2011 Continental Divide Trail Ride
2011 Continental Divide Ride
(Boise, ID to Antelope Wells, NM)
For the last four years, I have been thinking about riding the Continental Divide Trail. I began reading up on it; mostly from ride reports in this form, but there are also other good sources of information elsewhere on the Web. Among the many resources available from which to glean information about this ride, I found the following to be most helpful in learning about and planning this trip. They contain a wealth of detailed information about the ride, maps, GPS tracks, important waypoints, etc. The CD put out by Dave Steven (230+ pages of descriptive text, useful suggestions and recommendations, pictures and maps in both a PDF and MS Word format) is most helpful.
1. BigDogAdventures.com (2005) http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=108842
2. Cannonshot (2010) http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=603076
3. Dave Steven (2006) http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=112968
4. Kevin Naser & Jim Lamm (2005) http://www.twotaildog.com/Motorcycli...vide_Intro.htm
5. Jaco Hamman (2009) http://www.jacohamman.com/ContinentalDivide.htm
6. Adventure Cycling Association Route Summaries: http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/greatdivide.cfm
7. Dan Moore (2008) http://www.dantmoore3.com/continental-divide
8. Michael McCoy (Paperback — Jun 1, 2000)Cycling the Great Divide: From Canada to Mexico on America’s Premier Long Distance Mountain Bike Route
9. Frank Clifford (Paperback – May 13, 2003) The Backbone of the World: A Portrait of the Vanishing West Along the Continental Divide
The Continental Divide Trail began as The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in 1998 by the Adventure Cycling Association based in Missoula, Montana. It encompasses 80 percent dirt and gravel roads, 10 percent paved roads, and 10 percent single-track trails, and extends from Banff, BC, Canada, to Antelope Wells, NM, on the US-Mexican border. The motorized version of this trail in essentially identical, except for routing around the non-motorized single-track sections, of which there are not many.
Reliable maps are essential in doing this trail, even with GPS routes/tracks. The Adventure Cycling Association puts out detailed maps of the route with annual updates that are second to none. I chose instead to use Benchmark Maps for the states involved (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico). Using Michael McCoy’s detailed description of the route in his book, Cycling the Great Divide, coupled with the GPS tracks from the sources above, I highlighted the entire route onto the Benchmark maps, which I then disassembled (removed the binding staples). I selected only the pages for the route which I arranged sequentially placing them a large map case (Atlas Case by Cyco Active) that I attached to my tank bag by Velcro in place of the smaller map case. This way I could view the whole Benchmark map page without folding it, and it allowed me to reassemble the individual pages back into their respective state map books at the end of the trip.
After several planning meetings held over the course of last winter, our initial group of about 10 interested participants ended up with only 3 of us going – Jim Carney, Lowell Mannering, and myself (Craig Olsen). We elected to leave later in July; hopefully to miss some of the rainy season in New Mexico and the snow pack over the high mountain passes in Colorado. We were fortunate on both accounts encountering no snow covered roads and no muddy impassible roads from rain that others have described in their ride reports.
We chose to ride from south to north since we would end the ride closer to home, Boise, Idaho. We also omitted the Canadian portion of the ride, going only from Antelope Wells, NM, to the US-Canadian border near Roosville, BC.
We stayed in motels – credit card camping instead of tent camping. It was nice to have a hot shower and a comfortable bed at the end of a long day of riding, and it allowed us to travel lighter (no need to carry camping gear); but it had the disadvantage of forcing us to keep on a schedule which proved to have its drawbacks as pointed out later.
I was riding my KTM 990, Jim was on his KTM 950, and Lowell was on his KLR 650. Jim and I had on Pirelli Scorpion dual-sport tires to get us to the beginning of our official route. Lowell had on knobby dirt tires (DOT approved for highway), and we all carried a fresh set of knobbies that we would change to somewhere along the route.
We left July 18th, and the first two and a half days and 1,207 miles were spent getting to the start of our ride, Antelope Wells, NM. The first night was spent in Moab, UT. Just after we checked into our motel, the rains descended in a torrent, but let us by the time we went to dinner at Moab Brewery where they have an interestingly ceiling, decorated with things that you can do in Moab for fun.
