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Old 10-09-2009, 10:18 PM   #1
Crawdaddy OP
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Looped the Grand Canyon out of Vegas - 5 days/1200 miles

I had a work meeting scheduled in Lost Wages in early Oct. so I decided to take advantage of my time there and “Loop the Grand Canyon”……..I started mapping out my plan in late August……lot’s of good input from other ADV Riders…..Strega signed on to accompany me which was a welcome relief since I’d be getting pretty far off the beaten path in my quest to stay near the canyon and on dirt to the greatest extent possible……after all, that’s why we have ADV/Dual Sport bikes……so we can travel the path ridden/seen by the few rather than the concrete loop driven/scene by the masses in their minivans/buses…..

We headed out last Wednesday afternoon from San Diego to Las Vegas arriving in the late evening and packed up our saddlebags for the trip……we were up and off to the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign by ~7am……..seemed like an appropriate place to start/end the trip and associated .gpx track file in case others decide to follow in our wake….

I rode my 98 KTM 620 EGS-E Adventure Bike and Roger rode his 01 KTM 640

A couple of pics at the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to start off our trip (7am so no traffic on the strip):

I only had 5 days to knock out this loop which meant the first day would be a long day – Vegas to Fredonia / ~300 miles……..very doable provided we hauled the mail up to Mesquite…….so, realizing we needed to take some pavement to make good time, but not wanting to jump on the 15fwy, we took the 215 to the North Shore Rd. and swung around the north side of Lake Mead up to Overton/15 Fwy then slabbed ~20 miles on the 15fwy into Mesquite……stopped for gas in Mesquite and realized my battery was toast when the bike failed to restart with the magic button (I had kept the bike on a trickle charger at home but apparently it only had enough juice to get me started on Thursday morning)……not a problem…..we swung up to Mesquite Power Sports and picked up a new battery (created a Waypoint in .gpx file for the's a quad shop but they carry misc. items like batteries, helmets, googles, etc.)

We’ve ridden over to the Bar 10 Resort from Mesquite a few times on the standard “Whiterock” route that runs by the remains of the Butch Cassidy Hideout but we’d never ridden UP Elbow Canyon/Black Mtn/Wolf Hole Valley so we opted to take that route over to the Trumbull School house… …….the ground was dry so no slipping/sliding on the rocks/switchbacks heading up Elbow Canyon……cake

As we headed across Wolf Canyon we encountered another like minded/equipped ADV rider (Will) traveling in the opposite direction on a KTM 640 ADV……we stopped and looked over the maps briefly and recommended that Will follow the path we had just taken into Mesquite (as I understand it, Will rode a Ducati street bike to Michigan(?), then dropped down to Phoenix and picked up the 640 ADV……rode up and around the Grand Canyon, and was on his way back to Seattle……hopefully he’s there now......on this particular day he was on his way to Vegas to get a new set of rubber for the final push up to Seattle)

Will and Crawdaddy discussing Will's planned route to Las Vegas for a new set of tires

After parting ways with Will we swung a right onto a series of two track fire roads……

Last gate on way to Trumbull Schoolhouse

Arriving at the Trumbull School House

Once we reached the Trumbull School House we took a rest break and then conversed with a couple other riders on their way back to St. George from Toroweap………

I had planned out a route in Map Source to get us over to Trumbull Rd. from the School House but it was already late in the afternoon, we had ~100 miles to travel, and I was concerned about getting shut out by locked gates…….so we opted to just ride CR5 over to Trumbull Rd. and take that over to Fredonia.....

The sun was sinking low as we headed across Trumbull Rd…….nice to have a nearly full moon coming on its heals…..

We gassed up at the Judd Service Station then headed over to the Grand Canyon Motel……friendly owners offering basic and inexpensive accommodations……perfect……we showered up and headed over to CJ’s diner for dinner (it’s a mile or so north on 89 towards Kanab)….

