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Old 10-05-2009, 06:32 PM   #1
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Lewis & Clark, Again - 2009

Total Mileage round-trip: 6,992
Time: 23 days
Equipment: F800GS
Mechanical problems: None

Doing the Lewis and Clark Trail is an ordeal for me since intersecting the Trail from Atlanta takes me 4 days just to get to the territory. I’ve covered the entire trail several times but along the way I’ve missed a few campsites or simply wanted to explore them further.

My main 2 riding buddies had to go to a “rally” in Colorado and the invitation to join them was an easy decision since it put me within 1 day of getting on the Lewis and Clark Trail. From Atlanta to Montrose, Colorado was 550 miles a day on slab for about 1,800 miles.

I was packed to the max, with way too much weight. No problem cruising the interstates but moving around a parking lot resulted in my first drop on the F800GS.

Made it to Colorado and scouted Lake City, and the Black Canyon area around the Gunnison. Base camp, a motel in Montrose for 3 days.

Black Canyons of the Gunnison, Colorado

Anyone know the name of this?

Impressive scenery but I was ready to follow Lewis.

17 other riders are headed their own directions and my fun now begins 500 miles north through Yellowstone, south Idaho (Salmon River), Bannock, then on to the start of my adventure.

Picture of the Pony Express trail across the prairie:

Passed a marker for the Pony Express around Craig, Colorado.

Pony Express only operated for 7 or 8 months but still carries a lot of history.

Crossing the Idaho state line I decided to detour around the area to catch the Salmon River.

Following the Salmon River (aka Meriwether Lewis River, but name was changed.)

Big Moose that hangs out around the Salmon River.

Fishermen everywhere:

Early the next morning I enter Wyoming and had pre-planned to take in 2 days of the Yellowstone Park.

Spotting a very scenic part of the Yellowstone River and mountains:

This fellow from NY vacationed here 40 years ago and decided he could not leave.

Sheep Cliffs inside Yellowstone Park:

Roaming around Yellowstone:

Parking signs are not enforced:

Started to count but gave up, but at least 200 bison. This herd was at the Eastern entrance of Yellowstone and during summer season a main place of herds to graze.

Jeeze, I wish I had kept by tent, and a few of the other items that I had UPS’d home. The below motel in Gardiner, MT had a great view but $90 for something slightly better than my farm’s tool shed was frustrating.

I found most motels in Colorado/Idaho/Wyoming in the $80 to $90 range.

I’d covered around 2,500 miles and dealing with 95+ temperatures and got the brainstorm to park the bike, and head home and come back in a month. "Delta was ready when I was" so by 7:30 AM I hit the road through Livingston, MT to Bozeman and was home by 3:00 PM to return in 30 days.

Heading thru Livingston, MT on the way to the airport I catch a glimpse of Sacajawea’s Monument across the Yellowstone River.

This is a great way to travel. I tend to get exhausted after 2 weeks and 2,500 miles and park-it and head home. Mini-warehouses have been my friend for years.

Not a bad deal, $29 for 30 days of storage and this place in Bozeman provides a free shuttle to the Bozeman airport. Also picked me up at the airport when I returned a month later.

30 days of rest and recuperation:

LewisNClark screwed with this post 03-26-2012 at 05:56 PM
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Old 10-05-2009, 06:35 PM   #2
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Been waiting for this.

Bring it on.

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Old 10-06-2009, 06:48 AM   #3
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Nice. I just finished a book about the expedition. Looking forward to the rest.
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:29 AM   #4
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continuing the Lewis and Clark Trail...2009

Not many people have seen the Upper Missouri River breaks. It's best to see from a John boat or canoe. Roughly 100 miles of the last paved road. Sort of NE of Winifred, Montana....this "weird" rock formation runs probably 150 miles along the Missouri River. The Expedition wrote of amazement and view that they never expected.

Leaving the U.Miss. Breaks they reach a fork in the road...a junction of two rivers and did not know which way to go. Most of the troops felt the left river (Marias, named after Lewis' girlfriend back in Virginia) and the other south flowing would be the Missouri. Both Capt's felt it was the right but decided to scout both rivers to see when looked like it cross the distant mountains. This scouting took about 10 days and still resulted in a wild guess but they were right. The only way to know if they were right was to encounter a giant's Great Falls, Montana.

The below picture is a most historical site of their campsite at the Marias and Miss. River junctions. I'll admit that I found this my accident since it is so remote and hard to find.

Just south of the Marias/Missouri confluence is today the town of Fort Benton. Twenty years after
L & C completed the western expansion began. Heading west were wagons trains across land and steamboats following the rivers L & C traveled. Eventually train tracks were developed and the first major fort was established at Fort Benton. In the distance you can barely see the few dozen buildings that make up the town of Fort Benton. Beautiful little town and is best known for Old Shep, the dog.