As we left the next morning, the sun was shining the rim rock around Moab was beautiful.
Further south on Hwy 191 near the Utah-Arizona border we encountered this unusual rock formation like a keyhole.
Prior to leaving Boise, there had been some concern that Hwy 191 south of Alpine would be closed due to fires in the region, but by the time we got there, the road through to Clifton was open. This segment of highway is filled with 100 miles of twisty turns, many of which are posted 10 MPH, 180-degree hairpins that puts nothing but a big grin on your face. Sorry, no pictures of the road – we were too busy leaning into turns and rolling on the throttle. The few pictures we did take through this section show the clouds (threatening rain) and the series of mountain ranges seen from Hannagan Meadows Lookout.
The copper mine at Morenci is most impressive and colorful.
Lordsburg, NM, was the destination for lodging our second day out. It is 1,115 miles from Boise, ID, to Lordsburg, NM (571 miles the first day and 544 miles the second day).
2011 Continental Divide Trail Ride (Part II)
2011 Continental Divide Ride
(Antelope Wells, NM to Chama, NM)
The next day we had an approximate 90-mile ride south through the Playas Valley to Antelope Wells where we officially began out the CDT ride. Here we are at the US port of entry. The border official there was very talkative, and he kindly took our picture. Evidently this border crossing gets very little daily traffic, and so we were the high light of his day.
Despite the inactivity at this border crossing, our government is building a $15 million new port of entry shown here all for an average of 8 vehicles passing through per day. On a busy day they have up to 12 vehicles.
About 40 miles north of Antelope Wells is the community of Hachita where we did find gas available, although at about $5.50 per gallon. The Saint Catherine of Siena Catholic Church was originally built in the 1930’s by the WPA as a schoolhouse. The bell tower was added much later, and in 1982 it was dedicated by Bishop Ramirez. (http://www.southernnewmexico.com/Articles/Southwest/Hildago/HachitasSaintCatherineofS.html ).
Our destination on the first official day of our route was Silver City, NM. There was a light rain as we pulled into town and found our hotel in the mid afternoon. We spent the next couple hours changing the dual sport tires on our bikes with the knobby off-road tires we had carried from Boise with us. I brought both a front (Dunlop 606) and rear (Dunlop 908) knobby to replace my nearly worn out Pirelli Scorpions while Jim brought only a front knobby. On second thought, Jim decided to replace his rear with a knobby which he purchased the next morning from the local KTM dealer. Lowell brought both a front and rear knobby with him, but his current knobby tires were still in good condition. He ended up carrying his new knobby tires the entire trip without needing to change them.
Not far out of Silver City, NM, is Fort Bayard established in 1866 to protect the gold and silver mining communities of Pinos Altos and Silver City, NM. In 1976 its post cemetery was designated as a National Cemetery that continues to be used ( http://www.southernnewmexico.com/Articles/Southwest/Grant/AbriefhistoryofFortBayard.html ).
A short distance east of Fort Bayard on FR 73 is the ghost town of Georgetown (http://www.georgetowncabins.com/history.aspx ) well worth a visit.
North of Silver City on FR 150 I had my first mishap in a switch back when my front wheel washed in loose dirt. No harm was done.
Not 20 miles further on the same road I had my second mishap – a flat rear tire from a pin hole friction rub at a fold in the inner tube that resulted from not overinflating the heavy duty tube to about 60 PSI to properly seat the tube when I had changed the rear tire the previous day. I had only inflated the inner tube to 40 PSI prior to lowering it to 30-32 PSI to run dirt. In the heavy duty Moose inner tube this left a small fold in the tube that gradually wore a pin hole as the tube rubbed upon itself.
Not long after the Beaverhead Work Center on FR 551 we encountered this large herd of elk grazing in a meadow. Note the abundance of the white poppy flowers that was prevalent in this area.
At an elevation of 6,970 feet, the town of Quemado is named for the Spanish word for “burned.” When Jose Antonio Padilla settled by a creek east of the present town in 1880, he found that the Indians had burned the surrounding brush, so he named it Rito Quemado. This town with a population of about 250 is unincorporated and functions as the primary service center for the ranchers and town residents in the area ( http://www.swproperties.com/new-mexico-info.html ). It was our destination at the end of day two of our official route. We stayed at the Alegre Motel, one of only two in town.
