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Author Topic: The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report  (Read 200 times)

Offline dub

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The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report
« on: August 25, 2019, 08:33:16 pm »
Went and rode Idaho with a buddy last week, here's the report:

It was early May and a plan was forming. A plan for an epic multi-day off-road ride. The destination? Idaho. The route? Ríidaho GRIT3.

The GRIT3 Southern Loop is a ~700 mile loop of Southern Idaho which promises over 400 miles of trails over 6 days.

Day 0, Travel

Loaded up and heading out from Evanís house in Carson City at about 9:30 on Saturday morning. Itís a pretty easy drive from Carson to Boise, so no need for an early start.

An easy 8 hours later (with a time zone change) and we were stopped for pizza in Boise.

With time to spare, we wandered around Boise city center a bit.

The pedestrian corridor was poppiní off.

Then it was on through Idaho City to find a place to camp for the night where we would also leave the truck for the next 6 days.

Day 1, Good News and Bad News

We endured a slightly severe thunderstorm over night. Bright flashes in the sky, very loud thunder, and hard rain.

The good news is that the trails would be in primo condition after some rain, the bad news is that we were packing up wet rain flys to start off the trip.

The good news is that thanks to where we camped, we barely had to ride a mile down the dirt road until we turned on to our first single track of the route. The bad news is that we camped at a fairly popular staging area, so the first trails were pretty whooped out for the first 6-10 miles or so. But after we got about 10 miles from the staging area, the whoops gave way to nice smooth trails (well, except for the rocks, roots, and logs).

On the very first of what would be many, many switchbacks over the next 6 days, I was awarded with the first tip-over of the trip. Good start, good start.

It wasnít long before we encountered our first trail obstacle on Rabbit Creek Trail. We were both carrying Silky Bigboy hand saws, an excellent saw, but this one was a little too big for a hand saw. Also too big to jump, the only choice was to go around.

Rabbit Creek Trail led up to our first scenic vista, the Sunset Mountain Lookout.

ďThis place is lousy with trees.Ē

Down from Sunset Mtn Lookout we took the excellent Hungarian Ridge Trail, to a short section of Forest Service road, and right into the Barber Flat and Brownís Creek Trails, which turned out to be a trail of many surprises.

It featured overgrowth hiding rocks and ruts to kick you off the trail.

It featured fallen trees sloping downhill across sidehill trails for us to struggle over.

It featured sneaky mud ruts for us to get stuck in.

It featured creek crossings completely hidden by overgrowth so you canít see the best line through.

From there we got a break on a graded dirt road along the Middle Fork Boise River with a nice spot to enjoy lunch of leftover pizza.

From lunch it was on to Corral Creek trail with some great scenery and crazy side hill singletrack.

Corral Creek trail features some very long, loose climbs, and my bike was overheating. Given the conditions, I didnít think much of it; thatíll happen. But then going up Rattlesnake Mountain Trail just a short while later, it did it again, and thatís when I realized the cooling fan wasnít coming on. So, off with the luggage, seat, and fuel tank to diagnose. I thought it must have been a blown fuse, but the fuse was good. Next, Evan pulled the wires off the thermoswitch, connected them together, and the fan spun right up. The thermoswitch just connects ground above a certain temperature, so with that out of the circuit we knew the fan motor was good, and the switch was the problem. Knowing the fan would come on when the wire was connected to any ground, we freed as much of the wires as we could from the harness and ran them up to the handlebar. I loosely attached a zip tie to my handguard to tuck the spade connector under, and that would be my manual fan switch.

With that behind us, it wasnít 3 miles down the trail when we had our 2nd problem; with my bike, again. At the next stop, I noticed my fuel consumption seemed much, much higher than it should have been based on the miles we had ridden. So we investigated and found my bike was leaking fuel from the fuel rail. This one wasnít a KTM failure, but my fault. I had taken the fuel rail elbow off to preemptively replace the hose clamps, and when I reinstalled I buggered up the o-ring.

