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Old 08-09-2007, 10:33 PM   #1
mknight OP
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Location: Harrisville, Utah
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Ogden Utah to Island Park Idaho - Singletrack junkies!

About five years ago I started to concoct this idea of riding my dirt bike from my driveway in Harrisville Utah to our family's cabin in Island Park Idaho. Now to the average "Adventure Rider", this may seem like no big deal, but I wanted to take a barely legal dirt bike and ride as much trail as possible and minimize any type of road riding.

I stewed on the idea for years and dreamed of routes and picked the brain of anyone crazy enough to listen to me. There were a lot of logistics and details to consider. Finally, late last year I concluded it was time to get serious about it and just make it happen. We weren't getting any younger and life wasn't getting any less complicated. Some of my closest riding buddies all got new bikes including me, so this was the year. The planning got more serious and I finally had a strategy. In the end, here is what I came up with:

* Ride from Harrisville Utah (40 miles north of Salt Lake City) to Island Park Idaho
* Split entire route into 3 days
* Have my retired father pull my truck and trailer and meet us at pre-determined campsites so we wouldn't have to haul gear other than trail necessities
* Ride the following terrain in this order of priority: 1) Singletrack!!!, 2) ATV trails, 3) Forest two-track, 4) Jeep Roads, 5) Gravel Roads, 6) Asphalt - ugh.

In the end, only three of us were able to go. This included myself ('06 525 EXC), my good friend Chad ('07 CRF450X) who I've known since Kindergarten, and my other good friend Jason ('06 450 EXC) who I introduced to riding about 7-8 years ago.

I estimated the total route to be approximately 450 miles, averaging around 150-160 per day. This was going to be fun!!!!

Before I share this little adventure with you, I must first wax sentimental for a few moments so you can understand the relevance of this route for me. I don't intend to tell my life story, but rather set some framework for how this area and my love of motorcycling was established.

My maternal grandfather, Ralph Dabb, was like a second father to me. Just before I was born, my grandfather lost one of his married daughters and son-in-law to a tragic accident involving asphyxiation in a small camper near Bear Lake Utah. As a sort of tribute to their lives and his love of the outdoors, he purchased a small lot in Island Park Idaho and built a cabin for his family and future generations to enjoy.

The following is a pic of my grandfather and father in the early stages of building the cabin:



"The Cabin" as it is simply known in my family, became a refuge and a nostalgic place where we spent just about every single summer vacation as kids. Here is a pic of my grandfather and two older brothers just as the cabin was being finished:


Along with going to the cabin, my father always had some sort of old trailbike around that we used as our first motorcycling experiences. I like this pic of my older brother on one of these old bikes:


Here's an old pic of me (laying on blanket with my Mom) hanging out in a meadow while my brother rides around on our old XR75 at the cabin (notice.....no helmet, boots, gloves, etc., who needed those back then?):


Before I could learn to ride the XR75, I learned to ride on a Honda Express. I challenge anyone to remember these. It was a clutchless (and gutless) moped from the 70's. The only picture I could find was of this one sitting with my Dad's XL125 and brother's XR75 in Jackson Hole Wyoming on the way home from the cabin:


I rode with my Dad from an early age and blame him for this crazy addiction I have to motorcycles:


Even before I owned my first real motorcycle, I had the closest thing to it. This was my birthday gift one year. My dad came running in my bedroom and told me "The Honda had a baby". I had visions of running out and finding a Z50 to match my brother's XR75, but I got this cool bike instead. It was the next best thing (Yes, my shirt does say "Old Chevies never Die"):


I could jump it with the best of them :)



Fast forward 30 years later and I'm probably more of a motorcycle addict now than ever. I was excited for this trip for more reasons than one.

The day of our departure had finally arrived. Jason and I and Chad met at my house early last Wednesday a.m., August 1.



Right off the bat, the plan was to ride a few miles of pavement and then get to the Skyline singletrack trail above Ogden Utah. Here we are on the first few feet of dirt at the beginning of our journey (North Ogden Divide trailhead):


Before long, we're into the good stuff. This is looking north on Skyline toward Logan Utah:


More Skyline:


A high elevation wheelie by me for the camera.


Sitting at "the saddle" below Ben Lomond Peak. This is a peak at almost 10,000 feet just directly north of our homes.


