Thanks for the positive response to the report and photos, and thanks to JimC and the group for all the planning, maps, roll charts, etc. I really didnt have to do anything but pack and show up.
FWIW, here are my observations on the trip:
The ride truly was an adventure through some spectacular scenery, most of which I had not seen before which makes it just that much more exciting. We we blessed with cool weather and periodic rain that made the riding conditions outstanding. I dont think I would have enjoyed it nearly as much if it were dusty, but I'm picky about conditions.
Overall the terrain was not as difficult as I expected. Most of the the dirt roads were in good conditions and would be fun on any big DP bike. Knobbies would be good, but I used Avon Gripsters on my GS and only had minor trouble in a couple of mud sections. We rode hiway speeds over several long dirt sections. If you are riding any distance to get to the trail like we did, and are packing a lot of gear, the big GS may be the way to go for overall comfort. Unless your riding a much smaller bike and carrying little gear you'd probably be wise to route around the most difficult sections like we did anyway
On the other hand camping is fun, economical, and convenient to pitch a tent anywhere if you have the gear, but it sure would have been nice to be traveling a little lighter and do the more difficult sections. We didnt have any problems finding reasonable motel accomodations without reservation, except in Whitefish MT. I would give serious consideration to moteling it all the way without reservations to tie you down to a specific schedule. The only drawback would be the off chance that you would hit a local event and not be able to find accomodations.
The route was difficult to follow at times, particularily when we had to route around a closed or difficult section. The bicycle book directions were good, but it did contain some errors. The GPS really helped in letting us know we were off course. It did seem the GPS users spent extra time trying to find the route on GPS versus the roll chart ( but I had no GPS and dont use one).
I think at least 10 days would be needed to do the whole trail, 2 weeks would be better, and you could easily burn 3 weeks or more sight seeing and exploring some of the side routes.
The most important lesson is never, ever ride with a group of F650s!
HA HA just kidding, I was quite impressed with the range of use those little girly bikes had.
And it was very nice meeting you too GYRO.