At this point in our trip, Lowell was not feeling comfortable keeping up with Jim and me on the dirt, a pace needed to keep on schedule with our motel reservations; so he opted to ride an alternate paved route, and he met up with us each evening at our motel. He ended up traveling greater distances each day than we did, and he saw more and different scenery than we did.
The next morning we had pie of course at the Pie Town Café in Pie Town, NM, about 20 miles east of Quemado on US Hwy 60. Pie Town sits just east of the continental divide at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet. It is a favorite of those doing the CDT, and has an interesting history worth reading ( http://www.pietowncouncil.com/pie_town_history.html ; http://www.pietown.com/ ).
Traveling along in Zuni Canyon (FR 49) just south of Grants, NM, we passed this wooden fence, which stretched for nearly a mile.
Northeast of Grants on coming of FR 239 we encountered our first closed but not locked gate. It appeared to be the private entrance into a ranch. It was not marked “no trespassing,” but rather than deal with the owners, we made a short 1.5-2 mile detour around via CR-75 and then back onto the CDT route at CR-19 (FR 556 on the Benchmark map). Shortly after turning onto CR-19, Cerro Alesna (elevation 8,064 feet) came into view. This unusual volcanic peak sits on private land owned by the Lee Ranch Coal Company ( http://www.summitpost.org/cerro-alesna/468945 ).
The route through this area crosses some ranches and community cattle grazing land with cattle-guards and unlocked gates that should be left as they are found (i.e. left open or left closed after passing through). Shortly after Cerro Alesna Peak, we came to this old homestead with rock building and some rock walls.
The road is predominately dirt and winds back and forth through numerous arroyos, the majority of which are dry, but a few have standing water in them. It was turning down into one of the dry ones that I had my third incident – another tip over when my front wheel again washed out in the soft deep dirt. I broke my right mirror and front turn signal in the landing (sorry, no pictures of the crash). The latter was easily fixed, and I relied on my left mirror thereafter. We concluded that this section of the trail would be treacherous, if not completely impassible, during or after a rainstorm.
Coming out of one of these arroyos you will find this signature rock dating to 1894 and signed by Gorge Archuleta.
Cuba, NM, was our destination for day 3 of our CDT ride, and we stayed at the Cuban Lodge Motel where we met up with Lowell again.
Prior to leaving on this trip, we had been concerned about road closures east of Cuba along the CDT due to the Las Conchas forest fire near Los Alamos, which started June 26<sup>th</sup> when an aspen tree fell during stong winds into a power line causing the lines to arc (
http://nmfireinfo.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/investigators-determine-cause-of-las-conchas-fire/ ). Approximately a 40-mile segment of the CDT was closed for several weeks beginning east of Cuba on state Hwy 26 to country road 189 south of Abiquiu, NM. This turned out to be the largest fire in New Mexico’s history, and burned over 156,000 acres of land before it was finally contained on August 2<sup>nd</sup> ( http://www.kasa.com/dpps/weather/wildfires/las-conchas-fire-fully-contained_3900999 ).
Because of the road closures along the CDT, we diverted around on state Hwy 96 to US Hwy 84 into Abiquiu, NM, where we picked up the CDT again. Along Hwy 96 we passed our first of many bicyclists doing the CDT (about 12 in this group, some of whom were pulling bobs, going north to south). Near the junction of state Hwy 96 and US Hwy 84 we came upon Abiquiu Reservoir, which was a refreshing oasis in a very dry surrounding.
In Abiquiu we took a break to enjoy some ice cream at this little stand just off the main highway.
Just north of El Rito on CR-247 we encountered our first group of motorcyclists doing the CDT. They were originally a group of about 7 riders on smaller bikes coming north to south. On about the 2<sup>nd</sup> day of their ride, one in their group went down and broke his leg thus ending his ride. I believe another had to leave their group early due to prior commitments, thus they were down to 5 riders. We talked for several minutes exchanging stories and advice about what to expect up ahead, but we failed to get any pictures of them. In our entire route on the CDT we only encountered three other groups (two in Colorado and one in Wyoming very near the Idaho border just south of Yellowstone National Park) doing the CDT on motorcycles. We both thought there would be more riders doing this trail.