Chad navigates the tricky switchbacks of Ben Lomond Peak. Up until Day 3, these were ranking on our list as the toughest obstacle we had ridden:



Once through the switchbacks, you're greeted with more switchbacks and more rocks:


The three knuckleheads (L to R: Me, Jason, Chad) at the top of Ben Lomond Peak. At this point we're 17miles into our ride, and only about 5 miles north of our homes which are directly behind us.


More switchbacks coming off the other side of Ben Lomond toward Willard Peak.


Chad navigates another tricky switchback. This is looking north down into the Willard Basin.....Logan Utah is to the North.


Once down into Willard Basin we continue north on the Jeep Road.


And finally pop out onto the "Avon/Paradise" cutoff road that will dump us into the Cache Valley.


We road from there into Hyrum Utah for a delicious McDonalds breakfast and to gas up. We had some pavement during this stretch, but after that it was all trail.


We went up Blacksmith Fork Canyon and then peeled off on the Richards Hollow singletrack trailhead. This is an awesome trail that I absolutely love with some great obstacles. Here Chad encounters one of the first tricky sections.


Jason gives it a shot too.



We had tons of fun in Richards Hollow....this was one of our favorite stretches of trail in the entire 470 miles.



More Richard's.


We stopped at one point and I noticed this in Jason's tire.

We decided rather than pull it out, we'd see how long it lasted. It lasted the rest of the day.

After Richard's, we headed down for more singletrack of Card Canyon.

Signs like this get me all hot and bothered!!! I loooove singletrack.


Trails like this get me all hot and bothered. A view of Card Canyon from the KTM cockpit.


Jason at the bottom of Card.


We dropped down into Temple Fork and then up some more ATV Trail. We were going to ride this singletrack (as designated on the travel map) and were greeted with this.


Why can't SOME ATV riders read?????? This kind of thing infuriates me. The travel map and carsonite marker clearly mark it as singletrack, yet look at the fresh ATV tracks coming off the trail that might as well be a highway.

So we soldiered on to the Bear Lake Summit road and stopped for a lunch break.


We dropped down to the Beaver Mountain ski resort staging area and then continued north through Sink Hollow (ATV width but still fun and beautiful).




Here I am crossing over from Utah to Idaho for the rest of the trip.


Another quick break at the top of the Highline/Snowslide junction before continuing north.


Now we're on the Highline....the only thing keeping the ATV's from ruining this stretch of singletrack is this nice little boulder "filter" on the ridgeline.


Ahhh....the Highline. Views to the east of the Bear Lake Valley, and views to the west of Preston Idaho (Napoleon Dynamite country).


More Highline.


More Highline (you'll notice a trend.....lots of pictures of Chad and Jason as I zipped ahead and then stopped to take pictures of them).


Conditions were a little dusty the first day but with only three guys it was pretty much a non-issue. Besides, who cares, we're riding singletrack :)
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:37 PM   #2
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During our lunch break at the top of the Bear Lake Summit, Chad ate some canned chicken that wasn’t boding so well. He has a VERY sensitive stomach and he was quickly turning green. We pushed forward on the Highline trail, north past Paris Canyon with our destination of Emigration Campground where we had a reservation for the first night.

As we approached different trail options and debated on which way to go, Chad made the decision for us by saying “The shorter the better”, before he blew chunks.

We eventually peeled off the Highline and got on a really rough jeep road. It was apparent that sometime in the week before, there had been a significant amount of rain. The closer we got to Emigration Canyon, the deeper the forest became. The trees were beautiful and the forest was greener than anywhere else we had ridden. We eventually popped out on Highway 36 and into the campground. My Dad and his brother Lynn (he had brought along for companionship and potential help in case he ran into trouble pulling my trailer around).

At this point it was about 6:00 p.m., and we had been on the trail since 7:30 a.m., and had logged 150 miles (with breaks of course). We had a few minor stints of pavement, but other than that it was all trail and dirt.

Highlights of the day included scaling the switchbacks of Ben Lomond Peak, watching the Mountain goats above Willard, riding Richard’s and Card Canyon, having perfect weather (cloud cover all day). We were fortunate to not even have to break out a tool other than for Chad to yank off his license plate that was falling off and throw it in his pack.

