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Gnats, Knobbies, Bolts, Bullets and Boulders... The Thrashing of Best Laid Plans...

Tourmeister

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Howdy,

:tab So I survived a week of DS riding in Arizona, joined by Dyna Sport and "led" by Gotdurt :lol2: The saying is that the adventure really begins when things stop going as planned... and perhaps when you start wondering how grilled lizzards might taste... Well, we got a real jump on starting the adventure for this trip :doh: I'll start posting pics and reports as I can... stay tuned!
 
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Re: Gnats, Knobbies, Bolts and Boulders... The Thrashing of the Best Laid Plans... Az

I’ll go ahead and kick off the report since I already had the first couple of days prepared. We all apologize in advance for the lack of photos in the best areas and trails, as we were either having too much fun to stop, or were under too much stress to think about pulling out the cameras ;-). Since Scott has more patience for writing, I'll leave the creative writing to him, and to keep my side short and to the point...

Friday, 5/18 though Saturday 5/19
Getting things in place

I was useless at work on Friday, so I knocked off early and headed for the house. I had all my gear ready and waiting in the front when John ('Tx Rider', prev 'Dyna Sport') arrived, and the 2 of us were ready to go by the time Scott pulled up at around 6:30 PM. The plan was to drive through the night, arriving in the Phoenix area by noon. We loaded the bikes after some last-minute trailer modifications and climbed into the truck. My eyes welled up as I watched my not-quite 3 year old son begin cry as he waived and said "bye-bye Daddy".

The night was so long, but strangley short... Make sense? As we began to enter the more familiar areas that I had once explored, I was struck by the odd feeling that I had never actually left; many things hadn’t changed, and memories came flooding back. Driving through Globe presented a rather surreal feeling, and once in Mesa I felt like I was home…

We arrived a little early and opted to find a motel before going to drop off the truck in Tempe. I had a place in mind that I had remembered seeing on Main street in Mesa; it was a c. 60's era motel that had a neon sign with a woman jumping from the top of the sign landing in a splash of water at the bottom... however, I wasn't married to the idea, so we opted to drive further to see if there was one that was closer to Walmart, as we still had some items to get for the ride. The idea was to find a ground-floor room that we could park the bikes near. We saw a few along the way, and John spotted one that appeared to be in decent condition just down the street from Wallyworld. The lobby was clean enough, and the rates were along the lines of the local Motel 6's, so we took 2 rooms. What was better was that the rooms had patio doors, and we were told that we could just park the bikes in the rooms...

We found the building with our rooms only to discover that the door latch into the building was broken, so after playing with it for a while, decided to just climb the rail into the staircase... after entering the dirty, smelly hall that led to our rooms, I had a bad feeling. That feeling was soon justified; the room was as dingy as the hall leading to it, with dirty, worn walls and floors. John and I made our way to the patio door, only to find it locked with a key that we didn't have... Scott’s door was luckily lock-free, but his room was in even worse condition than ours, complete with a picture hanging half-way out of its frame.

Let's see, disgusting rooms, inaccessible building... the idea of staying there seemed pretty ridiculous, so we headed for the office to check out... early. Of course the owner started making up policies and refused to refund, so John and Scott said they'd just settle it through the card companies, and we left.

We decided to head back to the diving girl place and see what it was like. As we pulled in, I noticed the well kept grounds, and I hopped out and entered the office. The rates were reasonable, so I asked to see the rooms. These rooms were actually very nice for such an old, privately owned motel, and we took them.

Next task was to drop off the truck and trailer in Tempe at Jim's house. I found Jim on Advrider and he was kind enough to let us park the truck and trailer in his back yard while we were away riding. Finding His house was easy, and once our bikes and gear were unloaded, we made our way to one of my favorite eateries, Rubio’s Baja Grill. I was disappointed to discover that they no longer have the delicious Lobster Burrito, but still enjoyed an excellent steak burrito and fish taco.

After stuffing ourselves with Rubio's goodness, the others headed back to the motel while I headed for my old 'hood north of town for a surprise visit to a friend. Unfortunately Drew wasn't home; his house-mate Pat said he was in Mexico, and wouldn't be home until Monday or Tuesday. While I was there, Pat showed me the supercharged Lexus V8 that he was getting ready to slip into an '06 Toyota Tacoma. Never a dull moment at Drew's house!

Hanging out at the motel…
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Tourmeister

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Casey got a LOT of those looks from me during the week of this trip :lol2:
 
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Sunday, 5/20
The fun begins…

Morning came and the sun began to rise, along with John. That's good enough for me, so I got up too. The morning was cool, and we loaded our bikes. I went and made an attempt to get Scott up, but that didn't work too well :lol2:

Scott eventually rose, and we got a later start than I had hoped. I was a little concerned about the heat of the day, but continued with the planned route. We turned south into the state land that held our first dirt for the day, and is the gateway to a desert paradise.

Entrance to the State Trust Land.
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The 1st pass where things begin to get scenic and interesting…
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Once in Box Canyon, we were having so much fun racing through the canyon wash that I totally missed the turn into Martinez Canyon. I came upon an inexperienced driver and his wife in nearly-stuck 4wd SUV trying to negotiate some eroded bedrock. I parked the bike and advised him that if he was having trouble here, he going to have real trouble further up the trail, unless his wife was up for some serious rock stacking :-P. He finally got turned around and we were on our way. After some more fun I began to exit the canyon and recognized the trail changing back into a road, soon realizing that we had gone too far. I had missed my landmark, an old adobe casita, and had blown past our turn. How could I have missed it? It’s a very obvious landmark… I watched for it on the way back and still never saw it; I guess it must have been overgrown by the surrounding palo verde trees. I saw my turn regardless, and we headed into Martinez Canyon. I eventually turned south on the “Coke Oven Trail”. Do note that I added this trail to the route at Scott’s request :-P.

This is where I knew the challenges would begin for Scott, although I didn’t recall the challenges being this consistent (my apologies to Scott :shrug: ). I knew there was nothing on the following trails he wasn’t capable of without a little help, but had I remembered there being this much of it, and had I known we’d be on the trail this late in the day at 100 degree temps, I’d have omitted it from the route.

From the beginning of the Coke Oven trail
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John, then Scott on one of the climbs
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Break time. That’s Scott laying down… early sign of what was to come…
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After some hard work getting Scott’s bike through the first third of the trail, we found ourselves in serious need of a shade, water and food break. After the extended break we continued to make our way to the coke ovens, until I, after sitting at the top of a particularly long and technical hill for some time, realized that there might be an issue, and I didn’t hear motors. I made my way back down the trail on foot to find John and Scott struggling with Scott’s bike. After a few failed attempts to get the KLR up the hill, we decided it was time for a break, as we were all experiencing heat exhaustion and serious fatigue.

While sitting in the weak shade of a palo verde tree, a jeep convoy appears over a hill. We wait as they approach, and I ask the lead jeeper if he’d give the KLR a tow to the top. He agreed, and 2 of his comrades and I struggled to negotiate the bike over the ledges and rough terrain as the Jeep whined to the top of the hill. It was against my better judgment to help in my condition, but I felt like I needed to, which resulted in more extreme exhaustion once at the top. The female passenger in the lead jeep offered me a cold bottle of water, which I sucked down in seconds while I waited for Scott, who was getting an air conditioned ride up, to arrive. Scott sat in the Jeep for some time, and John was getting antsy to keep moving toward the nearby river. John decided to move on (I thought to the coke ovens), and we would meet up once Scott was ready.

Scott and I finally got rolling and arrived at the ovens, only to discover that John was nowhere to be found. This could be a very bad thing; with the countless trails out here, one wrong turn could lead to one seriously lost rider. We opted to stay put, as from a hill, we and the ovens are easily seen, and if we go looking for John while he finds the ovens without us waiting there… well I’m sure you can see the problem.

While Scott and I are resting in the shade, I keep hearing 4-stroke single sounds. Eventually we both look up to see John at the top of a hill, and overwhelmed with relief. He made his was down and around, and after a rest we decided to skip the Battle Axe trail and headed to a water crossing that I once did to see if it was fordable.

Scott resting at the Coke Ovens
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Approaching the river Bottom
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We arrived at the crossing to find a muddy, swollen river. Some quad riders were sitting on the other side drinking beer when I rode up and dismounted. Scott and John arrived shortly behind and I guess they figured out that we were contemplating crossing, because one of the guys hopped on his big 4WD quad and plunged into the river to show off his quad-squiding skills (or lack of common sense). He struggled each way, and on his second return-crossing he lost momentum and bogged due to his excessive tire-spinning. The right-rear tire began to dig as the strong current began to lift the front of the quad, sending him bailing off to save the fat-tired cycle. Scott and I chuckled as we struggled to stand in the knee-deep side of our bank.

We opted to turn around and ride the Battle axe trail out. We knew there was a long, steep, technical decent that John had already negotiated, so we headed down, and met at a point near the river where we decided to camp instead, as it was getting late. So much for globe by noon :roll:.

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The camp at the river
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John with his purifier pump. That thing was a lifesaver.
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Beyond exhausted, I hit the tent pretty early. I felt too bad to eat that night, but managed force myself to eat a little of John’s barbeque stroganoff out of a cup, as well as a few bites of jerky and cheddar cheese.
 
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I love the pictures. Too bad I haven't seen these places since I live 100 miles south!
 
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Yeah, the bullets...

Here's a few pics from my end. Big pics so click on the pictures for full size and zoom in for the details.

The hotel the night before riding, working off the 18hr drive fatigue.


Packing up in the AM



Entering the desert from the highway, notice the sign to our right....



Ahh finally in the dirt... and lots of it. :) And a warning about fuzzy cacti that jump out and grab ya choyas or something. Doesn't that look sweet? Go ahead, click on the pic and zoom in and take a real close look. :dude:



Trails every which way...



Finally into an awesome box canyon.


Where Scott goes rock climbing..


Beautiful place, but it was gettin a bit hot and the riding reminded me of the rougher sections of Red River park in Muenster in the dead of summer, miles and miles of it.



After a good bit of riding and a pretty technical descent we took a break and cooled off a bit, and met a big group of folks on 4x4 ATV's who passed by as we rested, and took a break of their own 30 feet down the trail.



After that things got tougher. We did a fair bit of rough riding and finally on a very steep rocky climb with some decent ledges Scott dropped it, we were all tired, hot and out of water. I got Scotts bike up but I couldn't ride it up the climb over the shelf in front of it with the tall gearing, tryin it a couple of times took everything out of me that I had left. Some nice Jeepers came by and helped us out and towed Scott's bike up and I rode mine up behind em.

Scott wasn't feeling well at all, I was thinking this was getting a little dangerous with no water(we started out with about 10 liters) and if they hadn't come by I would have had to go fill up our camelbacks at the river and bring em back up and camp right there on the hill by Scott's bike till morning. Yeah it was that hot and hard.

I wanted to get to water asap, so once all was well at the top and Scott was hydrating in an air conditioned Jeep, I went for the river by the straightest path down I could see. Came to a fork and flipped a coin in my head. :) A long steep drop switching back and forth down to the river and I was rewarded with a nice cold river full of rather muddy and fast moving water.