Further north on FR 91B just south of US Hwy 64 we came upon this quaint abandoned homestead in a picturesque narrow mountain valley at an elevation of about 9,000 feet. I can imagine the winters were hard to bare, and that may explain in part why it was abandoned.
The section of the CDT north of US Hwy 64 and the Colorado-New Mexico border proved to the most technical and difficult for us in New Mexico if not on the entire trip. There were two steep, rocky downhill segments from 1/8<sup>th</sup> to ¼<sup>th</sup> mile each (uphill if you are going north to south) that were a real handful on a fully loaded big dual-sport bike. Sorry, we did not get any pictures; we were too busy keeping from crashing.
Between these two rocky segments, Jim had his second incident, a slow speed tip over when his engine killed going through a water bar. The first was on US Hwy 191 in Apache and Sitgreaves National Forest when he stopped on unlevel ground by the side of the road to put his kickstand down, and his foot did not reach the ground. We have all been there and done that.
The northern section of the New Mexico portion of the CDT empties out just north of Cumbres Pass (elevation 10,020 feet) on state Hwy 17 in Colorado. Since our destination for day 4 was Chama, NM, we headed south and took these pictures of the old Cumbres Pass Station House ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumbres_Pass ).
In Chama we met up again with Lowell at the Elk Horn Lodge, and had dinner that evening and breakfast the next morning at the Elk Horn Café.
2011 Continental Divide Trail Ride (Part III)
2011 Continental Divide Ride
(Chama, NM to the Steamboat Springs, CO)
The next morning as we headed north back over Cumbes Pass, we were treated to the passage of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad that still operates today as a historic narrow gauge heritage railroad between Charma, NM, and Antonito, CO ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumbres...cenic_Railroad ). The sights and sounds were right of the 1880’s.
On FR 250 between Platoro and Stunner Pass (elevation 10, 451 feet) you will find this mountain (for which I could find no name) that is devoid of all vegetation on its southern slopes as though it had been mined.
On FR 330, at the turn off to Grayback Mountain (elevation 12,616 feet), is Indiana Pass. At an elevation of 11,910 feet, it is the highest point on the CDT though this pass is not on the Continental Divide.
Just North of Del Norte at the Municipal and County Airport we encountered our next detour. CR-23 connecting to FR 665 just past the airport has been plowed out and a fence placed across it. We diverted onto CR-374 that joined state Hwy 112 to CR-38A (a distance of about 2 miles) where we rejoined the CDT.
Marshall Pass (elevation 10,842 feet) is located on FR 243 between Sargents and Poncha Springs, NM. It is on the Continental Divide and is one of the 29 times we crossed the divide on this trail. Near the pass we encountered a large area of downed trees, perhaps flattened from a microburst.
A little further on this road we encountered a tunnel of trees (quacken aspen and pine trees) resembling Aspen Alley in southern Wyoming.
Salida, CO, was our destination for day 5 of our route. We stayed at the Super 8 on West Rainbow Blvd, and had dinner at Wallbanger’s Sport Bar (recommendation of the desk clerk). The restaurant provides a free shuttle van to and from the motel and their restaurant. We took advantage of it not because we drink, but because we were tired of riding any further that day.
The next day (Monday) I tried a few of the motorcycle shops to see if I could get a replacement mirror for the right one I broke off in New Mexico; but alas, all the motorcycle shops are closed on Mondays – a situation we found to be the case in Utah, New Mexico and now Colorado. Giving that up, we took a little side trip up Tenderfoot Hill on the east side of Salida. From the observation deck at the top of the stairs where we parked our bikes we got a spectacular view of the city and surrounding area.
Off in the distance is this lone high-rise brick smokestack, one of the last remaining artifacts of the Salida smelter. It was built in 1917 and stands 365 feet high. The smokestack was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 ( http://salidamuseum.org/history/salida-smokestack/ ).
About 15-20 miles north of Salida, CO, we came to our first significant water crossing, Badger Creek on CR-18. This is Jim going through after I had gone through.
