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Oregon Discovery Trail 3,4, and parts of 5.

skinny_tom (aka boney)

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

We offcially start our trip in Ashland, OR at Geoff's place. We had ridden up the day before and done some of the last minute prep. The goal: Trail 3, 4, and sections 3 & 4 of Trail 5 of the Oregon Backroads Discovery Trail. Http://www.oohva.org


The ride is the brainchild of my friend Geoff, who wants to ride south to north in Oregon, as much on dirt as possible. Luckily, such a route exists.


Oops. I was trying to move it around in the divoted grass.



Route 3 winds it's way through the Cascades from CA to Sisters, OR. Since we have a limited time span and an ambitious schedule, we took the liberty of cutting off some of it. But first, we get our stickers from GI Joes:



Motorcycle travel (as well as ATV's and 4x4's) are required to get a tag. Word is that the forest service has been cracking down on non-compliant vehicles. Get out those stock pipes folks, and slap on them turn signals.


So we roll out 140 toward Fish Lake with plans to cut north where the trail crosses it. We find it and promplty get lost. After a while we started getting good at the navigation thing. It just takes a bit to get the hang of it.





After a few stops to figure out the navigation thing, combined with the GPS waypoints I had pre-programmed, we came up with a plan. The poor-mans roll chart:



The list of roads worked great since the published OHV maps didn't match the NFS maps, which were different than the GPS maps (if the roads were even in it). AND, that's even if the road had a sign. We worked it out though, and started to make some time.





Yours truely, with a dirt goatee.



Some KLR action:



We left the dirt to go get some gas, to find that there wasn't any in the town that the map set had listed as having some (Union Creek). We ended up back-tracking a few miles down the road to get some in prospect, and then back up to the trail. Mental note; get gas whenever possible.


What is my problem anyway? A fitting end to the day:



Camped by the Rouge River at Hamaker Campground:



Totals so far:

169 Miles.


More to follow...

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Wonderful Tom. I just missed you. I was in Prospect on wednesday, coming from Summer Lake hotsprings on my RT. Those trails you are on are the bomb, though i've not been on them on a bike. Quite a few years back I used to hunt deer in that area.

Great pictures, Can't wait for more.

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

Day 2 begins by backtracking across the footbridge we used to access the Hamaker Campground. Last evening we had looked for the road to the campground, but only had a GPS waypoint (on the other side of the river) and no knowledge of a road. We stopped in a nice meadow intending to camp, then found the bridge...



A little early Morning Rouge River:



The trail wanders north along Bear Creek to the east of Crater Lake National Park along a few ridges and meadows and has some pretty stunning views.



Larger Panorama View


We found Windingo Pass Road to be of better quality than the local highways. It was good for a 70 MPH run. The other side of the pass is bow-hunters paradise, so slow down when the season is open, everyone and their family is up there.



Past some lava formations:




We ended up off the official trail again when all the mapping devices we had stopped agreeing with the roads. We found two dead-ends, and eventually just kept riding until everything started to match again. It wasn't far, but it consumed a good amount of time.


Wikiup Resivoir, where the roads are wide and fast:



Back into the woods:



Wanoga Butte Lookout Tower:




The further north we went the colder it became. At some point we talked to some hunters who told us that the forcast was SNOW about 5000 ft. I looked in the GPS at all the campsites we'd been considering and they were all around 5500 ft. My sleeping bag was rated for 45 degrees- forgetaboutit- we're headed for town.


Interesting things were happening today... At ABS shutoff button was acting up. It worked sometimes but not others, and several times I couldn't turn it off. It was a bit of a pain, and something that I'd investigate later.


We picked a hotel in Bend near downtown, checked in, hit the showers, and went out for dinner and a beer.


Totals: 150 miles today, 319 so far...

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

Day 3.


Sure enough it rained last night, and it looks like it snowed up in the hills.



As the rain was slowing down, I found the reason my ABS switch stopped working.



So I fixed it the way any self-respecting adventurer would. I pulled the other wire off the back of the switch, stripped them, and pinched the wires together for the rest of the trip.


The weather cleared some more, so we put on all our gear and went to finish the northern most section of trail #3. The rain had dampened things just enough to kill the dust but not make the roads too slippery for the Gripsters on the KLR.



The higher we went, the colder it became.


Vanity shot:



The riding was fast and fun through the forest. I was running a TKC80 front and a Karoo rear. It was pavement like traction through the dirt, mud and snow. This was clearly the best day of off-road riding I've ever had. That is, until we came across the Forest Service "gravel" roads. They're really shale, and it's deep and unnerving. Ugh. Take a look at the bottom of this pic.



