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Old 10-18-2010, 04:34 PM   #1
Jason Abbott OP
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Location: Boise, Idaho, USA
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Seven spend a cold autumn night in Idaho's mountains

Flesh and bone broken under the blows of a wooden bat was the sickening sound—at once soft and sharp—I heard from the front wheel whenever I hit one of the soccer ball to sofa sized rocks on the trail up to Louie Lake. No matter the patented German lace pattern, I couldn’t imagine the rim would still be true.

I hadn’t expected any more overnight rides this year but when Ryan invited us to his boyhood stomping grounds for what promised to be a beautiful autumn weekend, I had to sign up. On a scale of one-to-five, he categorized the trail to Louie Lake as level four, fairly difficult. I was kind of worried about that but excited all the same for one more mountain ride.

The seven of us who went traveled in five groups according to whenever we could get out of town Friday afternoon. For most of us, including myself, it was highway until about McCall, then a few miles of country road and finally an ATV trail. I rode alone and caught up on This American Life episodes.

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The real ride began when we turned off Boulder Lake Road to cross Boulder Creek on the other side of a gate blocking anything larger than ATVs. Low water made the crossing easy—one less worry.

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The trail was also pretty easy, just a gradually climbing dirt path. I began to think it might have been worked on since Ryan was last here. Maybe it would be smooth all the way to the lake. That would be nice.

I held on to that pleasant thought until rude reality confronted me from around a bend: rocks and more rocks. I can say now that the final climb into Louie Lake is the hardest trail I’ve ridden on the GS. It was wasn’t so nasty as the ATV track off Squaw Butte but I can’t really say I rode that. It was more a matter of sliding, crashing and cursing.

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Propelling a 600 pound machine with a fast first gear and clutch that can’t be slipped, up that incline and through the maze of rocks, required a somewhat moronic approach. I would pick a line, pop the clutch and hang on for dear life until the engine stalled (several times) or I ran hard into something (a couple times). Then get pointed the right direction and repeat. And repeat. And of course don’t fall down. I imagine it was comical to watch.

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It was with a considerable measure of relief that I crested the trail at the edge of the lake. Jim’s tent and motorcycle stood near the water’s edge but he was nowhere to be found—hiking I guessed.

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Ed (trailrider383) arrived not long after I had my own tent setup and then Jim returned, with that smile he seems always to wear, as Ed was unpacking.

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Aspens adorned in their autumn colors decorated the circumspect shore. Jughandle Mountain, crowned by a barely gibbous moon, looked stone-faced across the placid lake to our campsite, the last rays of sun just kissing its cheek.

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I think no aware person can but feel awe, the smallness of his own concerns, in places like this—Nature’s Temples as John Muir was fond of saying.

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The three of us sat by a small fire of driftwood and brush as afternoon faded toward dusk. The sound of engines revving and falling silent signaled the approach of others picking their way through the rocks. Buoyed perhaps by our own safe passage through the gauntlet, we made mirthful comment on their approach.

“Wow, did it take me that long?”

“Maybe I should go give them a tow.”

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Headlight beams bouncing wildly in the trees atop the trail suggested they were making the final climb. Finally Phil (HeadingNorth) and his neighbor Joe emerged and found their way lakeside. Three became five around the fire.

Dusk was nearing dark when the familiar engine ruckus reached our ears from the trail below. A roar and then silence, repeating itself. I can’t imagine riding that trail in the half-light that remained. Or rather I can. It would be impossible.

The sound of struggle went on for some time before the trail spat Tyson (av_mech) from its mouth. It was fully dark. It sounded like he and Ryan had helped each other but their combined effort could coax the 950 no further. The trail was silent.

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“My grandpa and I used to come here,” Ryan began, after making peace with the 950 predicament and joining us around the fire. He went on to tell of their fishing trips, riding slowly between lakes on Trail 90s, and his grandpa’s defiant attitude. We could all talk about rides we’d been on, good or bad, and the wonders we’d seen. We had that in common. As the hour grew late, stories turned to El Diablo the elk and grizzly defenses.

I had left camera on tripod for one night photograph before bed. I realized when I stood from my seat at the fire that the sips of drink had added up. I had to concentrate to set the right exposure but I was glad to record the moment—water pooled at the foot of a dark mountain, reflecting infinity above.

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I woke in the dark to the sound of rain and rushing wind. It seemed the year’s perfect record of camping and rain would hold. The wind could be heard whooshing, almost roaring, in the trees around the lake before it reached us in waves. By the sound of it, I half expected the tent to pull loose of its stakes but the wind’s strength did not match its sound.

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Our tents held against the wind but Tyson was unhappy to discover that his was setup in a slight basin. He had a wet night.

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The morning was cold but not terribly so, and the sky was blue. Our individual cook stoves sprang up like hissing mushrooms to prepare coffee, oatmeal, even freeze-dried eggs. Bikes were checked, coffee shared and a homeward route planned.