South of Hartsel, CO, CR-53 on the CDT runs through wide-open plains of rolling hills for several miles. There are virtually no buildings and no fences at all. All the side roads, even two-tracks lanes, have street signs. In this vast empty space there was a pickup and a small trailer home, probably a ranch hand tending a herd of cattle. There was also a motorboat on a trailer, which seemed so out of place. We wondered where on earth he would use the motorboat. Later we learned there are two reservoirs within 15-20 miles, Spinney Mountain and Eleven Mile Canyon Reservoirs, where he probably used the boat.
Not long after Hartsel, CO, you cross US Hwy 285 and come into the small unincorporated town of Como. Despite having a population of about 500, it has more the feeling of a ghost town. It is a historic mining settlement founded in 1859 during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. It became a railroad center with a roundhouse (still standing) in 1879 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Como,_Colorado ; http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/como.html ). Como is the gateway to Boreas Pass from the south. Heading up FR 33 to the pass from Como, you will pass Mt. Silverheels (elevation 13,822 feet) to the southwest.
At the top of Boreas Pass (elevation 11,481 feet), snowfields are still visible on Boreas Mountain (elevation 13,082 feet).
Descending Boreas Pass into Breckenridge is one of the prettiest segments of the CDT with lush meadows filled with colorful flowers.
The historic Bakers Tank stands next to the road, which is built along the old narrow gauge railroad bed. This tank served to restock coal-fed steam locomotives with water that pulled trains over Boreas pass.
Kremmling, CO, our day 7 destination, was far less crowed and quieter than Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne through which we passed to get there. The next morning in the parking lot of our motel, the Cliff Side Inn, I encountered my next incident – another flat rear tire, this time from a nail that I must have picked up coming into Kremmling the previous day. Changing the tube delayed our departure by about an hour.
About 25-30 miles west of Kremmling we crossed Rock Creek while on FR 206. This is the deepest water crossing on the CDT. Coming from south to north on the trail, be sure to take the left side of the cross. Even with that the water was over the top of my raised front fender within about 3-4 inches of entering my air box.
If you take the right hand side, there is a steep bank coming up the west side of the ford that would be nearly impossible to make, and is shown in the second of the next two pictures. The first one shows our tracks coming out of the west side of the ford after taking the left fork. My tracks are in the middle, which is the deeper portion of this ford, and Jim’s are to the right where it is a little shallower. You can easily avoid this deep-water crossing by staying on state Hwy 134 thus bypassing this 4-5 miles segment of the CDT.
We stopped in Steamboat Springs, CO, for lunch, and visited Steamboat Powersports on the outskirts of town where I was finally able to replace my broken right mirror and Jim picked up some chain lube.
2011 Continental Divide Trail Ride (Part IV)
2011 Continental Divide Ride
(Steamboat Springs, CO to Island Park, ID)
We continued north on CR-129 past Steamboat Lake and followed the Colorado-Wyoming border west to state Hwy 70 and then northeast to FR 801 that took us through Aspen Alley. It was getting late and raining. We learned from a local BLM agent that an insect born disease had been killing many of the aspen in the region, and as a result, Aspen Alley is not nearly as spectacular as it has been in past years. Here is Jim going through Aspen Alley.
Our destination on day 8 was Rawlins, WY, and we still had a long way to go as night was falling upon us. Thirteen miles south of Rawlins, Jim had his 3<sup>rd</sup> incident; he ran out of gas even after each of us used the extra 6 liters of gas we carried with us. It was past 9:00 PM and pitch black with no sign of civilization in view. I was on reserve but felt I had enough gas to make it to Rawlins, fill up and come back with extra gas for Jim. When I filled up in Rawlins, it took 4.9 gallons on a 5.0-gallon tank. By the time I returned to Jim with extra gas for him and we got into our motel (Super 8), it was a little after 10:00 PM. Fortunately, Lowell was thinking of us and arranged take-out meals for us from a nearby restaurant that closed by 9:00 PM.
The next morning our bikes were pretty dirty from riding in the rain the previous day. I had my two rear tubes patched at a tire dealership in the event I had another flat.
