|12-30-2012, 08:04 PM||#16|
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Home base: Edmonton
DAY 9 Bridge Out!
We woke up late feeling relatively well rested (minus the headach) and ready to get back on the road. In the morning we knocked off a few miles of highway before turning off onto an interesting road that looked like it would cut through the mountains.
I had a really close call with a deer while riding through this straight, narrow wooded section way to fast.
I had to pull over and regroup after realizing how bad that could have been. Hitting the deer at 110km/hr would be one thing, but the resulting flying into a tree and coming to an instant stop would likely have been much worse.
I insisted that Jarrett ride in front for a while to keep my speed in line. I don’t always ride fast but at times when the riding is good I tend to just slip into the zone and get a bit carried away and before I know it, I’m doing highway speeds on a narrow dirt road.
More cruisey roads
Very smooth and very narrow
Hard to see but the is a massive drop just off the side of the road
We found the old Leona cemetery
Short life. RIP
We also came across some old structures
Further down the road it began to narrow up to a quad width
The ‘road’ wasn’t looking too promising since we had to cross the fair sized Kootenai river, but my GPS claimed this trail was a road with a bridge, so we carried on. Eventually we got to a steep very sandy hill on sharp corner. We didn’t think Jarrett’s bike would be able to make it back up if we had to ride back up, so it was decided that I would ride ahead and scout out the bridge first. It was still a long ways down to the river and there may be more tough areas as well.
Ridding ahead solo, the trail was narrow and almost like some sort of rail bed only it seemed too steep and the corners too sharp for a train. It was a long series of switch backs.
There were a few sections that had large berms built up to keep vehicles out but were trampled enough by quads for me to ride over without bottoming out. (barely)
Eventually I descended far enough to see the bridge. It was big sturdy looking steel structure
But wait? Do my eyes deceive me?
Is there no bridge deck!!?
You’ve got to be kidding me. Why would they decommission such a well built and no doubt expensive bridge? Only thing I can think of is that at this point, the river is right on the boundary between two states and maybe they wanted more control of access points. All I know for sure is that we’re not crossing the river here and that some considerable backtracking is ahead of us.
I head back up the trail towards Jarrett really, really hoping that he didn’t start coming down the trail. But sure enough just as I got to bottom of the dreaded steep, sandy hill, there he is! He had just descended… Bloody hell. This is not going to be fun.
Time for a little planning. How are we going to do this? Ok first thing let’s get my bike up. Due to the sharp corner on the hill there is only a little bit of momentum we can use before the corner becomes too fast. With Jarrett ready to push midway up just around the sharp corner, I hit the gas hard. Engine screaming and tires clawing through the sand, I make it about half way up the slope before my bike loses all traction and stops creeping forward. While still hard on the gas, I paddle hard with my feet while Jarrett jumps in and pushes the bike from behind. All this, plus a little bouncing on the seat for a touch more traction and we inch the rest of the way up the hill. My poor bike, it was just about sitting on the rev limiter at times during the ascent. But it’s up! One bike down and one much lower, much heavier bike to go…
Here’s the corner right before the base of the hill
For Jarrett’s beast we unloaded the panniers and gear first. I was elected to be driver since I was a bit lighter and had much more experience riding bikes in sand, plus Jarrett could probably push a bit more effectively then me with a much longer reach. We aimed for the same plan of attack only this time Jarrett would start pushing a bit sooner and I would try for a touch more momentum before the corner. We really had only had one decent shot at this since my bike had chewed up the sand track and made it even softer, and the rut deeper.
Ready go! I give the KLR a healthy amount of throttle and dump the clutch. The heavy bike starts charging toward the hill and we get ready for the final battle of heft vs sand. About a third of the way up, the bike loses all traction and slows to a crawl. I know that if we let it come to a full stop we’ll never get moving forward again and we’d have to start over. So still on the gas, I start my mad feet paddling and yell to Jarrett to Push! Push! Push! I could feel the tire digging and the bike dropping into the sand. It felt like just as the swing arm was almost completely buried into the sand we’d push it forward just enough for the bike to inch ahead and get the rear wheel back on top until it would start sinking again. Slowly, slowly we fought our way inch by inch up the hill. Finally, with the bike at the top I kill the engine and we both collapse in exhaustion and relief. The coolent warning temp light on the bike is lit up from the engine screaming with no airflow. I’m not sure how many attempts we had in us but I’m sure glad we made it up!
Here’s how narrow it is
Gives you an idea of steepness
After a little rest we load back up and head back out towards the highway. We wanted to get away from the sand hill asap. Instead we took a break at this nice little creek.
At the creek we consulted the map and found another road that would at least give us a different view on the way back to the highway and save us a good 15km of highway. It was a nicely paved windy road
And offered beautiful views of the river
Finally back on the highway we at least had bridge with a deck on it. Much easier to cross…
Just for kicks I found the road that we would have emerged from had we been able to cross the first bridge
Road still looked good fairly close to the river
And then we hit this sign. Obviously homemade. I guess we’ll never know what the deal is with the bridge closure. Might have been some private land sale with the new owner removing the bridge deck?
Back on the highway, it was at least scenic and had a few good curves
We took a break to check out the beautiful Kootenai River
This will be the last year I bring such a poor camera, as I really could not capture the stunning beauty of the area
It was a crazy hue of green
On the way back to the bikes we took a little shortcut under the fence
Over the tracks and scramble up the slope…
And finally, a short walk back along the highway
At Libby we turned off on Hwy 2 and headed north towards the dam and Lake Koocanusa
At the dam we could ride along either side of the long lake, but we chose the west side because it looked much windier, and less travelled.
