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Old 09-11-2012, 05:09 AM   #16
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Smokey Mountain Road Continued.

The difference between mountain and hollow strikes me as pretty obvious now, but not at the time. Smokey Hollow Road was actually more of a drainage than a road. For 20 miles it basically followed a wash. The road popped out of the wash here and there, but stayed in it most of the time. Because of the storms the road was full of washouts and step-up's or step-downs through the rocky sections. It wasn't long before I lost any tire tracks from pick-ups or Jeeps.

Fortunately, much of the wash was still damp. This made for firmer riding. The mud was scattered and easy to navigate around too. Probably a no go just hours earlier.











Smokey Hollow was a hard 20 miles or so. I could have used a lower gear, too. But once I knew the terrain was going to let me through, I rather enjoyed it. I'd like to go back and ride it again, now that I know what it is.

It popped out of the canyon pretty high and climbed up to intersect with Smokey Mountain Road well north of the summit. From there the terrain gave way to the low scrubby evergreens common to the high country around those parts.







From there, Smokey Mountain Road ran atop a mesa north towards Escalante, UT. There were still a couple low ranges to cross, which made for some twisty dirt paths. Also, the road served as a drainage as well, leaving a few rocky switchbacks and such, here and there. But the road was a comfortable 25-30 mph most of the way to Escalante, where I had lunch. It was a great ride, but I shouldn't have been solo. Oh well, it worked out ...

I left Page, AZ at 7am. I had lunch in Escalante about 1pm. I was too tired to eat much and I was behind my schedule. There is another dirt road north out of Escalante that I wanted to try, but I had a dinner date in Sandy UT, so I had to skip it and beat feet north on the highway.

My next post will be from the following day, when Steve and I began riding the Pony Express Trail west from just south of Salt Lake City to highway 93 in Nevada. Some of it was very rugged and definitely not big bike friendly. It seems we lost the main trail around the Nevada border and ended up scaling a mountain range. Sheesh! Saw lots of wild horses up there too. Beautiful things. Glossy brown with black mane's and tails. Probably saw 20 of them as we crossed the range.

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Old 09-11-2012, 07:29 AM   #17
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Looks great so far.
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Old 09-11-2012, 02:37 PM   #18
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Pony Express Trail UT>NV

First a couple more images of the Smokey Hollow Road:




Smokey Mountain Road atop the Mesa:


Yeah, that was a special ride between Big Water and Escalante.

I met up with Steve in Sandy Utah and we all went out for sushi after I grabbed a quick shower. I still checked the fuel pump every couple hours, though. It whirred when it should every time.

I purchased tracks from Tony Huegel last spring. I had to skip the Dinosaur Park to Salt Lake section, which was really too bad. It had probably 600 miles of great forest roads that will have to wait for next season.

Steve and I picked up the Pony Trail at Lehi, south of SLC. It was well marked in the flats of Utah. Not so much crossing the mountains in Nevada.

The first station:




Steve carried quite the load. A lot of it came in handy too. Even a little home made trail jack! Meanwhile, I didn't even have a stove because I forgot the fuel. But I had a mondo pillow and air mattress.


Endless miles of this. Mostly about 60 mph...





Some of the stations were either preserved as ruins or rebuilt:





We ran up on another inmate. Didn't really catch his name, but we took each others pictures and he rode with us for awhile... until he didn't. Not sure what happened, but he had a different pace in mind. Not that we were honking mind you, but dirt roads this good should be ridden with enough spirit to make me smile in my helmet. It was a truly great day to be alive aboard a small and handy motorcycle:





Then there was the wildlife preserve. Fish and such. Springs or something in the middle of the desert:



Desolate:



with Bonneville in the distance:


We found a small campground just south of a small berg in the middle of nowhere. Calla or something like that. It was a dry camp with flies, but was a good rest. We set up about 4pm for the evening. I think we were about 170 miles from gas by then. We had 2 gallons extra to make it the rest of the way to Ely. My range was about 225 miles at the rate we were going. The extra gallon would get me another 70 miles. I used it all too...




