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redneckdan 07-14-2011 07:58 PM

Fly Rods, Kids and a KLR
11 years ago it was July of 2000 and I was 15 years old. I applied for and was selected to attend a 1 week long youth trout fishing camp organized by the Kalamazoo Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited. At that time I had been fishing for 10 years and dabbling with fly fishing for over 5 years. The camp turned out to be not as advanced as I expected but it was a blast none the less.

Fast forward about 11 years and I am working as a member of a mountain bike trail building crew when I fall at work and injure my left knee. This happened in early May and fate being the fickle bitch that she is I didn't get a definitive diagnoses, nor pain meds til the end of June. Turns out I trashed two ligaments and the meniscus. That right, I sat on the couch for 2 months with a train wreck in my knee just gritting my teeth and not being able to sleep at night....guess you could say I kind of fell through the cracks in the medical care 'system'.

In mid-May while going through some of my old stuff I found a box containing my bug collection from that fondly spent summer of 2000. On a whim I look up KVTU's website and see that the camp is in fact still occurring and is scheduled for the second week of July this year. I shoot off a couple emails and pretty soon I am signed up as a hopes that my knee injury is only minor and I can make it to the camp.

Weeks fly by. I get my diagnosis and some pain meds but never take them because I have gotten this far without them. The pain is excruciating at times but tolerable at others. The workers comp insurance company wants to try PT before agreeing to orthoscopic surgery. A good friend of mine is in charge of the PT department at the hospital and after reviewing my file admits there is not much he can do. He tries some joint manipulation techniques that help move the floating pieces away from the tender bits.

Pretty soon it is the week before the trout camp and I asked my PT friend if I can go. He says to take it easy but he said it should be do able. He reminds me to take breaks while driving to prevent the joint from stiffening up too much.....I don't bother telling him that I am not driving....I am taking my 2007 KLR 650....

Here she is in all her glory. Prepped for a trip involving a retired redleg and torrential rains.....but that is another story....

redneckdan 07-14-2011 09:09 PM

Day 1
Today is Friday July 8th 2011. I hardly slept last night. Whether it was due to pre ride gitters or the lightning bolts of pain shooting up and down my left leg is debatable. My alarm finally goes off at six am. I have been awake for hours but wouldn't allow myself to get up and start my journey in the dark. Too much danger from unseen deer, otherwise known as road rats in this part of the country.

I had packed the bike last night. My load is a small as I can make it. I am carrying both camping gear and trout fishing gear. Along with the basic tools and spare parts one should possess for extended rides from home. This results in quite a load. About as much as I can possibly pack into the saddle bags and onto the rear rack. I am thankful that I chose the mid weight spring from Top Gun Motorcycles when I redid my rear shock a couple years ago.

I have hardly ridden my bike at all this year. Less than 200 miles on it since winter, I am heading out to do five times that in the span of a week. I had done some mods including a thermo bob. I am running a half burnt up k760 in the rear and a stocker front. I downloaded some maps including the VV mapping base maps and the UPAT routes in hopes that I can do some trail riding on the way back. I have constructed a carefully planned route to avoid the interstate once I get into the lower peninsula.

I get up, get dressed and do one final preflight on the bike before departing. My wife snaps this picture on my way out the door.

I have a heaviness in my stomach that won't seem to go away.....whether that is from nerves or last nights dinner of brats and sauerkraut remains to be seen....

Naq 07-15-2011 09:35 AM

Looking forward to the rest. I grew up fly fishing and tying as well. Helping kids learn and increasing their interest sounds great! Your knee issues on the other hand sound awful.

redneckdan 07-15-2011 10:39 AM

Day 1 part 2
First stop is at Sturgeon Gorge road side park near Alberta, Michigan. 50 miles down, many more to go.

As I pull my helmet off I inhale the heavy aroma of a humid morning in a northern pine forest. This takes me back to fond memories of years gone by.....

<o:p> </o:p>
My wife Jen and I were wed here at Sturgeon Gorge on Sunday May 6, 2007…..05/06/07 incase you didn’t notice. No we didn’t plan it that way. My mother actually noticed the date coincidence a few days before the ceremony.
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Seems like a long time ago even though it has been mere years. Many friends have moved on since then. Many relationships have changed. Some better….some not so much….
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I take a quick look over the bike for obvious loose parts of vital importance. Nothing is evident. I always worry about bike mechanical issues. I am not sure what I can do about it. It is probably from knowing what can go horribly wrong.
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A quick morning constitutional helps clear my head…..among other things….
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Back on the road again.
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I am soon passed, make that buzzed, by two riders, one on a Barbie KLR 650 and another on what looked to be a candy apple red SV 650. They had to be doing well over 70. I am pretty sure I saw an ADV sticker so who ever you are FYYFF!!! I tried to catch up but with the giant sail on the back and the very sluggish handling I soon came to my senses.
<o:p> </o:p>
I ride on.