We had a yummy dinner, hot shower, and fell to sleep with a slight drizzle of rain.
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:38 PM   #3
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Day 2

The itinerary for Day was to continue north from Emigration Campground on the Highline trail into Soda Springs Idaho. Then slightly southeast out of Soda, get back up into the mountains and ride north through a series of ATV trails and forest service roads to the south side of the Palisades. It was there that we were to pick up singletrack again and drop down into Palisades reservoir where my Dad and Uncle would be waiting.

We were a bit nervous about Day 2 because this was the section of most unchartered territory. I had been as far as Soda Springs once, but that was it. We fully expected there would be a lot of map consulting, backtracking, and exploring on this day. This proved to be true…..and more.

We woke to overcast skies, damp ground from a slight drizzle, and otherwise epic conditions.


We crossed Highway 36 where the Highline trail immediately picks up again. It’s all ATV width at this point but with the moist dirt, nobody on the trail, and cool temps, it was moto time……what a blast.


Jason on the Highline north of Highway 36.


The overcast skies turned to more of a drizzle and it was time to don the jackets.


I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch this little get-off by Jason. The rocks were slick from the rain.


Time for a quick break…about 15-20 miles in on the Highline on our way to Soda Springs.


This pic is kind of blurry, but we rode some really fun jeep roads as well with a few log hops.


As we got closer to Soda Springs, we were up on the ridgeline and could start to see the valley below. The trails and riding to this point had been awesome on Day 2.


I managed to get squirrely in some of the wet rocks at a fairly “high rate of speed” and had an over-the-bars getoff. Jason managed to get this pic of me getting re-adjusted and picking the dirt out of my handguards.


Getting closer to Soda Springs.


We dropped off the Highline trail down Bailey Creek trail and then north to try and find our way into town. We dumped out on a little two-track in the foothills and rounded a corner and found this…….whoa buddy.


It was apparent we probably shouldn’t be there at this private Elk Ranch (these boys were impressive) so we turned around and found another way into town. This is coming into Soda Springs.
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:38 PM   #4
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Once into Soda Springs we gassed up and the rain started to come down. Time for a lunch break. After lunch we backtracked southeast down the highway to try and find a road on the map that looked like it headed up into the mountains. After some searching and GPS and map consulting we found this road.


It was game on, and we thought we were on our way until we turned a corner and found a gate, a dog, and other little outbuildings. We didn’t stick around long enough to find a grumpy redneck in the hills with a shotgun, so we hightailed it back to the highway looking for another way.


Excuse me, I’m dressed like an Alien, but can I ride my dirt-bike through your pasture?

We found another road on the map a few miles up the road and it was exactly where this ranch house existed. Jason got up the cajones to go knock on the door and ask for permission to go through their property. If you look at their driveway, there is a little dirt road between the house and barn. That was the road. Chad and I were panty-waists and waited out by the road, ready to high-tail and leave Jason to fend for himself.


Nobody answered and there was no other sign of life other than a skunk and a mal-nourished dog chained to the back. We decided to go for it and try and out ride the shotgun pellets should they come.

A few miles through a wheat field and we came to this (Forest boundary)……just as the map indicated.


Alright…..the ride is back on. We flew up a really fun two-track road with perfect moist conditions, and just enough water on the trees and bushes to get us wet. But we were having a hoot.


We got into some really fun and super tight ATV trails that were marked, but hardly ridden. Then we popped out into this clearing.


Hmmmm…..where are we now? Time to break out the maps again.


We finally concluded where we thought we were there and then Chad looked down and saw this carsonite marker buried in cow poop and mud.

It had a trail number on it that we located on the map and then promptly took off in the wrong direction and had to backtrack a few miles right to where we started.

We eventually got our bearings and headed north through some ranch roads……closing gates behind us.


We popped out near the Blackfoot River, south of Wayan Idaho for a lunch break.


At this point, the plan was to head back up in to the hills and try and navigate our way through a series of ATV trails and jeep roads as shown on the Forest Service travel map. But, threatening clouds were looming, it was getting later, and we were anxious to try and get to the singletrack on the south side of the Palisades. We opted to circumvent some miles via a gravel road and get to the highway at Wayan.


Now the rain really started to come and we were getting very wet. We got to Wayan after traveling through lots of remote ranch country. A couple of miles of pavement up the highway we found our intended forest service road. Immediately, it was apparent we were no longer on a graded gravel road…..instead it was like an ice rink. The mud immediately engulfed our tires and were slipping and sliding everywhere…..the doubts in the back of my head immediately began to creep in (we were to link this up with the singletrack over the mountains to The Palisades).

