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Old 09-08-2014, 12:14 PM   #91
XR4EVER OP
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"Honey, I'm scared. I think I got in over my head this time."

If you've followed this thread in the past, you know it has been my personal quest to make the ~36 mile trek from Thompson Pass to Idaho Point on all (nearly impassible) single track following Trail 7 along the ID/MT state line. I have been up there to make an attempt 9 or 10 times in all, with every attempt failed due to running out of time, losing the trail, running out of saw gas, and again yesterday, coming to the end of the line on a trail that scales up an impossible 45 boulder field at least a half mile long.

I figured I'd cheat a little bit yesterday morning and replace the first 25 miles of single track with 30 miles of easy FS road to start at the section that I last made it to. This got me up to Bloom Peak just after sunrise to see a moose grazing through Ninetythree Mile Lake.





About 8 miles north of Bloom Peak is where I ran out of time the last time I was up there. As soon as I started into uncharted territory, things started getting hairy. The trail eventually went from thick and hard to follow with a lot of blowdowns to flat-out gone due to overgrowth. This vid is from my way back after I turned around.



I got back on a few FS roads and figured I would skip the few miles I had to go to get to Porcupine Pass where Trail 7 crosses through. Twenty more miles of road just to get 2 miles from where I was... Ugh. At Porcupine Pass, Trail 7 to the south is non-existant, and to the north it is well marked and heavily travelled for at least the first four miles. After it breaks out into the ridge line, there were blow-downs-a-plenty and the trail was all but gone. I was working my way through it, determined to make it to that damned Idaho Point. By the time I got to Bottle Point and looked down the other side, I knew I would have to commit to making it all the way to the end, because there was NO WAY I was making it back up. With my goal literally in sight, I was not turning back now. Down I went.



It was fairly instant that I recognized this as a mistake. I had a split second of a misplaced tire knob and almost lost my bike down into the mouth of Montana. I regained my composure and carefully got my bike back onto the ridge. My mind started racing from here out, and I stopped filming in case I would have to save the memory card to tell my family I love them and don't be a jackass like me and do things like this alone.

I made it about another half mile of tree-strewn rock piles before reality was really starting to take grip. I was low on gas, nearly out of water, and the trail went from "I can't believe I'm making it through this" to looking straight up a 45 slope of boulders that the map says I'm supposed to climb. I would have gone up this if it actually stayed like this, but it got way worse.



I got off the bike and hiked up a bit, looking for that magical smooth dirt path winding up through the rock field with angels' light shining down on it. I didn't find it. What I did find was a boulder field that only got way worse. I looked the other direction at the mountain I just came down. I'm screwed. That's when I made the call to my wife I'd hoped I'd never have to make. "Honey, I'm scared. I think I got in over my head this time." I knew I wouldn't have cell reception for most of the return trip, so we put in a system of "what it means if you get this message from my SPOT". I got a text later where she told me to use my OK button more often so she could track my progress to know how close she is to beating the crap out of me. I deserved that.

The return trip proved to be every bit of the butt-puckering, near-death adventure I thought it would be. I knew an attempt at climbing that north face cliff of Bottle Point would only end with a broken or lost bike or body, so I decided to side-hill around it, mostly walking next to the bike. That was a joy. Every time I would ease out the clutch, the back tire would slide out from under the bike, taking me three feet down the hill, three feet further from where I wanted to be. I got good at jamming my bark buster into the dirt to stop the slide. And if the terrain wasn't enough of a struggle, I started suffering from crippling leg and forearm cramps from dehydration. After I finally got around Bottle Point, I only had to hop 100 trees again (the saw was out of gas before I even got to Porcupine Pass), make it back to the pass and back ~35 miles of FS roads, coasting with the engine off where I could to save gas.

So there it is. The Centennial Trail from Thompson Pass to (almost) Idaho Point. A trail that is in-part too overgrown to save without teams of professionals, but definitely a fun challenge for the rugged.