From Rawlins, WY, we were off into the Great Divide Basin, a 3,600-square-mile geographic conundrum where waters drain neither west to the Pacific nor east to the Atlantic. Rather, they drain inward, wither to soon evaporate or settle into temporary lakes. We found it to be the emptiest, driest long stretches of the CDT. A little over half way through it, I stopped at this junction to wait for Jim so that he would make the correct turn to follow me.
Just before starting out again at the above junction, I commented to Jim that I sure would hate to be out here on a bicycle. It was not 5 minutes later down the road we came across this fellow from England, all by himself doing the CDT headed south. We gave him some of our water because it was so far to the next available water, and he readily accepted.
Just before reaching the Sweewater River, we came to this marker for the Seminoe Cutoff, an alternate route of the Oregon and Mormon trails that stayed south of the river to South Pass ( http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdemo/seminoecutoff.htm ). The wagon ruts are still visible along this alternate route. Wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail in this area are also readily visible.
After crossing the Sweetwater River on FR 2317, we detoured to the Willies Handcart Company Monument, where youth for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints re-enact the Mormon pioneer handcart crossing of the plains each summer ( http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/trailsdem...eshandcart.htm ; http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vg...____&hideNav=1 ).
View of the Sweetwater River to the east at the FR 2317 bridge.
View of the Sweetwater River to the west at the FR 2317 bridge.
This is an example of one of the Mormon pioneer handcarts replicated at the Willies Handcart Company Monument. You get there by taking CR-511 about 3 miles back to the east off of FR 2317 (CR-22).
From the Handcart Memorial it was on to the Atlantic City, WY, where we found this historic B&B ( http://www.minersdelightinn.com/index.htm ) where some riding the CDT have stayed.
Pinedale, WY, was the destination for day 9 of our CDT ride. Coming into Pinedale on CR-118 you will see this magnificent vista of the Wind River Mountain Range to the north.
The next morning we headed north from Pinedale to US Hwy 26, past Moran Junction and into Grand Teton National Park. At Flagg Ranch, we turned west onto FR 261, which crosses the Grassy Lake Dam where we met our last group of riders on dual-sports doing the CDT from the north.
Ashton, ID, was our day 10 destination, and we arrived there with time to spare. That allowed us to wash our bikes. We had gone through a road construction area of several miles length earlier in the day that was using calcium chloride to keep the dust down. This coated the lower part of our bikes with this chemical that has the potential to pit aluminum surfaces if allowed to dry and left in contact.
This is what Dr. Gregory Frazier has to say (in an article about riding in Alaska) on the effects of calcium chloride on your motorcycle and riding gear ( http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/284/4574/Motorcycle-Article/Dr—Frazier-Rides-Deadhorse-Alaska.aspx ).
Some of the gravel sections are composed with calcium chloride, nasty stuff for leather and motorcycle engine parts. I have some still fried onto my engine after 10 years and numerous washings because I waited until returning to the Lower 48 before seriously cleaning the motorcycle. To avoid a similar unwanted powder coating, stop in Fairbanks at a power car wash after coming off the Haul Road and blow off not only your motorcycle but also the clothes and boots you are wearing.
The extra time in Ashton also allowed me to address a minor problem I had with my bike since we left Boise 12 days earlier. At higher highway speeds, I noted that my engine power was intermittently cutting out as though it were starved for fuel. I suspected this was due to clogged fuel filters, which is a known problem with the fuel-injected KTM 990 ( http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=585356 ; http://boardreader.com/thread/Yes_or...9fo2X9wbo.html ). I had had this problem once before at about 24,000 miles on my odometer. I corrected it by washing the filters in kerosene and toluene, which worked very well. During the earlier part of this trip, I corrected the problem by adding Seafoam (active ingredient is kerosene) and B-12 Chemtool (active ingredient is toluene) on 1 or 2 occasions. Again, this worked well, and I did not have problems until the last 20 miles coming into Ashton.
I removed the fuel pump located inside the left gas tank, dissembled it, and washed the 2 filters (pre and post pump) in B-12 Chemtool that I purchased at an auto parts store in Ashton.
The other significant thing that happened in Ashton, ID, that evening is that several other riders who had been in on our earlier planning sessions for this ride, but who could not participate due to schedule conflicts, joined us from Boise to complete the Montana portion of this ride.
The next morning we headed east out of Ashton on state Hwy 47 to visit Upper Mesa Falls on Henrys Fork of the Snake River.