Off with the luggage, seat, and fuel tank again.

We pulled the mangled o-ring off, kind of pieced it back together, and put it back on the elbow. Then Evan pulled the savior out of his tool pack: some black RTV. We smothered it with RTV, waited a bit for it to set up, then re-installed. This was a tense moment, if the leak continued, I wouldnít be able to make the miles and we would have to find another o-ring somehow, or I was out. Thankfully, the fix worked, Evan had saved my bike again. But we werenít out of the woods yet, literally. I was low on fuel and we still had a long way to the next gas station.

We rode some more nice singletrack down towards the town of Pine, but I could scarecly enjoy it I had such bad range anxiety. I was shutting off the engine and coasting every single down hill section I could.

How close was I to running out of fuel? At the Nitz Pine Store I put 5.4 gallons into my 5.3 gallon fuel tank. Evan and I were both quite impressed with my fuel pumpís willingness to suck every last drop out of the tank.

From the Pine Store, upon the recommendation of itís employee, we rode up to Featherville for dinner. The Featherville Cafe made itís political affiliation clear, she was even selling bumper stickers and MAGA hats.

From the Featherville Cafe it was on to our campsite near Grouse Creek.

Day 1 route:

110 miles of dirt, 19 miles of pavement. Total track time 12 hours, total moving time 7 hours. We spent at least 2.5 hours fixing my bike this day.

Day 2, ďThe second day is always toughestĒ

Just two weeks prior to our Moto trip, Evan had been in Idahoís Frank Church Wilderness backpacking with his girlfriend. They were treated to hot days and mild nights. Armed with that experience, he brought his extra light camping setup on our trip. This turned out to be a mistake as in those two weeks, the weather had turned much cooler. Great riding weather, but much colder nights.

Morning of day 2, waiting for the sun to come up and warm us up above 36*

As consolation, this campsite had a makeshift shitter.

The morning started off on some easy roads, then led to some nice singletrack on Porcupine Trail.

Porcupine Trail includes this bridge over Lime Creek, but luckily we donít care for rules.

The route took us down into the lowlands on some easy dirt roads, through gates, as always, then back up into the mountains on Lime Creek Trail to Presidents Trail.

Lunch spot.

After lunch it was down Virginia Gulch Trail through Baumgartner and on to Willow Creek Trail where I narrowly avoided launching my bike off a rock feature into the river. Need to dial the send level down a notch.

(if it seems like we crash a lot, itís just because Evan and I never pass up the opportunity to take a picture when the other person falls off)

Further up Willow Creek Trail it was Evanís turn for bike issues. His bike wasnít running well and gas was overflowing from the carb bowl. Off with the luggage, seat, fuel tank, and carb for a quick trailside carb service.

Fixed right up and we headed into the Smokey Bar store for snacks, then up Paradise Creek and Mule Creek Trails with their nice singletrack and gorgeous views on the way to Smiley Creek.

We stopped on the way for some light trail work. This go-around was completely unnecessary, as even the Silky saws made quick work of the fallen tree..

After refueling in Smiley Creek, we headed out Grand Prize ATV trail to find camp.

Day 2 route:

111 miles of dirt, 3 miles of pavement. Total track time 10:23 hours, total moving time 6:36 hours. We spent at least 45 minutes fixing Evanís bike this day.

Day 3, We Find Our Groove

The morning of Day 3 was another tough one as the overnight low was well below the minimum of Evanís lightweight down quilt. Even sleeping in his clothes he was uncomfortable as the temp dipped to 34*. And once again everything was wet with dew as we waited for the sun to crest the trees.

Luckily the agony was short lived as we had some great singletrack on tap first thing this morning. Grand Prize Trail past the Bowery Guard Station and on to Germania Creek Trail.

You canít really see whatís going on, but this is Evan trying to straighten his brake rotor after he crashed hitting the very last rock of a huge sidehill rock garden.