Turned out to be wicked 65km of third and fourth gear bombing alongside the lake and a mountain. We enjoyed a spirited cruise on some rough but grippy paved road until we got stuck behind a couple of Harley riders. For a while until they eventually pulled off on a turn out, we were stuck behind them riding at what felt like half our previous speed. You really don’t realize how fast you can corner on a dual sport until you watch a heavy cruiser slowly take a curve and still be almost scraping it’s belly and pegs. These guys couldn’t go much fast even if they wanted to.
Eventually we hit the bridge and crossed back over the lake for our ride out to the highway.
Since it was already after 6 and we had missed lunch, we really just wanted to get to our destination to eat and drink. We had a few option but opted just to hammer out the 50min highway cruise south back to Whitefish where we had stayed our second night.
In Whitefish we didn’t quite have as much luck as we did the first night. There was a rodeo going on or something and literally every room was booked. It was now looking like we’d have to ride another 25km into Kalispell. But on the way out of town we noticed one hotel still claimed to have vacancies. A stop into the sketchy office should have been enough of a hint to keep moving but by then we just wanted a room. Well we got quite a room. 90 bucks for this gem!
Even two bedrooms! (sort of)
Plus check out the sweet room art. Not creepy at all!
In any case, we unanimously decided that beer, and lots of it, would be the only way we could sleep with the bed bugs biting us all night.
|12-30-2012, 08:13 PM||#18|
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Home base: Edmonton
DAY 10 Breakdown and Border Dash Part 4
After sleeping in a bit and a slow breakfast service at a busy dinner we weren’t on the road until 10am or so! Since our park pass was still valid for another day was decided to head back into Glacier Park and ride some of the unpaved back roads up towards the border. Being a weekend, the park was packed!
Took us close to 30min of idling to get into the park, then just as it looked like we were home free Jarrett’s bike stalled out and wouldn’t restart after many attemps.
We had no idea what it could be so we started pulling it a part to check the basics
It was hot and cars were constantly driving by and staring. Not an idea break down spot.
It had fuel, but with the plug out we couldn't seem to see a spark. We weighed our options and decided that it being a long weekend, if it needed an electrical part we’d have to wait at least two days for any bike store to open, plus get the bike into town. Jarrett called his GF and asked her to call around and get a truck rented in Calgary and then come down and get his bike.
While we waited, we put the bike back together. Just for kicks, since it didn’t matter if I drained the battery or not, I held down the starter and let to work for a good twenty seconds. It sputtered a bit just as I let go! I tried it again and after about ten seconds it started! Could it have just been stalled and flooded (probably, in hindsight)? Or some breather hose temperarely clogged? Or a loose electrical connection? We didn’t know why it stopped except that right now it was running and we should head north while we can in case it dies again.
Unsure if it would simply quit again, we decided to skip the backroads and just head north on the highway. This was a huge disappointment but felt like the most sensible course of action
Passing quads on the Highway
Not sure where they were headed but sure seemed sketchy to be riding so slow around a corner on a narrow highway. It would be too easy for a semi to round the bend and clip these guys. Also, isn’t that guy’s tread on backwards?
The highway was brutally boring. It gets real straight and fairly flat. Here’s where I can see the merits of a cruiser bike...
Before we can even see the border crossing we hit a massive lineup of cars. Had to be at least a mile long
Luckily for us, we knew about the back road that would pop us out right near the border.
From there we just snuck back into the lineup only a few hundred meters from the crossing. Had to of saved us at least an hour or two.
By supper time we were back in Fernie, BC. Even if Jarrett’s bike failed again at least we were only three hours from his home and I could easily get my truck to pick it up. But so far it was running perfect again.
|12-30-2012, 08:15 PM||#19|
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Home base: Edmonton
|12-30-2012, 08:34 PM||#20|
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Home base: Edmonton
DAY 11: Heading home
We geared up and Jarrett’s bike fired right up. This gave us the confidence to ride some more back roads again. Just outside of Fernie
We picked up the power line trail again
Back through the creek
Past Crowsnest Mountain
And back on the FTR
Here’s why my rear tires don’t last. Second gear clutch dump spinning all the way up to speed. Too much fun!
Jarrett cruising by
Until finally, we say goodbye to the last of the gravel.
Saw a few goats
Saw my shadow
We never did find out why Jarrett’s bike died. But if anyone read our last year’s trip, we never did find out why it died on that trip either. I’m sure it’s simple but without knowing the cause it’s hard to fix and frustrating.
My tire after just under 3000km. I might have gotten another 500-800km on it had I ran it completely bald
Final day Stats:
Final trip thoughts?
My ol’ DRZ, other than consuming some oil, ran flawlessly as usual. I wore a MC jacket this year instead of dirt bike body armor and preferred it quite a bit. The fairing did give me trouble again but I’ve since re-enforced the bracket with piece of aluminum and hopefully resolved the issue for good. I don’t foresee any major mod for next year’s trip. Might try some more street oriented tires like the continentals, as mud seems rare and gravel can be ridden on street tires.
Next year’s adventure I will attempt to capture better pics and we’ll hopefully ride some more ambitious trails, and get into more trouble...
If you made it to the end, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the ride! Oh and if you’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world that has no snow at the moment, for god’s sake get out and ride!
|12-30-2012, 09:21 PM||#22|
Chasing after theory
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Pacific Northwest
Thank you for a truly wonderful report. We do live in WA and many of the areas we have passed by on road trips and often wondered what the backwoods and areas had to offer. As soon as my TA build is complete, I see there are many areas I need to go explore. Happy New Year and again...thanks!
Life is the last thing you experience before you die...living is what you do every day to get you to that point...
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