After a while at the river getting wet and cool and refreshed it was apparent that Scott and Casey took the other fork to the other ford that was on the GPS. After a bit of searching for a path that went that way and didn't include a steep loose half mile climb(and failing), then realizing I couldn't use the GPS to backtrack as I had forgotten to turn on tracking, I tracked back up the climb and found them down the other fork. Not any pictures from that part.

So we check out the Coke ovens for a while, and head down to the ford over some nice flat loose dirt and some sandy track. We all cooled off in the river and refilled the camelbacks with the pump and decided it was too deep and fast to ford. So back up the climb again and back down the steep half mile to where I went in the first place. :) So I get a little extra riding in.

The terraflex I found does 2 things very well... going up steep rocky climbs and going down them, grabbing rock like a mountain goat. I found those are really the only things it does well at all...

Anyway, A shot from somewhere going back over to the battleax trail with dark closing in, it had cooled off a lot and after the long rivr soak while we pumped fresh water we were all well past danger of overheating if still feeling some after effects. What a beautiful place. Zoom in on this one. :zen:



Or the panorama version...Big 180 degree Panorama You can see the green swath below that is the river if you zoom it up to full size.

Home sweet home for the night, a dip in the Gila river, cooked up a hot meal on the svea stove, and off to sleep. My clutch forearm was feeling like rubber, been off the hard dirt too long I guess, and a bit sore from hard days ride. A nice tough day. Globe by noon fades into the realm of best laid plans of mice and men.

 
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Note: I seem to be having problems with photobucket; besides the dark photos, some images are only showing as links... just remember, they need love too :-P

Monday, 5/21
I think we have a problem… and I go out on my own…

I awoke feeling much better. We’d ride out the remaining portion of the Battle Axe trail, which I had remembered being an easy ride, a friend and I actually finding our way through once by accident while looking for an additional river crossing.

It turns out it wasn’t so simple, as there appeared to be other possibilities, and I didn’t remember the long, uber-steep climb that we ran into. Scott simply wasn’t feeling up to it, and none of us wanted to get to far into this portion of the trail only to find that it wasn’t actually the way out. We decided that the best thing to do was camp back at the river again and wait until morning, when John and I would do some gear-free recon riding while Scott continued to recover.

The dreaded cholla. If you ever see one of these, avoid it… hug a saguaro or prickly pear, whatever, but don’t even get close to a cholla!
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More from Battle Axe
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Back at the camp we waded in the river while discussing our predicament. I noticed that the square bank on our side of the river would be at just about the same height as the tailgate of my friend Drew’s giant (heavily modified) M715 military Jeep. As long as the river wasn’t moving too swift for the 6700 lb behemoth, he could back it into the river via the beach on the other side, load the bikes and gear, and drive out. Heh, that would be pretty cool, if we could contact him, and if he wasn‘t in Mexico.

While hanging out, waiting for the day to pass, we started to hear what sounded like a motor on the other side. While waiting for the “motor noise” to manifest itself, we discussed what we would do when it did. I said I would ask for a ride somewhere that I could make some calls, particularly to my friend Dan, to get a ride back to town and get the Battle Axe directions I had left in the truck, and to mine and Scott’s wives, to let them know we were okay even though they hadn’t heard from us in a while. My plan for Dan was to get him to take me back to the river camp, carry our gear across the river to his Ranger 4X4, then make his way around to the other end of the Battle Axe trail, while we rode out on gear-free bikes.

The sounds teased us for what seemed like an hour. Then, to our delight, a silver jeep emerged from the woods, and we got their attention.

I waded across the river with some clothes and other necessary items in a trash bag and climbed into my new friends’ Jeep TJ. The ride to Florence went by quickly, and they dropped me off at McDonald’s where I enjoyed a double cheeseburger and numerous cups of Coke and Powerade while waiting over 6 hours for a ride out.

I couldn’t get hold of Dan, but Drew returned my message and said he was on his way back from Mexico, and he would come out to get me when he gets home. He finally arrived around 8 PM, and once we got back to his house and picked up Pat we all went to eat at Manuel’s Mexican Food. While driving I mentioned my idea for his truck, to which he responded with one problem: it doesn’t currently have a front drive shaft… he has 3 though, and one might be the right length for a fit to his new doubled transfer case. Hmm… Dan called shortly after and was up for my other plan, so I decided to push that route. Dan said he’d call me at 10 am Tuesday after he dropped a visiting friend off at the airport.

Tuesday, 5/22
It just might work...

I slept horribly that night. I got about 5 hours of broken sleep before my eyes opened and the strategies for the day began running through my head. I laid there on Drew's floor for hours before I finally knocked on his door a little before 9 AM. He was slow to get moving, but we finally moved into the garage to attempt to get the front drive operational. After some measuring on the truck and the 3 shafts he had in the garage, we had a shaft… a good thing too, because Dan called to tell me that they found out his friend's flight was at 2 PM. Back to the big-truck plan. By the time we had everything loaded and ready to go, it was about 2PM. We hit the highway with the big tires hummin’.

We arrived at the river where Scott and John had to be happy to see the monster military Jeep rumble down to the beach.

First, plan 'A'. Drew reluctantly plunged his pride-and-joy project truck tail-first into the murky, swift flowing water. Into the deep center of the river, then up the shallower side to drop the tailgate on the bank, where the gear and two of the bikes were ready waiting to board. While loading the gear Drew hollered out that the front was sinking, and about that time the radiator fan sank into the river, spraying water out through the fenders. The current was sweeping the loose river bottom from under the big tires, and we picked up our pace. Drew pulled out with the current and the modified 460 sang its way across the river. I couldn’t believe my original daydreamed ‘plan A’ worked, but it did, like a charm. Once the bikes and gear were across the river, we all headed the back way (beautiful ride by the way) to Superior for food and a Motel.

Video: Our ferry ride in the Kaiser Jeep

The water in the middle of the river was well over waist deep - over seat height. You need to see a picture of the truck next to someone to get sense of scale for it's size, but note the rear bumper was under water in the middle of the river; the bumper comes up to my stomach when standing next to it. The spot where we backed the truck up to at the bank was shallower than the rest of the river.

Spirited conversation at dinner
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Los Hermano’s = good food
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After an excellent dinner we said our seeya’s to Drew and his friend (also Drew) and hit the hay at local dump of a motel.

The dive motel
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John’s new Terraflex wasn’t fairing well
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Holy cow, it looks like you all went through ****. I was hoping you were way high in the 7-9000 feet range, but it looks like you were right at 3000 feet. It must have been hot! Great story.

For everyone who doesn't realize how big that jeep was. It can fit 37" tires under it stock, no modifications. It comes with a D60 front and a D70 rear. Big truck.
 
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Holy cow, it looks like you all went through ****. I was hoping you were way high in the 7-9000 feet range, but it looks like you were right at 3000 feet. It must have been hot! Great story.
That area was at about 2000'+, mostly well under 3k though. It did get hot... Most of the trip was at between 4-7000'.

For everyone who doesn't realize how big that jeep was. It can fit 37" tires under it stock, no modifications. It comes with a D60 front and a D70 rear. Big truck.
Yea, it's a definitely a beast, and the suspension and most of the drive isn't stock. The current tires are 11.00-16 Michelin XZL Military Radials, which measure about 39".
http://homepage.mac.com/m715/rigs/PhotoAlbum67.html
http://homepage.mac.com/m715/rigs/PhotoAlbum20.html
There's more on that page, although it doesn't cover 1/2 of the mods.
 
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Tourmeister

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Sunday, 5/20
The fun begins…

Morning came and the sun began to rise, along with John. That's good enough for me, so I got up too. The morning was cool, and we loaded our bikes. I went and made an attempt to get Scott up, but that didn't work too well :lol2:

Scott eventually rose, and we got a later start than I had hoped.
:tab What Casey fails to mention is that I specifically asked what time we needed to be ready to roll. I dutifully set my alarm only to have someone beating on the door TWO hours early because they forgot about the time zone change :nana: Even at that, I was still up earlier than what we had agreed on the night before and was ready to roll within about ten minutes of getting up. This was to set the trend for the rest of the week :doh: I finally gave up on asking what time we needed to be ready to roll :roll: :lol2:
 
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:tab What Casey fails to mention is that I specifically asked what time we needed to be ready to roll. I dutifully set my alarm only to have someone beating on the door TWO hours early because they forgot about the time zone change :nana: Even at that, I was still up earlier than what we had agreed on the night before and was ready to roll within about ten minutes of getting up. This was to set the trend for the rest of the week :doh: I finally gave up on asking what time we needed to be ready to roll :roll: :lol2:
Actually I had originally intended to roll at daybreak (about 5am AZ time) I banged on the door at 6AM AZ time, which was what I had originally intended (I soon came to realize that I was actually confused the night before, not that morning). I think Scott purposefully confused me the night before so that he could sleep longer :lol2: Even getting up at 6 AZ time, I still had 7 hours of sleep...
 
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Heh forum name change mid post... :)

Ok second day.. Again click on the pic for the large 8 megapixel version.

Woke up with the dawn sore pretty much everywhere, the good aching sore from a good days workout, I really should have warmed up a couple weekends at Red River before the trip, and the left forearm still a bit rubbery and cooked up a double portion of oatmeal and some coffee and then Casey and Scott got up so we packed up and got ready to ride out battleaxe trail, provided we can find it as the map for it is back in Mesa in the truck. :) Pumped the camelbacks full for about 3 liters each.



We rode up a trail and stayed on the one that looked like it had the most and the most recent traffic, after several miles we ended up looking up at a very steep climb up into a saddle that looked to me like it might be a couple hundred feet. Scott and I already had picked up his bike once this morning, and the GPS didn't show this road as even existing, but it did show some other roads that went out to the highway back down closer to the river.

So back down we go, to chase other trails, which after much chasing we took a deep sandy wash that went toward the river just to eliminate the possibility of any roads heading out that direction as we would have to cross them.

Well no roads did, just one small and unused looking trail that appeared it could peter out in 100 feet.

At some point we went back up to the steep climb again, that part is a little fuzzy.

Anyway by this time it was after 12:00, peak heat of the day, water half gone. My outlook was to avoid what happened yesterday with a down KLR on a steep incline with heat exhaustion and no water and being even farther from the river, and maybe on a dead end trail we didn't know where it went. Sounded like a recipe for trouble to me, the kind that can kill a fella if it goes bad enough.

So I suggested we just go back and camp, cool down, and hit it again at the crack of dawn, or at least at about 4-5 when the heat was falling off with full water. All agreed and that's what we did. No need to do anything that could get dangerous, we had enough food for a few days and all the water we needed at the river.

About the time we got water refilled and Casey and Scott were cooling off in the river, a jeep comes down on the other bank looking for a ford over to our side, and Casey grabs a ride to town to find out if a) the trail we were looking at went anywhere, b) if he could get a truck to ford us over the river.

By this time gas was beginning to be a real concern.

I guess I didn't take any pictures that day out riding, my camera apparently ate enough dust it was making real loud noise when the lens moved in and out. I decided to minimize pics for now.