Meanwhile, I forgot food too. So I ate Steve's dehydrated stuff. I was a little short on water so it ended up being pretty dry.

The next day would be a ball buster. It took two of us to get through to Highway 93 via the Goshute Mountains and the Antelope Range. Very rugged going for us, since we missed the main route . Two double track (barely) passes over 9600 feet up. Wow!
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Old 09-11-2012, 03:30 PM   #19
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Looks great so far.
Thanks Jax - I'd follow your tracks anywhere.
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:20 AM   #20
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nicely written
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:01 AM   #21
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nicely written
Thanks Dave - I like riding the west a lot. That's why I keep the little bike out there to explore with. I'd like to get my own place in Scottsdale I think. A place I can split the seasons with and have a little room to spoon tires and such. There is a lot to see out there and for me it never gets old.

New England was nice to come home to, though. Most of this trip was through truly desolate country, so looking forward to a dual sport ride through the Berkshires this Sunday. Lush and green...
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:31 AM   #22
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Pony Express Trail Continued

Packed up camp in the morning fast enough and were rolling by 7:30am. Dang; Steve carries a lot of stuff! We were going to need every ounce of the two gallons of extra fuel:


Working our way west, my tracks became confusing. Tony had included some side loops and I was unsure what we should be riding, given our fuel constraints. I figured a little over 100 miles more range with the extra gallon. I was comfortable with that because Tony advised me that there was a small ranch about 30 miles away with gas for cash. We just had to find it.

A ways west up the Trail, we came to Gold Hill. It was mostly a ghost town, but had a few residents. There isn't much around these parts. Very remote.



It was about here our troubles began. Steve was leading, but he didn't have tracks. He had a regular GPS, but only Topo maps with waypoints. While riding through an indian reservation past Ibapah, I noted the tracks went off west via a double track, while Steve continued south on the main reservation road. I thought the tracks must be wrong because the road was too little travelled. Mistake!

A long ways later we were lost and worried about fuel. So we consulted Steve's Benchmark map book:


We were deep into the reservation on a paved road that actually went only to the main village with no apparent outlet. I went back to my GPS and zoomed out enough to find one of Tony's 'alternate loops'. It appeared to reconnect with the main trail. So we back tracked maybe 10 miles and found it. This time I was in the lead. It didn't help...

The problem was I had my GPS zoomed out too high. I was by the main trail before I knew it because of the scale. Then Steve radiod me to come back because he found the gas stop.

Our joy was short. Nice bunch of wranglers greeted us but were out of gas...

Then like the dumb asses were were, we simply continued down the 'alternate loop' rather than backtrack to the main trail.

After a few miles I stopped and studied my tracks. We could go back or continue on the loop over two passes and drop down into Cherry Creek on highway 93. As is our foolish habit, we continued straight ahead...

It wasn't long before the trail deteriorated. Tony assured me his trails were big bike friendly so I had confidence. Well, the weather can change trails over a season or two. This one became a double track with little apparent usage. We continued boldly, worrying about the gas all the time.

As we climbed the first range we spotted lots of wildlife like antelope and noted lots of horse crap. I was wondering why all the horse crap. Pretty soon we found out. Large herds of wild horses roam those ranges and today they were on top, darting around us as we slowly made our way.


First problem; mud hole...




You've all experienced this type of mud. So slimy it was hard to get a footing to pick up that pig. I had no problem with my knobbies, but Steve had a 70/30 rear tire for longevity. The instant he touched the throttle, it came around on him and splat.

As we climbed the road became very rugged with washouts and rocks. Steep descents into rocky switchbacks and up the other side. The water damage was big leaving deep ruts carved by drainage. These often ran down the middle making it hard to change sides of the road when the terrain required it. We needed the two of us to get through this part. And of course, we had a gas problem.

We really didn't take pictures through these two passes. It was too much work and our bikes were geared too tall to be stopping much. Both passes topped out about 9600 feet.