More fun singletrack in Little and Big Boulder Creek trails led us down to Livingston Mill Ghost Town, which was also making itís political affiliation known.

We elected to skip the 7.5 mile round trip detour up the Jeep Road to the lookout. From there it was mostly roads, with a little more singletrack dropping unto Old Saw Mill.

Lookout up there somewhere.

A quick stop at Old Saw Mill store (where they donít have gas right now, but we had already planned for that) it was time to head up to Custer Lookout. The route up to Custer Lookout is called Razorís Edge Trail and itís marked as high risk exposure.

Since were entering an absolutely no-fall zone, Evan decided to get his fall out of the way early on this easy switchback. Good thinking.

Heading up Razorís Edge.

We made it up to the fire lookout without falling off the mountain.

Luckily we still had plenty of opportunities to fall off the mountain on the way back down.

This first section of trail after leaving the Lookout was looking particularly risky.

Evan going to scope around the corner.

Eh, not so bad I guess?

Spoiler alert: We didnít die.

Coming down the mountain it was some more fun singletrack on 5 Mile Trail, onto Yankee Fork Road. From there it was a pretty easy cruise with a little more trail, but mostly road/two track down into Challis. Including the Lombard ATV trail; the slippiest trail known to man. It was like riding on ball bearings on top of marble.

In Challis we had a great dinner at the Village Inn (great fries) then headed out of town to find our campsite.

This spot was just off a dirt road in a little ATV play area, it wasnít glamorous, but it had excellent Eastern exposure. We were hoping for early sun, warm temps, and everything to not be covered in dew the next morning.

This turned out to be our smoothest day yet with fun trails and no mechanical issues.

Day 3 route:

117 miles of dirt, 19 miles of pavement. Total track time 11:20 hours, total moving time 6:49 hours.
Thanks to Sidi|Motion Pro|Vortex|Carters|Shoei for the support in 2019

Offline dub

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Re: The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2019, 08:33:50 pm »
Day 4, We Ride The Struggle Bus

We did indeed have a nice morning; early sun and everything we left out wasnít wet. On the contrary, things we left out like socks and towels actually dried overnight. Things were looking up.

The route for the day was the Challis Bonus Loop. Just some trails/roads looping way up north above Challis, taking us nowhere but right back to Challis. Itís not part of the GRIT3 loop, but just meant to be some extra miles for those up for it.

We started off up Patís Creek Trail, which had these cool boulder fields.

We quickly ran into some sections of trail that needed some saw work.

Evan scoping out whatís ahead. If weíre gonna be sawing all day, maybe weíll just turn around.

This one was a bit much for the Silky; had to go around.

Finally in the clear and riding some trails.

On a connecting road I managed to pick up a huge piece of barbed wire that wrapped around BOTH my wheels.

Cool way to anchor a trail marker.

The trail up to Hat Lakes was super beautiful.

The trail down from Hat Lakes was super tech. It was really steep, tight switchbacks through this enormous scree field.

Down from Hat Lakes, we stopped at this stream to refill our water.

Evan uses the gravity filter method.

I use the squeeze method.

They take almost the exact same amount of time to do 3 litres, but his method is much less effort.

We finished up Hat Creek Trail, which was some of the rockiest singletrack Iíve ever seen (and we have lots of rocks in Nevada)

On to Peel Tree Rd to Hat Creek Rd, and thatís where the trouble started.

Hat Creek Rd turns into S. Fork Hat Creek Trail, which was OK at first, but then where it starts to ascend the mountain, it hadnít been cleared. The trail goes straight up the mountain, you can still see it, but itís criss-crossed with burned out deadfall. So we made our way up to the top, with some difficulty, by switchbacking up the hill in between/over the downed trees.

At the top. We heard from a local that this area had all burned out last summer.

