Monday, January 27, 2014

WABDR Adventure Ride Day 4

Day 4

After our stay in Leavensworth, we were well rested and ready to make our way back towards home. We had intended on riding trails back towards Tacoma, stopping short about 40 miles and camping in an area called Green Water. This would be a good days ride on the trail and allow us to simply ride home the following day.

The mood was good, though we were leaving Brandon behind, and this out a damper on the remaining ride. Jim and I said Goodbye to Brandon and headed out to pickup the trail that would take us west/southwest through the mountains.

We found our trail just a few miles down the road and I fell in behind Jim, who had the GPS. We enjoyed some nice dirt trails as we gained elevation and made our way towards the mountains. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves in the all too familiar position of being uncertain which trail to take, at a three way fork in the trail!

We spent an hour or so trying each one, only to find a dead end or having the trail take us the wrong way. Not again!!??? We had just started and this was a bit frustrating. We decided to go south a bit on pavement to head into the mountains/trails at a point further south.

We made our way south and picked up a trail that appeared correct and we rode this for quite a while before running into yet another dead end!? We rode a steep, westerly trail that looked like it would take us into/over the mountains in front of us. It was fun!! Nice hill climb…sometimes steep, sometimes not. It followed a ridge that gave us some really nice views of the town of Cle Elum below…wayyyy off in the distance. Just as we were really enjoying this trail and had climbed a good 1000 feet in elevation, we hit…….another dead end!!!! Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

Jim and I get off our bikes and take a break. We grab a snack and some water and sit down, taking in the view. We check the map and the GPS. We talk about how we have already used over three hours trying to find our way. Most importantly…we agree that we do not want to repeat day two's events and kill a day, stubbornly trying to find the correct route.

We had tried to get the correct map page for this area as well, but were unable to, so we were dependent on instinct and GPS at this point.

We decided to just head home via Interstate 90 to Highway 18…both very fast roads, but very direct routes. We rode back down the mountain and hit I-90. I am sure we looked funny with our tiny little bikes cruising in the right lane at 55-60 mph as the much faster cars and semi’s used the other three westbound lanes to get past us!!

As we are making our way west and had almost gotten to our Hwy 18 cutoff, Jim looks up at an off ramp to see….Brandon!  Brandon is up at the top of the on-ramp, trying to adjust his motorcycle, which he had secured to a motorcycle carrier attached to his SUV’s trailer hitch. Jim pulls over and then goes the wrong way up the on-ramp. OOOOOOOKKKK...hope no one is coming!!... I follow him up and there’s Brandon! He was very surprised to see us as I am sure he thought we were much further along in or ride back towards Tacoma.  We tell him what had happened and he tells us his bike is flopping around like a fish and he is afraid it might come off the rack!! Jim and I give him a hand getting the bike super secure on the rack, so he can make it back home without worry. We snap a few photos of the impromptu meeting, and we tell Brandon we will be taking pavement back home.  e say goodbye for the second time that day and head out.
It isn’t long before Brandon and his family are passing us on I-90 heading west.  A short while later Jim and I hit Hwy 18 and head south. It is a pretty boring and uneventful ride at this point, added to the fact that the trip is “over”. Not so fun at this point. We make decent time and seeing a large motorcycle dealership just outside of Auburn, WA…we decide it’s a good time to take a break!

We spent some time walking around, daydreaming about the new bikes we cant afford butttttttttt...It is always fun to look! I walk over and sit on a brand new Suzuki DR650 Dual Sport. Man it fits me perfectly!!  I am dirty and dusty from the days ride and look a bit like a bum with my off road riding gear on. I play around with the bike a bit, as I assumed it was outside for display. I dismount the bike and as we continue to look around, we notice a few minutes later, that the bike had been prepped for a customer that had just purchased the bike!! Oooops! Sorry man!!! (Hope I didn’t scratch it/get it dirty!)