This was approaching the first pass several miles ahead. Those mountains in the distance was where we were going:





Crossing the last pass was great because the road improved significantly once we got a little lower. I think the ranchers below used it to wrangle horses above them. Of course our tracks were long gone from my GPS, so we started using Steve's GPS and also his paper maps. We knew generally where hwy 93 was and could see the range on the other side of the valley that 93 runs through. We made a few guesses at intersections and basically kept riding downslope in a westerly direction.

Finally we could see 93 and knew one of us would be able to get gas in Ely, NV and bring it back to the other. Steve ran out about then, but he had the remaining gallon so I continued ahead until I ran out. I didn't. I came into Ely on fumes, but made it. Upon fillup, my 3.7 gallon tank took 3.6 gallons. Who knows if the wings drain completely. Steve rolled in about 10 minutes later.

Wow...what a stressful ride! Well I look on it fondly now, but it could have been a disaster. The lesson is to make sure you know your tracks and maps, and how to use the GPS properly. Had I zoomed in closer, we never would have passed our intersections and then choose to forge ahead regardless. Also, make sure you have plenty of gas for these sections. You can't really tell how far they are because these roads aren't really marked and the GPS scale is sketchy at best. Lastly, don't do this stuff solo. Pilgrims like me don't know what we are doing out there. We simply don't recognize the risks if things go wrong until they have!

I had a Spot tracker, but other than an air search, I doubt if anybody on a motor vehicle could reach us.

This was the end of our dirt. We slabbed it to Reno on hwy 50, with stops at an interesting saloon I visited in 2005, and also Virginia City.

The Middlegate Saloon 2005:


Last Week:


I think it's been serving miners and travelers for over 100 years.

Virginia City was a highlight for us. I hadn't been there since 1973. While it is a mining town of historic significance, for Steve and I the town is more personal.

They used to have a motorcycle race there called the Virginia City Grand Prix. It consisted of eight 18-mile laps through the canyon below the town. The front straight was Main Street with start/finish in the middle of town. The fueling paddock was just south of the start/finish. Steve raced a Suzuki TM400 and I raced a beautiful Husky 250 round case.

Steve broke his frame about the 4th lap and was done. I made the finish at least 1 lap down and maybe 2. It was the hardest race I ever tried. My nose was rubbed bloody from my goggles chafing it. Sheesh.

Main Street:




The race course ran counter clockwise into this valley/canyon from the start/finish in town:



Today the Virginia City Grand Prix is ancient history. They have camel races there now. Somehow that seems wrong...

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Old 09-13-2012, 05:58 PM   #23
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Thanks so much for the report, Pantah! Sounds like the little eastern Nevada store, JP General, that had fuel to sell south of Ibapah in June has let us all down. I spoke at length back then with the owner about our needs when we travel the Pony Express route, and he did say it can be a while before his supplier gets 'round to delivering. But he had plenty at the time.

Here's the store's phone number, if anyone wants to call ahead to be sure: 1-775-534-1168

Here's how the roads on the route typically looked last June:






byways screwed with this post 09-13-2012 at 06:25 PM
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Old 09-13-2012, 08:16 PM   #24
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Hello Tony Huegel at Back Country Byways and master of adventure tracks through the Great West -

Yeah, the summer weather really tore up many of the roads we used on this trip. Your alternate loop path that we took to cross the the Goshute and Antelope mountain ranges was great until we hit the narrows at its tops or the deep canyons between the two. The roads were apparently not maintained during this late season and they served as water drainage during storms.

The storms must have been monsters, because the trenches and washouts carved by running water took all the soil in some spots, leaving difficult rock gardens and giant trenches in the short steep sections. It was a struggle for us and certainly not suitable for heavy multi cylinder adventure machines. There were no truck tracks at all on top, so the pass roads were not used since previous storms.

This phenomenon was true in Arizona and southern Utah as well, so it must've been a hell of a monsoon season. I never expected to be riding rock gardens and step-ups at my age! I was proud to learn that I still can, though.