At the top we were relieved to see pink ribbon marking the trail through cut logs. The West side of the mountain has been cleared, itís just missing that East section up to the top. At this point we thought the struggle was over.

From there we headed South on Wardís Butte trail, it was OK for a bit, but then devolved into a snarl of downed trees.

We crisscrossed our way back and forth for a little while, wasting energy, trying to see if we could pick up the cleared trail. But this area hasnít been sawed in years.

Our next step was to backtrack, and pick up another trail we had seen going down the hill to the Southwest. This trail wasnít on the map, but it had been cleared, at least for a little bit. After just a short stint of easy going, this trail too became littered with downed trees. At least these ones could mostly be jumped.

Eventually though the trail ended altogether. Actually, weíre not sure if it stopped existing, or we just lost it, but we were basically bushwacking at that point. Many more downed trees, much more energy expended. Eventually we popped out of the forest and into sagebrush. We are used to bushwhacking through sagebrush. Itís easy going for the most part. But the easy going wasnít to last, it seemed we had come upon a former aspen grove that had been completely obliterated leaving what looked like pickup sticks of criss crossed trees amongst the sagebrush. This was not easy going. This was stop, plan your next move, go 15 feet, stop, plan your next move, drop your bike, struggle to pick it up and get unstuck, plan your next move, go 15 feet.

If you look closely in the center left third of this picture, you can see the trail we were shooting for. According to our maps it was Corral Creek Spur, and would take us back to Corral Creek - Hat Creek Trail.

After finally making it back to cleared trail, we were wasted, and just took Morgan Creek Road all the way back to the highway and back into Challis.

Since the Challis Bonus Loop was meant to be an easy day, our plan was to ride quite a bit past Challis and camp near Little Bayhorse Lake. But after our extended trip on the struggle bus all afternoon, that was called off and we made the decision to camp at Challis Hot Springs, a commercial campground with hot springs (duh). We enjoyed the amenities of the campground including showers, picnic tables to spread out all our crap and eat on, and a potable water tap right at our campsite to save the effort of filtering from the river.

After rolling in to camp, I discovered another problem with my bike. The chain guide was hanging from itís rear mount only. The plastic had split apart at the front and the front mount collar had pulled through. The solution was to shove the collar back through by braking/filing off the flange, boring a hole through the plastic with an awl, wrapping a few pieces of safety wire around the front, then covering the whole thing with quick steel. It was a surprisingly stout fix as it lasted the rest of the trip.

Camp at the Hot Springs, with my bike on itís side mid-repair.

Here is Evanís uber minimalist sleep system.

If rain is expected he erects a tarp contained in that small stuff sack to the left of the Tyvek. As seen back on Day 0 camp.

As soon as the sun went down the little kids in the house tent next to us projected a movie on the inside of the tent. Talk about roughing it.

Day 4 Route:

95 miles of dirt, 21 miles of pavement. Total track time 9:53 hours, total moving time 5:42 hours.

Day 5, Evan Taps Out

Evan had hoped that some soaking in the hot springs plus a good night's sleep would bring him back up to 100%, but it wasnít to be. We could only guess at the reasons, maybe it was the hot springs, maybe the proximity to the Salmon River, maybe it was the grass, but whatever the reason, this was our wettest morning yet. A tremendous amount of moisture had condensed out of the air leaving everything we left out soaking wet. It may as well have rained.

This is what a man whoís had enough looks like: Evan under his dripping wet quilt, making a hotel reservation for Stanley that night.

Todayís route started out with quite a bit of ATV trail/jeep/road/two-track out of Challis, including our favorite zero traction trail, the Lombard ATV trail.

We encountered the single nicest trail sign ever.

We went up and over Ramshorn Mountain at 9,895ft.

We stopped by Little Bayhorse Lake, the campsite we had been shooting for the day before.