We stopped after a few miles and Jason showed up looking like this. He had taken a soil (mud) sample and Chad couldn’t stop giggling at the sight of Jason sliding around.


My bike looked like this.


We were soaked.


Finally, we swallowed our pride and realized our best bet was to backtrack and do some more gravel road further north and give ourselves another option to link in to the singletrack at that time.
So back we went.


We rode gravel road through the valley of Grays Lake which is really nothing more than a huuuuge wetlands area east of Blackfoot Idaho. It was remote and very pretty, but we were cold and soaked to the bone. Not any pictures of this area as we were just trying to hang on to the bikes and endure.

We got to a junction where we could go north to Brockman Guard Station or east to Caribou Guard Station just south of The Palisades. We opted to go east and then reconsider one last chance to cut up into the singletrack.


We got to this point and we were wet….it was after 5:00 p.m., Chad was feeling green, the clouds were still threatening, and we were headed into unchartered territory and were nervous about spending the night on the mountain if we got into some slimey singletrack.

So once again, we swallowed our pride and decided to take a cutoff road all the way up and over the mountain that would drop us into the north end of the Palisades reservoir.
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:39 PM   #5
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This didn’t turn out to be too bad of a choice as the views were amazing and the dirt road was a ton of fun…..especially with third gear power slides around the corners on the big 525.
Here’s a view one of the many times we stopped to soak it in.


We got over the mountain and it started to open up into views of the Palisades. Here is the little finger of the reservoir towards the north end. Check out how low the water is.


We made it to Calamity campground where my Dad and Uncle were happy to see us considering the weather. They already had dinner in the “oven” and we got out of our wet clothes and tried drying out our boots. The two TW200's are mine and Jason's. We brought them for my Dad and Uncle and they managed 100+ miles on them over the 3 days which made the trip more fun for them too.



The views from our camp were awesome. Here’s a view of the dam….you can see how low the water is. Despite riding in rain and the forest giving the appearance of “lush green”, the area is definitely in a drought.


Day 2 consisted of 165 Miles
Highlights of the day consisted of the perfect conditions early in the day and riding the Highline all the way to Soda. This whole section was an absolute blast. Finding our way out of Soda into the hills (via the farm road) added a little excitement and a good laugh. Getting soaked to the bone wasn’t fun, but the “ad-lib” re-route of our course gave us a chance to see some country we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. The entire day we were surrounded by beautiful mountains.
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:40 PM   #6
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Day 3 (160 miles)
The general itinerary of today consisted of riding from our campsite at Palisades Reservoir north to our cabin at Island Park Idaho (just outside of West Yellowstone). The Palisades reservoir sits right between two mountain ranges that are chock full of singletrack trails. Our decision last night to not venture into unchartered singletrack proved to be a wise one if those trails turned out to be anything like todays.

Each day, the level of “adventure” and unknown seemed to increase and today was no different.

We woke to wet dirt and blue skies…..a dirt bikers nirvana. Just as we were gearing up, a truck pulled up and out hopped 3 guys. It was “Quedup” from MotoUtah. It was Jason Stewart from Blackfoot Idaho and two of his buddies. Jason and I had last met a USRA desert race this spring while he was sitting in the back of his truck with a shattered foot/leg. We had exchanged e-mails over the past few months while I picked his brain on suggested routes. He mentioned he might show up and guide us on some trails.

Here is our entire crew for Day 3. From L to R is Jason L., Chad, Todd Lambert, myself, Jason (hereafter known as “Idaho Jason”, and his buddy Tell Scherbinske (I’m sure I’ve spelled that wrong).


A few miles past camp we found one of the many trail access points. We headed up an ATV width trail and before long it turned into a very steep small boulder field. We had officially met our match. With the wet rocks, it made it very difficult to maintain momentum. Once stopped, getting going again was next to impossible. All of us struggled to some extent and we worked up a serious sweat getting through it. At this point, this was now the new official toughest obstacle/trail we had ridden.

Here is Idaho Jason trying to get up the trail on his six speed 525SX.


A view of the trail (as always….the pictures don’t do it justice).




Myself, and Todd, Idaho Jason, and Tell all made it to the top and waited for Jason L. and Chad. It seemed like an hour but in reality was about 20 minutes or more before they made it. Here Jason finally gets through the rocks and into a clearing where we were waiting.