A couple of pics of the Grand Canyon Motel

Note: As stated, we rode over to Trumbull Schoolhouse/Rd. via Elbow Canyon, etc…….I believe the Whiterock, etc. route is more scenic so if you’ve never been to the area I would take that optional track in my .gpx file……….likewise, we’ve stayed at the Bar 10 before, we’ve been to Toroweap before, and we were short on time on this trip so we just hauled the mail to Fredonia on day one...…….if you haven’t been to either of these spots, and you have the time, I’d strongly encourage you to visit both……..the Staff at Bar 10 are very nice, they have gas for sale, and they offer lodging/food……..or head over to Toroweap for fantastic views and camp near the lip of the Canyon (I believe there are 9(?) sites on a first come/first served basis)……if you ride over to Bar 10, and you’re on a big or heavily loaded bike, you might want to reverse course when you leave and take CR257 back out to the Trumbull Schoolhouse........then take CR5 over to Trumbull Rd. rather than taking the rocky (but fun) shortcut over to Trumbull Rd. from the Bar 10……..I’ll include optional tracks for this area when I post a .gpx file in GPS Tracks West section of ADV Rider.
Chris Crawford (Crawford + 4 kids = Crawdaddy )

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Old 10-09-2009, 10:19 PM   #2
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Day 2

Day 2
We were up early on Friday morning and set out for Crazy Jug Point via Ryan Road and some side nf roads…….it was pretty damn chilly on Ryan Road but it had warmed up nicely by the time we reached Crazy Jug Point which was our first exposure the Grand Canyon on this trip…..

Some misc. pics at Crazy Jug point:

We left Crazy Jug and motored along on some really nice/fun nf roads/Ryan Rd. on our way down to Pt. Sublime:

Lot’s of color in the trees……the photos never due justice to the “big picture” scenery/colors……

We pulled over at a small turnout/viewpoint on our way to Pt. Sublime…

Roger showing a bit of “the Captain” in him…

Chris taking it all in (again)

Self timer attempt on Roger’s camera:

Roger’s 640 blocking my view

Pt. Sublime was very impressive:

Chris soaking up the view

Roger taking it all in

Roger's self portrait with Canyon in background

Ya really need to watch your step on the edge

As we were standing at Pt. Sublime a rider pulled up on a DR350.......his name was Mike and he was camped over on the North Rim......Mike was out on a month long "all about me" trip with his truck/trailer to hold his bike and no family.......a solo journey spent driving his truck to different destinations, unloading, and riding around the countryside on his bike......we caught him ~3 weeks into his trip.......he'd ridden all over Utah by the time we met up with him at the Grand Canyon.......nice guy/good attitude......Cheers Mike!
Once we left Pt. Sublime we blazed across some more FUN fire roads and one expansive meadow before hitting Hwy 67 which took us down to the North Rim Lodge

We parked at the Lodge and got a bite to eat……

View from inside the Lodge:

We were too lazy to walk down to the view point

Roger Chillaxing at North Rim Lodge:

We stopped by the deli for a couple of slices of pizza…….too many people/buses……that’s NOT the experience we were seeking……let's get out of here!
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:21 PM   #3
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Day 2 cont'd

Day 2 continued
We headed out of the park on 67 and gassed up at the store just north of the park…….from there we continued north on a few nf roads with views of the flatlands/Canyon to the east……

The nf roads eventually intersected the “Kane Trail”…….I’d seen the Kane trail on Map Source/Google Earth and wanted to explore it to see if it was a viable way to get over to Buffalo Ranch road and a couple of scenic viewpoints/waypoints I’d set over there in my planning file……

It started out tame enough…..

Then it narrowed…..then basically disappeared into a rock field and started to drop off pretty steeply…….you had to keep an eye out for rock cairns that marked a way down through the rock field

Here’s a photo looking back up the hill (steeper than it looks)

I sent Roger forward to scout out the trail because I was about to reach the point of no return on the 620…….if I went down much further it was going to be a real bitch to climb back out…….he made his way down and radioed back something like, “come on down, it’s doable”…….so I proceeded down…….a few minutes later he came back on and said something like, “hmmmm…….you may not like this last part”…..too late now, I was committed…….basically you head down through the rock field to a dead end/bluff

Once you reach the dead end you really only have two options……turn around or hang a hard left and drop down a steep/~100 yd long section to the flats below as marked by the rock cairn in the below picture

Look just to the right of the evergreen tree behind my bike in this photo and you'll see the large rocks up top marking the dead end…’s steeper/looser (knarlier) than it appears in this photo…….eventually we got both bikes down…..