As the day wore on, I learned another vital lesson. There is much to be said for the rhythm and routine a smaller, cohesive group of riders get into when riding together for several days. With the others from Boise joining us, that all went away. It was literally like herding cats – one wanted to go this way, another wanted to go that way, and there was no unanimity of purpose in the ride. Shortly after visiting Upper Mesa Falls, we split up into two groups with the only thing in common being that we would meet that evening in Butte, MT.
Three of us stuck to the original plan to ride the CDT, and a little while later we were just west of the Sawtell Mountain Resort on FR 455 were I met this cyclist from Wisconson pulling a bob on the CDT.
A short while later, I encountered incident number 5 that temporarily ended my CDT ride on July 29th. On a two-track road (FR 455) we came to the only locked gate encountered on the entire CDT. You could get around the gate by taking a detour between two trees. So many had done this previously, there was a well-worn narrow path around the gate. We needed to take our panniers off in order to get between the trees. With my side-stand down and shifting my weight to the left peg in order to dismount the bike, the side-stand broke. This disabled the side-stand safety switch preventing me from putting the bike in gear after starting the engine while in neutral. On a KTM 990 there is no easy way to by pass this switch. It takes a specific resistance between the wires of the switch, and we had no access to these resistors in the field.
The area was so remote that we could not get a truck or trailer to where the bike was to haul it out. Brent Niehans, one of the Boise riders who had joined us in Ashton the day before, towed me with his bike (KTM 950) about 4-5 miles back out to US Hwy 20 where I was eventually able to get a U-haul truck into which I loaded my bike to take it back to Boise to fix.
Brent was finally able to catch up with the rest of the riders who were doing pavement only to get to Butte, MT. This he did despite of having a rear flat himself while en route.
Two days later, Jim and Lowell made it to the Canadian border north of Eureka, MT, where they had their picture taken.
2011 Continental Divide Trail Ride (Part V)
2011 Continental Divide Ride
After fixing my bike (KTM 990) that included replacing the in-gas tank fuel filters and replacing my side-stand with along with a special KTM side-stand bypass switch, I returned to finish the Montana portion of the CDT.
(Island Park, ID to Roosville, BC)
I had lined up another rider to complete this ride with me, but he backed out with a better offer a few days prior to departure. My wife, to whom I have been happily married for 38 years, did not want me to go alone, so she offered to go with me. Bless her heart…even though she did not want to ride two-up with me, she drove (Subaru Forester) separately, and we met up each evening at the motel. She monitored my progress from my SPOT messages. She visited several interesting towns, mansions and museums that were not on my CDT route, and generally had a very good time. Here we are sitting in the big chair at Pickel’s Place in Arco, ID, on our way back to the Sawtell Mountain Resort to resume the CDT ride on September 19, 2011.
The next morning I left at 8:30 AM since I had about 300 miles of dirt to travel. It was 30 degree Fahrenheit, and there was frost on the seat of my bike.
I took a little detour up the top of Sawtell Peak about 5-6 miles away. Here it is seen from the resort.
From the top of Sawtell Peak you will see the FAA radar dome and impressive views of the Tetons to the east and the Gravelly Range to the northwest.
A few miles later north on US Hwy 20 and around via FR 053, I was back to the locked gate where my ride had ended 7-1/2 weeks earlier, only this time I was on the other side of the gate.
This is Sawtell Peak seen from further down FR 053 looking south. The FAA radar dome can be seen to the right of the peak.
After crossing into Montana, I came to the Red Rock Lakes, which happens to be one of our 2011 IAMC Challenge Sites ( http://motoidaho.org/node/548 ).
For the most part, I found the dirt and gravel roads in Montana to be among the easiest and fastest to travel along the entire CDT.
Just before coming into Lima, MT, I encountered another solo cyclist from BC, Canada. He was almost 3 weeks into his ride of the CDT. He had started in Banff, BC; but had already ridden his bike 300 miles from his home to get there. We discussed the fact that he would likely be stopped by snow in the Colorado passes. I hope he made it.