We were now an hour into our ride, pretty darn tired and sweaty, and only about 2-3 miles from our camp.

But it was worth it because then we got up on the ridgelines and into the singletrack with views like this.



At this point, we had pretty much hit the holy grail of singletrack. I was absolutely loving this (dark tacky dirt, incredible views, tight singletrack in the trees….how much better does it get).



I chugged on in the front and eventually turned around to find nobody behind me. Finally I backtracked and came upon this.


Tell had a stick jam into his chain and totally wad his chain up around his countershaft sprocket. Jason L. and Chad were there watching/helping him. I asked where Todd was. Idaho Jason went back to find Todd on his YZF450 with a crushed header pipe, and a water pump hose torn off the housing that was now bent. Long story short….Idaho Jason got him going as well, but by now we were 5 miles from camp and 2 hours into our ride. We weren’t making good time.

But, the great singletrack was making up for it, so we proceeded on to these switchbacks.


I loved the technical challenge.


We then dropped down another awesome singletrack that I think Idaho Jason called Indian Creek. This was again very tight, wet, and technical.




At one point we were scaling along a very exposed off-camber sidehill with some gnarly rocks. At this very exposed spot, I thought to myself, “Self….it sure would suck to go off the trail here.” I got through it but only later found out that Todd from Idaho had gone off the trail in that exact spot and Jason L. had to help him back on the trail.

Here Chad enjoys a nice wet area of Indian Creek.


Once at the bottom of this trail, we were kind of in the trees along the foothills on an ATV trail. The Idaho boys knew right where they were and the moto was on. We rode a fun aggressive pace flying down this trail banging bars and hootin and hollering. It was fun.

This put us out into the Swan Valley just west of Palisades where Idaho Jason showed us little spot known as Fall Creek right on the edge of the Snake River.


This was the view of the Snake River from this point.
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:40 PM   #7
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We rode into the Swan Valley convenience store for gas and a nutritious lunch of Gatorade and convenience store hot dogs. This place is famous for its square ice cream cones (see window).


We were now only about 10-15 miles from camp, but had ridden 40+ of some awesome gnarly, technical, singletrack. This is what we had come to ride, but we needed to continue north. At this point, our overall pace with 6 guys and multiple mechanical issues and get-offs was significantly slower than previous days. It had nothing to do with skill/speed either. All the Idaho boys were on their game and better riders than us, but more riders just equates to a slower pace.

We were now going to push up and over the Big Hole mountains to the north of Swan Valley and eventually drop into Tetonia, just north of Driggs and Victor Idaho (west side of Grand Tetons).

We headed up a canyon known as Rainey Creek and got an ATV trail that criss-crossed the creek. I rounded the corner and found Todd doing this.


Then got a pic of Chad doing this.


The two-track turned to singletrack with a fork in the trail. We took the left and within a few hundred yards it turned to this.


Then this.


The standard disclaimer applies that the picture does not do it justice, but this trail was very faint, unridden by bikes (but open to motorized access), and essentially Erzberg Enduro style with huge boulders and such. We debated for a while and finally swallowed our pride and egos and turned around with our tails between our legs knowing we still had a lot of ground to cover.

We went back to the fork and took the right fork. It was ever so slightly better than the left fork of Rainey Creek. It was gnarly first gear stuff the entire way.


We pushed, sweated, and grinded our way through a few miles of this trail and then rounded a corner and saw this.


A big beaver pond right in the middle of the trail. We searched around and couldn’t see any logical route across. The map showed it was an open trail, but I doubt many bikes had been on it.

We’re all getting anxious and frustrated. To turn around would mean backtracking down a mean and nasty trail with limited options other than miles of pavement to get to another trail. We had lost a ton of time with our slower pace and everyone was getting a bit agitated. We had finally convinced ourselves to turn around and literally had our helmets on when Idaho Jason says, “I can make it”. What a knucklehead we thought. We were sure he was going to attempt it and sink in 3 feet of water right in the mucky black mud of the beaver pond. I figured it would at least make a good picture.

Here he scopes the situation on foot.


Then proceeds to scope on his bike.


Then gets to the gnarly section.


I prepare for a picture of his bike submerged.