A shot looking down into the old ford we were camped by, the river bank shots and where the truck backed up to are right down there.



Me and Scott's camp for the night.



What two days of rock crawling and a high hp thumper does to a Terraflex...





So having brought a week worth of food to cook, I set up the svea stove and made some grub for me and Scott, and we kicked back and took it easy that afternoon. A modded Jeep cherokee came by on our side of the river and we talked to the guy, which convinced us 90+% that that climb we balked at was in fact the way out, and the last tough obstacle on it followed by 7-8 miles of more trail.

So we ate and slept well, or at least I did. Around dark we started hearing some alarming sounds... Remember that sign at the desert entrance in my last post?...

All the sudden the sounds we heard down river became more clear, helicopters. Then around dark we start hearing what sounded to me like .30 cal machine gun fire, LOTS of it, thousands of rounds. :eek2:

I took a little stock... I'm prone in a low sandy spot, 50+ft tall solid rock wall 25ft to one side, 20ft tall sand bank 200ft the other way, I'm pretty safe and I sacked out after listening to it for an hour or so and slept like a baby most of the night, Scott can fill ya in on the night he had. :)

So morning comes, more hot oatmeal and coffee, refill the water bags, and sit around trying to fill time waiting for Casey. Some military Helos fly over and Scott makes a small attempt to flag em down with no success. We were fantasizing about having them pick the bikes up and drop em across the river and be waiting there for Casey.

The day passed, we loafed, ate, loafed, thought about what frying up some of the local reptiles might be like (I might have if I'd grabbed the two foot lizard I saw that morning) and decided if Casey didn't show up by dark we would cross the river and hike ten miles down the RR tracks that ran parallel with the river to the next little town and call him and see what was what.

Well right as it got late into the afternoon here comes this behemoth truck on the other side, with tires as tall as my bike, woot! was worth this just to see that truck and watch it in action.

No pics from me of it, I was busy riding all three bikes down through the washed out sandy ford to the bank and loading them all up, as I was the only one with boots and riding pants on. I did grab caseys vid cam and shoot some video though.

Nice truck I must say. Ohh and Casey then whips out the map that shows exactly where we were and where the climb out was.

So we get across the river in about the coolest truck ever, eventually get moving, meet some fine members of the U.K. military having their own party, and ride 18 miles of mixed dirt/silt/gravel to a little town, where I told Drew and Drew that dinner was definitely on me at place of their choosing. We grabbed rooms at a little fleabag, and down to the mexican restaurant we went. Major good vittles, and we ate a lot of it.

Back to the hotel with the little window AC that was louder than my bike, and another night of good sleep on a full stomach. I guess it was about this time we discovered Scotts rack bolts had been sheared in half, and we need some non trivial repair, like a drill and a bolt extractor, and some higher grade replacement bolts... But that goes into the next day.....

It was a very nice little camping spot on the river, I really enjoyed it there. I'll remember it for a long time. And we did need the day break as the next day the arms and legs were no longer sore and good as new.
 
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461
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The Woodlands Area
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Eric
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Bailey
Survivorman Voice:
"I have just found some string and I am going to weave a hammock so I can sleep off the ground a bit. That lizard over there looks pretty tasty" LOL
 
Joined
May 7, 2004
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Now that ya mention string, I farted around with some out of boredom but my makeshift recliner didn't work out so well. :)
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
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Introduction:

:tab A few years back, Casey was a student at Sam Houston State here in Huntsville and doing part time design work for our company. This was right about the same time I started getting into riding in general. Casey getting an XR650L at that time was partially responsible for watering that dualsport itch deep down in my psyche. Then after he graduated from Sam, he moved off to Arizona, from where I would get the occasional pictures of fantastic scenery and tales of wild riding adventures. Then life took a turn for Casey... a kid :lol2:

:tab A few years back, Casey moved back to Texas and soon found his way to the TWT site. From that time on, he talked of a return trip to Arizona. We even tried to put together a tour ride for 2006. The initial reaction to the planned trip was overwhelmingly positive. Then we posted the details and ONE person signed up :doh: Much to Casey's consternation, that trip got dumped. Later in the year he approached me about doing the trip with a small group... I was definitely interested! And so began the planning...

:tab Slow months go by as we wait and wait for the allotted time to arrive. Hours are spent in the garage pouring over the bike to make sure everything is ready: new chains and sprockets, clean air filter, new spark plug, new tires... And then it happens. First, Jeff "Sprocket" has to back out due to a shoulder injury and our group of four is now down to three. Then the Tuesday before we are to leave, I get rip roaring gut wrenching sick... :puke: By Wednesday evening, I am feeling much better. Early Thursday morning I am laying on the floor of the ER waiting to be admitted and wondering what in the world is happening inside me :-|

:tab Hours later, the Doc's tell me they can't find anything life threatening, that I should just go home and follow up with my regular Doc. Beth gets me home and the pain has subsided a bit, but I still can't stand up and walk very well. Casey is beside himself because we are supposed to be leaving for Arizona tomorrow... It doesn't happen. I simply am in no condition to go riding in the desert on a bike. It finally sinks in for Casey and we start trying to make plans for a delay of the trip rather than totally canceling it. We decide to postpone for two weeks.

:tab Life has a funny way sometimes... The delay turns out to be a good thing. My fork springs have been feeling really harsh. The delay gives me time to get new Race Tech springs installed. A few nights before we are to leave, while finishing up with the forks, I notice that the steering stem is VERY loose! :eek2: No choice but to pull the front end off the bike and have a look. Once inside, everything looks good and damage free. I guess the stem nut just vibrated loose during my recent trip to Mexico :shrug: I had not been riding the bike much since then and never felt anything to indicate the stem was loose. Thank goodness I found this before we were out in the middle of nowhere!! I inspect and then repack the bearings, reassemble everything, and do a few test rides. All is well. 3:00am and I am off to bed.

:tab I am a terminal procrastinator. Beth will be packed for weeks before a trip. I pack the night before, maybe a day before if I am really motivated. I have spent the last few weeks making sure I have everything I need and I have a general idea of how I will pack it. It all goes together and fits on the bike nicely. A fender bag goes on the front for spare tubes and patches. I have a tank bag on top for small stuff. There are tank panniers on each side holding my rain liner, nothing heavy and it makes for good padding... :wary: On the back is the Wolfman Expedition bag and my tent. On my back is the Camel Bak M.U.L.E. with 3 liters of water and munchies.

Friday - 5/19: It Begins...

:tab Finally the day arrives... My unknown illness has not resurfaced and I am feeling back to normal. I get the bike loaded on the trailer and then sit... waiting... 1:00pm... 1:15pm... 1:30pm... and then finally 2:30pm and I am out the door! :dude: The plan is to hit Casey's place in North Austin as close to 6:30pm as possible, load up the other bikes and then drive straight through Friday night. I arrive about 6:45pm, we spend an hour or so getting the other bikes on the trailer and then it is time to hit the road!!

Dad's Dodge Qaud Cab that he kindly let us borrow for the trip
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Casey and John ready to hit the road
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:tab It is a LONG boring night of driving... Satellite radio helps ;-) With the time change, we roll into Mesa sometime around noon I think. Casey takes us on the hunt for a cheap place to stay. There are times when cheap is not good. The huge splatter of dip spittle on the wall over the head of my bead did not enthuse me about staying at the Royal Mesa Inn, nor did having to jump the fence just to get to our rooms :doh: It did not take more than a few minutes to decide we were going to be moving on. The owner tried to play dumb, and then make up some nonsense about charging us $20 per room for the hassle of being checked in ... Whatever :roll: Just a good reason to have used the credit card instead of paying cash!

:tab We head back up the main drag to find the Starlite Motel. Casey always wanted to stay here because of the neon sign of a hottie diving into some water. A man has to have standards you know! :lol2:

Here's the pool... :doh:
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:tab The sprinklers do come on so I guess we could have had a romp in the spray...

And the diving hottie ;-)
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:tab This time we check the rooms BEFORE we pay and they are nice. So we pay up and then head to Jim's (Advrider fellow) to drop off the truck and trailer. He has graciously offered to store it in his locked back yard for us during the week. given that the truck and trailer are borrowed, this makes me a happy camper!

Casey navigating to Jim's home
IMG_0713.jpg


Casey and Jim comparing route notes while John sets to unloading the bikes
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IMG_0715.jpg


:tab We get the truck stowed in Jim's backyard and then say our good byes. Bikes loaded, we head back towards the hotel but not before grabbing lunch at Rubio's Baja Grill... :eat: Great food and BIG portions!! Afterward, Casey heads over to his old stomping grounds while John and I head back to the hotel to settle in for the evening. I've not had much sleep the last few days and the cumulative effect is catching up with me.

The bikes locked together outside my room
IMG_0716.jpg


Casey and John had a nice setup, living room, kitchen and separate bedroom/bath
IMG_0717.jpg


:tab We spend the evening enjoying the dry air of Arizona and talking about our plans. When it is time to hit the sack, I ask what time I need to be ready to roll... "7:00am"... No mention of sunrise or anything :-P Okay.... so off I go, set the alarm and hit the sack... :sleep:
 
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Location
Leander, Tx
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Casey
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Wednesday, 5/23
On the road again… sorta.

Scott had noticed that all but one of the bolts on his tail rack were gone. The 2 top ones had broken, leaving the threaded shafts in the welded nuts on the frame, and one of the side bolts was gone altogether. In the morning I pulled out my nut and bolt kit and replaced the side one with a nut and bolt that would at least get us to Globe where we would have the means to perform real surgery.

After sleeping in a bit, we climbed out of Superior for a gorgeous paved ride to Globe. As we climbed above 4000’ I discovered a problem; my bike was missing and sputtering above 60 mph, and anytime I was more than easy on the throttle. I shouldn’t be having this problem with stock jetting :ponder:

Once in Globe, we stopped a the Polaris dealer on the way in, where Scott was helped with a smile. We had the threads and bolts drilled out so full nuts and bolts could be used, preventing the problem in the future.

Drilling the subframe at the Polaris dealer
DSCN2332.jpg

DSCN2332.jpg


Next we stopped at Napa Autoparts for the side bolt and a headlight bolt.

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After a couple of other stops to restock on food and water, we were on our way.

I was torn as to what to do for the route at this point. We had decided to add a day to the trip to help make up for lost time and keep us from having to butcher the route into an awkward mess. We could either continue where the itinerary would have us go from Globe, which involved some exploration on unknown trails to connect two areas I know well, camping in one of my favorite places in AZ, or give the guys a break and head straight for the small community of Young the easy way, which involves a nice desert ride on pavement and a long but pleasant ride up gravel road called 'HWY' 288, or the 'Young Highway'. If we end the day on 288 somewhere near Young, we could visit one of my favorite eateries, Alice's Restaurant and Cantina.