We climb back on our bikes and head for home. As we arrive at the turnoff that takes you to Puyallup, WA or west to Interstate 5, Jim and I wave and part ways, as he has to ride to State Route 16 to get back home, as I ride towards Tacoma.

It was a bit of a letdown to end the ride running on pavement for the day, but it seems each trip has its own “flavor” of sorts. I have come to accept the trips for what they are…great, good or a little less good!   It is always fun to get away from the City and leave responsibilities behind for a time and  this ride was no exception. We learned a few more lessons, that will certainly help make future trips less problematic…and we came back healthy, unhurt and with our bikes intact. (well...Brandon's…was more or less "intact"!!)

I look forward to the next adventure!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WABDR Adventure Ride Day 3

Day 3

We woke up on day 3 of our ride sore, but well rested and ready to find our way out of the mess we had got ourselves into. 

As we moved about, getting ready for the day, Brandon casually told us he had a "weird dream" last night that freaked him out and that it seemed "very real"!  Jim and I immediately gave him a hard time about fighting with himself in his hammock last night!  We laughed a bit and Brandon went on to tell us that he had some concerns about our location last night etc, and he recalled the last thing he thought about before he went to sleep was..."gee, I wonder if there are Cougars around here"?  Brandon said, he thought to himself, "umm duh, of course there are Cougars out here"!

Brandon goes on to tell us that he had a bad dream in which he was "fighting a Cougar" as it had apparently found him easy prey in his hammock!. (Probably looked like a sausage of sorts!)  We just started laughing...what else was there to do!?  We told him how it looked from our perspective and that it all made sense it looked like he was really in a fight with that imaginary Cougar!  He was surprised knowing that he had literally and physically fought this imaginary predator, and maybe a little embarrassed too!  Ha!

After recounting the now famous "Cougar Fight", we broke camp and packed up our gear.  We got it all put where it belonged on the motorcycles and started coasting/pushing our bikes downhill from our makeshift campsite.

We made our way downhill pretty easily.  We were able to move around the remaining fallen trees as I suspected from last night's recon of the "trail".  We coasted through a bunch of tall grass and weeds, and saw that the vegetation seemed to be thinning a bit.  Some time later, after a pretty easy descent we arrived at a fence.  On the other side of this fence/gate, we knew there was a ranch.  What a relief!  We had finally made our way out of that damn draw!!  We were pretty happy knowing we would be back on the correct trail soon.

We survey the fence in both directions.  It is 6 or 7 feet high and it appears that this long forgotten "path" of sorts was gated years ago.  We figure we can just find a wire tie or something and move the gate and be on our way!  Um, no.  The gate has been "wire tied" in about 4 or 5 spots with verrrry heavy gauge wire fence ties.  You are not removing or un-winding these fence ties with your hands!

Time to break out the tool kit.  Now I have always "over prepared" with regard to tools taken on these trips.  Funny thing is...we have yet to use them to affect any mechanical repairs to the bikes!?  You might recall we used a couple tools and my tent poles to repair Jim's frame on the last adventure ride...but it wasn't the tools that saved us there, it was the tent poles!

This time, I needed something strong to "unbend" or cut through these thick wire fence ties.  The best tool/only tool I had that would be of some help was the Multi-tool I had packed as an "extra" do it all kind of tool.  Now in truth, I needed a larger than normal set of pliers or wire cutters to deal with these wire ties, but...this is all we had.  Brandon and I got to work with these and another set of pliers I had brought.  After 30 minutes of trying to un-bend the damn wire ties, we decided to see if the small multi tool would be able to cut the ties with its rather small wire cutting jaws. (in the plier portion of the tool)

Brandon cranked down hard on the wire tie with the multi tool and ..SNAP..the tie was cut!  Nice!!  Now it took ALOT of pressure/force to accomplish this, but within an hour or so, we were able to cut the required number of ties to open the gate!!!  Freeeeeedom!!!!!

Man it felt good to get to the other side of that stupid gate!!