redneckdan 07-15-2011 10:44 AM

Day 1 Part 3
I stop at a senic turn out on the east side of Marquette. My load which started out too far forward and has crept closer to my back. I am wearing a small day pack which only exacerbates the problem.
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After a full unload, repack and test ride the load is better but I can still feel the pack brushing against it. It will have to do for now. My knee has been worse before but is by no means pain free. I was prescribed vicodin a couple weeks ago but avoid taking it while riding. Come to think of it, I havenít taken it at all yet. I stand in Lake Superiors balmy 48 F waters for a few minutes until everything mid thigh and below is totally numb.

<o:p> </o:p>

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At this point I notice that my tire is wearing considerably faster than I anticipated. I did not take a starting photo but I can just about swear that an 1/8Ē of tire has disappeared in the last 100 miles. I am starting to wonder if this skin will make it all the way.

<o:p> </o:p>
Little did I know the trouble waiting ahead for meÖ.
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bikerfish 07-15-2011 01:52 PM

excellent!! I pack a fly rod on most trips. looks like you need to get a 3 or 4 piece though and ditch that big tube!!
you riding through some bad neighborhoods with that gun strapped to ya?

redneckdan 07-15-2011 02:14 PM

A 4 piece 2 or 3 wt is on my list of things to acquire.

Nope, just another tool. Like a GPS unit or a lighter. Never know when it may come in handy.

Fireman1000 07-15-2011 07:26 PM

Looking forward to the rest.

redneckdan 07-15-2011 07:32 PM

Day 1 Part 4
I stop at a road side park in Germfask, Michigan to give my knee a break. I lay out on the grass for a bit and doze off. I awake in about an hours time and give the bike a once over. I notice that the oil is a bit low but the coolant expansion bottle is remarkably low. The coolant bottle read empty in the indicator window, pulling the cover off showed about a 1/4" left in the bottom. A quick inspection reveals that the hose clamp on the top end of the by pass hose for the thermobob was not sufficiently tightened when I installed it. Try as I might I am unable to tighten the clamp with the tank on the bike.

This picture was taken at a later date. At the time I discovered the leak the whole hose was damp with coolant dripping out of the connection. The clamp in question is at the very top, center of the picture.

I am forced with a decision. Do I ride on and hope it doesn’t fail catastrophically or do I stay here and spend a couple hours fixing it? I am pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The nearest auto parts store to my knowledge is about 100 miles in either direction. But I have the tools, parts, protection from the sun and most importantly access to clean water in case the repair goes bad resulting in the loss of all my coolant. I decide to tear it down.

A gratuitous picture of KL-caRnage

In the back ground you can see my riding pants laying where I took a snooze.

About halfway through the repair an older couple from Texas with their air stream trailer stop by and check on me. I say that everything is okay but they still hang around for over an hour until it looks like the repair is mostly completed. The man checks in several times to make sure everything is going okay. This is not the first time that a Texan has offered help during a break down. Is everyone that friendly in Texas??

Finally I get the bike back together. I hook up a bike IV with my camelbak rigged up beer bong style. I scribble notes in several places in my maintenance log to be sure to triple check the coolant rating before winter. The bike is stored inside but you never know. Chalk it up to mechanical 'what-ifs' I guess.

I repack the bike, again, this time positioning the load even further back in hopes of more cockpit room.

After a refill of water and a handful of GORP it is time to get back on the road.

The weather is getting hotter......I hate hot....
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redneckdan 07-15-2011 07:37 PM

Day 1 Part 5
I decide to stop along Lake Michigan. The repack of the load at germfask is somewhat better than what I did in Marquette but my back still feels cramped. I decide to lay down on the warm sand for a while and take a snooze. The scenery is impressive, especially compared to where I am from. I'm sure that Lake Michigan's 75F water as compared to Lake Superiors 48F has something to do with that. No pictures though, don't want to seem like a creeper this early in the ride.:lol3

The bike is running good. No more coolant leaks.
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Til next time…..

redneckdan 07-15-2011 07:39 PM

Day 1 Part 6
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redneckdan 07-16-2011 09:50 AM

I finally make it to a place to camp. I end up at the Canoe Harbor state forest campground. Here is a link to some information on the Mason Tract if you have never heard of it before.

