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Old 09-20-2010, 11:59 AM   #1
MadChap OP
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SE Oregon Loop-Hot Springs, Hamburgers & Hurtin'

How often does a man really have an adventure? I mean the average man? Sure there are some riders on this forum who have become semi-famous for their extreme rides in far foreign lands.

But you, the one reading this, how often does that happen for you?

Me, I've had a few. Seven Day rafting trips in Alaska fishing for King Salmon,

Two weeks in the San Juan Islands on my own sailboat:

Being rescued from what was suppose to be an overnight snowmobile ride in Eureka, AK.

But for the majority of us, if we are honest, such adventures are not that common. That's what keeps me glued to the ride reports on this forum.

It was time for me to have another one. I'll be turning 50 in a year and want to have some off road adventures on two wheels while I still can. In addition, if the federal government continues its course, much of the Oregon Desert may be off limits to motorized vehicles in the near future.

So, one wintry day last February I began to concoct my own plan of adventure. The ride reports about the Oregon Desert caught my attention and I wanted to plan my own.

At the time, I was riding a 1993 TW200. I had bought it 5 years ago it to just run back and forth the two miles to work. I hadn't owned a motorcycle since college days. However, I fell in love with riding again and in 5 years put 10,000 miles on the little bike.

July 2009, I completed a 3 day ride from Portland back to central Oregon where I live. That report I posted on the TW200 Forum.

I was hungry for a much longer ride.

I began really scouring ride reports and the Benchmark Oregon Atlas. My GPS software was getting a good workout also, or maybe I was getting a good workout trying to figure it out. I received tracks from a few others and began to work a route plan.

I posted my thoughts on this forum, the TW200 forum and on On those other two sites my online name is jclovesu. I had done a few rides with guys from those two sites. It was early yet and I didn't get any real interest in going.

Fast-forward to May of this year. I had been casually reading about other dual sport motorcycles, thinking of adding something a little more long-distance worthy to my collection. The more I read the more a Suzuki DR350SE seemed to be what I was looking for. Now, I'm a self-confessed Craigslist junkie. One Sunday morning I spotted 1997 DR, one owner, low miles, $1,600. I just couldn't pass it up and grabbed it before the rest of the Craigslist wolves did.

Now my ride planning just changed dramatically. Not only that, but I had to get this new bike adventure ready. I'll skip all the details, but lets just say that a lot of work was done on the bike between May and September 5th, my planned day of exit.

I posted the change of ride and now was getting some interest. Pretty soon Mark and Jonathan from the Benddualsport forum were at my home for a Sunday route planning session. They were IN!! Mark rides a beautiful KTM 640 Adventure and Jonathan rides a really customized for off road BMW F650 Dakar. I was still going to be the small bike this trip.

I think three is about the perfect size group. You don't have to wait long at a stop for everyone to catch up and if someone gets hurt there is one to stay with them and one to ride out.

Now I know you're probably saying, “just get on with the ride report”, but this is my first one on ADV so I may be a little too detailed. Just deal with it. If you're the picture's only type of person, you already know how to scroll down.

Our plan was to have a general sense of all the places we wanted to go. Have GPS tracks and waypoints for many of them along with good maps, but not plan what each day would look like. Ride until we found a place we wanted to camp at and then see what developed the next day. We didn't want to “have” to be anywhere at any certain time.

The list of potential places to go and see were:

Worlds largest Western Juniper
Hart Mountain Wildlife Refuge and Hot Springs
Beaty Butte and cave spring
Steens Mountains
Alvord Desert
Three Forks on the Owyhee
Leslie Gulch
Succor Creek
Hell's Canyon
Wallowa Lake
Then some of the OBCDR back to Bend

Getting the bike ready took too much of my time. Finally the new tires, sprockets, chain and skid plate arrived Friday and we were to leave Sunday. I still had to work Saturday, but everything got done.

One of the most difficult things was deciding what NOT to take. I tend to take way too much stuff and didn't want to do that this time. Even at the last minute I was pulling things out of the packs and putting them back in the garage

Here's a track of what our final route ended up being:

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Old 09-20-2010, 12:08 PM   #2
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:17 PM   #3
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Day 1

Day 1

I was up till after midnight trying to finish stuffing everything into it's place.

Finally got the DR loaded and ready to leave my home in Madras at 7:15am

Quick slab to Terrebonne when I waited just a few minutes for Mark to arrive:

Then more slab to Walmart because the night before I couldn't find the bite piece to my Camelback. Ran in bought the bite piece, water and raced back to the bike only to find the bite piece wouldn't work with my tube . Back into Walmart to buy the entire water bladder, while Mark calls Jonathan to let him know we're running late.

Quickly fill the new bladder, jump on the bike and head out. Only to realize that I am so stoked I forgot to fasten my helmet. As I stopped once again I was wondering if Mark was asking himself what he had gotten into.

Slab it to Jonathan's near Tumalo. Leave his place within a few minutes. 5 miles down the road Jonathan pulls over. He forgot his cash and has to run back to his house.

Man this is starting out ridiculous but hopefully we have our jitters out of the way. Finally hit the dirt:
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:21 PM   #4
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Day 1 continued

The idea for today was to see the Largest Western Juniper, then head over to Crack In The Ground before heading to Christmas Valley for fuel and lunch. Blasted out Ford road and Jonathan took lead as he "knew" where the Juniper was. Took Sand Springs then NF23 heading....West??? After a few miles we convinced Jonathan that he was taking us to LaPine and so we headed south on China Hat and tried to find our way to the tree. After getting lost for awhile, we just decided to head for Crack in the Ground. I took lead as I had that marked on my GPS, but we hit locked gates and just decided to head east and make our own way. Mark lead

As I came around a corner, two huge Belgian horses crashed through the brush across my path. What are Belgians doing out here???