But somehow, he amazingly makes it. He disappears through the willows for a few minutes and then returns and yells “The trail is over here”. Great, now were committed. We all kind of smirk to each other thinking “What in the world are we getting ourselves into”, but we knew we had to take some chances on this trip and that was all part of the adventure.

Here we go…..Chad makes it through.



Then Tell and the rest of us.


We were soaked, but it was fun to think we had made it through. I wasn’t sure to hug Idaho Jason or smack him.

From here, we got into good singletrack again and eventually popped out at this trail junction and re-oriented ourselves on the map.
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:41 PM   #8
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We dropped down off the mountain and onto a gravel road for a few miles to get to the Highway that traverses over the mountain from Swan Valley to Victor Idaho. On one of the last corners of the gravel road, Chad and I were zipping along getting the backend sideways around the corner. All of a sudden on a semi-blind corner, Chad rounds it and finds some dude cruising up the road on his Harley totally on the inside of the corner (Chad’s line). Chad pitched it sideways and the dude on the couch turned his bars (about all he could on that big pig), and I swear that Chad came within inches of a head-on. We both stopped and checked our pants on that one.

We got to the highway, down the road a few miles and then back on trail. We rode an ATV width trail very similar to the northern sections of the Highline back near Soda Springs.
Then it got up on this rocky ridgeline with views back towards Swan Valley.



We rode and rode and rode on this for a long time…..got lost, backtracked, and finally stopped to try and figure out where we were. The crew chills while Jason and I consult the maps and GPS.



Idaho Jason finally got sick of us dinking around with maps and GPS and decided to head down the trail a bit. He zips back and in much the same manner as the Beaver Pond incident, tells us the trail we’re looking for is just down from where we were sitting J

We rode up a real gnarly ATV track up to the top of Garns Mountain and could finally catch a glimpse of the valley on the north side. This is looking east towards Victor Idaho from atop the peak.



We worked our way down off the mountain in a northerly direction towards Tetonia. We got into some more awesome singletrack. Jason L. and I considered this stretch to be one of the funnest of the entire trip. Somebody (the ITMA I assume) had been in there and done some serious work with erosion control, bridges, etc. It was like a mini roller coaster ride and was just awesome.




We finally worked our way off the mountain and into Tetonia. It was here that Idaho Jason and his clan had dropped a truck off earlier in the day. We stopped and gassed up and parted ways with our Idaho friends.


By the way, Tetonia was cool……there was pretty much one paved road through town and the rest were dirt. I want to live there.

It was now 6:30, we had been on the trail since 8:00 a.m. that morning, and had only ridden about 80-90 miles and still had another 70 to go to get to the cabin that night.

We had to alter our plans and hit some pavement L But, if you’re going to ride pavement, it might as well be a designated scenic byway….otherwise known as the Teton Scenic Byway that rolls through farmland with views of the Tetons.

I’m not sure why, but this is one of my favorite pics of the trip despite it being pavement (Jason and Chad head off through the farmland).


We rolled in towards Ashton Idaho with huge dark clouds looming and the wind from the front of the storm causing us to ride at what seemed like a 45 degree angle.

About 7:00 we arrive in Ashton, starving, cold, and anxious to wait out the storm. We decided to eat at the Frostop Burger joint and I had the best tasting Swiss Mushroom Burger of my life.


At this point, we were about 40 miles from the cabin and I wasn’t concerned about making it, but I was concerned my Dad and Uncle would be getting worried.

We tried taking this little shortcut up past the Ashton Hill and it resulted in a dead end and one get-off by me and two by Jason.


We figured we better not press our luck so we backtracked and just zipped up Highway 20 for a few miles and then peeled off to access this ATV trail……the last trail we ride on our entire adventure.


It was getting dusk, and the three of us were just zipping along at a good pace on this fun ATV trail. We were kind of “in the zone” and just having a good time, knowing that our ride was coming to a close.


As soon as we got in the zone….I rounded a corner and all of a sudden my bike went “braaaaahhh”, and then died. I yelled for Jason and Chad to stop but they didn’t hear me. This made no sense. Other than taking off Chad’s license plate, we hadn’t even so much as broken out a wrench on any of the bikes the entire 3 days. I checked my gas (good), tried feverishly to start it to no avail.

Jason and Chad eventually came back to find me in the middle of the trail. The sun was below the horizon and we were still 25+ miles from our destination. We all had headlights, but they do no good with a broken bike.