Here is a vid of the climb up and over Bottle Point:


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Old 09-08-2014, 01:07 PM   #92
birdcool
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Wow. Talk about pushing the limits of solo. Ive been admiring that line on the map too. Never knew that was the condition! That area needs a dedicated small team just to bring that glorious trail back to life. PM me the next time u get this hairbrained idea, ill go out and suffer with u. Ill carry the extra gas and bivies. We can use the gas for the signal fire and the bivy to drag the dead carcus out.
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Old 09-08-2014, 07:41 PM   #93
lamotovita
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Ooh ooh ooh, me too.
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:40 PM   #94
Bungholio
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This definitely needs to be a 3 man affair if you want to try again. How was the butt whoopin? 😉
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Old 09-09-2014, 08:43 AM   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdcool View Post
Wow. Talk about pushing the limits of solo. Ive been admiring that line on the map too. Never knew that was the condition! That area needs a dedicated small team just to bring that glorious trail back to life. PM me the next time u get this hairbrained idea, ill go out and suffer with u. Ill carry the extra gas and bivies. We can use the gas for the signal fire and the bivy to drag the dead carcus out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lamotovita View Post

Ooh ooh ooh, me too.
Sounds like a plan. I might have to wait till next year; give me time to forget the terrifying parts and only remember the good parts. Maybe it would be better to start at Idaho point and drop down into it. Looking at the satellite images, it would definitely be easier to follow the trail from that end. Plus, it probably would not have been that big of a deal if I wasn't solo.

Lamotovita, I would have invited you on this one, but the plan came to me as we were putting the kids to bed the night before. I was then loading the bike at 10 and getting up at 3, hit the trail by 5:30. Kinda gave new meaning to "short notice".

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Originally Posted by Bungholio View Post
This definitely needs to be a 3 man affair if you want to try again. How was the butt whoopin? 😉
Honestly, little was said of it. I thanked her for being there by talking me through it and volunteering to load her bike to come save my butt if need be, but besides that, nothing. I guarantee it will come up again the next time I want to go ride. Waaaaiiiit foooor iiiiittt.....
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Old 09-09-2014, 09:28 AM   #96
n16ht5
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you're crazy. I'm glad you made it out alive. Are there many creeks around there?? Do you carry a filter or chlorfloc tabs?

I carry one of those little stihl premix bottles for my saw for when it runs out, the little stihl screwdriver tool, a file with guide, and a wedge. I've used all of them and they were very needed in each case. And when you run out of bar oil you can use the premix as well.
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Old 09-09-2014, 09:50 AM   #97
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OK, I might have to go back there sooner than later. I finally had time to sit down at the big computer and overlay my SPOT tracking points with google earth and the topo maps. For anyone following along, I made it to 47.88556, -115.94511.
It looks like there is a magical dirt path that I didn't see, at least for a good portion of the remaining way (aside from the 500' of near-vertical rock face I'd somehow have to find a way up...).

Also, it appears that the section I lost just south of Porcupine Pass is mapped wrong. The trail map shows the trail following the dog leg of the border, where the topo map shows a trail taking a more direct path from near where I was to the pass... Again, it might be easier to find the trail from the other end. Hmmm.... Anyone have a weedeater with a brush blade they'd want to pack and go on an adventure?
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Old 09-09-2014, 10:49 AM   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n16ht5 View Post
you're crazy. I'm glad you made it out alive. Are there many creeks around there?? Do you carry a filter or chlorfloc tabs?

I carry one of those little stihl premix bottles for my saw for when it runs out, the little stihl screwdriver tool, a file with guide, and a wedge. I've used all of them and they were very needed in each case. And when you run out of bar oil you can use the premix as well.
If I would have had to spend the night up there, I guarantee I could have found some snow on the north side of that ridge I was on. I passed a few small piles on the way there.
There's always pee.
Kidding.

I carry a hatchet and a folding shovel in may pack that have both come in handy. I usually carry two of those red fuel bottles with me, one with bike gas and one with saw gas, but I really didn't expect to need extra fuel this time out. I even looked at them when I was loading the car and decided against it. I was thinking 60 miles, tops, with most of it sipping fuel on FS roads. I was just under 100 miles by the time I got back to the car, and there were about 3 hours of fighting through thick brush and 10' tall trees at 1/2 MPH. I have about 2 hours of video footage that looks like this:

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