I opted for the easy route, giving us all some added recovery time from the stress of the last few days. I led north on HWY 188, back into the heat of low desert for the last time for the next few days. We made a right on 288, crossing the Salt River, then began our climb into the Sierra Anchas. We stopped at some bluffs that overlooked Roosevelt Lake to the south-west, then continued on the so-far now-paved 288... until we reached road work. We were stopped by a fellow in a white truck, his stop sign rigged so he wouldn't have to hold it, and told to wait for the pilot truck. So we dismounted and kept the guy company for about 20 minutes while we waited. The pilot arrived, and I spent the most excruciating next few miles following the 10mph pickup on oil-covered dirt. Once around, we had an easy ride throught the tall pines decending into Young. Thanks to the construction on the main road, there would be no camping on the mountain.

View from the cliff
cliffspano.jpg


I think this would make a nifty new avatar for 'TX Rider' (prev 'Dyna Sport')
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Scott goofing off...
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...and goofing off some more, with his best eagle impression.
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A bluff like the one we were standing on
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Waiting for the pilot truck
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I pulled up to the the sign at the road to Alice's, which said they were open till 10 PM. Once we approached the cafe however, the owner (Alice?), told us they were closed... and not in the most polite tone, either. This didn't make much sense, but oh well, off to the Antler Cafe, which I had been wanting to try. The Antler Cafe turned out to be a great option; great burgers and a unique atmosphere.

Alice's, where we didn't eat.
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The Altler Cafe, where we did eat
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And eat we did...
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After filling our bellies, we took a short ride down the road to a motel we had passed. It didn't look like anything special at first, but the rooms were very nice (except for shower heads that needed replacement) and it had a cool fireplace in front.

Ending the day in front of the fire
_DSC3156.jpg
 
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Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
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Sunday - 5/20: "We should be in Globe by noonish..."

:tab While sleeping and dreaming of pleasant things, a loud bang intrudes into my peaceful slumber... :huh2: I roll over and look at my cell phone... 5:00am :eek2: What the...!? I stumble to the door and find Casey fully dressed and apparently ready to go riding. The sun has only barely begun to show its first feeble rays on the distant horizon. I ask him if he knows what time it is and he looks a little confuzzled for a moment... Then it dawns on him :doh: I head back to bed after things are sorted out but it is not long before he just can't stand it and is soon back to rapping on my door. Seeing that it is a lost cause, I dress and pack the bike. Already, at a little before 7:00am, sitting in the sun gets a little warm. This should be an interesting day!

The KLR stands loaded and ready for abuse...




John ready for action


Day-Glo Casey and the Bug Eyed Dr650


Yours truly, eager with anticipation of things to come :wary:


:tab We head out of town on one of the highways and soon find the entrance to the land of dual sporting bliss. It seems the military has a different vision of desert bliss, something to do with live fire exercises! :brainsnap The sign with the dates on it show that we should be fine, but there is that nagging issue of the pole with the red flag on it... :wary: We air down the tires in preparation for the ensuing ride in the dirt and head in to the unknown...



Looks pretty tame right...?


:tab We head in and the road is nice, loose gravel and sand with some ruts and rocks in the mix. We ride for several miles before Casey stops in some shade, perhaps to check his route. I am in tourist mode for this trip. The planning has pretty much been in Casey's hands from day one. I don't even have the route loaded in the GPS, just all the local Topo and City Select maps for the area. Not having any clue where one is heading kind of makes things interesting.

Shade is a precious commodity in the desert...


It is starting to get hilly


:tab Soon after our stop, the terrain starts to really get interesting! The hills get steeper and the road rougher. As always, the camera just cannot convey to reality of the terrain. Really... it IS steeper than it looks!! :lol2:

John heading up an easy hill climb


Notice that John is standing


:tab John never stands unless he has too. So when I see him standing, it gets my attention! That is usually a sign of things to come :trust: With a few good hill climbs and descents behind us, we stop at the crest of a hill to take in the view and have a short break. Shoving the KLR up and down these hills is work. With all the added weight of luggage and the tall stock gearing, I am really exploring new territory in terms of mine and the KLR's abilities. I have never really done much serious technical dirt riding, just trips to Clayton, Big Bend and Arkansas (which had some hard stuff but of short duration). Gazing out over the land below, I can see that duration is going to be an issue today...





A nice level area for a break


Looking off into the distance


Easy to get lost in this rat maze and not all the "roads" are on the maps


Looking back up the hill


:tab While we are hanging out, a guy in an "Off-Road 4X4" Ford pickup pulls up to chat. He's trying to get to the Coke Ovens. A little chat with Casey regarding directions and distance and then he takes off in a cloud of dust. We soon follow.

:tab The ride is challenging but thrilling. The scenery is awesome. After riding for a while, we encounter the guy in the pickup backtracking. He informs us that he reached a ledge and some big rocks that he did not think his truck could handle but that we should have no problems on the bikes. Soon we enter a narrow box canyon, its floor lined with deep and loose sand and gravel. Large boulders are scattered about just to add to the fun. Normally I like riding in sand and loose stuff. However, with all the added weight of the luggage, the rear of the bike just wants to dig in and it makes it very hard to steer the bike. Fighting the loose stuff is exhausting work but the scenery makes it worth the effort!





A relatively flat, wide and hard packed section of the canyon/wash


I had to shove rocks under this guy's front tire so he would get traction to straighten out and then back down to a point where he could get turned around!


This is what caused him to turn around and what we just came down...




A fine parking job by John :lol2:


Apparently seeing the first guy turn tail did not dissuade this guy from taking a peek... :doh:


Could not help but notice the prevalence of this lichen everywhere... very cool!


:tab Once all the SUV's and trucks are turned around and out of our way, we continue on our way down the canyon. It eventually widens out and the ground becomes very loose. However, with the extra room to maneuver, the riding is not so bad. Soon we are on a hard packed road that gently rises and falls over the terrain in big sweeping curves. It is a refreshing break from the hard stuff. About the time I am thinking many miles of this kind of riding is just what I like, Casey turns us around and informs us that we have missed a turn and have to go back up the canyon :doh: So off we go...

:tab The run back to the canyon is fun but once we get back to the rocky stuff, I manage to hit ledges with both the front and back tires at the same time. This causes me to lose all forward momentum and just fall over to the side :argh: Normally, picking up the KLR is not a big deal for me. However, with the luggage on the bike, it is very difficult to get a grip on the rear of the bike for lifting. After a few tries, it becomes obvious to John that I am gonna need some help. He obliges and we are soon back on track chasing Casey. Somewhere between that drop and finding Casey I have numerous close calls that send huge amounts of adrenaline coursing through my veins. I rarely feel out of control when riding on the street. On the dirt, the opposite seems true and I rarely feel in control :wary:

:tab We catch up to Casey as the spot where we were supposed to turn earlier. We are soon back to the steep climbs, loose rocks, ledges, and sharp prickly things lining the road!

There is a Cholla Cactus on the left side of this pic with my name all over it...


:tab Now on the way out here in the truck, Casey went into great detail about the pain and suffering associated with an encounter with the dreaded Cholla Cacti. Barbed spikes laced with poison that have to be pulled from your skin, each feeling like a bad wasp sting. The plant falls apart sending globs of spikes everywhere. Apparently, my brain did not absorb all of this during the wee hours of the morning of driving when he was going over these details. I must be checking out the scenery instead of watching where I am going because one moment all is fine, and in the next moment I am doing everything possible to avoid making contact with one of these abominations as my bike falls into one, taking me with it...

:tab The end result is me standing WAY to close to this vicious attack cactus that is tossing big globs of spikes at me with every wiggle of my body. The problem is, I can't move!! My left leg is pinned under the bike. The seat is resting on the top of my boot at the calf and my boot is supporting the full weight of the bike. I am not in any pain but I am pinned with no way to lift the bike off my boot without leaning into the cactus that stands there taunting me. See my predicament, once again John comes to the rescue. After a few minutes of picking out needles and John looking me over real good to make sure we have not missed any, we get moving again. About this time I am starting to feel the cumulative affect of the heat and exertion. I sip some more from the Camel Bak and keep moving.

I try to rest and conserve energy on nice sections like this


The dreaded Cholla


A close up! :eek2:


:tab Soon the nice level sections become scarce. If we are not climbing some rough rocky hill, we are doing a dicey descent. With the tall gearing and extra weight on the back of the KLR, it is a chore keeping the front end on the ground. At times I am leaning so far forward I can almost kiss the fender. Nonetheless, too often the front tire is in the air and I am trying to keep the bike moving and balanced on one tire. When I stop on an ascent to keep from dropping the bike, getting restarted is a real chore and is physically punishing. Each hill just takes more and more out of me. Soon we reach a bit of nastiness with a sharp ninety degree turn about half way up with a ledge in the turn... It is more than I can handle and once again the bike is down. This time I did not jump fast enough and something is pulled in a place where guys are not fond of having pain... :huh2: Time to have a sit...

:tab I don't think I am seriously hurt, just a little tweaked. A few moments to catch my breath and to drink some more and I forget about the pulled/strained muscles. With the bike righted, John helps me get it up over the ledge and then I ride it up the rest of the way to where Casey is stopped. I park the bike and try to sit in what shade it provides. By now the sun is really beating down on us and there is NO shade to be had. It is not even noon yet so it is likely to only get hotter! While resting I try to get some pictures of John's attempt to make the climb.

John at the sharp turn/ledge


Casey and John confer on the best line...


:tab The rest helps, but I can tell that I am fast approaching the point of having no strength or energy to continue this level of riding for much longer. We go a little further and then come to a steep descent. Here the road is basically just a sloping rock surface with lots of uneven areas and drops of a foot or more. We stop to decide what the best lines might be for the descent. John goes first and seems to get down pretty well. Casey goes next and stops to wait for me. I am at a nasty ledge and cannot back up to take a better line. Casey helps with a push back and then I reroute around the ledge. The worst behind us, we drop down into a wash to find John resting in some MUCH needed shade. At this point, I am feeling the early signs of heat exhaustion. I tell Casey and John the seriousness of the situation and we take a nice LONG break. I force myself to eat a few power bars even though they taste horrible to me right now. I continue drinking slowly but deliberately every few minutes to try to prevent dehydration. Looking at the faces of Casey and John, I don't think they are far behind me even though they don't seem to be struggling with their bikes like I have been.

Looking up the wash, the road crosses the wash here


Looking back up the road to a corner, the descent is out of pic to the right




John enjoying the shade... but not the ever present gnats!!


The gnats are driving Casey nuts as well, hehe




:tab While we are hanging out and resting, we start hearing motor noises. Soon we spot these guys cresting the hill we just descended and they start picking their way down with a few close calls!

(a little fuzzy because of the digital zoom)






This fellow stops for a quick chat to make sure all is well


And then they just keep coming...


Eventually, there are eleven of them and they stop just beyond us for a beer break


Doesn't look too bad eh? That spot just above John's head has ledges from 18"-24" in the middle of the turn


I tried to zoom in for a better look but the camera flattens everything


Our rest stop


:tab The problem with getting over heated and exhausted is that it takes only a short time to reach that state, but it takes MUCH longer to recover from that state! After a good rest and some rehydration, I feel a whole lot better. We get back on the bikes and keep going. However, it is soon obvious to me that despite feeling better, I still simply lack the energy (caloric in nature), having burned through much of what I may have had at the start of the ride and the power bars just don't cut it. We are right back to the climbing and descending. It is not long before I reach my limit on a climb.