Continued east only to be blocked numerous times by lava.

Had to back track numerous times. Finally just bushwacking through the sage brush until we found a road without a locked gate. Jonathan's custom skid plate collected quite a sage sampling and began to smolder so we had to stop several times to put out the fire.

Fiddled with the GPS until it showed a route to CV and took off. Hit more slab into CV where we grabbed a burger and gas....for the bikes.
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:38 PM   #5
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Day 1 continued

From the beginning our idea was to catch lunch and fuel each day around noon so that we would have at least one full meal each day. After CV headed south on Fandango. Fandango is a notoriously rough, rocky two track that most Central Oregon riders are very familiar with. After 5 years on a TW200 with it's limited suspension, it took me awhile to gain confidence that the DR could handle the rocks just fine and that all I really needed to do was twist the throttle and hang on. It's amazing how much abuse the tires, suspension and gear can take.

When we got to the Halfway Buttes road we had to make a decision: Head west to Summer Lake Hot Springs or south to Plush. The hot springs were too big a draw and won out.

Got there only to find it was filled with people returning from Burning Man. Grabbed a campsite a ways away from the noise, set up camp and took a soak.

Man it's nice to soak the weary body after a day or riding.

Camped next to us were two guys from Eugene. One on a GS1200 and the other on a Yellow KLR650 with "Caterpillar" on the front. They were meeting up the next day with a bunch of other riders. I think they were going to be staging out of Crane Hot Springs?

Final stats for the day not spectacular but decent:

and elevations

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Old 09-20-2010, 01:04 PM   #6
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Day 2

Day 2

Woke up to frost after being serenaded to sleep by an amazing guitar player on the stage as SLHS.

We were slow getting packed as we were trying to let things dry out a bit. Zipped into Paisley for fuel and fresh water. When I pulled in I noticed smoke coming from the back right side. Guess during a stupid tip over out in the lava my rack was slightly bent and was pressing the side cover against the muffler. Bend the rack back out and all's good.

Rode back out the way we came then headed south to Plush. When we got to Hwy 395 we could have gone straight out into the brush, but Mark and Jonathan had done that before and from what they said it would take an hour to cover 10 miles. So we blasted up 395 to Hogback which is wide smooth and dusty gravel for miles and miles.

Arrived in Plush right at noon so took advantage of a nice hot lunch and fueled again. When Mark pulled up he realized that the zipper on his tank bag was open and his camera was missing. What a bummer as I'm sure he had an awesome picture of me clearing about 6 feet of air over the Fandango cattle guard.

Left Plush and headed NW for Hart Mtn Antelope Range. Stopped at the Head Quarters for a minute.

Then a quick ride to the Hot Springs.

What a cool place, we got there about 2:00 and took a good amount of time for a soak.

Now we were all relaxed and not really in any hurry, but Mark and Jonathan were slower that me in getting ready so I said I'd go look for some shade to wait under. Well the trail leaving south from the hot springs immediately turns into a narrow,steep, rutted and rocky jeep trail. So I didn't stop for about half a mile until I got to the top and waited....and waited.....and waited. No show. I really didn't want to head back down because I didn't want to run into one of them heading up, but down I went. Finally met Jonathan about 2/3's of the way down. He said Mark had a no-start situation. By the time I got back to Mark's bike they had it figured out as a bad connector coming off the battery. Quick fix and all is right with the world.

Back up the jeep trail. What a fun trail. Water bars, small water crossings, just really interesting.

Everything eventually flattened out back down in the valley and there were antelope everywhere. Who would have figured.

Mark was leading via a GPS route and came to a water crossing. As he did, ducks took off...

While Mark and Jonathan hemmed and hawed, I fired up the mighty DR and blasted across. No problem.

Jonathan was next:

Check out his wake in this one:

He put his foot down about half way across so when he got onto dry land, he had to dump the water out of his boot and wring out his sock.

The mosquitos were vicious.

Mark was next:

Fun stuff. Rode a little more and came to just what looked to be a short water crossing in some deep ruts. Mark took the left rut which didn't look too good to me. Nope it wasn't. Really deep, he took water over the top of his windscreen:

Traveled some rutted roads and came to this sign which I've seen in a number of other reports:


MadChap screwed with this post 09-20-2010 at 03:01 PM
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Old 09-20-2010, 01:09 PM   #7
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Yeah buddy!
What's next? More action!
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Old 09-20-2010, 01:29 PM   #8
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Day 2 continued

From that sign we head east until we come the to edge with a great view of Shirk lake.

Steep rocky road down but not too bad. Arrived at Shirk Ranch. Cool old place out in the middle of now where.

Debated about camping here or try to make Beaty cave spring. Decided we wouldn't have much sun left after poking around the old ranch so made camp there.

Jonathan noticed his tail light was trying to remain in the desert:

Mark assisted him with a high quality back country fix:

As the sun set we were dive bombed by a couple big barn owls and numerous bats.

Took some pics of the old buildings. They won't be around forever so get out and check them out for yourself.

The second day stats:

and elevations

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Old 09-23-2010, 10:29 AM   #9
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Great trip. Are GPS tracks posted any where?
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