Thanks again for your help, Tony. I learned a lot about reading terrain and using my GPS Map this trip. I was so angry I couldn't make your Echo Park to Salt Lake City route because of my mechanical delay. In a way, it's a good thing because the way I was using my GPS might have caused problems following your tracks west of Flaming Gorge. The beauty is I can make a better attempt early next summer. I sure wanted pictures of an Echo Park camp and the swinging bridge, though...

You westerners are used to all the changes you experience from storms through the seasons. Us pilgrims expect everything to look exactly like the ride reports in advrider.com! I mean Walt Disney does, right?

It was fun, though, and no harm done. Thanks for posting that phone number for the gas south of Ibapah too. That stop could make life a lot less stressful for others. I only had my iPhone and my laptop had the info you gave me. You're lucky because if I had that laptop, I would have had you on my speed dial about last Wednesday.

Best,
Bob Holcomb
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:26 PM   #25
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Nice thread!

Yup. Lots of summer rains in Southern Utah have changed up some of the roads. Never know for sure what you might find.

Enjoying your RR. Thanks!
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Old 09-14-2012, 06:23 PM   #26
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Hey Purplesage - I read your reports always. You are having fun out there and I noticed the routes you ride never get old for you either.

Thanks for commenting on our ride and have fun tomorrow. I hope to ride a Berkshire dual sport ride on Sunday, but may miss it for time constraints.

Cheers
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Old 10-29-2012, 07:39 AM   #27
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First Advrider Campout

I spotted it in the Northeast Regional section. Something called Recompense 2012; The Last New England Campout. It is sort of a leaderless gathering with no rules. If you want to have it, you bring it yourself. I was intrigued...I like the no rules part best.

Turned out the leaderless group had Evilclown filling in for the administrative part. He took headcount in advance and secured the campground, firewood and such, then collected Saturday morning. A couple of other inmates set up a mondo camp kitchen and served up all sorts of breakfast stuff. The campground was on Caco Bay north of Freeport Maine. About thirty of us showed up.

I have been a member of Advrider since 2004 and this is tyhe first time I was able to meet the people behind years of internet banter. It was so much fun I can hardly wait to attend a few more next season.










Maine is a beautiful state. Very different from its New England neighbprs. Very undulating terrain with fabulous farms.
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:25 PM   #28
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I just want to correct that the elevation peaks of the two remote passes I discribed in the Pony Trail section of this thread, were not 9600 feet, but rather high sevens.

Not sure how I made that error. But whatever, I think those were two very challenging passes for us. We didn't expect it, but weather does things to the landscape. Still, it was very fun in retrospect. We solved it. Solving is a big part of what we aspire to do aboard a motorcycle...on this forum at least.

-P
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:52 PM   #29
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Great Thread Pantah! I've been wanting to get up Smokey Mountain Road for awhile, and haven't. How is the comfort of the 690 compared to your 990?
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Old 11-16-2012, 05:59 PM   #30
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Great Thread Pantah! I've been wanting to get up Smokey Mountain Road for awhile, and haven't. How is the comfort of the 690 compared to your 990?
Hi Dave - Comparing comfort? Well...I just bought my first new motorcycle seat. What does that tell us.

It's not bad and the ergo's are better because it is taller between seat and pegs. So feels more roomy. No real room for a passenger, though.

Remember when you struggled through that canyon? Johns Canyon or something like that? No problem for the new 690R in those places. THAT is the benefit for me; It is nearly 150lbs lighter and suspended just as well. It rolls rock gardens and steps much more easily. It's not a 240lb KTM 350, but it tours well, is urban street friendly, and rolls the tough stuff better than anything short of a real enduro bike. Its an interesting ride. Sort of a cross between a Ducati and a Honda XR650R. It elevates the possibilities of exploration for older guys like me.

Plus it's just as quick as the twin up to about 90mph or maybe 100. Stonking fast!

PS: Yep I want to do Smokey Mountain again too. Next time I won't have the anxiety of the unknown.
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