:tab With the top in sight, maybe another 20 yards at most after probably a few hundred yards of steady rough climbing, I hit another ledge and just cannot keep the front of the bike down. It lifts, throwing me off balance and over I go. At this point, I can barely stand because my legs feel like rubber, so sit on the dirt next to the bike and ponder the situation. The bike is not going anywhere as I certainly cannot lift it. Even if I get it upright, I doubt I can get it moving on such a steep incline. I feel like vomiting... Sooo... I head for what meager shade I can find under a spindly cactus and lay down. As I suck on the Camel Bak tube I experience that dreaded "thwack" as the bladder registers empty :doh: Three liters gone shortly after noon. Casey comes back down the hill and John climbs up so we can take stock of things.

:tab While I am laying down trying to cool off, John and Casey right the bike and John tries to ride it up. No dice. Then, in an almost instant answer to prayer, several jeeps round the bend below us. They stop to check on us and graciously offer some much needed assistance. I get the privilege of sitting in an air conditioned jeep while the others tow my bike the last bit to the top. Then John has to get his bike up. He seems to be doing okay until he reaches the ledge where I went down. He almost clears it, then loses his momentum and starts sliding backwards!! :eek2: Fortunately, John has some seriously long legs and he is able to back peddle pretty fast to keep the bike upright. After a brief pause to catch his breath, he puts the Terraflex to work on the rock and sends the bike scrambling up the hill to the top. The jeep makes it seem so effortless that I have to wonder why I am torturing myself like this :doh: :lol2:

:tab Once at the top, we stop to regroup. I get some much needed ice cold Gatorade from one of the friendly jeepers. Even better, the guy whose jeep I am occupying fills my Camel Bak with ice and water. After a few more minutes I am feeling pretty good again. John on the other hand is baking in the sun and really itching to get moving. He has the routes in his GPS and so Casey tells him to go on ahead and we'll come along in a few minutes. As I am getting myself back in gear and on the bike, John disappears around the next bend in a swirl of dust.

Looking back the way we came from the top of the fateful climb, if only it were as smooth and easy as it looks in pictures!! :roll:


[The climb up is about as long as that section seen above that descends from the back ground to the middle of the picture. However, because I am looking down the hill side, the bulk of the climb does not even show up in the picture. It is significantly steeper than the descent seen in the back ground and falls away sharply just beyond the edge of the road in the lower left portion of the image.]

The air conditioned jeep


Steamy dog breath in my face never smelled so good :lol2:


Some of the other vehicles in their convoy


:tab The jeepers are really nice folks and genuinely concerned for our welfare. They offer to let us go ahead and they'll follow to make sure we make it to the river without any further problems. So Casey and I head after John, only to come up to a fork in the road within a few hundred yards... Which way did John go? :shrug: While pondering this dilemma, the jeepers come up behind us and tell us, "That way is really tough, so go this way to get where you want to be." Hoping that John will have realized the same, we go the way they suggest. We are on a ridge and trying to reach a river. The obvious issue is that this means another descent. I steel myself for it because at this point, I WANT to get to the freaking river!!

:tab Soon after the fork, we start descending. The road is rutted and strewn with large loose rocks. The front tire of the KLR is bouncing all over the place. I am trying to be very gentle with the rear brake as I pick my way down. In places it is so steep that the rear just locks up and tries to slide around to lead the way. I have to steer into the slide and just focus on keeping the bike upright until it comes to a stop on its own and I can start picking my way down again. This continues for several hundred yards as the road wraps around the side of the hill and down into the scrub trees that line the river valley. At this point the road turns to silt, that super fine powdery dust that seeks to penetrate every tiny crevice in my sinuses with each labored breath I take. The saving grace is that the road is like riding in a tunnel formed by the low hanging branches of the trees and the shade is a welcome relief from the searing sun. It does not last long...

:tab The road pops out from under the trees, makes a sharp switch back and begins a loose rocky climb up a steep hill. Sitting near the top of the hill is a run down collapsed structure that looks like it might have been a home at one time. I make the next tight switch back and gun the bike for all it is worth. The back end is flying all over the place as I focus on keeping the front end planted. I am NOT going to drop this thing!! I reach the top and there is a sharp left onto a nice flat level area. I made it to the Coke Ovens... Where is John? :scratch: :doh:





Looking back down towards the collapsed building




:tab The jeepers finally take their leave after we assure them we'll be fine and thank them for all their help. This leaves Casey and I to kick back and take it all in. The scenery here is fantastic. I LOVE the desert, even when it kicks my backside! Getting here involved some serious and grueling riding compared to what I have ever attempted before now. I feel like crap and am totally wasted. How can this possibly be fun!? Nonetheless, I am having the time of my life, misery and all! Still... it would be nice if John would show up soon! And just then...

Major fuzzy because of the digital zoom, but rest assured that is John across the small valley wondering how to get to where we are


:tab After much shouting and arm waving, John almost heading straight down the side of the hillside thinking that was what we told him to do, and then finally figuring out we were trying to tell him to circle around the backside of the hillside to find the road, he finally found his way to the right road and the way up to the ovens. What a relief!

Getting closer


Almost to the top... and standing up again...


Sitting down for the last bit of the climb where there are fewer rocks


Taking a much needed break and drinking my HOT gatorade


:tab It seems that John did make it to the river, but at the wrong place. He went down a REALLY nasty descent to reach the river. Then decided that once there a good dip in the cool water was in order. After about an hour it occurred to him that he might have gone the wrong way. So he geared back up and made the climb back to the top of the ridge. So by the time he got back to us, he had really gotten a serious workout!! We stay put at the ovens a little longer to let John rest before we set out for the river in the valley below.

:tab With everyone rested, we start down into the river valley. The road soon turns back into silt. The road is lined with what look to be mesquite trees. There is a large rut on each side and a bug hump down the middle. So it is pretty smooth going under the trees for the most part. However, we do encounter a pretty nasty stretch of deep ruts left by jeeps when things were not quite so dry! Keeping the front tire from slipping down into the ruts demands my full attention. We soon reach the river... only to see it flowing fast and looking pretty deep. On the far side are the ATV guys we encountered earlier while resting in the wash. One of them is very animated about showing us the way across the river and decides to demonstrate...

:tab This guy jumps on his ATV and just blasts right into the water under full throttle. He never lets up and eventually reaches our side, shoving a huge wave of water onto shore ahead of him. He spins around and charges right back into the river, chugging away. This time though, the current is working against him. The ATV starts drifting and he is trying to keep the front end pointed where he wants to go.



He us churning up the river bottom pretty good but is losing momentum.


Right about here, the current almost flips the ATV over on the right side and he stalls it


He's lucky that his buddies carry a LONG tow strap in addition to their large coolers of beer :lol2:


Casey soaking and enjoying the entertainment


:tab After watching the ATV crossing and also wading out into the river a ways, we decide to forgo the attempt at getting the bikes across. There are large rocks littering the bottom of the river bed. Standing in only knee deep water is difficult because of the strength of the current. If we were to drop one of the bikes, picking it up against the current would be a nightmare. Riding across would be very risky and walking them across not much better. None of us are really wild about the idea, but it seems that the better part of valor is to backtrack and ride out on the Battle Axe trail... if we can find it... It seems Casey forgot the trail map and description, having left it in the truck :doh:

:tab We still have some daylight left and decide to start heading for the trail. We follow the road back along the river a bit and soon reach another hill climb. With no alternative, we start up. It is LONG and steep. There are large loose rocks everywhere. I try standing up and just muscling the KLR to the top non stop but the road has other plans for me. I don't go down, but I get high centered on a large rock. It is jammed into my center stand and I cannot get the bike over it. Finally, in desperation, I tilt the bike pretty far to one side while letting is slide backward. This rotates the rock enough that I can kick it out from under the bike. I still have to fight the tall gearing and the tendency of the clutch to want to either totally slip or totally engage, making it very difficult to control the bike. After what seems like an eternity, I finally reach the top, right back where we were several hours ago...

:tab The sun is starting to get low and we have to make plans for spending the night in the desert. The only thing between us and the river is the nasty descent that John did earlier. Convinced that this is the eventual way out of here, we decide to head down to the river, make camp and call it a day.

The view from the ridge




:tab Once again, I brace myself for what will no doubt be a grueling physical task. The road curves once or twice around the side of the hill and then plummets straight down into the valley below. John was not exaggerating earlier when he described the nastiness of this hill. Numerous times I start sliding as the rear of the bike tries to take the lead. I have to really take my time, stop where possible to reassess and catch my breath, then start sliding my way down some more. I finally make it to the bottom and the relative ease of riding in the silt. We soon make it to the river and set up camp.



A branch of the road veers into the river and we setup there


Looking back down into the old fording gully, John pumps water into his Camel Bak in the background




The way out... hopefully... Which we will explore in the morning


:tab Soon after we get our tents setup, the sun slips down behind the mountains and darkness soon follows. I brought an MRE with me that is a leftover from my trip down to Mexico back in March with Richard_ and a few other TWT folks. Chicken in Salsa... :puke: I eat the power bar, crackers, peanut butter and drink the energy drink. I just cannot stomach the Chicken goop. However, I do start feeling much better after eating. Exhausted, we knock off pretty early. Everyone is fairly well beat from the heat and physically punishing riding.

:tab Laying in my tent waiting for the Alieve to work its magic, I ponder the day of riding. I feel like I am totally in over my head and out of my league in terms of skill, physical conditioning, and even the bike. Yet, I only dropped the bike four times. Given the terrain and my condition, I am actually quite surprised I did not drop it much more! Still, I am confident that I cannot continue this type of riding for days on end. Recovering from heat exhaustion takes time and rest, yet we still have to get out of here in the morning. What will tomorrow bring? :ponder:

:tab Sleep comes and goes in spurts. The stars shine brightly even through the material of my tent walls. The sound of the river a few yards away is soothing and relaxing... morning will come all too soon... :sleep:
 
Joined
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:popcorn:

beautiful scenery...

My 1st time out in the desert on a bike, I came this .. close to suffering heat exhaustion. That hot, dry air will get you WAY faster than you think.
 
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Beautiful pictures. I am going to have to get some info from yall. Winter will be here quickly!
 
Joined
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Lemme know when you're ready, I have lots to suggest... Mostly north of you though.
I am used to driving 2-3 hours to go for a ride. It isn't as far as you had to go :rider:

Thanks for the offer, I shall be hitting you up in a few months.
 
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We forgot the Dairy Queen job apps and and the weird homeless polish (or whatever) lady...
 

Tourmeister

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Oh yeah...

