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Old 11-17-2006, 10:11 AM   #1
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Location: Stevensville, Montana
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Lolo Motorway/MackayBar/Magruder Corridor Weekend


The Lolo Motorway

It started out as a day ride with about 5 people and ended up as a 3 day ride with 2 people. Since I used to have a web site called HairLipDog Adventure, I usually give the guys I ride with some kind of ďdogĒ nickname. Those of you who are named Mark might understand the significance of the handle HairLipDog. This trip was going to be with Guy duVon (OldDog), Roger Stevens (RocketDog), Bob Strack (PutzDog) and Jim Iverson. Being that Jim is Norwegian I will call him ElkHound. We were to meet at a local gathering place that offers fuel for the bike and fuel for the body. Corn dogs and cinnamon rolls for breakfast!

What is all over that red bike? We are only going for a day ride. And how is that thing going to make it in the dirt? ElkHound has more stuff on that thing! Looks like a moving van. Thereís one in every crowd isnít there? Wait until RocketDog gets here to see this. I mean come on, 4 KLRís. How in the world is that TDM going to fit in?

It ended up that Putzdog couldnít go with us so he just met with us at the start. We were waiting for Roger to show to get started down the hwy to the Lochsa Lodge to stop for a warm up before getting onto the Lolo Motorway. When he saw Jimís bike he just looked at it and didnít say a word. Roger and Jim had not met before so we introduced them. I wonder what Roger was thinking.
After a quick cup of coffee and another cinnamon roll at the lodge we hit the Parachute Hill road and then FS Road 500 which is the Lolo Motorway. The weather couldnít have been better. A couple weeks earlier it had snowed and would have blocked a lot of the route. But we had a stretch of warm weather to take care of that and provide us with some great conditions filled with outstanding fall colors.

Mark and Roger. As you can see the dust was not too bad because of the snow melting off a week ago.

Well look at this! That TDM is right behind us.

The beginning of FS Road 500. We could have left everything on the KLRís at home because Iím sure Jim had enough stuff for all of us on that red thing.

Guy and I have ridden the Lolo Motorway a few times. Itís really our back yard. But this was the first time for Roger and Jim. Itís such a great road following the old Nez Perce trail along ridge tops to hunting grounds in Montana from Idaho. Lewis and Clark followed it also on their expedition. The road was built during the Ď30ís By the CCC. It remains a great corridor into some fabulous country in Idaho. Some of the area burned a few years ago but that actually opened the views and cleaned out the undergrowth that had a high potential for fire. We have to think in terms of hundreds of years, not just the speck of time we are on this earth, to realize the nature of things. It will come back.

Burned areas provide views and the new undergrowth is very vibrant with color.

Jim riding with one hand. Wait a minute. How did he wave at us?

Looking towards the saddle where Indian Post Office is.

Because of the Lewis and Clark bi-centennial celebration the US Forest Service has placed signs along the way telling of the history. Many have been removed or down-sized since the celebration is over, but Iím sure some will always be there. One such sign tells of the Indian Post office. There are rock cairns placed here that are perhaps hundreds of years old. This is sacred ground to the Nez Perce. We need to be respectful.

Indian Post Office sign. There are many signs like this along the way.

This is one of the rock cairns at Indian Post Office.

Looking down on Post Office Lake.

We stopped here for a bite to eat and to enjoy the views. After a short sermon by Jim, which nobody understood because it was in Norwegian, we continued on.

There is a short side trip to an old lookout site that is so worth going to, it should never be passed by. The granite outcropping is unbelievable. The site gives views in all directions. Itís called Horseshoe Mountain or Horseshoe Point. Itís only about 5 miles off the north side of the Lolo Motorway. Donít miss it if you go there.

ItĎs time to take a closer look at JimĎs bike. He had all of this stuff on his bike to test a universal cargo rack he builds and markets. They are made from heavy plastic and are supposed to fit any bike. They are that adjustable. They are intended more for touring motorcycles because you can load so much onto them for long road trips. Really works quite well. His TDM did a great job on this ride as well. Except for one thing that will be coming up shortly. Jim insisted on bringing up the rear because he knew he would not be able to run as fast as the rest of us with all the weight he was carrying. He is an excellent rider and has been a tour guide and riding instructor.

See that white rope with the knots tied in it? Guess what it is! Jim uses it to steer his bike on long road trips. He says he can lean back against a back rest and hook the knots between his fingers and put on the cruise and be as comfortable as any car going down the road. You do what?

After leaving this area we continued to Castle Butte Lookout. It is a rental lookout on the Clearwater National Forest. What a great place to spend the night. You can reserve it on line. We didnít stay because it wasnít in our plans but some other time we will. At this time it was not available. It offers more great views in every direction.