Can you find Roger hiking back up in this photo?

Once we got down to the flats we made our way along a fence line which eventually ended and allowed us to get on Buffalo Ranch Road

We quickly turned off of Buffalo Ranch Rd. onto a little used two track road I'd mapped out.....banged the throttles and headed out for the Canyon across the flat plain…….

Unfortunately I spaced out on one left turn here and forgot to make a right and head over to the first viewpoint/waypoint………but we did find my second viewpoint/waypoint a bit further north…...The first viewpoint/waypoint we skipped will be in the .gpx file that I'll be posting.....

More awesome views seen/experienced by few……nice

At this point we also discovered Roger was missing a bolt holding his subframe to the main frame…….we only had ~10 miles to ride so we opted to deal with it when we reached Vermillion Cliffs......

The sun was nearly down as we headed for our night two lodging destination, Vermillion Cliffs Lodge…….but wait…….I wound up with a front pinch flat less than a quarter mile from the lookout……needed to knock this out quickly before the sun set…..time to stack some rocks and heave-ho the 620 into position

All fixed up and daylight fading fast…..

Chris Crawford (Crawford + 4 kids = Crawdaddy )

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Old 10-09-2009, 10:22 PM   #4
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Day 3

Day 3
We woke up early Saturday morning with a view of the Vermillion Cliffs behind our room at the Lodge:

First things first, we needed to deal with Roger’s sub frame…….no sweat (I thought)……we’ll just cannibalize a bolt from somewhere else on the bike (I actually found a bolt that would work with some washers in my misc. “just in case” stash)……….so Roger tried to thread in the replacement bolt…… dice…… crap, the bolt didn’t slip out… broke off inside the sub frame…….we asked around at the lodge to see if anyone had a drill/easy out we could borrow… dice…….so we decided to ride up to the Honda Shop in Page…….this would add ~40 miles of pavement to our day but we decided we really didn’t have much choice………the Sub Frame would rub against the swing arm if we did nothing……we’d ridden with Gawin, the owner of Honda shop in Page, before and figured he’d be equipped to help us out…… when we got down to the intersection of 89A and 89 we hung a left and headed ~20 mile sup to Page……here’s the funny/embarrassing part of the story…….by the time we reached Page some ~40 miles of pavement later, the remaining piece of bolt had backed itself out due the vibes put out by the mighty 640 thumper…….it turns out a counter sprocket bolt from a Honda 50 works perfectly…….so we threaded it in, gassed up, and headed south for the Navajo Lands…..

View of Vermillion Cliffs/Grand Canyon in the distance as seen from Hwy 89 heading south from Page, AZ.

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Old 10-09-2009, 10:23 PM   #5
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Day 3 cont'd

Day 3 cont'd

I was REALLY looking forward to riding out on the Navajo lands…….truly adventure riding in my book because I wasn’t able to get any feedback on ADVRider regarding these misc dirt roads out in BFE between the Grand Canyon to the West and 89 to the east…….so I was looking forward to heading out there and hopefully laying down some good active tracks for others to follow in our wake………we weren’t disappointed……..the views were unique and spectacular…….we skipped viewpoint/waypoint 3 (the first on the Navajo side of the Canyon) since we’d lost some time chasing down the bolt /sub frame issue……but that viewpoint/waypoint will be in the .gpx file I'll be posting......

On to Viewpoint/Waypoint 4.....
Viewpoint/Waypoint 4 was pretty spectacular……..and we both had cell reception too?!?!

We could see a few rafters down below...

Roger hamming it up again showing he STILL had some of “The Captain” in him….

Got a chuckle out of the GPS instructions on my route when we reached the viewpoint/waypoint, “When possible make a U-Turn”…….no kidding!

On to the next viewpoint……a lot of NOTHING in between viewpoints so we were able to twist the throttle and make up some time……we had a few sustained ~80+ mph stretches…….kinda nutty…..but also kinda fun

Viewpoint/Waypoint 5

Some of the photos I've posted were taken with my cell phone so they're a bit blurry……but hopefully you see Roger on the bluff down below….

