This is my first multi-day adventure and first report. Thanks in advance to all of you who have helped me prepare--knowingly or not.
Counselor1 and I are both new to adventure riding and thought the East Texas 500 would be a perfect beginner adventure ride. The ET500 is a 500 mile one-way loop running on a combination of tarmac roads, unpaved county roads, and unimproved roads through eastern Texas. The route is designed to take three days to travel, though a few hardy souls (on lightly loaded dirt bikes) have done it in as little one day. Texas is 99% private property, so it can be difficult to find dirt roads and trails that aren't gated and locked. Many thanks to the Texas Trail Riders who research and test ride the trail every year.
My load out:
Counselor and I both ride WR250R's, which are great fun to ride but don't have much space for gear. I installed Wolfman side racks and Expedition saddlebags. I also installed an aluminum machined top-rear rack made by Jared Scaggs. Counselor ran a similar setup, but used Wolfman Teton bags. In addition, I wore a small, lightly packed, backpack. The GPS you see is a Garmin Montana, which I purchased primarily because it has a large screen. I know next to nothing about it's operation but hope to become a "power user" at some point in the future.
Helmet, Gloves, Boots,
Wool Socks, Jacket, underwear,
Tee Shirt, Long Underwear, Watch Cap,
Jersey, Baseball Cap, Sandals,
Camera, Ball Cap Light, Lip Balm,
Tent & Footprint, Sleeping Bag, Ground Pad,
Lighter, Fire Starter Sticks,
Knife, Flashlight, Cup,
Food, Water, Bug Spray,
Sunscreen, Axe, Pillow, Kindle, Trash Bag,
Waterproof Matches, Utensils, Toothbrush & Paste,
Toilet Paper, Compass, Lever Soap,
Towel, Scotch Pad, Deodorant
Tire Irons, Patch Kit, 21” Tube,
Tire Pump, Spare Batteries, Copies of Instructions,
Valve Stem Tool, Duct Tape, Lubricant,
Rope 100’, Towel , Pliers,
Quick Clot, Tourniquet, Cravats x2,
Sterile Gauze 4x4’s x8, Athletic Tape, Epi Pen,
Benadryl, Ibuprofin, Eye Drops
Spare Fuel, GPS, Maps,
At least that all what I meant
to bring. I had purchased a 1.75 gallon Rotopax fuel container, but had failed to order the mount. Without it, I couldn't secure the thing to my bike. Since all the legs of the trip are less than 120 miles, I decided to skip the extra fuel. This was not a good decision.
Friday - Day 0
I loaded my bike into the truck and took it to work so I could go straight to Counselor's when I was done. We loaded his bike and drove to Livingston Lake Campground where we would stay the night and begin our ride the next day.
Counselor's bike, which he named "Yoshi", is on the left. He's made some significant changes to the bike's look: Custom paint and loads of stickers. Mine is the much more sedate bike on the right.
We had plenty of time to set up our shelters:
I set up a 15-year old tent which I used to take hiking:
This used to be a good little tent. Time has begun to take it's toll; it has a couple holes and the zippers have become stubborn. In addition, modern tents have come a long way. This tent weighs almost 9 lbs...a porker by today's standards. I may need to upgrade before too long. My sleeping bag is a $35 Coleman from Target. I compression strapped it down to fit in a dry bag. I purchased a self-inflating Therma-rest sleeping pad for the trip.
Notice the other tents in the background. These were erected by a rather large scout troop AFTER Counselor and I had chosen our site. They were a good group of kids, led by long-suffering troop leaders. They didn't make as much noise as I feared, and even provided some comic relief. After dark, one lost scout wandered into our site and asked if either of us was his dad. I was tempted to ask whether his mom lived in Salt Lake City between 1991-1994, but decided a simple "no" would be more appropriate.
Counselor's set-up was more elaborate:
I don't know if I'm sold on the idea of hammocks. I've heard some people love them. I'm may be a bit old-school, but until I'm shaped like a banana, I think I'll stick to tents. On the plus side, his hammock packs very small and goes up in seconds
(Counselor literally had his hammock set up before I'd managed to stake my ground cloth). I'm told you can set this contraption up on the ground if need be.
He opted for a duvet-style down quilt instead of a traditional sleeping bag. He was a bit concerned since he hadn't yet picked up an "under quilt," and worried that he might not be warm enough (the forecast called for a nightly low of 36 degrees F). He was already struggling with a cold and didn't want it to get worse.
Should we eat twigs and berries gathered from the forest? Hell no! This is an adventure, not a health spa.
The fajita portions were huge and they sold Mexican Coke in the bottle (sweetened with sugar, not corn syrup). We were an odd looking couple; I wore jeans and the button-down oxford shirt I'd worn to work, Counselor was decked out in his bright red Klim adventure ensemble. To the good people of Livingston, TX, we may as well have been Martians.
Our bikes are still so clean!
Duly stuffed, we returned to camp, fiddled with our superfluous fire (which Counselor lit with a flint rather than with my fuel sticks--some things are a matter of form), and retired for the night.
I was anxious to begin the next day, so I popped an Ambien and read my kindle till my eyes crossed. Ah, blessed sleep! Not even bickering Boy Scouts could penetrate my chemically induced coma.