Left Ft Benton to take in a well known Clark campsite. Plan was to go the 60+ miles of dirt and take the ferry across the Missouri to pavement and back to Great Falls. Checked with locals and ferry ran Monday thru Saturday.

Made it to Clark's Ferry to find a hand written note nailed to a tree, "Gone to Walmart, be back tomorrow." Did dirt back to Ft Benson. Did see at least 100 mule deer.

Headed to Whitehall, MT. No place has as many historical campsites as from Whitehall to Dillon. Real simple, Lewis told Clark to take all the troops south and he'd go look for horses. They were running out of navigable water and would soon be desperate for four hooves..for each man.

Clark's and 22 troops job was to drag, pull and rope 8 dugout fir canoes with 3,000 pounds of cargo down the Jefferson River to today's Dillon. The reason they had so many campsite is because they only traveled about 2 miles each day...Lewis and 5 troops went looking for horses.

Clark journals mentioned the rapids and they probably camped on the below right banks of the Jefferson.

One major clue to finding capsites (besides GPS coordinates) is they always tried to find shaded and scenic campsites at the end of the day. The also most always had a scout out front, looking for meat and the evening's campsite.

Known campsite 7-8 miles south of Whitehall, MT.

Amazing that 200+ years after they passed here this still exists. Clark wrote in his daily journal about the struggles of getting their 8 dugout canoes over the below rapids.

Two hundred + yrs ago Clark noted in his journal that they feasted on turkey at the end of the day as they passed this area. Turkey are still there today.

LewisNClark screwed with this post 03-26-2012 at 07:08 PM
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:42 AM   #5
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"As a teen I would have fucked a snake if someone would hold it's head, drunk or not.

But I've matured. Now I'd make sure I was drunk before I tried to fuck a snake"..........Bueller
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:10 AM   #6
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Quite the trip!!

Nice reporting
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:16 AM   #7
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Great history lesson!
I have ridden this section of the L&C trail but never knew what I was passing and missing
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:15 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the history and pics. I lived in Dillon for 4 years and always enjoyed getting out and exploring the rich history of the area.
Question about the "Jefferson River"...Did they change the name after the expedition? As I know it, the Jefferson starts in Twin Bridges where the Beaverhead, Bighole, and Ruby rivers come together?
Another point to add...those "goats" are Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep..(=
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:35 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by FatHalf
Thanks for all the history and pics. I lived in Dillon for 4 years and always enjoyed getting out and exploring the rich history of the area.
Question about the "Jefferson River"...Did they change the name after the expedition? As I know it, the Jefferson starts in Twin Bridges where the Beaverhead, Bighole, and Ruby rivers come together?
Another point to add...those "goats" are Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep..(=
I do know that L & C named the Jefferson River in's in their journals. I'm pretty sure it is the Jefferson all the way from Three Forks down to the end 30 miles south of Dillon...but there are a number of branches of the river. Some times locals change the names, the Salmon River used to be the Lewis River, but they changed the name many yrs ago.

I always get the sheep and goats mixed up....I just guess and 90% of the time I'm wrong. But they sure look like goats...Thx for the correction.

Thanks all for the kind comments....another couple of hundred pictures to come.

Edit: Jefferson River - checked the L & C Journals and in 1805 Clark named the Jefferson River (obviouly after Pres Thomas Jefferson) but locally Montana might have changed the boundaries, but I do not think so. Most geologist concure that it really is the Missouri River but L & C had no way of knowing that without an aerial view. The Jefferson(Missouri) River's mouth is about 4 miles up the Lemhi Pass Road...picture below.

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Old 10-06-2009, 09:55 AM   #10
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Please don't take it wrong..I'm not trying to bust your chops at all. I'm just going off of what I thought I knew from when I was living there and looking at Delorme..

As for the sheep...any home grown MT boy can tell the difference in a sheep or goat...lots of experience..

Edit: sorry, the map doesn't show up large enough to show what I'm talking about. It's supposed to show (can read it w/ very strong bifocals) the Beaverhead, Bighole, and Ruby dumping together and forming the Jefferson.

Sorry for butting in...I'll keep my yap shut now..
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Old 10-06-2009, 10:59 AM   #11
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Lewis and Clark Trail

I am enjoying your story very much. Could you please list the name of the book you have in your top box and the author. Also can you post your gps coordinates for the route.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Henry James
I am enjoying your story very much. Could you please list the name of the book you have in your top box and the author. Also can you post your gps coordinates for the route.
Glad you are enjoying the pic's & text. The book is "The Lewis and Clark Trail, Tracks". It's a 200 page book listing all the L & C campsites, event sites, geological items they discovered....583 campsites and all total about 1,280 GPS coordinates and a brief description of what happened at each site.