From there it was more ATV roads until we got to the known difficult Peach - Cinnabar Trail. The trail follows Cinnabar Creek for a while, and itís not especially difficult, but before long it turns and heads up the hill towards Custer Lookout, where we were two days prior, and becomes absolutely brutal. Itís a long, loose, steep climb with plenty of switchbacks and obstacles to trip you up. Itís a tough trail even on oneís best day; but not feeling 100% is a recipe for trouble.

Evan bobbled on a switchback, and lost the momentum he needed to get up over the big tree root right after the turn. Not being able to gain a head of steam on the loose, steep hill, he was pretty much stuck.

Up to that point we had only seen 3 other riders on the trip. One guy we ovetook on the Lombard ATV trail into Challis, and two others on the Challis Bonus Loop the day before. All three of them were doing the Tour of Idaho ride. It was at this moment that we saw the only three local trail riders we would see on the whole trip. Three riders on KTM 300s going in the same direction up the trail as us appeared, like gorillas out of the mist, when they were needed most to help Evan get unstuck. They made a joke about emailing him the bill for recovery, and just like that they were gone again.

After waiting around at the top of the hill, having a snack, and admiring the view, Evan finally made it up behind the three trail angels.

This is when Evan tapped out. The tough day before and another night of poor sleep had taken itís toll. Evan was afraid if he kept riding the tough trails it would lead to a mistake and injury.

The hard route was meant to take us back past the Custer Lookout, then down the advanced Ramey Trail. But instead we took 5 Mile Creek Trail down off the mountain to Yankee Fork Road.

From there we went our separate ways. Evan took Yankee Fork Rd South from Bonanza to the highway and on to the hotel in Lower Stanley. I headed West to ride the rest of the dayís singletrack.

Scree sidehill above the river featuring a deteriorating retaining wall.

There was quite a bit of deadfall on this trail. Some I was able to go over, some I had to go around, some I cut.

A little too big for the Silky.

Picturesque Hindman Lake

On trail 4038 I came across this crazy landslide/avalanche debris field. The entire hillside had come down leaving an enormous pile of trees.

On the left side of this picture you can see that what I assume was a small army has cut the trail through the debris. Itís like a solid wall of cut logs.

A little trail work.

A little stream crossing.

A nice view of the Sawtooth Mountains.

In that previous picture, you can also see the switch zip tied to my brake reservoir that we picked up at the Challis NAPA auto parts to wire my fan to. A big improvement.

Before I knew it, I was back on Hwy 75 just east of Lower Stanley. But instead of heading West into town, I headed East and rode the Little Casino Trail Loop. Then back north on 75 to meet up with Evan at the hotel.

Day 5 route:

107 miles of dirt, 18 miles of pavement. Total track time 9:39 hours, total moving time 6:38 hours.

Day 6, The Resurrection of Evan

This hotel had an amazing view of the Sawtooths from the back deck.

Itís amazing what half a day of rest, plus not waking up wet and cold will do for a man. Evan was ready to get shreddy on this, the last day of our trip.

We made a cautious plan, so as to not get in over our heads, that Evan would do the first section of singletrack, and see how it went. From there he would just take it one section at a time, considering what bailout options were available.

Heading out from our ultra-lux accommodations at the crack of 9:42 am.

After some easy dirt road, we headed up Little Basin Creek Road Trail, to trail 037, which required some light early morning trail work.

From there it was East Fork Valley Trail, which let to some ATV trails then back to the Highway.

Up the highway briefly past Trap Creek Campground, and on to Trap Creek Trail, which led to yet another picturesque lake for a lunch stop.

From there Bench Creek trail had a bit of a tough climb in the beginning, but no drama.

Evan was still feeling good, so we pressed on to Trail 024 to Cape Horn Summit through more burned out forest.

The route of singletrack kept heading North with limited options, so Evan decided to quit while he was ahead, and bailout on Forest Rd 579. He would head back down Hwy 21 and meet me at Bull Trout Campground for the Warm Springs Trail while I continued the loop and did Wyoming Creek Trail and Gates Creek Trail.