This where Jim told us he had run out of gas back aways. He carried an extra gallon of gas in one of his side bags and put it in to catch up to us. We had not come half way. Now what? From this point we are committed to going further to the next road leading to US 12 below. We decided that Roger and Guy would go ahead and I would follow Jim to be sure he wasnít stranded. All of the downhill sections would have to be coasted to stretch his fuel. I let him get a ways ahead of me and started off. So far so good. We caught up with Roger and Guy, who were looking over a map to see if there might be a shorter way to US 12 and Lowell, Idaho where there was fuel. No dice.

ďWe should have turned left at Albuquerque! Oh, wait a minute. Wrong map.Ē

Guy and Roger took off again and I brought up the rear. In a little while I caught Jim talking to a couple guys in a pickup truck, asking if they had any gas. Not this time. He was out again. I got in front of him and he pulled a tow strap out of one of his many compartments. We hooked it to my rear rack and to his front forks. DONíT DO THIS AT HOME! It did take long to find out this wasnít going to work .I told him I would take some gas from my tank and we could ride farther. I still had plenty. He continued on and got to the road that takes us down to the hwy. Guy and Roger were waiting there. We told him to just go down the main road about 25 miles and he would hit Hwy 12. Turn left and head for Lowell. After about 15 or 20 minutes we followed. Well now comes the next problem. There is another intersection with a sign that says Hwy 12, 10 miles. Did he go that way thinking it would be better? That sign wasnít there the last time I rode here. We decided to send Roger that way and Guy and I would go the other way. After about 20 miles we decided that Jim must have gone the other way because we hadnít caught him. Also this road wasnít really going downhill that much and we thought he surely would have run out of gas again. We got to Hwy 12 and turned left to go to Lowell, passing through the small town of Syringa with no gas station. On the left there was a restaurant and there was a red TDM!

We pulled in and found out Jim had made it by coasting and cutting the engine even at the slightest downhill. I went on ahead to meet Roger who must be waiting in Lowell for us. When I got there, the lady in the store said nobody matching his description had come by. In a few minutes OldDog and ElkHound showed up. We all gassed up and discussed what we should do as far as Roger was concerned. We decided that he would have turned around if it was not possible to make through on the road he took. In about 15 minutes we heard a motorcycle coming and sure enough it was him. The road never went through. The sign should have indicated it was a trail in 10 miles, not Hwy 12.

After everyone fueled, Roger and Jim headed back to their respective houses and Guy and I walked to the restaurant to eat and get a motel room. So ended day 1 except for the usual farting and snoring I had to put up with all night. Good thing for ear plugs and open windows! More Later.

Day 2

Elk City to Mackay Bar

After a good nights sleep (even with the sound of the Canada Goose in the other bed all night) I grabbed a hot shower and was ready for a stack of pancakes at the restaurant next door. We had covered our bike seats and dash with towels to keep the heavy dew off. I went out to look them over before daybreak, and noticed that the restaurant didnít open until 8:00. There were other people starting to emerge from their rooms wanting breakfast also. I went back into the room and OldDog had finally gotten up. We were really anxious to get going. I heard something out side of the room and went out to look and damn if a bunch of Guyís relatives had decided to show up to say hello.

Wild turkeys ainít all that pretty. Or smart

We got our breakfast and headed up stream along the Selway River. Itís about 20 miles to Selway Falls where there is a bridge to the other side. The Selway is one of the prettiest rivers I know. I love to fish here.

This bridge is at the end of the road going along the Selway. Itís wilderness after that. When you cross, you are on the south side of the river and it starts to get dense with timber. The road takes you past a campground with very little room and starts to climb out of the river valley. It used to be open to all vehicles but now itís only for motorcycles and atvís. What could be better!

Around the corner of the river is where the wilderness boundry is. The road ends there. We will join the river again about 100 miles upstream.

It was almost as though this road was built just for us. No other people were here and it twisted and climbed through some great dense forest full of color. Eventually it comes out on top of a ridge and joins a much more used road. Still in some great country.

OldDog heading onto a dark corner. Be a man, will ya. Get your foot off the brake!

HairLipDog needs a drink and a snack. Probably needs to pee, too.

Elk City a is treat in itself. Here is a town full of history and character. Plenty of characters still live there. Itís pretty isolated from the main stream, but they have electricity, paved roads, phones and gas. There was a good sawmill a few miles from here but it closed this year. Now the main income is from Ö aÖhmm. I donít know what itís from but the ground looks fertile enough. I bet you could grow something.

After Elk City the road continues south along the Red River. We were surprised to see how far it was paved.

Salmon and Steelhead migrate up this river from the Pacific. Itís not much more than a creek. There is a hatchery not far from here.

