GDR Day 5-Red Meadow to Seeley Lake
Aug 2nd--This was actually a good day but for some reason I pretty much forgot to take any pictures. Stupid! Anyway, I did get up at 5am and there were no mosquitoes. Found half of a rusty cotter pin in my rear tire--
Pretty easy fix (I use gummy worms) and we were packed up and on the road before sunup. Saw my first moose of the trip soon after near Whitefish Lake (no picture), then met up with fellow inmate ChaosinMT (no pic) near Kalispell for a hot shower and a water resupply with some of his great tasting well water. Kinda rainy day with daytime temps in the 50's.
At this point I decided my front wheel was ready to be re-tired and I stopped in Kalispell for a TKC80 from Penco Motorsports. Also bought a new bulb for my headlight and noticed that I'd blown the seals on the sidecar shock. Got on the phone to Jay and had him send a new shock to a friend of mine who was planning to meet up with me in a few days.
Finally got on the trail again around 2pm, in the rain, and drove south on a variety of gravel roads west of Swan Lake and the Swan River Valley (no pics). By 6pm I was tired and wet and decided to go find a room somewhere. But then a funny thing happened. In the parking lot of the motel, the sun came out, and the roads started to steam, and I decided that this was the best weather I'd seen all day. So I got back on the trail and rode another 2 hours on some beautiful gravel roads to Seeley Lake in the late day golden daylight. Those two hours were special. NO PICS!!!!
Despite the flat tire at Red Meadow, and the stop in Kalispell for a shower and a new tire, still managed to do 224 miles that day. Also, ta-ta-DAH, got 270 miles from one tank of gas--it took 7.7 gallons when I filled it (35mpg). My rig definitely gets good mileage when I keep the speed down to 30-35 mph which is my typical speed on gravel.
GDR Day 6-Seeley Lake to Butte
Crossed the Continental Divide four times this day and did 243 miles. Not bad! Left Seeley Lake around 9am and headed to Ovando on a very pretty gravel road called the Cottonwood Lakes Road. Ovando is very small but has this cool little cafe--
Continued along the GDR to the Huckleberry Pass Road but found it to be closed (forgot to take pic here, as usual.) Since Cannonshot had said this was one of the more punishing sections of the route, I was not upset at all. Spoke with a local rancher and he suggested an alternate route that worked out great--Cooper Lake Rd back to Rt. 200 then over the Herrin Lake Rd to Fields Gulch where I picked up the GDR again.
So far on the trip the only strenuous gravel I'd done was over Bald Pass east of Eureka. I say "strenuous" because it wasn't really technically challenging--more like just a lot of work. Tiring. Anyway, from Fields Gulch on up to the Granite Butte Lookout the road became strenuous once again--
This road was too rugged for 3rd gear. It was mostly 2nd gear but there was also some 1st gear sections. From atop the lookout we had some nice 360°
views of the area and tremendous winds! I've done a bit of sailing so I can guesstimate wind speeds pretty well and I'd say that the wind up there was a steady 35-40mph with gusts over 50. The lookout is NOT tall, but still needs heavy wire guylines to keep it grounded. I could feel the whole thing shake with every wind blast--
Had an interesting experience here (ladies, cover your eyes for this part.) Needed to take a whiz, and I did, but was surprised to see that the rocks at my feet were completely dry when I was finished. This because the wind turned my pee to vapor before it could hit the ground!
I crossed the Continental Divide on pavement up near Banff, and again at Crowsnest Pass, but my first crossing on gravel was right around there somewhere so I memorialized it with a selfie--
I thought the toughest part of the day's ride was over, but I was wrong. As I went up Lost Horse Rd and over Priest Pass I sometimes felt like Charlie Brown and the football, where the road itself was Lucy. Lucy would keep saying to me, "Go ahead and shift up into 2nd. It's OK. I won't be bad again. You can go faster." So then I'd shift into 2nd and BLAM! she'd pull the football away and I'd have to drop back down into 1st! This went on and on. I enjoyed it--it was fun--pretty much on the pegs the whole way--but very slow going--
Selfie at Divide crossing #2 on Lost Horse Road--
Priest Pass and selfie because this was crossing #3--
By the way, if you are afraid of cattle, don't try doing the GDR. Lots of free range cattle on the road. When you see them up close, you realize why they survive so well in the backcountry despite predators like wolves and cougars. It's because they're so blasted BIG! A 6-month old black angus calf might weigh as much as 500 lbs and a 2 year old heifer can be around 1200 lbs. This is not easy prey for a 200 lb cougar. Anyway, I found the best strategy for dealing with the stubborn ones was to approach them steadily in 1st gear but to steer towards their rump. If they were facing me, I'd stop and lurch and blast the horn until they turned, then creep towards their rump. Here is a pic of three calfs that were very stubborn and it took me nearly 5 minutes to get all three of them to give way and turn tail--
Once over Priest Pass the road improves and it was an easy descent to Rt. 12 where the GDR takes you into Helena. But it was only mid-afternoon and I had no need to see Helena so I turned south on the Rimini Road (sorta rhymes with "Gemini") and then took the turn-off to the Chessman Resevoir. I started to regret this decision when I found myself on a very steep and narrow rocky trail with no place to turn around. Getting wheelspin in 1st gear standing on the pegs when I ran into this interesting-looking gent about my age out rambling--
First of all, he couldn't believe I'd made it up the trail this far (of course, he knew nothing about GS hacks and their capabilities), but he said that if I'd made it this far I should keep going just a little ways farther to the top of the hill where the road flattens out and gets better. He was right--made it to the top in one piece and the road around the reservoir was doable in 2nd gear.