The Sisters came out to play:



Panorama biggie: http://www.beachbus.net/storage/ODT/odt231.jpg


We followed the route along the base of the Sisters for a while then just when the end was near:



Fire Closures. Less than 5 miles from the end of the ride...

We skirted along the edge of the closure, and eventually wound up on the highway back to town.


Totals: 101 miles today. 420 Total.


Stay tuned for the arrival of Searge...

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

This is Searge:



Some of you Bend locals might recognize the location.


This is Searge's new (to him) bike:



Some of you Bay Area residents might recognize it. He just bought it on the Penninsula, and it came complete with an ADV sticker. It's clean (for now) and heavily accessorized. Needless to say, Searge is a happy camper and spent little time deciding that he needed to come up for a day or two of adventure. He's had it less than a month, and I think he's already put 3,000 miles on it...


Aside from getting a flat (blowing out a plug?) and realizing that the tire looks like it had been previously plugged, I think he's pleased.


Keep in mind that Searge is back into riding after a number of years off the bike. As a previous lumberjack, and a history of flat-track racing (yes I'm gong to ask if he has old pictures) and other off-road interests, not to mention that he's just a BIG guy, the Adventure might not be such a big bike after all. Time will tell...



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skinny_tom (aka boney)

Day 4:


We start late at the Bend Coffee Company (or something like that). Nice place for scones, pannini and coffee.



Off to Route 4. Sisters to Seneca.


Big guy, big bike. Little guy, little bike.



Initially I was worried about Searge's riding skillz. He was an "unknown" coming into the middle of a somewhat tightly scheduled ride. His comments were not terribly reinforcing either, being sure to add in that "it's been a long time" and "we'll have to see" element.


Sandbagging is apparently one of Searge's other talents. lmao.gif





We followed the trail through The Cove Palisades State Park...



...and on over to Prineville. Where we ate, gassed up, stopped at the Wildland Firefighters Memorial, and replugged Searge's rear tire- something he would do again tomorrow on his way home.



The late start didn't allow much picture taking in the afternoon. It was getting late and we kept the pace up across "Skyline Road". As the sun went down we found ourselves in Scotts Camp. There was no water, but lukily we had a gallon to split.



Today 149 miles. Total milage: 569

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skinny_tom (aka boney)
Tom, this is realy a fantastic time that you all are having and sharing with us. Keep it coming, I wish I was there too.


3 more days yet to come!


I should mention... In the middle of day 4 while we were picking our way across an OHV area on a particularly loose and sometimes steep trail I came to the crest of a hill and stopped to speak with a couple on thier DRZ's. It turns out it was the owners of Alaska Rider. I wish I had written down their names, and they both escape me at the time. Needless to say, they were encouraging of the adventure and very nice people to talk to. Apparently they spend a good portion of the off season in Oregon.


If you want to ride Alaska but have time constraints, it looks like they've got a pretty good set up. They leave a very good first impression too. clap.gif

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

Day 5:


This morning we bid Adieu to Searge, who was only able to get a couple of days off and had to head back to (warm) California. He headed north up Scotts Camp Road then out 26 to John Day and south on 395. He made it all the way to Reno for the night, only having to stop and re-plug the tire once. The hole must have been getting sloppy at this point, since he had to back it up with Slime to get a seal.


Geoff and I kept heading east toward Seneca where we would have already met the 3rd section of the Oregon Backroads Discovery Trail #5. We heard that gas in Seneca was sometimes difficult to attain, but we had no idea...


Early morning:



It wasn't long until we could see the Wolf Mountain Lookout from the road.



This is one of the closest "detours" you can make on this set of trails, so we decided to take a look around:



Big ole pan-o-rama: http://www.beachbus.net/storage/ODT/odt381.jpg


The stairs were steep:



The deck height, two feet shy of the Aerial Ladder we use at work came to 108 feet. For the geeks; that makes this the tallest wooden tower in the United States. We met a nice gal named Wendy who works up there and gave us a brief tour- It's not very big. From the lookout (with binoculars) we could see several other look-outs and all of the 600+ acre ranch that Wendy owns and works when she's not up in the tower looking for fire.



It wasn't long until we were approaching the end of Trail #4 and going to pick up #5 and head into Seneca for gas.





Two more false starts on dead-ends and we decided to pack it in the easy way. Wide gravel roads to the highway. Let's get some gas and get going...


