Monday, July 16, 2012 @ 7:00 PM in 2012 Epic Motorcycle Ride
We decided to go to bed early last night because we knew today was going to be a long rough day. We were in bed by around 8:30pm and then within the hour some family showed up and were making more noise than I thought possible for about an hour. I finally fell asleep and woke up around 5:45am today.
We ate breakfast and packed up our bikes. I had some oatmeal and Ryan had one of the Mountain House Scrambled Eggs w/ Ham. After we finished up we set out and were on the road by 6:50am. We started out and it was a little chilly and stayed that way for quite a bit of the day. We eventually had to stop and put our rain gear on to try and warm up.
By the time lunch came around, we fueled up in some tiny town and stopped at some locally owned sub and pizza shop. The waitress and owner seemed like they were pissed that we were taking up their time by ordering. We eventually finished and set out on our way to Missoula.
It seemed like the entire day was split in half with Missoula at the center. The first half of the day was nice and relaxing with some good views of far off mountains. The second half of the day is what we were looking forward to. It took us by the St. Joe's River where we were planning on getting our first taste of off road riding.
We got onto St. Joe's road and turned on our GoPro cameras to record the upcoming adventures. Based on Google Maps we were supposed to stay on St. Joe for the duration of the ride until we hit Highway 3 again. Before setting out on this ride I had disabled the "avoid gravel roads" option in my Garmin and it had produced a slightly different route. We figured we'd just take that and see where it would lead us.
After a few miles we made it off of the gravel and onto a Jeep trail that was really nice and maintained. We followed that for several miles having a blast riding along. We crossed another gravel road and continued on our jeep trail, which is where things started to go bad. We noticed the trail wasn't as groomed as it previously had been. There were trees blocking the way and you could definitely tell it wasn't used very much. We kept pushing through thinking it would eventually clear out a bit more.
Things didn't quite end up that way unfortunately. We had a few tough spots to get through and eventually hit a spot where I almost fell off a huge cliff and then proceeded to get stuck in a giant tree that had started to grow up through the trail. Ryan was behind me and was in a spot where he couldn't actually put his kickstand down because of the angle of the trail at that point. We were both looking at each other like "what do we do now?" Eventually Ryan was able to get his bike adjusted enough to put the kickstand down and we spent about 20 minutes just trying to maneuver my bike around so we could turn around and head back to the last nice road we saw. It's hard to put into words how crazy this part of the trail was. Imagine a 2 foot wide trail angled pretty steeply downhill with a 60 degree incline up or down on either side of you. Fortunately I had stopped in an area that was wide enough to turn around the bike (after knocking down a few trees).
After each of us got extremely tired and sweaty during that ordeal we finally hit a paved road which turned out to be the road we were originally supposed to stay on, which seemed to have been renamed to the St. Joe Scenic Parkway. We followed this road next to the St. Joe river and through some very nice mountains for about 60 miles when we realized we were about to be in trouble. We still had about 40 miles to go before we got out of the park and Ryan was running on fumes. I wasn't doing much better so we pulled over and had the first opportunity of the trip so far to use our RotoPax. Imagine being in the middle of absolute nowhere, stranded with a huge thunderstorm getting ready to plow through. That's exactly what we didn't want to happen which is why we brought some extra fuel.
The only issue is that the "eco-whatever" spouts that come with the rotopax are absolute crap. Neither Ryan nor I could figure out how to get these things to open up. We twisted, pushed, pulled, yanked, etc for a few minutes but nothing we would do to either of our units would get any gas to come through. Absolute shit engineering there. Anyway, we ended up just pouring the gas directly from the can into our bikes while trying our best not to spill too much fuel everywhere. We finally got that taken care of just as the first of the rain started falling.
Fortunately not too much later the road opened up a bit and the speed limit increased so we could try to outrun the rain. Somewhere along the way a small bird flew into my chest and scared the crap out of me. We made it to ID-3 and started to make our way up to the Beauty Creek campground near Coeur d'Alene. The roads were very nice, although we probably didn't enjoy them as much as we should have since we'd been on the road for 13 hours already. We noticed the refueling we did about 90 miles earlier was starting to reach its limits and once again there were no gas stations in sight (nor had we seen any since the time we fueled up). After getting rained on and having deer jump in front of us for another half hour we finally spotted a gas station. It was a single pump outside of a bar and grill. Unfortunately their network was down so we had to pre-pay with cash only. Ryan and I both gave $20 which was enough to fill up our bikes and add some back to the rotopax. It was only another 30 miles or so to the campground but we had to continually ride through rain and I had another deer jump in the road in front of me not 30 feet away.
As we rode into the campground we could hear thunder and see lightning so we worked as hard as we could to set up camp as quickly as possible. It was about 9:30pm (MST) when we rolled in which made for another extremely long day. We noticed there's a shelter at our campsite with a picnic table under it so we quickly moved the table out of the way so we could try and get our tents under it. By the time that was done the sky had started to clear up a bit, even though there are storms all around us.
We washed up a bit and got dinner going. As my dinner was rehydrating (I had the Beef Stroganoff w/ Noodles), I decided to wash my clothes at the water pump since they were starting to smell really bad, especially from all that extra exertion trying to get the bikes off of that trail.
The rain hasn't hit yet and I'm siting here typing up this ride report before heading to bed. All in all today was a blast. The whole trail ordeal is the kind of stuff that we weren't really planning for and was a pain at the time but was still a ton of fun. Be sure to stay tuned for photos of that. We'll be in a hotel in Vancouver in two nights where we'll hopefully have some internet we can use.
Off to bed now since we've got a 400 mile day ahead of us tomorrow that will see us crossing into Washington and camping near Bellingham at Birch Bay.
Stopping to put on rain gear. It was pretty cold and we needed to warm up.
Rolled through some pretty cool looking small towns in Montana
After getting stuck in the trails
We both ran out of gas after the adventure getting stuck in the woods. Good thing we had extra with us!
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