Shortly I rejoined the GDR and decided to take a route called the "Boulder Alternative" which is part of the GDR but avoids a challenging section. It was getting late in the day and I didn't feel like another challenge. Quickly discovered that the Boulder Alternative was not only NOT easy, it was nearly impassable with mudholes 30 feet wide with water up to my axles. Finally gave up on it, and motored the last 30 miles to Butte on the interstate. Managed to cross for a 4th time though--
Found a moto-friendly motel (the Capri Motel) in Old Butte, got some dinner at the Hennessy Market, and collapsed into bed at 9pm. This was a great day!
GDR Day 7-Butte Rest Day
Aug 4-I woke up feeling still pretty whupped by the GDR workout I'd had the day before and decided to take a rest day. Of course, wouldn't you know the weather would be fantastic--clearly the nicest day since I'd left Tacoma. But I'd made my decision and in retrospect it was a good one. I was tired. Spent the day lolling around, gave Kirby a bath then we went for a long walk, did my laundry, took care of some maintenance items on the rig, and motored around historic Butte for a while.
Butte has a long and proud history of mining. Mostly copper. In the early part of the 20th century, one quarter of the world's copper supply (yes--the world!) came from Butte mines. And the mines are actually in Butte--not like 20 miles away but actually in the city limits. There is only one mine still operating ("The Pit") which more or less defines the eastern edge of the city.
Here are a few pics from in and around Butte--
GDR Day 8-Butte to Red Rock Lake
Aug 5-I uploaded 73 pics from this day so I must have done a lot. I won't post them all here, but I expect this post to be a long one.
We rolled out of the Capri parking lot a 6:20am, 45°
and clear, and headed down Highland Road towards the town of Divide. What a special time that was! Riding before sun up (sunrise came at about 7am) on a great road through patches of ground fog, crossing the Divide (#5), then emerging out of the forest and into the first sagebrush field we'd seen--
From Divide to Wise River the GDR goes over Mt Fleecer. Tough on a mountain bike, dangerous on a motorcycle, ill-advised on a sidecar rig. So here is my picture of the Mt. Fleecer section of the ride--
Doesn't look too scary from here!
We stopped somewhere south of Wise River for breakfast that I'd bought the day before--
Mixed pavement and gravel south through the Grasshopper Valley and on to Polaris, still a beautiful scenic road--
Where the Polaris Road tee's into Rt. 278 I ran into my first fellow FF-GDR rider. This is Richard from Yreka--
Seventy-nine years old and doing the GDR as a solo rider on his KLR. And my friends think that I'm
adventurous! He bought the KLR just for this ride because he didn't think that the 1200GS that he rode to Alaska last year was the right bike for this ride! Most of you guys can only wish you were half as tough as this guy. Cool dude.
Next stop was the Bannock Ghost Town. I was really looking forward to Bannock but when I got to the turn off--
The state hired a private security guy to keep people out and to show us instead the pictures of the flood that had deluged Bannock only two weeks before--
Pretty boring job so I stopped and chatted with him awhile before pushing off south towards the Medicine Creek Valley--
Kirby saw his first pronghorns along this section. He got pretty excited--
Typically, I only got a pic of them leaving the vicinity.
Medicine Creek dumps into Big Sheep Creek and the GDR follows this drainage for quite a ways. Saw my first non-coastal Bald Eagle here (we have lots of eagles around Tacoma)--
Eventually, Big Sheep Creek dumps you out onto the frontage road next to I-15 and I got gas at this cafe--
Get it? It's a cafe!
And saw this inviting establishment--
Rode on into the little town of Lima and as I started to head east out of town my linear actuator stopped working. This is the gizmo that some people call the electric trim or tilt adjuster. I turned around and found a interstate rest stop that was the perfect place to do some wrenching--
I couldn't troubleshoot the problem and decided that it was likely that I had burned out the electric motor on the actuator--maybe related somehow to the failed shock that I'd been riding on. Unbolted the bottom mount and turned the actuator shaft by hand until it was at a medium height, then bolted it back up again (sounds simple but I needed a crowbar and jack to get it.) This guy, Mr. Root from Watkins Glen NY, stopped to help, and he really was a big help. Really. Good guy--
Lost quite a bit of time with this breakdown but eventually around 6pm got back on the GDR headed east toward the Lima Reservoir over rolling hills of sage--
As the sun got low in the sky, we pushed hard to get to a campground in the Red Rocks Lake Wildlife Refuge--
Zipped up the tent at 10pm. 272 mile day even with the breakdown.