all about the hotel’s famous chicken fried steak breakfast and told us we all really needed to try it (great sales pitch right?), so we agreed to discuss what our plans would be the next day over chicken fried steak in the Brooks Hotel restaurant at 8 am.
As we sat talking, Gary and Debbie decided that they would pack up and head to Missoula, MT to get a new tire and brakes. This left us with the decision of what to do. We could ride two more days on the BDR then head home, or head to Boise to see our Grandma before heading to our homes. The other option was to head home from Wallace as it was only a 6 hour ride to Portland, but neither myself, nor my dad wanted to end the trek just yet.
We started to pack the bikes when Brad came up and told us he would take his Honda home through Spokane that day. He had enjoyed his trip, but the long ride to Boise and Ride on the interstate home totaling 14 hours from this point was not appealing to him, so he packed up and left. This left my dad, Craig, and myself deciding what to do. We talked for a while and decided that we would spend the morning riding up and looking at the abandoned silver mines near Wallace. From there, we would grab the 3 and ride it all the way to Boise. The ride from Wallace to Boise was around 7.5 hours without stops. We packed the bikes almost as slowly as we had eaten breakfast. Everyone was sad that the exciting part of the adventure was ending and we were all going our separate ways. Once we were done, we took some pictures together and took off.
The silver mine and refinery was only a few minutes away, and completely worth the effort to see. We did not strike it rich looking through the rubble around the mine, but we did get some fantastic photos.
After the mine, we took the slow but beautiful path down the 3 to Boise. To see my Grandma before heading home the next morning. The ride to Boise runs almost alongside the BDR, and is very beautiful. We are all very excited to go back and finish what we started on the BDR the next time we have some time off.
Everyone made it home safely and Gary and Debbie were able to get their parts and meet some new friends in Missoula.
I am already in talks with Gary and Debbie for a ride through South America next year. I will start to sell my life on ebay sooner than later, and will start my next trip planning thread soon.
I am grateful to all of you who have taken the time to read through the notes of our first real adventure on our bikes. I hope that this is the first of many. It was a lot of fun to look back on the trip and tell the story. I will update the thread with more pictures and videos as they become available.
If anyone is interested in the route to get from the Northern end of the WABDR to the IDBDR, just let me know and I will help you along your way. Eventually I will publish it here as well.
Oh and I gained 5 lbs…