There was nothing obvious wrong with my bike so Jason suggests swapping the plug. Logically, on a four-stroke in made no sense. But, we were desperate and really only a couple of minutes to try any troubleshooting. If anyone has swapped a plug on these KTM’s, you know how deep the plug is in the cylinder head. Keep in mind we had ridden in miles of mud the day before and the bike was still caked. I was VERY nervous about pulling the plug because of all the crud.

But, what the heck….here goes nothing.


Chad, secretly thinking “You should be riding a Honda”.


We button everything back up after the plug and instantly she fires up! It made no sense, but I didn’t care. On we go.

So we take off and not more than 100 yards down the trail Jason goes past a downed tree and all of a sudden just about gets impaled by a branch. It glanced off his goggles and wedged between his goggles and helmet, cutting his face and ear.

He stopped and had blood dripping down his face. Oh great….this is getting good. He wipes it up and then I go to start my bike to take off again and “bwaaaaah”, nothing!!!!

We have no time to troubleshoot now…..it’s after 9:00 p.m., it’s totally dark, I’m sure my Dad is nervous wondering where we are, and we’ve still got 25 miles to the cabin.

We consider our options and decide that since we’re on a relatively mild two-track, that we’ll bust out the tow strap.

So, we hook up, Jason towing me behind his 450 EXC and Chad lighting the way beside me with his headlight. We go like this for a ways and I’m convinced that we’re close to where the ATV trail pops out to a good graded gravel road. I’ve bragged all along that once within a 40 mile range of the cabin, I know the area like the back of my hand.

I promptly directed Jason to a wrong turn and before long the trail becomes more and more faint. I start to get a sinking feeling that we’re lost…..and we pretty much are.

But fortunately I have enough of a general sense of direction and where we are and where we need to go that we just push on and eventually wind up on a good gravel road. From there, Jason towed me until the gravel road popped out on Highway 20, the main north/south byway through Island Park to Yellowstone.

We consult our map and realize we’re approximately 1-2 miles from where we had exited Highway 20 two hours earlier. We had pretty much done and “in and out”.

By this time we’re within cell range and I call and happen to get my Dad. He’s relieved to find out we’re OK and fortunately hadn’t sent out the Search and Rescue. We describe where we are and he agrees to come and get us in the truck.

While we waited, we all took a nap on the gravel road. Chad is pretty exhausted.


Sometime after 11:00 p.m. my Dad showed up and we sheepishly load up the bikes.


After arriving at the cabin and getting to bed after midnight (470 miles total), it all served as sort of a frustrating and anti-climactic ending to an adventure I had dreamed about for more than five years. I shutter to use the phrase “DNF” (Did Not Finish) from racing terms because that seems like such a failure, so instead I’ll borrow from the old cliché, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” But, in reality, that’s the truth and just makes me want to do it again sometime soon.

This was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life and to have enjoyed it with close friends and with my Dad and Uncle made it that much more enjoyable.

And….just as proof that the bikes did make it as far as the cabin….here’s a parting shot J


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Old 08-09-2007, 11:28 PM   #9
ryanwilliamcantrell
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Man, great post. Loved the pics and the stories. Makes me wish I had my YZ490 back. If I could talk my buddies into buying 2 strokes, I'd be back on it in a heartbeat.

I too love the single track. I miss the tight stuff you've got pictured here. My KLR650 will do a lot... but it useless in the steep, tight turns. You guys had a hell of a ride, and documented it well.
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Old 08-10-2007, 01:35 AM   #10
fano
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Totally awesome!!!
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Old 08-10-2007, 05:21 AM   #11
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Great ride
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Old 08-10-2007, 07:06 AM   #12
ShadyRascal
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HOLY SHIT. Nice ride! Great report!
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Old 08-10-2007, 07:36 AM   #13
KenR
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What an epic ride!! I live for singletrack and now want to go find some of that stuff you rode.

Great report!!
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Old 08-10-2007, 07:47 AM   #14
Louge
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Mike ... greeeat story ... the cabin perspective and early footsteps is icing on the cake.
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Old 08-10-2007, 08:01 AM   #15
quota
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Great ride and report! I've ridden much of this over the last 20 years, but never linked it all up together. I've got to get to Alta, WY in the next few weeks and have been looking at the maps trying to get everything figured out so I can ride the DRZ. You saved me some time! Thanks.
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