First order of business is getting a fire going to cook dinner. Usually I search out natural tinder and do it right. This time I am so hungry I rip the trioxane tablets out of my survival kit and just pile sticks, limbs and logs on top of them. Lady luck smiles on me and the lighter that has been bouncing around in my tool kit for about 10,000 miles catches on the first strike. I break up a brick of ramen noodles into my coffee pot, toss in the seasoning and some water. While that concoction boils I start setting up he rest of my camp.

It is a pretty spacious location. I picked this site because of the number of trees for hanging my hammock. This is my first trip where I use the hammock for primary shelter. It packs smaller than a tent/sleeping pad/rain fly. There is a 10'x10' square of tyvek wrapped around my sleeping bag to protect it fraom rain/road grit and double as a rain shelter at night. You can see it here on the ground behind the picnc table.

Here is a view from the other side.

Dinner consists of the ramen noodles and a can of alaskan pink salmon. Sounds good at first but the texture later seems a bit unappetizing. I eat the noodles and about half the salmon. The rest goes into the woods for the raccoons.

I finish setting up the camp. I am less than a quarter mile from some of the best trout fishing in lower Michigan but my knee is throbbing so severely I don't think I could make the distance even if I crawled it.

I start fiddling with my gear to make things more space efficient.

I have dropped my bike a couple times in the past and once broke the nub off the end of my clutch lever. Two years later I still haven't swapped it out for a new one but I do now carry a spare. Usually it rides in my tire inflation kit but I decided I'd try tapping it to the left front crash guard. I add a small zip tie for back up. I am not totally sold on this location yet. I may try finding a spot somewhere on the frame under the plastics.

The tire has worn since I last looked at it. This morning the twin knobs had a definite division between them, at least a 1/8" deep. Now they are just a solid bar across the tire. I wonder how thick the carcass is after the knobs disappear? I may be running a semi-slick by the time I get back home.

I spend the rest of the night sitting by the fire and drinking water to rehydrate. My camelbak ran dry about an hour south of the bridge and I never stopped to refill it.

I go to be early and watch the sun set from the mosquito free comfort of my hammock. The NOAA weather station on my 2 meter calls for a clear night and I don't both putting up the tyvek tarp. It is noisy as hell anyway. I take a couple Tylenol PM to help with the knee pains and getting to sleep.

I wake up several times during the night as people come and go to the river in search of trout. I wake up at about 3 in the morning to the sounds of something rustling in the bushes. Shinning my head lamp in the direction reveals a fawn white tail deer finishing up the remains of that can of pink salmon. Whatever floats your boat I guess. If you are ever in the area and see a deer chest deep in the river chasing trout you can blame it on me.

redneckdan 02-13-2012 09:52 AM

Day 2 Part 1
I wake up bright and early. I snacked on a few handle fulls of trail mix and some water while looking over my map to figure out what to do today.

I suited up and went down to the river at the canoe camp. As soon as I step into the water I relalize the neoprene on one of the stocking feet attached to my waders has sprung a leak....a big within a minute my whole leg is full of stream water. :huh Oh well, I tied on a grass hopper and proceed to land 3 decent sized brown trout before snapping that fly off in a snag.

I decided to go check out some of the spots my father and I used to fish before I went to college. I haven't been down in this area in almost 10 years.

This is Cameron Bridge Road. Lovely little canoe and fishing access point on the Manistee River.

Most of the roads around here are mixed sand and gravel. Some spots softer than others.

This is after I put the kick stand down on a big rock.

Here is the access at mancelonia road. I hooked into a very large trout just up stream of here. That one managed to break off in a beaver snag.

I enjoyed an afternoon of spirited riding and then went to go visit a friend.

Before leaving for this trip I managed to contact an old friend from my childhood days in south east michigan. He had moved around a few times working as a civilian contactor and then settled in the grayling area.

After a few hours of shooting the bull we decided on a evening float trip between stephens bridge and parmalee road.

Here is Mike fishing a fish structure about a mile below stephan's bridge.

Mike's Ausable river boat and faithful fish dog.

We manged to fish about half way down the river before night fall. We navigated the rest of the river in darkness and despite my best efforts, ie flashing the light in Mikes face and paddling us into sweepers, we made it safe and sound. Mike is happy to take people out fishing, you just have to help cover the costs like gas money and flies. If you are interested give a holler and I can set you up.

I manged to strain my bad knee pretty good. I took a vicodin and went to sleep. I had put the tyvek tarp up since the NOAA radio forecasted light showers over night. they were right and the light rain on tyvek sounded like squirrels chucking acorns at a tin roof.

Mike92 02-13-2012 10:43 AM

I am still laughing at my mental picture of the deer chasing the trout! I am in awe of your part of the country. My wife and I drove through there one time years ago. I would someday like to return on a bike.

PSJ 02-13-2012 11:22 AM

great story ! sucks about the knee though.. :puke1

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