:tab Friday evening we stopped at the DQ in Marble Falls at 1431 and 281. The tray liners were job application forms. I've never seen that before :lol2:

:tab On the way to Arizona, some where out in the middle of no where, we turned around to see if someone needed help on the side of the road. This odd old lady appeared to be living in her van. She said she was out of gas. When we offered gas she just wanted money. Then she launched into some bizzarre story of life in Poland. I don't think she was all here or there :shrug: Seeing that she was not really in need of help, so far as we could tell, we resumed our course.
 

kurt

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:tab On the way to Arizona, some where out in the middle of no where, we turned around to see if someone needed help on the side of the road. This odd old lady appeared to be living in her van. She said she was out of gas. When we offered gas she just wanted money. Then she launched into some bizzarre story of life in Poland. I don't think she was all here or there :shrug: Seeing that she was not really in need of help, so far as we could tell, we resumed our course.
The western version of the eskimos leaving grandma for the polar bears. :mrgreen:
 

Tourmeister

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Monday - 5/21: "I remember it being an easy ride out from here..."

:tab The desert sun comes up right around 5:00am... :huh2: It's freaking bright too! By 5:15, things are getting down right uncomfortable in the tent. No point in trying to deny it, I have to get up. John and Casey are stirring as well. Our intent is to get an early start in an attempt to beat the heat and to escape the desert. Tents are rolled up and bikes are packed. With the sun already climbing over the tops of the surrounding hills, we set out on what we think is the Battle Axe Trail.

:tab I'm never really on my game early in the morning. Normally, I would say 8:00am is early as I don't typically roll out on a normal day until about 10:30am because of my work schedule. When I do get up really early, my body doesn't know what to do with me. My equilibrium department has not risen with me and I feel a bit off until late in the morning. Today is no different. We start the ride in loose silt and I feel like I am just flailing all over the place on the bike. We reach a boulder strewn wash and I bounce my way across to the other side like a pinball. Then the road starts climbing out of the river valley and we leave the shade of the trees behind.

Looking back towards the river valley






Where we are headed...


:tab The road starts out fairly mild but soon we are doing the climbs and descents again. I'm feeling pretty good as I have eaten, slept, and drank until I could actually whiz again :lol2: It is not hot yet, just a little warm. Today I plan to focus on doing the climbs and descents a little faster than yesterday. Dirt riding is about doing non intuitive things. The mind may be screaming to slow down lest you cast your body upon the unforgiving rocks, but the bike wants to go faster to maintain stability. Even though I know this to the core of my being, it takes all the will power I can muster to force myself to go faster. It does help. And then it happens again :doh: In a tight dip where I drop down into the bottom of a "V" while having to turn back up and to the right, I catch a big rock with the front tire while going slow and it just tips me right over :argh: Even though I can reach the ground on the KLR with no problem, once it gets tipped to a certain point, I just cannot hold it up with all the added weight of the luggage. It is very frustrating. I get the bike righted and start the next climb.

:tab Soon the road "levels" out a bit and becomes a little more rolling and fast. There are still serious rocks to dodge, but the pace is quicker. The wind coming through the mesh of my riding suit feels fantastic. Already, it is getting hot again. I don't think the actual air temperature is all that hot, but the direct sunlight makes if feel MUCH hotter. When we stop to regroup, we are always looking for the shade spots.

:tab The easy riding soon gives way again to the gnarly hill climbs. I sit at the bottom of a ridge contemplating the path to the top. Casey is already out of sight and I did not get to watch the lines he chose. There are HUGE deep erosion ruts and large embedded rocks that go from top to bottom. One side is so bad that people have started driving off to the other side, creating a second road of sorts. My mind made up, I head up the right side on the "new" road. I get up some speed, hold steady on the gas, lean WAYYY forward and hit the hill running!!

:tab Things start out pretty smooth and then the fun begins. Both ends of the bike are bouncing around trying to buck me off. I stay steady on the gas and keep my eyes looking up, looking for that magic line that will carry me to the top. The rear tries to slide on the off camber slope that waits to drag me into one of the huge ruts. The top is getting closer and the sense of expectation/dread builds... Will I make it? I clear the last obstacle and it looks like I am clear... oh crap!! There is a DEEP rut running left to right directly across my path just before the crest of the hill :eek2: Nothing to do but lean wayyy back and lighten the front end, stay loose, and hope for the best! I hit and bounce, but the bike stays under control. When the back end comes out it wants to leap into the air as the rear spring unloads. I am ready for it and it is not a problem. I make it through and then have to bring the bike to a fast stop. The top of the hill is a "T" intersection and if I keep going straight, I will launch right off into some cacti! A little skid and some pucker, the dust settles and I realize I've done it. I spot Casey up and to the right looking down with his camera in hand. Then I hear the sound of John's KTM chugging hard...

:tab We take a break for a while and enjoy the view. Roads wind away in all directions. Which to take? After a brief consultation and looking at the GPS, we head down off the ridge into a low valley. After a few more climbs and descents, the road levels out and straightens a bit.

The penalty for leaving the road is steep... :brainsnap


:tab Take a good look at that mesa on the right side of the above image. Now imagine one just to the right of that with a road going up it... :doh: Yes, this is the way we go. The GPS maps show a road running around the base of the mesa heading off to the East and then veering North. However, the on the ground experience does not confirm the existence of this road. The road we are on, which looks to be the most frequently traveled road, heads up that mesa and the GPS shows it dead ending into a narrow canyon. To make things even more interesting, we can see a ledge running around the side of the mesa. Could this be the road the GPS indicates? :scratch: We decide to investigate...

:tab We soon leave the relatively easy and smooth road of the valley floor and start a tortured and winding climb up the side of the mesa. One section of the climb in particular is daunting. It is often the case that riders don't have pictures from the best/worst parts of their trips. This is because they are either having too much fun to stop for pics or because they are so worried about their immediate survival that pics are simply out of the question! This hill climb would be of the latter case... I scan the climb for a few moments, making note of the really BIG rocks that will need to be dodged and looking for the surface that will offer the best traction. The road climbs and turns, going out of sight. I'll just have to wing it when I reach the turn and hope for the best :pray:

:tab I take this hill in first gear, as I have had to do for many of them. The throttle is snatchy in first gear which makes it hard to consistently control, but second gear is just far too tall and will lug the engine into a stall. John waits at the bottom of the climb as I start my way up, no doubt hoping I won't dump it and need help :oops: The bike chugs and bounces, slips and slides, but keeps going. I hit the corner and run a berm around the outside of the nasty stuff and keep going. The remainder of the climb is long but not as rough as the first section. Eventually I catch up with Casey. He's waiting at a switchback where there is a large leveled area where it appears that people camp. I pull up next to him and we wait for John.

:tab It is now that I realize the heat is ON! It is maybe 9:30 or so and already it is cooking. We stop to confer again and there is much anguish over the route. Casey does not recall there being such a prolonged climb out on his previous ride. This combined with the uncertainty of the GPS maps leaves us in a pickle. We can't see any roads from our high vantage point that connect up with anything going East like the map shows. Ahead lies the steep walls of a very narrow canyon. IF it is the wrong way and we wipe ourselves out just to find out it is a dead end, it could get ugly. We decide to head back down into the valley below and see if a few of the smaller roads we passed show any promise. The run back down the side of the mesa goes pretty smooth and helps with my confidence.

:tab Back down in the valley we follow a few short off shoots from the main road and they show no promise at all. They look like they are seldom traveled. Frustrated and tired, we decide to attempt the mesa one more time and to go a little higher for a better vantage point in the hopes that we'll see something new. I am a little worried, but since I made it the first time I am feeling pretty good as there should be no surprises. Off and up we go...

:tab I finally reach that first nasty section again, look up to refresh my memory about the line I took before, and have at it. There is a BIG difference between the intended line and the resulting line when doing a hill climb :doh: All it takes is one well placed rock to set in motion a series of events that takes everything from the wonderful world of, "this is working great!" to,"aaaagggghhhhh!!!!" True to form, I find that one well placed rock :doh: It tosses me off to the right and the bike climbs the berm on the side of the road. The hill is so steep that adding the slope of the berm just wheelies the bike right up and over onto the top of the berm. I eject, something I am getting all too good at doing :mrgreen: The bike comes to rest on its side with the front end off the road. This won't be easy... :-|

:tab I learned my dualsport riding on the BMW R1150GS, the biggest pig on the dual sport road (next to the Adventure version of the GS). I learned several important lessons riding that beastie. Once it is obvious the bike is going down, get clear!! Trying to save it can only lead to nasty injuries and pulled muscles. The second and perhaps more important lesson is that once down, there rarely is a need to act fast to get the bike righted. It is far better to take a few moments to make sure I am not injured, let the adrenalin come down, and to survey the situation calmly. Trying to get the bike up in a hurry while pumped on adrenalin can really get a person hurt!

:tab I stand for a moment and survey the situation. A feeling of disgust floats at the edge of my consciousness. I made it the first time with almost no problem at all and it burns me that I could not do it again :argh: Worse yet, it does not look like I will be able to get the bike up without help. As much as I appreciate John's help in these situations, I get tired of it always being me that needs the help and him doing the helping :roll: He waits patiently below as I start trying to tug the bike back onto the trail. I tug with everything I have and it hardly budges. The heat and exertion of riding is already taking its toll. I leave the bike where it is and hike down to the bottom of the hill to join John in the shade of a scrub tree.

:tab After John finishes a cigarette, we hike back up to the bike and see what we can we can do. We both grab the front of the bike and just start dragging it down the berm to get it on the road so we can get to it for lifting. The right controls and mirror are just digging into the dirt and rocks. I cringe as I see the parts scraping, but what else can we do :shrug: After a few minutes of heavy grunting, the bike is still on its side but is basically pointed in the right direction. I move around to get a grip on the downside bar and start the dead lift. John steadies the bike and keeps if from rolling backwards as I remount. Now I am faced with a mid climb restart again... My experience thus far is that a gradual start is very difficult. The bike does not have enough speed to maintain its balance and with the rocky footing it is very difficult to keep it from going over again if it starts to tip. The launching start is scary though because it immediately sets the bike to broncing and bouncing like a raging bull. I opt for the launch and get up on the pegs in a standing position as fast as possible to let the bike flail around underneath me. Back on the gas and determined as ever, I eventually fight my way back to the top, make the switchback where we stopped before and climb a little farther before finding Casey stopped, sitting in the shade of a cactus, pondering his maps... I am beat...

:tab John soon joins us. He and I share the thin shade of some kind of bush/cactus thing. And then there are the gnats... :twitch: They were bad yesterday as well. It seems they enjoy the shade also. They have a proclivity for buzzing into the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Swatting at them is pointless. Even if I were to kill those in the path of my hand, there are thousands waiting to replace them in an instant. Worst of all, they like to get into the helmet and find their way back behind my ears or somewhere between my head and the helmet liner. It is hard enough to concentrate on the difficult road with the heat and exhaustion. Having several gnats wiggling around behind the ears or on the head is enough to make one go crazy :lol2:

:tab From the higher vantage point on the mesa, we still don't see anything that improves our situation. We're a long way from the river and its precious water. Our gas situation may soon become a problem. Chasing down rabbit trails and exploring is not really something we can afford to be doing right now. We are all tired, hot, and frustrated. There is still one road we have not explored. The GPS shows it going down to the river and then running roughly parallel to the river to the East before arching back up to the Northeast and eventually hitting the Kelvin/Florence highway. It is a longgg way back to the intersection where that road cuts off from our path and heads to the river...