We arrived at the Gas Station in Seneca at 3:15 Sunday afternoon. Here are the hours:



After some time of discussing the options making a 50 mile round trip to John Day, we decided to approach the neighbor about who else might have gasoline. We had received a tip or two from several hunters we had spoken with about a ranch who might sell us a few gallons, and a resort thay may have gas. The neighbor began giving us grief about our comments regarding the hours of the gas station. He said something like, "you know they have lives too," and "why would they want to open up for you on a day like this?" To which my not-in-the-mood-for-catching-shite reply was "to make money." I mean, after all, they don't own a gas station for fun do they?


It turns out that the owner was standing right next to this guy, having just finished helping him move some stuff into the place. I'd been had, and fell for it hook, line, and sinker...


The owners were happy to turn on the pumps if we bought with exact change and even sold one of the hunters outside the place a can of chew. The dude next store, in the yellow house, rides a Uly and an R1200GS. Apparently there is some sort of conspiring going on between the two so that the neighbor may begin to sell gas out of his 50 tank in the racing trailer, during the off hours of the station, when he is home. Don't quote me though...


Along the way:



We continued on to Malhuer Ford where we would camp for the night.


Me, stuck in a hole after getting bumped off track in the ford:



Geoff, about to cross. My camera battery quit after this shot, so I missed the "water shot."



Only our feet got wet. The water was probably between 12 and 16 inches deep.


No mosquitoes!



There's nothing like Cliff Bars, Beef Jerky, and Freeze-Dried food after a long day of riding.


Today, 152 miles for 721 total.

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I'm loving following this, Tom. Have you felt like the F650 is the right bike for this trip? You've had that thing all over the place now.

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skinny_tom (aka boney)
I'm loving following this, Tom. Have you felt like the F650 is the right bike for this trip? You've had that thing all over the place now.


Yes and no. While it does pavement and smooth dirt exceptionally well, it's only weakness IMO is the suspension. I bottom out the front end fairly regularly and find the rear end poorly dampened for off road riding. On the smoother roads, I could cross the ruts and holes at 35MPH or 10 MPH without issue, but in between I felt like I was really beating on the poor thing. Of course this is at 35,000 miles on the stock stuff. The other issue is the clearance... something that an after market suspension will fix. The front bash bar is taking a beating as is the sidestand, being the lowest part back there, and it's soon going to be unusable. All this on roads that I would hardly consider technical. Admittedly, some of this is rider technique, which in my own defense, is improving but still lacking.


The KLR handled the whole thing well. There didn't appear to be any clearance issues, and it carries more height stock than the GS. It also has a skinny 21" front tire which probably helped it track in the gravel and silt better. It's weakness was the 350 miles of interstate to get there and the 700 miles of highway to get home. Nothing that can't be fixed. The only point of contention I can think of is that I could open up the GS and get around the trucks a WHOLE LOT FASTER. The F650 really goes when you whack the throttle open on the highway, the KLR was taking it's time.


While the 1150 Adventure was with us for only one day, I don't think that anything along the route would be out of reach for it, assuming that a reasonably skilled rider was behind the handle-bars. Same for the 1200's and other bigger bikes like the KTM 950's. Considering my novice skills, I'm probably going to stay with the smaller bikes for a long time coming. There's no doubt that even smaller more dirt capable dual-sports could do this even better, but at what point do you sacrafice the highway portion of dual-sportability to get more dirt?


I've been looking at KTM 640 Adventures. But I think I'll skip it and just upgrade the F650GS. It's already heavily accessorized and ready for the long trips- I don't think I could make the change without incurring more expense than just a suspension kit for the F650- and that still looks like it's going to be costly if I want to add some ride height.


In hind sight, a 650 Dakar would have been a better choice. But we did not originally buy this bike for me, even though it's turning out to be my other bike.

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skinny_tom (aka boney)
Wheeee! This is fun! How do you do the panoramas?


The Canon software that came with my camera is pretty good at it. The latest bunch have been made with Photoshop Elemts. Open the pictures you want to merge. Click "File>New>Photomerge" and follow the instructions. It's not too hard since the software does most the work.


I know there are some good "freeware" programs too. I just don't know what any of their names are... Perhaps someone else can chime in.

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

Day 6:


Thank goodness for the support team. Discovering the first night out that we were in for much colder termperatures than the weatherman had predicted, my wife overnighted the over-stuffed, Gore-Tex, down sleeping bag I usually save for the moutaineering trips. Now, instead of sleeping with all my fleece and long-underwear on, I was unzipping the bag to let some cooler air in. Even in the frosty morning.