We got our bikes through and then got to work securing the ties we had cut.  We needed to do this, as it looked like a cattle ranch.  (we saw a few old cow skulls gleaming white in the sun along the now dried up creek bed we had been following down)  With the gate secured, we head off on a road that we assume will wind around to a ranch house at some point!

After riding about a half mile or so, I am able to look off to my right and see the tell tale "green vegetation and trees" that usually mark a ranch/farm house.  We stop for a moment, looking down at the house and the road in front of it that will take us to our proper route/trail.

I comment on how good it feels to be rid of yesterday's hardships.  We talk briefly about being VERY nice to the rancher that will likely be angry that we are trespassing on his land!  We decide to offer to pay for the damaged fence and apologize profusely should we encounter the rancher.

Click Here To See Video   (Choose 720p for best results)

We make our way down the winding road that leads to the rancher's home/driveway.  As we approach the ranch house we pass by some barking dogs that don't seem to appreciate our being there.  We stop and get off our bikes, preparing to find the rancher to tell him about his fence.  Out steps the rancher, not looking too happy and he asks us what we are doing!?

We immediately bombard him with apologies and stories of being lost...and we will pay for his fence etc etc.  He starts to smile...and his says, "I wondered what the hell you were doing up there"?!  There is no way in except thru that back gate and it has been fenced off for more than 30 years!  We tell him we had to cut some wire ties to get through and that we had repaired them as best we could...and we offered to pay for the damage.  He tells us not to worry about it, he will have one of his guys go make sure its secure.

We relax a little and tell him our rather embarrassing story.  He laughs and tells us that that "trail has not been used in some 50 years"!  He then says..."and there is no water up there either!".  We are like..."uhhh yeah..we know!!"  We see a water hose about this time and ask him if we could get a drink. (We are completely out of water)  He tells us to have at it and we take turns drinking out of the hose the way we did 30 years ago as kids! 

The rancher shows us with a point of his finger where we came off the ridge and then points further west on the huge ridge and tells us we should have come down much further west.  From this perspective you could clearly see the towering ridge as it went westward for about a mile.  Looked prettier from the ranch house than it did yesterday!  We are able to look at the tiny green patch on the otherwise barren ridge that was the draw we had travelled down.  Seemed so clear from here!  Oh well!

We get a photo with the nice rancher and we make our way west to pickup the trail again and make our way to Ellensburg.  We were full with water but still low on fuel, but we calculated we would have just enough to make Ellensburg.  So, off we go!

We hit a dirt road and are making good time.  I feel good and am trying to figure out how much time we might need to make it to Leavensworth via the WABDR Trail.

After some time twisting and turning our way though some easy gravel roads, I suddenly see Jim and Brandon stopped in the road ahead of me.  Also on the road is a large SUV and some young people.  I wonder why Jim isn't headed down the road?!  I pull up next to them and Jim tells me that these people are doing a "Short Film" and need us to wait until they are done filming so as not to throw dust everywhere/screw up their film!  Really?  I wonder if its Steven Spielberg?!

Apparently the film is about a lifelong "distance runner" and this part of the film will be shot using a camera mounted to a remote controlled helicopter of sorts.  Sooo, we just hang out and watch for a bit as they maneuver this helicopter/camera around to get their shots of the actor.

After some time we get the go ahead and we make our way north.  For some reason, Brandon takes the lead after we determine that the dirt road we are on will become paved in a few miles and that road will literally take us into Ellensburg. 

I am behind Brandon and I see the paved road up ahead.  Brandon is making tracks!  haha..I think he wants to see civilization again!  I follow behind, not having looked back for a while.  I hit the pavement and start moving along pretty quickly.  After a bit, I stop and look Jim.  I wait about 5 or 6 minutes thinking he may have stopped for something interesting etc.  Still no Jim. 