Not far to the west of Lima you come to the Medicine Lodge and Old Bannack Roads established in 1862 between Bannack, the territorial capitol of Montana at that time, and Corinne, UT, near where the transcontinental railroad was later established in 1869 ( http://books.google.com/books?id=2PuBxozvcTQC&pg=PA90&lpg=PA90&dq=bannack+ to+corinne+road&source=bl&ots=iSFBIA9-nH&sig=raWHLI98AV5jJV70HGtIVaZSGh8&hl=en&ei=EbGcTt 7RCIbKiQLFr7DpCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&res num=6&ved=0CDAQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=bannack%20to%20c orinne%20road&f=false ).
Between state Hwys 324 and 278 is the town of Bannack, MT. It is on the CDT and is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in Montana. It has a very colorful history ( http://www.legendsofamerica.com/mt-bannack.html ; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bannack,_Montana ). It was made a State Park in the 1950’s ( http://www.bannack.org/ ). One of Bannack’s early prominent citizens, William Andrews Clark, helped establish the Bannack to Corinne road ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_A._Clark ). Bannack is also another of the 2011 IAMC Challenge Sites ( http://motoidaho.org/node/548 ).
Leaving Bannack on the CDT you will ride a series of paved Forest Service roads from state Hwy 278 to state Hwy 43 to arrive at Wise River.
Northeast of Wise River, MT, is Fleecer Ridge with a steep and rocky two-track trail seen as a faint line above to the left above the tree line. Being alone on a fully loaded large bike, I opted not to attempt this most difficult section and skirted around it on the Old Hwy 91 Frontage Road.
You pass under the Milwaukee Road train trestle on Roosevelt Road (paved section of FR 84) coming into Butte, MT, my destination for day 1 on the Montana portion of my CDT ride.
From Basin, MT, northeast of Butte and near Boulder, MT, to Lincoln, MT, the CDT passes through several old mining towns and mill sites, including the Mine Rock on FR 1855 and the Empire Mill Site near Atlantic City.
Prior to the above sites is the little town of Rimini, which lies just south of US Hwy 12 near Helena. There I encountered one of the stranger sites on the entire CDT – a deer with its dead sticking out of a 2<sup>nd</sup> storey window. I guess being hunting season, he felt this was a safer place to be.
From Lincoln, MT, the CDT basically parallels state Hwys 200 and 83 on a series of Forest Service Roads running on either side of these two highways all the way into Columbia Falls, MT, and our destination for day 2 of this portion of the ride. We stayed at the Super 8 in Columbia Heights just across the Flathead River from Columbia Falls. The lobby of this motel has a most impressive collection of game animals.
The next day was about a half-day ride to the Canadian border passing scenic Whitefish and Red Meadow lakes along the way.
The CDT swings east for a short distance along the East Fork of the Flathead River where you will get an impressive view of the Starvation Range Boundary Mountains in Glacier Nation Park. This photo was taken on FR 486 near Trailcreek.
The last segment of the CDT parallels the US-Canadian border along Poverty Flats Road where this photo was taken showing the clear-cut forest demarcating the border.
I took my final border picture at the US Border Eureka Station next to the US port of entry.
That evening, my wife and I celebrated the completion of this ride at the Cimarron Café in Columbia Falls where I had a sirloin steak and baked potato.
We spent the next day touring Glacier National Park by car with the bike taking a well-deserved rest. We stayed at the Port Polson Inn in Polson, MT, with a wonderful view of Flathead Lake from our motel room.
The next day we stayed in Salmon, ID, and the day after that we were back in Boise.
This is a great ride that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the challenge of a multiday ride. It takes careful planning for which I highly recommend a thorough review of the sources listed at the beginning of this ride report.
My hat (or helmet) is off to the cyclists who do this ride. They are the real heroes and heroines of the CDT. It was difficult enough for me on a motorcycle; I don’t think I could make it on a bicycle.
Wow, great ride and report, thanks for taking the time to post this up.
Fun report and great pics, thanks!
Great write-up it has me thinking about doing this route myself.
Outstanding report, Craig. :norton
Great report with lots of good information. :clap
WOW!! I just ran into this report! What a ride, wish I could of gone , this is something i would like to do. Do you have the GPS track for this ride and would you share it with me? hope to see you next summer on a ride, Dutchjohn
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