As an IL farm boy, I have a certain fear of being in the mountains and doing something stupid. Like riding a KLR to a beautiful spot at 10,000 feet…then camping there in September. So when it was snowing pretty good before sun up…I was dreading sunrise a bit. Stover had found this nice snag free camping spot, and it had been a great evening, but when I looked out of my tent….at daybreak, I was more worried.
The snow was coming down pretty hard at that point. So I checked things out, and started to roust the other 2. The KLR is pretty capable, but motorbikes, snow, and steep roads seem like a bad combo. On my last tour with my little brother we got shut down in Yellowstone due to snow, and did not want to repeat that experience.
In the end, the sun came up and it stopped snowing. It was still rather cold though. Since Shep and I had just spent 2 months in Greenland…we had to be tough though in order to save face.
Once we got all dressed up, packed up and wheels turning….the plan was to go down the way we came. We would seek out a warm café and make a new plan over a cup of small town luke warm crappy coffee...(yes I know...I can be high maint.)
Once we got to the road though…we found out that conditions were fine and the little amount of precipitation actually made for SUPER hero traction conditions, and that was good….because most people would question the route finding decisions we made over the coming few hours
I had my Gerbings jacket plugged in and all was comfortable (best invention ever). With the conditions as they were we decided to head uphill the way we had talked about going the night before, and see what happened. I had to switch to thinner gloves as the riding immediately was more then I wanted to do in my puffy winter gloves.
Soon, we were down on a bigger road and started talking to some bow hunters from KS. Nice guys… one of then had a KLR at home. We asked him if he had ever been on the 177 road…AKA the Greenridge trail. He said he had, and something about floating his ATV across the mud holes….last time he was there. That should have been a tip off for us to stay on the big gravel road and enjoy the pretty leaves....but we were on Dual Sport ride after all. I think going for it was the right call, but perhaps taking the right turn that resulted in a 4 hour adventure that only covered 20 miles...vs the quick trip to the next big gravel road.....could have been the wrong choice and I’ll admit , it could have gone awufully bad.
Luckily it went perfect. They had had a rather dry year in the rockies…so the small ponds that frequent the trail were doable on a big fully loaded KLR.
The terrain on the 177 road did keep your attention while riding. I think for a lot of it…I even turned off my music. Mostly though because I wanted to put my overpriced phone/music player in a ziplock for safe keeping away from the muddy depths.
We did dismount a fair amount and "scout the rapids" for keeper holes.
I self elected myself to walk down one side of the deeper looking mud holes…till the water about topped my riding boots then check out the other side...and point out the least hardest route to the boys. Also, that way the mud was always stirred up so nobody could see what lurked on the bottom. We were ADVENTURE riding you know!
Always remember the motto… “Sit up straight…elbows out…pin it…..wheel speed is your friend.”
We were quite amazed at the number and depth of the water holes. I mean…there was no way I could have counted
them all. We fell into a ride-scout-ride-scout - ride - scout rhythm with no clear leader, just constant progress, and the trip just got better from there. It was a turning point for all of us I think. We chatted a little, but mostly, we just rode, waded in the water, looked at the bolder strewn hills, spun out on the greasy narrow muddy trail, pinned it up the STEEP hills, and rode it as best we could. We all knew we were out in a place where a little problem could become big...so we stayed focused and made it happen...along with a little luck and a lot of smiles, it was GREAT.
It reminded me of “read and run” class 4 rivers from my white water kayak days. The crew just took it in stride as it came. This is what we were here for.
We really only took a few pics as we were all focused on the task at hand….and trying not to get our asses handed to us by this trail. We did stop and talk to some more elk hunters from NY. They looked pretty worked after trekking XC up a BIG hill all morning. They thought our big bikes loaded with a long weeks worth of camping gear and crap, were perhaps not the perfect fit for this trial, but compared to hiking out, I think they might have tried the KLR’s.
While stopped, Shep did notice the road had taken its toll, not just the one, but both fork seals were seriously leaking…and so we had that to talk about the rest of the trip. The USD fork mod is in the works as I write.
Oh yeah…that is where Stover discovered that storing cans of beer in his side panniers is perhaps not the best idea. He had laid it over a few times, and the result was a great testimonial to the waterproofness of his new Powder River Panniers. They kept 100% of the beer outside of the cans, but inside of the bags….and that sure smells great!
Now by the time we got down to the trailhead. We had all had about as much fun as we wanted. The perma grin was plastered on all our faces, but we were ready for some smooth relaxing riding.
I thought Stover was going to pee himself he was so darn happy about how things had went. I mean the guy was outright giddy! Even after he discovered that his un-opened bottle of Pendleton Whiskey had leaked out through the lid, and soiled his other Powder River Pannier. 0 for 2, but still smiling and wiser for the experience.
We toasted our success with the remaining whiskey…Unanimously
voted Stover the “most improved rider” and noted that whatever phobia he had previously had about water crossings…he had been 100% cured somewhere between water hole #89 and #110.
We talked about a cabin and most importantly, a warm shower at the nearest KOA, but upon arrival we discovered a nice place, but no beer.
Deal breaker....we saddled up again and got a room in Walden. We might have trashed the place a bit as we dried out everything and cleaned up our bodies and gear. Let the record show, that I did go borrow a vacuum from the maids before all the dirt was ground in and spread around to much.
We went to the Sports bar at the Inn for both happy hour/dinner and then again for wings and football. Talked to our wives and all was well.
Somehow they were not as impressed with us and our accomplishment as we were with our selves. Somehow I think everyone who has ridden something kinda cool and told someone about it can relate to that.
The next morning we packed up (all important bottles and cans safely stashed in the top bags) Stover an I were a bit worried about the amount of oil we had burned on the day before. 685 kits and all, we thought that was not supposed to happen anymore???
Upon returning home…I did research the Greenridge trail. Now, I’d follow Shep anywhere, but if I’d have watched the youTube video of the dudes on un-laiden 250’s riding all those waterholes prior to the trip, I’m pretty sure I’d have turned down that trail. Once again proving that “ignorance is bliss.”
It was not the prettiest day of the ride, but defiantly the most fun/challenging/satisfying day.