I am the author of the book and it is sold in most of the better bookstores and museums along the L & C Trail...but none in Calif. I would love to just give away the gps coordinates but my publisher won't allow. But the above book comes with a CD of the GPS coordinates in an EasyGPS industry standard gpx file that most GPS's will download into a Points of Interest (PI) file(s).

Most popular product I have is "The Lewis and Clark Trail, Today". simply a DVD with over 1,200 photographs of the trail. If you're interested in either, PM me....I can save you a little $$$.

I've received so many PM I will do a blerb here later to explain how the book and GPS file works....what's involved to do the trail, etc.

The pictures are just starting...more to come.

LewisNClark screwed with this post 04-27-2010 at 01:23 PM
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:27 AM   #13
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chapter 3 of the Lewis and Clark Trail...more Sheep

Sheep not goats

Sheep everywhere:

This brave beast lowered his head and ran a bluff at the bike’s front tire but changed his mind at the last minute.

Old cabin along the North Fork road:

Famous Shoup Store: Probably the last gas, last everything until the end of the trail, and come back out. This is a one-way road.

This road is fascinating. Not really off road, just a dirt road…but very scenic and historic. Clark, Old Toby and a small crew are traveling along rocky animal trails running along the side of the Salmon River, not this dirt road. Had to be a tough hiking route for them.

Maybe Old Toby showed Clark this marker. “River of No Return” and maybe that convinced Clark this river would never work. But seriously, when Clark saw the below EXACT view of the Salmon River he knew immediately they could not navigate such a river. The high walled mountain sides along the river left them no way to escape to set up camp and their dugout canoes would never make it over the rapids in one their canoes were 100 miles away above Dillon, Montana.

At this exact spot they stop as Clark hand writes a length note to Lewis that basically said, ” BUY MORE HORSES”. This note was carried back to Lewis who would have been in the area of Tendoy, ID probably 40 miles to the south of North Fork.

Few historians ever mention this but they had no cellphone, two-way radio's, nothing to communicate with but were still able to be 50 to 100 miles apart many, many times and still managed always find each other. Once Lewis was 1,000 miles from the main party but managed to reach back to the main party from Cut Bank, Montana a thousand miles away to Reunion Bay in North Dakota, but he was 12 hours late.

Finally a week later they regrouped as a single camp and Old Toby leads them over “Lost Trail Pass” where they accidentally met up with the Salian Indian Tribe who had even better horses than the Shoshoni…and even agreed to take/trade the weak horses Lewis had bought from the Shoshoni.

Lost Trail Pass entrance:

Lost Trail Pass – located between Idaho and Montana is still today is considered to be one of the most inaccessible areas of the United States. There are basically no trails, no roads, nothing in this territory….

One of the few roads I have found inside the Lost Trail Pass area.

Continuing on down the North Fork Road/Salmon River I met the end of the road at this building. Did not ask but this building is a store, RV camp ground, camping center, and I think a residence. Nice guys gave me a cup of coffee and conversation for an hour. No electricity, no public facilities, but did have a water turbine that generated electricity for lights. Mailman came three times a week. Was totally surprised when he ordered by book.

I’m not in to “my bikes better than your bike” deals….it is just a tool. But everywhere I traveled, rarely did I stop that someone did not meet me to ask about that yellow bike. These two fellows checked out the bike and then washed both tires.

I will definitely do the North Fork Road again. You can just feel the history goozing from everything you see.

Leaving the Salmon River and North Fork I decide to head back to Salmon, ID. Any time I ask a question anywhere in MT or ID and if no one knew the answer they say go see Ms. Angley in Tendoy. I’d heard of this lady was a real L & C buff and when I passed her store last Sunday morning it was closed….I’m glad I returned.

Meet Mrs. Viola Angley, truly an American treasure.

Mrs. Angley, 92 years old, and still going strong… was an American History and English teacher in a Tendoy one-room school for many years. She and her husband also opened a little country store in 1948, before I was borne. Hours are all day Mon thru Sat and on Sunday from Noon ‘til whenever. Spent 2 hours debating our interpretations of L & C events and sites. She was wrong on one subject (site of Sacajawea’s grave) but she blind sided me on their Idaho route over Lemhi Pass….she confirm/taught me to forget those signs on the side of the road….as I knew, and she was right….right beside her store is Agency Creek Road.

Roughly 30 miles up the side of Lemhi Pass to the actual site where the real L & C Trail was located…which was also confirmed by my GPS coordinates.

Agency Creek Road: The real route. When L & C crossed over the Cont. Divide into Idaho there were limited trails on the Idaho side of the Lemhi. The current Lemhi Pass Road on the Idaho side was man made in the last 50 yrs. The real L & C road/trail is on the sign below.

This means those cows I passed were on the wrong road.

If anyone goes by Ms. A’s store, buy something!!!!