We met up just as planned and launched into the Warm Springs Trail. This 15 mile piece of single track would pretty much be our last trail of the trip, and a fitting end it was. It somehow managed to encapsulate every element that we had ridden over the last 5 days into this one trail. It had stream crossings, scree fields, rock gardens, plenty of roots and rocks, switchbacks, exposed side hills, open sections, wooded sections, and few whoops for good measure.

Warm Springs Trail led right back to Highway 21. Evan planned to ride the highway back to Idaho City, while I did one last section of trail up to Jackson Peak. It was a 4.3 mile piece of trail that climbed the whole way. My bike got so hot the clutch fluid was boiling in the slave cylinder. But at least the view was nice from the top.

From Jackson Peak it was 15 miles of graded dirt road right back to the highway and into Idaho City.

Day 6 route:

104 miles of dirt, 17 miles of pavement. Total track time 7:13 hours, total moving time 5:17 hours.

After rendezvousing back at the truck and loading up, we headed back into Boise for dinner at the Pad Thai House. 5 stars, would eat again.

Having put down a proper celebratory dinner of beer and Thai food, we headed South on Hwy 95 for a couple hours before heading down some random dirt road to camp for the night outside of Rome, OR. I slept in the back seat of the truck, Even slept on his piece of Tyvek. It was one of our best campsites of the trip, with plenty of Eastern exposure and a view.

Our last stop before home was this Indian truck at a truck stop in Fernley, NV. A real diamond in the rough with a killer Biryani. Unfortunately they were already out of Goat for the day. Maybe next time weíll catch it.

Total trip stats from my GPS, because I can't resist putting it in a spreadsheet.

Thanks to Sidi|Motion Pro|Vortex|Carters|Shoei for the support in 2019

Offline RichVee4

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Re: The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2019, 11:35:08 am »
WOW... Enjoyed reading about the trip, probably more so than riding it!  You found some amazing ST and scenery.  We were up in the Sawtooth mtns in July but didnt schedule much time to explore.  Saw lots of tree fall from previous fires and avalanches.  Looked like some of your tracks hadnt been traveled in years, somewhat surprised, great enduro area.  Need to mount a chain saw for next time.  The scenery made an impression and looking forward to heading back up there.   
Live long and prosper \V/

Offline RedLeader

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Re: The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2019, 11:50:14 am »
Thanks for sharing. That was an amazing adventure.

I think one of these might be needed if you were to go back.

"Why are motorcycle dealers closed on Sundays? Because Sunday is for worship... Catholics go to church, Motorcyclists go to the track." -Justin Skalka

Offline dub

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Re: The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2019, 01:23:46 pm »
I think one of these might be needed if you were to go back.

You're not wrong.
Thanks to Sidi|Motion Pro|Vortex|Carters|Shoei for the support in 2019

Offline GreenMachine

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Re: The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2019, 04:49:22 pm »
What a nice surprise.

Gonna bookmark this to read in chapters.  Thanks Dub.  What an epic looking ride adventure.  Having lunch next to a quiet stream must have been awesome.
It's about taking in the most corners to your destination, not about the shortest, quickest route.

Offline GreenMachine

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Re: The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2019, 08:04:08 pm »
Okay, no way.  I'm out.  That would be too much roughing it, riding steep mountainsides, breakdowns, etc, etc... for me.   More power to you hard core dirt riders though.  Looks like an amazing adventure. 

Don't think I'll be visiting any of those areas in my lifetime.  Too remote.
It's about taking in the most corners to your destination, not about the shortest, quickest route.

Offline dub

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Re: The Wilds of Idaho: R'Idaho GRIT3 Trip Report
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2019, 03:02:42 pm »
Don't think I'll be visiting any of those areas in my lifetime.  Too remote.

lol, that's the draw for some people.
Thanks to Sidi|Motion Pro|Vortex|Carters|Shoei for the support in 2019