Sitting high on the mesa where we ponder our options...


:tab Down we go... again...

:tab At this point, I am pretty much mentally consigned to doing whatever it takes to get me and the bike wherever it needs to be, all physical or mental discomfort aside. Griping about things won't help and would just get everyone more aggravated. So far, despite our frustration, no one is really complaining or getting short with anyone else. It is nice to be riding with guys like this. Some folks would be intolerable in such a situation. We're all in this together so nothing to do but suck it up and make the best of it!

:tab After a long and challenging backtrack, we finally reach the intersection where the road heads East. The good thing is that we are down low in the valley so the road is relatively easy to ride. The faster pace feels great with the wind evaporating the sweat from my skin. It reminds me to keep sucking on the Camel Bak so I don't dehydrate. I come over a short rise and find Casey stopped where the road crosses a wide gravel wash. John pulls up behind me right about the time that Casey takes off down the wash :shock: We look at each other for a moment... "Does he expect us to follow him down that?!" A few more moments go by... "I guess so :shrug: "

:tab The wash is a LOOSE rocky surface of fine rocks, most often quite deep. It is like trying to ride the bike across a deep bed of oiled BB's. The front just plows like crazy when I try to turn. When I try to use the gas to steer with the back end, the rear tire just spins and sinks or causes the bike to fishtail. It is impossible to get the bike up on top of this stuff. Add to that there are large sections of rock slabs sticking up out of the wash gravel that must be dodged. I can see where Casey has plowed through ahead of us and just resolve to keep following his trail, fighting the bike as it tries to fling itself to the ground. All I can do is put out the legs and paddle my way through. After what seems like an eternity, but is in reality probably only a few minutes, I find Casey stopped and off the bike. Dead end... :tears:

:tab Time for a much needed break and more serious consultation. Fortunately, there is a large rock with stuff growing out of it and it provides enough shade for all three of us to get out of the sun. Off comes the gear, out comes the water, and I force myself to eat some jerky and power bars. It all tastes like bad cardboard, but the water gets it down.

Looking back up the wash at John's KTM


The dead end, just beyond the bikes... We can hear the river nearby... :doh:


One look is worth a thousand words ;-)


:tab While we are cooling off and relaxing, I think the seriousness of our situation is really starting to take hold of our minds... We are not sure of the way out, we likely don't have enough gas to backtrack all the way to where we originally came in, and even if we did, the ride back out would be long and brutal. We definitely don't have it in us to do the backtrack today. None of us is wild about the idea of attempting the mesa again. If we were to get up in there and run out of gas or water, we'd be a LONG way from water and in a serious jam. All three of us are pretty well over heated and tired at this point. It seems the only logical thing to do is to head back to our campsite at the river. We've food for several days and with water can last even longer if we absolutely have to. Best to get there, cool off, relax, and then consider our options.

:tab We still have to ride back out of this wash... :help:

:tab I get the KLR turned around and pointed in the right direction. The front tire is up on a bit of a raised berm of the gravel. When I try to get it turned to miss the rock ledges where John's bike was parked, over I go :roll: At this point, there is no real sense of frustration or anger... It just is, so I have to deal with it :zen: I get setup and dead lift the bike. Casey holds it steady while I swing a leg over. Then it is back to the paddling and plowing through the gravel. I have to stop several times along the way to catch my breath. Fighting the bike in this stuff is just brutally punishing and my heart is POUNDING!! I just keep telling myself..."It is only a little further, you can do this, you have to do this, just keep going..." I finally reach the spot where the road crosses the wash and find John waiting for us.

:tab The map shows that the road continues towards the river and back the direction where we camped. It if goes through it will be a MUCH shorter ride to the camp spot than backtracking the way we came this morning. John leads the way. The terrain is up and down with lots of silt and sand at the bottoms of the hills. After a mile or so, we come to a big dry wash. The map shows the road continuing on the other side, but the drop down into the wash is not something any of us are willing to risk. It is very steep, strewn with large boulders and criss crossed with tree trunks that have been washed down in past flood waters. Another dead end... It looks like we will be backtracking all the way back the way we came :doh:

:tab We make short work of getting back to the main road and then start the trek back to the river. Coming out this morning, I don't recall it being so challenging. It is funny how perception is affected by our mental and physical states. Now, hot and tired, the road seems much more difficult, the rocks bigger, the climbs and descents rougher and steeper, and the bike much less agile... I experience several near drops and only manage to stay upright by sheer luck and judicious applications of the throttle. Just have to hang on a little longer... I can see the trees lining the river below...

:tab We finally make it back to our campsite. The bikes are quickly parked in the shade, gear is stripped off, and bodies are soaked in the river... ahhhhh... The water is cold, but not COLD. Soaking is incredibly refreshing. We sit soaking, pondering our situation and what we might do to extract ourselves from it. Casey is a little agitated because he has that driving focus that makes him want to be doing something every moment to achieve the goal. I am content to soak for now. Fifteen minutes or so won't make that much difference either way at this point. Besides, maybe we'll get lucky and someone will drive up on the other side of the river and we can get someone into town to go for help... <insert silent prayer here>

:tab "Do you hear that?!..."

And the prayer is answered moments later :dude:


:tab A jeep comes crawling into view and we wave our arms to get their attention. They stop and ask if things are okay. I ask if they can take one of us into the nearest town and they agree. Casey is elected to go since he is most familiar with the area and also has friends with 4 X 4's. "Give me a minute to get some stuff together...", exclaims Casey as he climbs up the bank back to the bikes. Twenty minutes later he is finally ready to go :lol2: John and I were getting antsy and worried that our help might lose interest and move on down the road... Casey wades across the river which is just over waist deep on him. "It might be a few days before I can reach my friends and get back out here...", and then he disappears into the Jeep and vanishes around the bend into the trees. It is an odd feeling standing there on the bank of the river with John... A few days?! :-|

:tab Well, with nothing left to do, John and I set about to being slugs. There is shade in need of chasing and gnats in need of swatting. The only sounds now are the wind moving through the trees, the flowing of the river, all manner of odd bird calls... "Is that a motor!?" "Does that sound like a helicopter?" "Is someone coming?" The ears strain to hear and identify every sound. As the afternoon wears on, hunger sets in...

That sunny silt BURNS bare feet!! Looking from the banks of the river back to the bikes


So... now what...?


"How about some lunch?"


:tab Kuddos to John for being the campmeister! He whips out his little stove, some noddle stuff and a precooked chicken breast, and best of all, he makes some bread!! I did not think I was all that hungry until the scent of the cinnamon in the bread started making its way to the olfactory center in my brain... :drool:

Mixing the dough with water




The result... :eat:


The bread cools while John sets to cooking the noodles and chicken


Living high on the hog while roughing it :trust:


:tab After a great lunch, we resume our task of doing nothing. It feels great to be off the bike. I down some much needed Alieve. My muscles are hurting and I am really sore in the arms, shoulders, and upper back. My legs and knees are actually doing much better than I would have expected. About eight weeks ago I started taking some Glucosamine (sp?) mixed with some other stuff. It is supposed to help with joint pain and lubrication. Apparently it is working because normally I would be experiencing a high degree of discomfort directly under the knee caps. I was also doing squats every morning in the hopes of building up my leg endurance. It seems to have paid off.

Lazing away a hot summer after noon: no phones, no pagers, nothing...


John trying to pretend the gnats and flies are not bothering him


:tab Even after the great lunch prepared by John, I am still starving. ALL I can think about is eating and drinking. I brought quite a bit of jerky with me and numerous power bars. They start to vanish in short order. It seems that every few minutes I am taking a long drag on the Camel Bak. I never thought I would reach the point where I am always worried about where my Camel Bak is. At this point, it goes everywhere I go and never leaves my side, even if I am just moving from one shade spot to another. Before this trip, I was thinking a three liter Camel Bak was a bit of overkill. Now I know better. Once again it has been drained by noon and needs refilling. Thankfully, John has that covered as well.

John filling his Camel Bak with his MSR water purifier


:tab The river water is pretty silty. The pump works for about a half liter or so before it has to be cleaned. The filter is a ceramic cylinder. It just pops out, gets scrubbed with a Scotch-Brite pad, rinsed and reinserted. It works great and I have no doubt that we'd be forced to drink the river water if we had not had this filter available. Of course, in the condition I am in, I'd drink the river water and risk any consequences. With our Camel Baks full, we resume doing nothing...

Looking across the road from the campsite


The view back up the road towards the Coke Ovens


Tiny white dragon flies that are all over the place


:tab "Do you hear that...?!" "Is that a bull dozer?" "Sounds like tracks creaking to me..." "Wait... what's that?!" "Gotta be some kind of V8..." and so it goes for the rest of the day...

:tab Late in the afternoon it starts again... "That HAS to be a truck!" "Wait... It sounds like it is on THIS side of the river!!" We scramble up and over the berm to the road just in time to see a white Jeep Cherokee coming from the direction we had gone this morning. I wave him down and we chat a bit. He claims he came in from the North. I describe the mesa climb and he says it sounds like the way they came, but then he describes some other stuff that doesn't sound quite right... hmmm... :ponder: He asks if we need any water and offers a few gallons from his spares. We assure him that we are fine on water. After a bit more chatting we say good bye and watch as he slowly drives away, headed for the Coke Ovens. We quickly get back to doing nothing...

:tab The day wears on and the sun begins to get low in the sky. John is having a hard time keeping his eyes open and as soon as his tent is in the shade, he climbs in to escape the gnats and flies. I stay back down by the river and just sit, soaking up the experience, glad I am not at work... :-P While relaxing, it occurs to me that I am filthy and coated in a thick layer of dirt. I grab my camp towel, strip down and take a bath in the river. Now... I've sat here for hours and not seen or heard a thing, but no sooner than I get nekkid and jump in the river, I start hearing motor noises again :wary: I don't pay much attention to it until a truck pops out of the brush on the other side of the river! :doh: I scramble back over the berm, towel and clothes in hand, dry off and then come back around to greet our new visitor :lol2:

:tab A young guy driving a 4WD Toyata truck stops to let his dogs play in the water. He asks if everything is cool and I explain our situation to him. When I ask about the way out on this side of the river, he mentions the Battle Axe Trail. When I mention the nasty mesa climb to him he doesn't recall that. All he recalls is a nice road that rolls over small hills. Dang... I'd sure feel better if we knew for sure which way was the right way!! Not knowing for sure what Casey will be able to do, there is still a definite possibility that we will have to ride the bikes out of here. With no way to contact Casey, all we can do it sit and wonder... After a short while, the guy loads up his dogs and leaves. As darkness approaches, John and I start to wonder if perhaps we should not have bummed a ride out with the people in the Cherokee...

:tab Once the sun starts slipping from the evening sky, we retire to our tents. While I am blowing up my air mattress, I hear what sounds like gun shots not to far from our position. Hmmm... The guys on the ATVs were doing some shooting yesterday at the other crossing area. Maybe they are still down there :shrug:

Pow...

Pow...

Slight pause....

BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!....

:tab Okay... so maybe there are some HEAVILY armed locals with fully automatic heavy caliber weapons :scratch: Several thousand rounds later it becomes obvious that we are not dealing with locals. Soon the sounds of military helicopters fill the air, reverberating off the many peaks around us. They sound really close! Then start the FIIIIIZZZZZZ of flares being launched into the dark night sky and my tent is lit up like the middle of the day!! :brainsnap I peek out the tent window and watch as the flares drift on their parachutes, burning brightly, until they smolder out just over our location! And so it goes, all night, non-stop, until close to day break. When I do manage to drift off to sleep, the dreams are bizzarro beyond description :lol2: So ends another day of the adventure...
 

Squeaky

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Please remind me to take John with me whenever I rought it! Dude's got everything covered!
 
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Thursday, 5/24
So, now what?

Like yesterday, I was at a slight loss for what to do with the route. For the past week and a half, I had been watching a couple of wildfires, particulary the 'Promontory fire', which was on the Mogollon Rim and had the east end of the rim road closed, as well as every trail and road that went around the closed area. I had been watching it closely, hoping that they'd have the fire out and at least one of the options reopened in time for our arrival. Unfortunately, the fire containment came too late, and I had to strike the spectacularly scenic FR300 from the route.

So now what? The only real options were either pavement through Payson, or the 'Control Road' which is a gravel road that runs along the hills at the base of the rim, which I had only been on parts of and didn't remember it being too exciting. At least I had an idea for the ride to the two options; FR200, AKA 'Chamberlain Trail'.

We all rose fairly early that morning, and headed north out of Young in search of FR200. For some reason I thought it was a few miles out of town, so I didn't start looking until we were well past it. That's okay though, we got to ride the awesome couple of paved miles in the middle of 288 as a result. After doubling back, we found FR200, only to discover a 'road closed' sign. After discussing it a bit, we decided to go in search of a local that might know something about the closure; if it was passable, etc. We stopped at the gas station and inquired within, the woman tending telling us that she'd just go anyway, although she didn't know what the reason was for the closing, suggesting it might have something to do with the campground at the creek. So we figured what the hay, it's only 8+/- miles to the said creek, let's go see... We finally arrived at some concrete barriers and another road closed sign, and like all good DSers... went around them :-P. We pulled up to the bridgeless creek, where we were met with the 'you just interrupted our clock-milking' attitude of the workers. They told us it's a $500 fine to cross the creek, and we decided not to test their radio skills... So, like all chicken DSers, we turned around. We found a potential way around on the GPS, albeit a Looong way around, and set off to find the trail. After passing it a couple of times, we found the trail in question. It began as a faint, rocky jeep trail, and given it's length on the map, guessed it would only get worse; not something Scott needed at this point. While we stood at the trailhead pondering the unmarked trail, which happened to be across the road from a ranch house. Scott took off for the house, while John and I sought shade under nearby trees. After some unintelligible conversation, we heard the owner say "what you need to do is..." as they walked into his house.

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Scott returns after some time with a smile on his face. After telling us the story, he explained the proposed route shown to him on a local forest map that the man had. Turns out there's a jeep trail that goes around the crossing to the west, and eventually rejoins FR200 up the road from the inconvenient obstruction. Sounds like a plan... so off we go, turning left before the closure, crossing the creek, taking a right at an intersection of jeeps roads, and enjoying an entertaining ride for a few miles before popping out on FR200. At this point, FR200 climbs as a shelf road, offering great views of the area. We stop for a break, and Scott and I hike up to some rock outcroppings.

The bypass, before it got entertaining
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And suddenly a troll pops out of the rocks… (this one would make a good caption contest :lol2: )
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Scott taking it in
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After goofing off we continue along the scenic road, eventually coming to the HWY 260 intersection. We decide to go for the Control road. As we passed through the community of Christopher Creek, I could see the burned area along and below the rim that was once the Promontory Fire. After the short highway run, we take a right on the Control road, and begin a long, but surprisingly pleasant ride along the base of the rim, eventually coming out on 87, where we turned north for the town of Pine for lunch and gas.

Once our bellies and tanks were full, we made our way to Strawberry, where we would turn west on Fossil Creek road. Fossil Creek road is a fantastically scenic road, and when I used to visit, it was a primitive, very narrow and exposed shelf road. There was one place in particular, where the shelf begins, that can totally surprise and scare the crap out of an unsuspecting driver… the narrow road makes a dropping, hard bend to the left, with an incredible drop at the edge.

We made or way out FCR, and as I neared the area where the shelf begins, I began to slow down… waaay down. The shelf finally arrived, and I was surprised to find that things have changed; the road had been recently groomed and widened, and concrete barricades placed along the edge of the dangerous bend. People, probably teens, had spray painted messages to some unfortunate soul named Matt; ‘We miss you Matt’, etc. On closer inspection in the gorge one will find the remains of several unfortunate motorists’ vehicles, and one seems almost forced to imagine what it would have been like the take the unexpected plunge in their delicate cage.

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One of several cars at the bottom
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After our short break we made our way down the exposed switchbacks until we finally reached the river. Crossing the bridge, the wonderful aroma of fresh, clear water filled the hot air, calling me to the shade of the cool creek. We pulled over and dismounted. The water was cold at first, but incredibly refreshing.

Scott working the camera
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Enjoying the water
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After our recharge we began our climb out toward Camp Verde. While the scenery was beautiful, the road was frustratingly rough - not good rough, but large, evenly space washboard and erosion rough. My underdamped suspension wasn’t having it, as the rear wheel pogoed to the point of levitation, only made worse by the instinctive urge to accelerate. The faster I tried to go, the more I slowed down. Scott wasn’t having that problem, buzzing past me, leaving a cloud of dust in his path. Once at the pavement on 260, we looked on the GPS’s for a nearby campground on Beaver Creek. Once we located one, we were on our way. We arrived at the campground only to find a ‘Full’ sign and young teenage girls running amuck…

So much for that idea. We decided to check out a nearby creek crossing on a FR road, which turned out to be a fun ride, but the camping area was walk-in only, and no one seemed too crazy about carrying their gear.

We scratched that idea and headed to a nearby forest headquarters to ask for suggestions. We arrive just as the government office was about to close, and the last lady in the office was none to excited about pondering options with us. I asked her about private campgrounds, and she suggested a place about 10 miles southwest of Sedona. That was way out of our way, in fact the opposite direction from the planned route for tomorrow, but it was getting late and we decided to go there anyway. We were given our choice sites by the creek, where we spent the remainder of the evening soaking in the cool water. John and I thought it would be a nice idea to run some of our riding gear in the fast flowing water, so I dunked my jacket in the rapids, only to remember after a few minutes that my MP3 player was in the pocket…

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Chatting with a fellow camper
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We ended the evening with a fire and tomfoolery, then turned in.

The evolution of a studly adventure type…
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Can't believe I slept like a baby through all the helos, gunfire and flares.

Heh, yeah I just emptied my pockets and dove in in full gear jacket and all at Oak Creek...

And all those flat cars down in that gorge were quite sobering.... The road was quite sweet though, especially the lower half with all the tight switchbacks.

Can't believe that firelight pic came out so good, that's advrider front page stuff if ya ask me.

I wish I had gotten a close up pic of the buzzards sitting on those rocks across from camp, sitting with their backs to the sun and wings spread eagled out to get warmed up from the sun at daybreak. I was standing about ten feet from them.
 
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Just wondering, did y'all have a plan in case someone got sick enough or ate it hard enough that you needed quick medical attention?
 
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Apparently no cell phone coverage in the area. Does anyone on the forum have experience with satellite phones? I was looking up some UHF radio components at work and ran across a vendor that rents them.

I guess I must be spoiled by the ability to quickly communicate in my everyday world. I worry about someone needing expert help in a remote location and being unable to communicate, I didn't think about these things back before the advent of cell phones.
 

Tourmeister

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Just wondering, did y'all have a plan in case someone got sick enough or ate it hard enough that you needed quick medical attention?
:tab Well, when riding in such remote areas, there really isn't much you can do beyond basic first aid and stabilize a person while someone else goes for help. "Quick" medical attention simply is not going to happen, even if you happen to have cell service (which was nonexistent for the first few days). This is a big reason NOT to ride alone in such conditions. Also, you ride VERY carefully and not recklessly. Our speed was seldom over 25-30mph. This is no guarantee against a serious injury, but it certainly puts the odds in your favor. Lastly, GOOD gear can make all the difference. My gear was full coverage and short of a slash to the neck, there was not much way I was going to be cut by anything sharp. My SIDI boots easily saved a severely sprained or potentially broken ankle at one point in the trip when the bike had me pinned. Good gloves are another must in my opinion. I prefer leather, again for better laceration protection.

Apparently no cell phone coverage in the area. Does anyone on the forum have experience with satellite phones? I was looking up some UHF radio components at work and ran across a vendor that rents them.

I guess I must be spoiled by the ability to quickly communicate in my everyday world. I worry about someone needing expert help in a remote location and being unable to communicate, I didn't think about these things back before the advent of cell phones.
:tab I thought about this during our extended stay by the river. I have read of other people renting them for their trips. However, their reliability is sometimes questionable from what I have read. I think I will be checking into this option if I do another trip like this. The cost could be split among the group and calls limited to emergency only.

:tab There are also the personal locater beacons. However, if you trigger one of these, you had better be knocking on death's door when the calvary arrives or there are VERY stiff fines and I think even potential jail time.

:tab Part of the experience on trips like this though is the very fact that you are in a remote place and help may not be a quick call away. There is definitely an element of self reliability, on the spot flexibility, and most certainly luck... There is also the killer scenery :trust:
 
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John and I thought it would be a nice idea to run some of our riding gear in the fast flowing water, so I dunked my jacket in the rapids, only to remember after a few minutes that my MP3 player was in the pocket…
Just got the guts to finally test it... Works! :thumb:

Just wondering, did y'all have a plan in case someone got sick enough or ate it hard enough that you needed quick medical attention?
Yea, if the person can't ride on the back of a bike, I (or someone else if I'm out) goes for help. One thing about doing this kind of trip, you accept that if you get hurt, you might have to suffer for a little while. When I shattered my wrist a few years back, I rode on the back of a KLX without passenger pegs for nearly 2 hours before we mad it to an ER :shock:

Apparently no cell phone coverage in the area. Does anyone on the forum have experience with satellite phones? I was looking up some UHF radio components at work and ran across a vendor that rents them.

I guess I must be spoiled by the ability to quickly communicate in my everyday world. I worry about someone needing expert help in a remote location and being unable to communicate, I didn't think about these things back before the advent of cell phones.
We though about that... while we were stranded :doh:. Really, the cell pone didn't help much, since by the time I got got somewhere I could get a signal there were payphones available as well. People survived in the old days without them, I suppose I would too...
 
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Just think, you guy's had the time of your life. This is the kind of trip that you will remember for a long time. Great pics and reporting, in that pic of Scott climbing the rock wall...was he looking for lizards?:lol2: I love the pic of the evolution to a studly adventure type, cool time exposure.
 
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