She lives to share her community’s history and deserves the business. I’m stocked up with crackers and razor blades for months. Just a class lady. Check out the back of the store to see the potbelly store and dozens of rows of pictures of the old men of Tendoy back in the early 1900’s. After teaching the local Shoshoni kids in the elementary school Mrs. Angley taught me how pronounce Sacajawea (Sack-Ah-Ga-Wee-Ah).

Ms. A’s little school house:

I was semi-shocked at this site on Agency Creek Rd. Part of the old west still lives. This corral and a cabin foundation were still there from a stagecoach that passed this trail many years ago. This stage coach waystation was opened about the time the Pony Express was closing.

Starting up Agency Creek Road – Fairly easy off-road trail but quite steep in a few sections with a lot of loose gravel at the top.

Four days ago, I was chasing 77 black angus cows down the Lemhi Pass little foot path I was able to make was to the top of a big hill....just a walking trail. The red arrow on top of the above hill was where the bike was sitting but I came in from the other side of the hill.

At the top of Lemhi Pass, at the Cont. Divide is a road leading to the Sacajawea Memorial. Nothing there but a few picnic tables and markers…but scenic site. When you leave this little trail the road forks 3 ways, Sacajawea Memorial, Lemhi Pass Road, or the middle road that leads to Agency Creek Road.

As the Expedition passed this way the below site was the first campsite west of the Contential Divide and in to Idaho. The site is a dead give away, next to a "clear running creek, level campground and backed up against a cliff" (protection from Indian attacks at night), and scenic." there's a Historical Marker there.

GPS leads me back to the Trail:

Heading out of Agency Creek spot a pretty good bull elk.

Heading north back out of Salmon, ID I decided to explore an area campsite that I was not sure about…”Fourth of July Creek Camp”. On the return journey home Clark and the majority of the troops were headed back over Gibbons Pass in order to by-pass Lemhi Pass and the dreaded Lost Trial Pass. Clark always celebrated birthdays and holidays and passed this creek on the 4th of July in 1806. Gibbons Pass was the route they should have taken heading west in 1805 but due to a lack of communication with Old Toby they traveled the hard way over Lost Trail Pass.

"4th of July Creek"

So far I’ve almost hit a skunk, almost been rammed by a goat and 4th of July road brings another attack. Meet “Ringgold” the Boxer. I ride down 4th July Road and a 6 month old Boxer is barking when he sees a 2 wheeler coming down his road in full gear and a helmet. A first for Ringgold.

As soon as I turn off the noisy bike and remove my helmet Ringgold is my buddy, doing his sideway dance around my legs. Cutest dog I have ever seen.

Finding L & C campsites is normally easy and I’m sure others might know where this site is but I count this as one of my finds since it appears to not be documented anywhere else. The mouth of the "4th of July Creek" was pretty easy to find, and the creek is not very long, so it is a matter of estimating a logical site. Since this is remote territory it was a dead give away where Clark’s campsite probably was. Plus Clark pretty much told me where it was. Below:

In this area, almost every homeowner had 2, 3 or a dozen horses, most Appaloosa.

Back on the Trail: When all the party left Lemhi and headed over the Bitterroots the below picture is where they road to enter into the Lost Trail Pass. Do note that by this time they were mounted on 40 to 45 horses. All 32 of them were on horseback. This included Sacajawea with infant Jean Baptiste on her back, and probably 8 horses as pack animals, and 2 colts (to be useful in a few weeks).

The terrain went from treeless hillside to brutal rocky mountain ridges covered in trees on the Lost Trail side. Here you see all tree less terrain...but in the far distant background hillside you can see it is covered in trees...

Back on the Trail: At a campsite, Old Toby picked up a stick and a handful of dirt to describe to Clark the Pyramid (Piramid) Rock formation. Clark had a dozen ways to spell "pyramid", I only have two.

Since they were going by the rock formation, Old Toby led Clark and his crew up a trail for a 5 mile recreational detour to see this rock formation. Quite Impressive. Few people know about these rocks.

This church overlooks Pyramid Tower rocks.

Clark gave the name Pyramid Towers to the rock formation. I found it interesting that Clark even knew
what a pyramid was, since he had roughly a 5th grade education.

One of my favorite pictures....

Heading north I stopped by the Missoula Beemer dealer for my 6,000 service and oil change. Service guy and I took a double take when we simultaneously looked at my I pulled into their garage it was exactly 6,000 miles on the odometer, not 6,001 or 6,001.2, but exactly
6,000 miles as it went on the lift.

Heading towards the Lolo:

Link to book and gps coordinates about this Ride Report:

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Old 10-06-2009, 12:14 PM   #14
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Very nice report & great pix...Keep us going with more.

"There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will."
Robert Service
'08 DR650 Lots of goodies
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Old 10-06-2009, 01:17 PM   #15
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I know a lot of effort goes into something like this, even after the traveling is over. Thanks.
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