We took some extra time to warm up and get some maintinence outta the way.


Finding the middle of the chain:



KLR center stand:



Local Resident:



New "to do" list:



Setting out on another perfect day for riding, the trail took us off the GPS's known roads an onto the reliance of the "to do" list. we still couldn't find half the roads, but we kept riding and eventually found ourselves back in the GPS and to-do list.


But not before we crossed a few barbed-wire gates.



And finally down a long dusty and rocky road through the sage to the North Fork of the Malheur River.



This is where we met Ed. The nicest guy EVER. He and his buddies were camped along the river fishing and riding, riding and fishing. They had a base camp that came complete with a yurt-looking canvas tent and wood burning stove. Ed offered up coffee right away. Something I couldn't say "no" to. He seemed truely pleased to find a couple of guys riding the trail and made reference to having read about an adventure or two on ADVRider. I think he would have hopped on his 225 and come along if we invited him.






And through a lot of ranch land. Out here in the east part of Oregon, the meadows seemed much wider and drier. The towns were further apart, and much smaller.



We stopped in Unity to get gas and eat:



Geoff was starving. He asked for the Beef Stew on a Bisquit and couldn't get the waitress to commit to how big it actually was, so he asked for "extra" if it was possible. When the food came, she set down the biggest mound of food I've ever seen plopped onto one plate. I wish I had taken a picture. Geoff ate the whole thing too. OMG, I would have puked if I tried to get that all in.


After lunch, more fantastic riding and scenery:



The prediction for rain was passed along to us by the Forest Service guys in Unity. A 30% chance didn't have us too worried, but we did take precautions:



Again, we finished late in the day. Somehow we only manage an overall daily average of about 15- 17 MPH including the many stops for navigation and the few stops to eat. I feel like we're pushing it sometimes, but it certainly doesn't reflect in our daily milage.


We had planned for China Creek Campground, near the road closure that everyone says you can get a motorcycle around, but we found Gold Dredge Campground, an NFS facility along the John Day a bit closer and decided to stay. Nice place, no one home. No water either. We filtered river water then boiled it.


165 miles under the tires today, for a total of 886.

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

Last Day:


Walla Walla here we come. We're a long way off, but the map says there's two strectches of road that have little to no navigation required; Mt. Emily Road and Skyline Road. We're going to have to make some time if we don't want to ride in the dark. To shave a little time off the trip, we head over to 395 and up to Ukiah for gas.


Along the John Day. Reminds me of Devils Post Pile:



Old Doug, the guy who owns the gas station, a store, a restaurant/pool hall, and a small hotel does not like the Forest Service employees:



One of the hunters had found himself a trophy.



Navigation this morning proved again to be difficult. I was using the "off road" routing on the GPS so that I knew where the next waypoint was, but it wasn't picking the roads for us to use. It had mostly been picking the wrong roads and making the riding longer, so I had long since shut that feature off. Again, we found ourselfs on un-signed roads, off the knowledge of the GPS and into the woods trusting that the roads we were taking us would hit the next waypoint.


Post get-off in the deep silt.



We stopped for the train when we neared Interstate 84, and rode past Kamela, which is literally a wide spot in the dirt road. There's nothing there.


Across the interstate and off to the hills we go. Mount Emily Road was wide, smooth and fast. Logging trucks were coming at us in 18-wheels slides around some of the corners, and the hunters were pressing us faster in their oversize turbo-deisels. We were making time, but the riding wasn't very enjoyable. Then, at the blink of an eye, we were past the logging and beyond the hunters and out on our own again.


Skyline road runs along the ridge above Elgin for at least 6 miles. This is quite possibly the longest stretch of dirt we had done the entire trip without making some type of navigational decision.





The big-un: http://www.beachbus.net/storage/ODT/odt65.jpg


As we approached a section of Hwy 204 that we would have to ride, the rain started falling. It was so cold I couldn't believe it wasn't snowing on us. Thank goodness for heated grips.


We wound along the ridgeline for a bunch more miles:





And finally down the northern edge of the range and into Washington:



Walla Walla, WA:



190 not-so-long miles today for a whopping 1076 miles on the Oregon Backroads Discovery Trail.

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skinny_tom (aka boney)

I took this on the way home a couple days later:




It made me think of couchrocket.



If I have time and anything interesting to say, I'll put up some reviews of some gear we used this trip.

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skinny_tom (aka boney)
Where will the next "big one" be smile.gif


Planning has already begun. wink.gif


West coast riders might want to get their dual-sports prepped for spring. thumbsup.gif

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