We wanted to go to another town and on to the Salmon river before taking the Magruder Corridor Road. The road finally went back to dirt before entering the town of Dixie. Now here is isolation! The residents are happy because the county just improved the gravel road and they plow snow to the end of main street. There is only main street! They do have a nice rest area as you enter town though.

The Dixie store is on the right.We stopped for a cold brew and sat with the locals on the front porch. They sell gas and were very friendly. Many people had moved here from high population areas like California to get to a much more relaxed lifestyle. I couldnít help noticing that most of them had rather nice, newer vehicles. Then a kid about 9 or 10 came walking up to a couple of his buddies on the steps of the store and asked them if they
wanted to see how many 20ís he had in his wallet. There were 14 of them! I flat decided that the ground was fertile here too and there were some good crops growing somewhere just outside of town!

As you continue south from Dixie, you start to enter forest sevice ground and come to Dixie Guard Station. Guy was riding ahead of me and when I got here he was coming out of an outhouse. I needed it also. BIG MISTAKE! NEVER, I SAY NEVER, EVER LET HIM GO FIRST

The road from here goes through some of the thickest, darkest stuff for at least 10 miles. It finally breaks out onto a southern exposed ridge that leads down to the Salmon river. The switchbacks are loose, narrow and steep. It was unbelievable how fast you lost elevation. At the bottom is a flat section of land called Mackay Bar. It was getting downright hot. We figured it must be 80į here.

There is an air strip next to the river along that grassy field. Better have it together flying in and out of here.

There are residences down there. Jet boat, airplane, or motorcycles are the only way we could see to get to them. The road on the other side is just from a footbridge and services just the immediate area as far as we could tell.

The Salmon River

We decided to camp here for the night. The weather was warm and clear. It had been a good dayís ride and food was on our minds. I took a swim and fished a little to top it off. There was no problem sleeping this night for 2 reasons. I put my sleeping bag about 50 yards away from Guyís so the river would be louder than his snoring and I was pretty tired. We planned to go back to Elk City in the morning for breakfast before taking the Magruder Coridor.

More later.

HairLipDog screwed with this post 11-20-2006 at 05:26 PM
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Old 11-17-2006, 10:21 AM   #2
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Old 11-17-2006, 11:53 AM   #3
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I love Idaho!! Standing by I didn't think you could get up there this late in the year...bully for you guys, those fall colors are so vivid.
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Old 11-17-2006, 12:10 PM   #4
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Great pics! Keep it coming.

But ok, I have to ask - I get that Jim was testing out a rear rack, but with all those cubes of luggage room on the back, why did he need a tank bag? I am amazed he didn't have more fuel in all that luggage, too, or perhaps even a refinery.
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Old 11-17-2006, 12:22 PM   #5
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Outstanding pics and report!! WOW!!

Thank you for posting

Keep it coming
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Old 11-17-2006, 12:51 PM   #6
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Hi Idahosam. We did the ride the last weekend in September. I'm just now getting around to posting it.
If the women don't find you handsome they should at least find you handy...Red Green.
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Old 11-18-2006, 05:41 AM   #7
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I am so enjoying this ride----------the pictures have me drooling. I've known about these routes and want to ride them before I die.

I penciled this area in some time ago for a possible big ride------but now it just went to INK

Thanks Hairlip------old dog---bigdog----slow dog--bad dog---little dog---stray dog---fart dog--and all you other dogs

Oh yeah--------at the salmon river where you camped---was this the end of the road---look like it to me on my mapping software ????

Also------what is the earliest a guy could ride in the area in the spring without ice and snow be a huge problem-------I don't mind cold--just not the ice and deep snow.
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BigDogAdventures screwed with this post 11-18-2006 at 05:53 AM
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Old 11-18-2006, 08:37 AM   #8
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Hi BigDog. The elevation and the fact that not much sun will get to many of these areas will keep it closed until probably July. The road after Dixie might be opened by the forest service a little earlier because of the guard station and air strip they have there, but beyond that it will take some time. They will have to clear timber that falls here and there. The road does end at Mackay Bar. There is an old road that goes upstream for a little ways but it was built long ago to gain access to some old mines in the river bottom. We saw an interesting stone structure across the river from this old road but couldn't get too close to it. It turns out to be quite historic. It belonged to someone who is refered to as the Last Mountain Man, Buckskin Bill. Read about him here.
If the women don't find you handsome they should at least find you handy...Red Green.
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Old 11-18-2006, 09:09 AM   #9
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I want to go back

Big Dog, where you see them rideing along the Selway and crossing the bridge. That is the begining of the ALT ROUTE TO ELK CITY I gave you. The 950 eat it up like a meatball. Thats where those 2 fellas told us it would take us 3-4 hrs to get to Elk City and we made it in 1 ! After Elk City we went directly to start the Magruader about 15 mins southeast.