Roger’s mean machine out on viewpoint/waypoint 5

Roger snapping photos of me high above making my way down….(I was a ways behind because I tried a short cut that didn’t pan out… left me stranded on the bluff above)

Viewpoint/waypoint 5 was awesome……..reminded us both of Horseshoe Bend by Page……misc. photos below left to right)

Approaching Viewpoint 5

What a view

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Old 10-09-2009, 10:25 PM   #6
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More Day 3

Day 3 cont'd

On to Viewpoint 6!

I rode a ways around the corner for a different perspective…

Zoomed in

Zoomed out (look in upper left hand corner)

Roger snapped my approach in his rear view mirror… shot….

Then I swung around him on the way over to Viewpoint 7

View Point 7…….our final viewpoint on the Navajo lands

Roger’s Black Beast at Waypoint 7

Chris taking in the sights……sensory overload on this particular day

Both bikes on a bluff near Viewpoint 7

Time to haul ass back towards civilization/Hwy 89

Came across some wild(?) horses

Wow, that was a long/dry/remote/beautiful stretch………we dropped down to Cameron on 89, fueled up, and headed down to the Gray Mtn Truck Trail to lead us into the South Rim…..a few pics along Gray Mtn Truck Trail….

Once down to Hwy 64 we started down dirt trail and came upon a Navajo wedding

So we diverted over to another trail that turned rocky for a bit before dying out on a bluff

It was getting late….we’d already had a big day……so we just hung a U-Turn and headed back up hill to the main trail/Hwy 64……..I lost my rear footing in one section and spun out……didn’t fall but was forced to dismount to lift the rear end around…….Roger whipped out the camera before I could get restarted

Once we got back to 64 we raced up to Desert View to get gas for Roger…….then we pulled over at a few viewpoints on the way into the Village and he snapped a few pics of the South Rim/clouds as the sun was setting…..

The clouds put on a quite a show as well….

By the time we pulled into Yavapai Lodge the sun had set…….we rode around for a bit trying to find some friends of mine that were hiking in the Canyon on Sat as I thought they might be at the Bright Angel Trail head……..we couldn’t find’em so we checked in, ate, and passed out…….long day……fun day…..
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Old 10-09-2009, 10:26 PM   #7
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Day 4

Day 4

The winds were already howling when we woke up on Sunday morning at Yavapai Lodge…….the clouds looked a bit threatening but luckily it was still dry……..I went out to start the big Orange machine and… crap, I left my heated grips on and killed the battery (note to self, rewire heated grips so they shut off when you turn off the ignition key)

So I bump started the 620 and we were on our way……Day 4 was an interesting day…….similar to Day 3 in regards to the remoteness of the riding area……I really like that big country/BFE nowhere riding…….very cool (to me) to ride out in places seen by few…….this was also a day of many, many ranch gates……..I reminded Roger that he used to work on a cattle ranch and was therefore highly skilled in the art of “gate operation”…....I also played the old man/dead battery card on him.…so that was the trade-off, “you get to ride in front……..but you also get to open/close the gates”…..

We left the South Rim on US 180 towards Tusuyan but turned off quickly on nf 800/328……easy riding though a tad bit chilly first thing in the morning……

Roger almost got taken out by 4 wild turkeys along nf328……..they ran/flew out from the right side of the road as he passed by…….these turkeys were huge……I thought they were dogs at first when I viewed them in the distance……pretty wild……they’d dispersed by the time I got there……further up the trail we encountered a wild pig……luckily it just ran away from the trail…..true to form, it had been wallowing in a mud pit near the trail…..

After a bit we dropped down to the flat plain that we would be riding across for hours on our way to Seligman……

Things got a bit interesting once we dropped down the hill in the above photo……..we rode along a fence line then came to a ranch with 3 gates which sat right on the road where I had planned to make a left turn…….crap…… we rode further up the fence line looking for an alternative to opening these three gates and riding by the front of the house…… dice…….then we tried a side road to see if we could ride around the ranch……it dead ended……Ok, here we go…….Roger opened all three gates and we proceeded cautiously/courteously through the gates and in front of the house……I don’t believe anyone was home… seemed odd to me……it was as if the house was built right across the road????........No pictures here but I did set a waypoint which will be in the posted .gpx tracks…….hopefully someone will use my tracks and find an alternate solution/path prior to arriving at this juncture so that this particular section can be bypassed…..