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The possibility of a slower pace, braking instead of accelerating, simplified the trail descent. Soon we were back at the gravel road and ready for the next adventure.

these images are hosted at flickr
this post was automatically generated from my blog
text and images are © Copyright 2011 Jason Abbott. All Rights Reserved. ■
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Jason Abbott screwed with this post 07-28-2011 at 09:38 AM
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Old 10-18-2010, 04:38 PM   #2
Gaston Gagne
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Wow, nice. Nice photos.
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Old 10-18-2010, 05:15 PM   #3
ryanwilliamcantrell
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Great photos indeed.
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Old 10-18-2010, 06:05 PM   #4
Kodanja
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Nice report Jason....wish I could have gone. That rocky section reminds me of my ride to Burnt Knob Lookout, but even tougher! Some nice photos of your trip that gives one a sense of being there.
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Old 10-18-2010, 06:11 PM   #5
trailrider383
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Now that's a nice start!!! More please.
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Old 10-18-2010, 06:35 PM   #6
Idahosam
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As usual Jason, absolutely beautiful scenery as seen through your lens. You always manage to capture incredible shots, not to mention I look forward to your accompanying witty narratives of which I must capitulate, that I inevitability must delve into the dictionary as you always are a catalyst to my increasing vocabulary You manage to enlighten me with every write-up another a two words or so keep it up I'm improving my crossword skills exponentially.

Sorry I missed out.
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Old 10-18-2010, 06:51 PM   #7
MacG
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Great scenery and fantastic pics
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Old 10-18-2010, 06:59 PM   #8
250senuf
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superb pictures

what camera are you shooting with?
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:01 PM   #9
av_mech
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I look good in those long underwear!!!! Truly a wonderful fall ride!! It was great to finally meet you.
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Old 10-19-2010, 05:09 AM   #10
prometheus rising
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Outstanding ride and those photos are breath taking
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:13 AM   #11
cbmma1969
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Now on my rides I want a camera and a mini Jason attached somewhere on the bike. I'm envious of both his skill with the camera and the narrative.
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:24 AM   #12
Jason Abbott OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by av_mech
I look good in those long underwear!
We were definitely the most handsome group ever to camp there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kodanja
wish I could have gone.
Me too. Would have enjoyed finally meeting you and sharing some photo ops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 250senuf
what camera are you shooting with?
I don't think it's a large part of the equation but: Nikon D700.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Idahosam
you always are a catalyst to my increasing vocabulary
Our nine year old had a section about the moon at school. He taught me "gibbous" a few weeks ago. I've just been waiting to get it in somewhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trailrider383
More please.
About done. Didn't you shoot some video?
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:29 AM   #13
svenoman
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Nice Ride, Great Pictures.
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Old 10-19-2010, 05:07 PM   #14
Jason Abbott OP
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The last of it ...

An alien world inhabited by ancient lizards the size of mountains, large enough to support their own flora and fauna, was the subject of one of the short stories I listened to while riding home.

Except it was real. The mountains northeast of McCall were covered in grey scales, wrinkled rocks as large as my yard, the thin spaces between them home to low bushes, red and yellow, and spindly evergreen trees. The landscape could hardly have been more impressive had it suddenly rose up, a titan to lumber across the earth.

A plan to ride the East Mountain ATV trail was deferred with Ryan’s expedited return to Boise. None of us remaining were prepared to lead that route. Instead we would simply take back-roads as much as possible as we made our way home.

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We rode through McCall, northeast along Payette Lake to Lick Creek Road. We travelled a ribbon of asphalt black with the morning rain, laced with fluttering, golden leaves. The idyllic drive brought to mind the observations of Robert Pirsig.

You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame. On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance).

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Road and creek entwined in a shadowy embrace as asphalt became dirt and we ascended titanic stone-scaled mountains.

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Efforts to record the vast hinterland seemed futile. I stopped and stopped again, falling farther behind, unable to squeeze that land into my small black box.

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We descended slowly along the shoulder of a wide valley, it’s forest floor hazy in the morning light. Small aspens stood among stone blocks above the road like children cautious but curious to see the passing strangers. Rocky crags rose high above, sharp against the bright sky. I wished to stop and spend a day watching light play across the many still forms. Another time.

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The road eventually followed at the level of creek and river many miles to our expected turn south to pass the Forest Service helibase, Krassel, and Buckhorn Campground on the way to Warm Lake.

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A big orange sign, however, said that road was closed. The nearest alternative was to loop by the tiny mountain town of Yellow Pine, adding about thirty miles to the trip.

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Tyson expressed uncertainty about having enough gas for the added distance. You can imagine our sympathy.

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Vienna sausages for Ed

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Much road work near Yellow Pine

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Yellow Pine didn’t have telephone service until November of 1996 (source). There are no stoplights and no pavement. They don’t always have gas but Tyson got lucky. He filled his bike from a red five gallon jug at the town’s rustic market before we continued southwest along Johnson Creek toward Warm Lake and Cascade.

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Smile, you're on the Internet

Although we never experienced it ourselves, miles and miles of mud and puddles told a story of recent, steady rain.

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And then we joined the highway, curving through the mountains around Warm Lake.

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Warm Lake below

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In Cascade, we got fuel and food and planned the next dirt detour. We would take High Valley Road from Smiths Ferry.

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Rain had not passed this way. I put the camera away to avoid thick dust hanging in the air as I trailed behind the others.

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We rejoined Highway 55 at Gardena and made our own way home.

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves (John Muir).

I am glad to live so near the mountains.

these images are hosted at flickr
this post was automatically generated from my blog
text and images are © Copyright 2011 Jason Abbott. All Rights Reserved. ■
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Photo ride reports: http://trailimage.com/

Jason Abbott screwed with this post 07-28-2011 at 09:39 AM
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Old 10-19-2010, 05:58 PM   #15
trailrider383
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I didn't even notice Phil having a yard sale in Yellowpine.

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