Excellent write up Hair Lip ! Looking foward to the rest.
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Old 11-18-2006, 10:45 AM   #10
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Great pictures.

As soon as I saw the picture in Lowell, ID. I knew right where you were. I hope you had some lunch at the resteraunt. Their Chicken Fried Steak is My first time through there, breakfast was around $3.00 which included two of everything and a coffee.

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Old 11-18-2006, 05:13 PM   #11
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Great report with beautiful photos! Unreal fall colors. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-18-2006, 06:11 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by
Also------what is the earliest a guy could ride in the area in the spring without ice and snow be a huge problem-------I don't mind cold--just not the ice and deep snow.
Thumpercrazee and I rode the MaGruder this summer. I rode the Lolo Motorway on the way to his place. It is really beautiful, and in fall colors, even better!

When I did the research for the ride, I found it often isn't open until July 15. We went July 15-18 or thereabouts. It was just gettin' dusty. On a year of light snow, it might clear sooner. Heavy snow, it will definitely clear later.

I can see I haveta go back and ride some more trails there!
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Old 11-18-2006, 07:24 PM   #13
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Day 3

The Magruder Corridor

It must have been about 45į when we got up. It would be some time before the sun got to us down in this hole. We decided to go to the foot bridge for a couple pictures before climbing back up the switchbacks. We were told by the guy who owned the store in Dixie that the people who owned a lodge across the river welcomed the public and served meals there. Because we wanted to look at another old ghost town, we decided not to visit the lodge.

This bridge is the only way across. Itís not big enough for cars or trucks, but looked strong enough to carry a tank.

Going back up this steep switchbacked road seem a lot better than going down. I canít imagine the propane delivery truck driver bringing propane to the tanks at the bottom. Seems like I counted 21 switchbacks in all.

As we climbed into the sunshine, it felt really good. By the time we had reached the top the sun was high enough that it would be with us from here on in. Back into the dark forest it was a little cooler but not bad. Going down toward Dixie it was obvious that it was going to be a lot colder. Frost was everywhere in the meadows along the creek.

A few of the old buildings at Dixie Guard Station. The air strip behind them was blanketed with heavy frost. It was probably about 25į.

Another road turns away from the road to Dixie and goes to the old town of Orogrande. It was an old mining community. There are many mines around here. A great place to explore.

Old hotel in Orogrande. Just around the turn in the road is a newer part of the town with people living there. There were a couple kids playing in the front of one of the houses with just t-shirts and jeans. Tougher than boiled owls.

We made our way back to Elk City to eat breakfast and get gas. You can do both at the same place. Listening to a couple of the locals telling stories about each other was a hoot. A young guy who worked for the Forest Service asked us how we liked our KLRís. He had just bought one and was finished working for the summer and was headed south to go riding for the winter. I hated him. Looking around at the decor in the cafe, Guy told me to notice the old box of hamburger helper on a shelf above the counter. Hamburger helper my eye! It was a box of spotted owl helper! Wonder how good it was.

We were well fed an eager to get going so we headed south to the Magruder Road. The day before we had talked to another guy in Elk City who told us that it was lucky for us to be making this trip now because a couple weeks earlier there was 24Ē of snow at Dry Saddle and we wouldnít have made it. Seems to me I read a report about some guys from New Jersey having some trouble here at about that time. Sorry you had to came all that way for that. Where is New Jersey anyway?

The Beginning

A little snow is still lingering in the shaded areas.

This is Dry Saddle. Hard to believe there was a couple feet of snow here earlier this fall.

More great colors. The lighting was fabulous.

Finally starting to see some larch. They loose there needles like deciduous trees. A mountain side full of them can look spectacular.

This is the last picture. We are close to finishing the ride and need to keep moving to be able to get back before it gets too late. I grew up spending my summers at Magruder Ranger station and the West Fork Ranger Station in the Bitterroot National Forest. My father worked for the forest service here and it has been my favorite place for a long time. It took me this long to make the entire loop on the Corridor and I plan to do it more often. There are other places that branch off from here that need more exploration and I hope to bring them to Adventure Rider. Guy has started a motorcycle rental business for people to be able to do these rides and experience what we have in our back yard.
Lets hope winter doesnít last too long. Maybe studded tires?
If the women don't find you handsome they should at least find you handy...Red Green.

HairLipDog screwed with this post 11-18-2006 at 07:41 PM
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Old 11-18-2006, 10:46 PM   #14
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Great report and even better pictures! I certainly hope I can swing a dual-sport for next year. If not, maybe a couple day rental would be in order.
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Old 11-18-2006, 11:36 PM   #15
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Wow! Very Nice!
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