Once we slid by the ranch it was open/high speed riding once again….

We turned off the main road above and hoped on a few deep two tracks across the great/barren expanse……the wind was really howling now (I’d guess ~40-50mph gusts) so it was a bit challenging to see at times (dust) and stay in what was essentially a single track lane at speed……very scenic in it’s own “big country” way……..came across a lot of cows/horses along the way……

Another surprise was awaiting us when we reached Tin House…….a similar situation to the ranch with 3 gates…….except this time there was no gate…….. the fencing at Tin House was laid out directly across the road I’d seen in Map Source……..Ok, time for a new plan……..I switched map sets in my GPS from City Navigator to Roads and Rec’s and was able to see a way around the fence………we rode in front of the Tin House Ranch, turned left at the fence, and rode down the fence line until we reached a gate……we proceeded through the gate, made a right past a water tank, and hoped on a few side roads which eventually led us back over to the track I’d laid out……..the Roads and Rec’s software really saved our bacon in this instance…….these old/seldom used side roads did not appear in City Navigator 09……needless to say, I just left the Roads and Rec’s mapset on my screen at that point in case we needed it again……and we would need it again……

Once we got around Tin House and back on the main track we rested for a bit and then came across the entrance to Boquillas Ranch……no shortage of signs here….

Travel is permitted through the ranch on the main trail…….you just need to fill out a permit application at the entrance sign…..

The road through the ranch was pretty scenic……and a bit rocky in places…..we bounced around a bit but cleaned it all without issue…..when it doubt – more throttle!

We exited the ranch across a great/open plain

Once we got past the ranch we had to reroute a few times to avoid private property…….a few more rocky roads and soon we were down in Seligman…….trippy/quirky town along Route 66……we stopped here for gas/lunch before heading up to Peach Springs on Hwy 66…….the ride to Peach Springs was horrendous……the wind was howling so hard I thought my helmet was going to get ripped off my head!

Once we arrived in Peach Springs we checked in at the Hualapai Lodge…….then I inquired about buying a permit to ride down to the CO. river (to the best of my knowledge, the road leading down to the CO. river on the Hualapai reservation is the only road/access to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the south side)…..we were dressed in full moto gear… need to play games/pretend we had a car…..

“Sorry, no bikes allowed”…..that’s the standing order/reply from the front desk…….I tried to explain that we weren’t riding Harley street bikes……that our “Adventure” bikes were more than capable of riding any terrain suitable for a 4-wheel drive vehicle……no dice………so I walked over to the concierge and started my appeal for reasonableness…….they were a bit more receptive to the situation……they suggested we ride out and find the ranger so she could inspect our bikes…….if the ranger felt they were suitable she could sell us a permit ($16.05/per bike)……they also suggested we carry ~$33 cash because if we wanted to use a credit card for the permit purchase she’d have to drive back to the lodge to run the cards…….so off we went in pursuit of the Ranger cash in hand……we found her sitting out near the transition where the road turns to dirt some ~20 miles above the river below…….she was really cool…….a quick glance over at the bikes was met with, “Are you boys riding down to the river?”…….that quick glance confirmed the obvious - our bikes were more than suitable for the journey… we paid our $33 and off we went…….I’ll have to check my active GPS track, but I think we descended about ~4K’ down to the river…….it was 90 degrees at the ~1400 elevation down at the rivers edge……..beautiful ride down to the bottom……not too crazy about having to pay $16 for the privilege to ride down but no other choice/option….besides, that “sightseeing permit” would come in handy the next day……more on that later

A few pics leading down through the Canyon to the river:

The road gets a bit wet/rocky near the bottom then opens up into a nice beach with a few cabanas…….a few Hualapai Rafts were also tied up down there……I didn’t check the fees, but for a price you can arrange trips to float down the CO. river from this point for ~45 miles…..

Made it......