I turn back to see what's up.  We have been doing a good 45 mph for a bit, so I had to backtrack a few miles onto the dirt road, before I see Jim talking to a guy at the only house that had been on that dirt road.  Jim is at his back door talking with this guy.  I roll up and Jim tells me, "I ran out of gas"!

Normally, I would have a 30 oz bottle of fuel that would have gotten Jim to Ellensburg.  Oh I had the bottle on my bike...but I had not filled it on this trip as I had calculated we would not need it.  At that moment I realized that we had been less careful and a bit more careless on this trip...because it was in WA..our own back yard.  The lack of a map page, my not having my spare fuel can filled.  These were rookie errors that we had made in our complacency.  Ehhh lesson learned!

The nice man tells Jim he has some gas in a barn, so off they go.  A short time later we are on our way.  Jim and I haul ass into Ellensburg and find Brandon parked at a gas station/convenience store.  Seemed he wasn't worried at all!  Haha.

We all agree to fuel up, water up, get some food...and plan the day's ride etc.

We decide on Wendy's.  I cant tell you how good a salad and a burger tasted at that point...let alone the gigantic iced tea!!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

At about this time, Brandon tells us he is considering having his Wife come out to Leavensworth the next day to spend the day/enjoy the Condo etc...and then just ride back with her and the kids. (He has a bike carrier mounted to his SUV)  I am a bit disappointed to hear this, as we had planned this days ride and then the next day was supposed to be the ride home via some more dirt roads/trails.  On the other hand, I knew how hard the day prior had been on him, so it was not terribly surprising either.  He was still having a hard time gripping with his hands etc, as he had really beat himself up the day before.  being too tired on a motorcycle is a dangerous thing.

We discuss the possibility..but decide to get to Leavensworth first before deciding.  We also decide to skip the trail to Leavensworth to Give Brandon some time to rest up/heal, as another long trail ride today might be a bit much.

We enjoy the air conditioning and our meals and after adjusting the air pressure in our tires for the pavement, off we go!

The ride is a bit long and its a new thing for Brandon to be riding 55 mph on pavement.  He is alarmed by a couple of loud Harley's that suddenly and unexpectedly pass by he was likely daydreaming to the constant drone of his 225 cc motor!

We stop a few times to take a break, and check out some scenery.  It is a pretty ride, even if it is on pavement.

After a few hours of riding together, but each in his own thoughts, we arrive in Leavensworth.  It is a "touristy" German'ish town in the mountains..a very picturesque setting as the geography is beautiful here.  (No it does not compare to the traditional German town of Frankenmuth, MI)  We make our way to the Condo that Brandon secured for us and we pull up in the parking lot anticipating a nice hot shower!  It feels good to have arrived!

We look like hell trudging up the stairs in these very clean, verrrry nice condos!!  We unload our gear...throw our dirty clothes into a washing machine and start taking turns using the shower, a hot shower after two days of dirty/sweaty, dusty riding...feels good!  heck, I even shaved! 

I cleaned out the dusty/sweaty inside of my helmet..before we took off on the bikes to grab some dinner.  We settled on a little Mexican place and enjoyed a great meal.  We talked about the days event, like we always do.  We later hit a small bar and enjoyed a beer, beer and a hard cider, respectively!  It was a warm, nice night...and there were very few people out at this point. (Week days at Leavensworth aren't terribly busy)

We sat up a while and discussed the plan for the next day.  Jim and I would head back home via motorcycle and Brandon had decided to spend the day in Leavensworth with his family/relax a bit.  That was cool...take advantage of the very nice, very FREE condo!  Flexibility on these trips is very important! 

We took a look at some of the pics we had taken today and the day prior...realizing we had taken only one photo of the nightmare in the draw!  Doh!!  The motorcycle were doing issues, even after banging them up a bit.  These are some tough little mules!

It had been a fairly easy day, though the prior day still had us a bit tired.  After commenting how quiet it was and how dark the night sky was...(you could easily see the Milky Way)  we decided to called it a night and take advantage of sleeping on some real beds!! 

More to come!