Time to head back up to the Lodge

Chris Crawford (Crawford + 4 kids = Crawdaddy )

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Old 10-09-2009, 10:28 PM   #8
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Day 5 - The final day of our 5 day / 1200 mile GC LOOP

Day 5

After a sleepless night at the Lodge (Did I mention the train track behind the motel???……horns honking all night long) we had a complementary/hot breakfast and headed over to Truxton for gas……I’m sure there’s a better way to get from Truxton to Buck and Doe Road but we simply back tracked on Route 66 for ~5 miles then jumped on Buck and Doe Road heading NW.…….Buck and Doe is a main dirt road and you see several side ranch roads that peel off and return to Buck and Doe when looking at the Roads and Rec mapset…….we were pulled over on Buck and Doe examining our options when a different Hualapai Ranger (Reggie) pulled up with lights flashing……”Do you have a permit?”……..”Yep, picked up a sightseeing permit yesterday when we rode down to the river and we told her we’d be riding Buck and Doe today”………”we don’t allow bikes on the reservation roads”…….”Reggie, look at our bikes…..we can handle the road conditions”……Reggie called in our permit number from the day before and gave us the green light to continue on to Grand Canyon West Airport at the end of Buck and Doe Rd.........however, the consent was limited.......he said we must stay on Buck and Doe…….no fire/ranch road side trips because we were told that was all private property and our pass was only good for the main rd.........hmmmm, I thought our pass was good for all roads on the reservation but ok……disappointing, but we accepted our fate and moved on……we got Reggie to snap our picture.....

(we had planned on taking a picture WITH Reggie but another ranger pulled up and we decided to not even ask if he’d care to join us in a photo…….we just moved on)

We rode a bit further up the road and my front end got REALLY loose……aw crap, not AGAIN!!!.......luckily the road was strewn with rocks so we made a little ramp and I rode the 620 up into place to change out the front tube again….

Hmmmmmm, valve stem ripped out of the tube…….guess I’d better put a rim lock on my front wheel

After a quick change we were on our way again…….

We spread out so we could both maintain a right side position on the road in case we came upon oncoming traffic or blind corners……..the dust wasn’t an issue since we were riding a half mile apart from one another…….nice to have radio comm system......

Eventually we reached a point where we could see the Grand Canyon/Airport in the distance……

Once we arrived at the airport we were told only buses are allowed to transport visitors out to the Grand Canyon Skywalk: ……We had neither the time, $, or interest…..Roger snapped a couple of pictures, we hung a U-Turn, and headed west….

Helicopters at Grand Canyon West Airport:

We followed my planning track towards the Triangle gas stop on US93N via series of paved, dirt, sand roads/washes that I’d thrown together…….I was pleasantly surprised with the tracks I’d drawn for the most part…..though I did take us through a few stretches of sand wash that were a bit deep/challenging at times

A few assorted pictures on our way down to Triangle:

Lake Mead in the distance:

I dont think this guy make it to the lake

The final push to Triangle

We fueled up in Triangle then headed into Vegas via US93/Hoover Dam

They’re building a new/high bridge to the south of the dam to alleviate traffic/weight on the dam

Self timer shot:

MADE IT – VIVA LAS VEGAS!!! (notice the newly married couple standing behind me and in front of the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign)



Chris Crawford (Crawford + 4 kids = Crawdaddy )

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Old 10-09-2009, 11:26 PM   #9
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Talking GPX Track File

The .gpx track file is posted here:

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Old 10-10-2009, 12:11 AM   #10
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Nice report and thanks for the gpx file!!
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Old 10-10-2009, 06:45 AM   #11
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Great report and pics. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-10-2009, 07:14 AM   #12
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Awesome. Thanks for the gpx file.
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Old 10-10-2009, 07:46 AM   #13
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Great report, Crawdaddy! I'm glad you found a way to get to the river at peach springs.. I'll have to try that approach if i get that way again.

There are a lot of cool views there on your ride along the reservation before you hit cameron. That is a great ride you did.. a true grand canyon loop.. Kudos!!

I'm going to read it again..

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Old 10-10-2009, 07:57 AM   #14
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Great report. You gotta trust that GPS when it tells you to make a "U turn".
I'm gonna start wearing my glasses so I don't miss those messages. lol
"Technically, it's doable"
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:14 AM   #15
T O Double D
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Dude, that was awesome! My friend has been talking about doing a ride down there and now I know why.

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