WABDR 2011


Well, technically not on the WABDR anymore – just pavement all the way back to home.  We took our time breaking camp this morning, but were still on the road by 9:30a or so.  As we were cruising through the park my Dad asked if I was banging on the headset mic (don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but we had headsets so we could talk to each other).  After a bit, he realized that one of the fasteners had come out of his helmet and his visor was banging on the side.  So, we pulled over and got out the Gorilla Tape to reattach it.

The ride to the border was ok…although I find riding on the street a bit harder on my butt than the trail riding.  The guy at customs was pretty cool and asked questions about the trip as much as he could without slowing the line up too much. 

We grabbed some lunch at a burger joint in Sumas.  It was the first time we had a data connection on our phones (while stopped) for the last 3 days, so both of us were heads down in our phones almost the whole time.  I think the waitress was getting a bit annoyed with us.

The rest of the ride down was pretty uneventful…started to hit rush hour traffic as we got close to Seattle. 

Didn’t take any pictures today, other than the helmet cam (which I haven’t looked at).  The trip was a great time.  I may have to go out and do it again…My riding has improved immensely in the last week, and I think at this point I would give all of the hard sections a shot.  Also need to figure out what my next big riding trip should be…I’m thinking maybe spring training in Arizona next spring, which would be mostly on paved roads…the Utah route that is being put together may be interesting as well – Utah is one of my favorite states to visit (although I find riding in the sand a bit unnerving).

I’ve got a ton of video and pictures to review now…If I find anything interesting, I’ll be sure to post it.

WABDR Days 5, 6, and 7

Have had many days w/o internet access at our campsite, so getting 3 blog entries for the price of 1!

Day 5

First off, I have to make sure Kim knows that we’ve been gone longer than 4 days…that was how long she thought we would last before we gave up and came home Smile

Got to take another shower this morning…the advantage of staying at a hotel.  We got things packed up and started out on the route just outside of Cashmere.  First off, we were headed up Chumstick Mountain.  Some really cool terrain, roads weren’t too bad.  Here is picture of the mountain as we are about to make the ascent.


After Chumstick Mtn, we descended into Ardenvoir to get some gas and lunch.  Had to get some big vanilla ice cream cones while we were at it. 


After this stop, we went up a cool paved road through a canyon on our way up to Baldy Mountain.  The pavement didn’t last long, and not far after hitting the dirt again, we saw our first deer of the trip.  Should have some good videos on the helmet cam – probably won’t be able to check them until I get home.

A little further up the road, we stopped and talked to a guy on an F800GS and his wife on a F650 Dakar that were coming the other way.  they said that the road to Lake Chelan was pretty easy…it turns out that they were  right.  Nothing wrong finishing the day with a bit of an easy ride.  Here is the top of Baldy Mountain.


Heading down into Lake Chelan is the famous “jungle” section of the route.  Unfortunately, we missed the turn and didn’t realize it, so we ended up taking an easier road down.

We are staying at a small forest service campground (Snowberry?).  We went through it on our way down to Lake Chelan to check out 25 mile creek state park…it was basically empty and a pretty nice campground.  The state park was almost full, and only had lame sites left, so we looped back to our current spot.


No drops today! Hooray!

Day 6

After much debate, we decided to continue on the route as planned.  Over the last couple of days, we’ve talked to people who hated this section (and told us a cool bypass), and another who said it was the best part of the trip.   Due to conflicting feedback, and that other people are going to ask us about the route, we decided to stick w/the original plan.

Quite a bit of pavement to start the day.  We departed the campground and hit the slab out to the town of Chelan where we fueled up for the day.  Talked for a bit with a guy and his girl riding a Harley at the station – riding a fully loaded adventure bike starts lots of conversations w/bikers and non-bikers alike.  After fueling up, still went for quite a ways on the pavement before heading up, up, up into the hills on dirt.  At this point, the roads seem to be getting easier, or I’m just getting to be a better rider (or both).

It didn’t stay super easy, but didn’t get particularly hard either.  As the day progressed, we saw thicker and thicker layers of dust on the road.  It was real fine, like talcum powder.   Coming down a steep descent, I almost crashed because the layer of dust would hide the obstacles in the road.  The main reason the people (mentioned above) didn’t like this section was because of the dust.  As we came around a sharp turn, there was a cool creek that we stopped at to eat lunch.


There were tons of butterflies hanging around as well…after some lunch we took off again.   The next interesting bit of riding was about a 100 yard stretch of the nasty dust – it was a flat section, but it was deep – I could feel my foot pegs dragging through it.  I was leading the way, so it had to be awful for my dad.  Almost bit it once, but kept on the throttle and powered through.

Later on, we were climbing again, and I went through a particularly nasty section, so I waited for my dad to catch up…he never did.  So, I turned around to see if he was ok.  Sure enough, he dumped the bike.  So, I helped him pick it up so we could continue on our way.  Here he is packing the bike back up after moving it up the hill.


Here is the view back down the hill where he dumped it.


And we were off again!  The next incident occurred when I was going down/around a corner in the deep dust and I got the bike turned sideways to the trail – jumped on the throttle and got it straightened out – don’t know how I didn’t dump it!

We also came down a nasty steep hill – don’t recall exactly where it was, but I have it on my helmet cam, so I’ll be able to check the GPS data when I get home.  It was steep, loose rock, a narrow road, and right along side a cliff.  Really wasn’t that difficult, but kinda scary.

After we got off of the steep hill a bunch of turkeys ran across the road in front of me…hopefully got them on the helmet cam.

Tonight we are staying at Conconully State Park.  The site is decent.  We are right on a creek, which is cool.  But, we are near the main road coming into town.


Of course, this is the only site where we’ve seen wildlife.


Also, at dusk, there were a ton of bats flying around.  Tomorrow should be our last day on the route.  We are debating on whether to go into Canada and loop home, or if we should drop back and take the North Cascades Highway home.  I guess we’ll decide when we get to the border tomorrow!

Day 7

Got a fairly early start today.  Was on the road by 9:30a, for about 2 minutes, then we stopped for some fuel.  Did an experiment with the helmet cam today – instead of taking video (and me having to constantly turn the camera on and off), I had it take a still picture every 5 seconds, and I just left it on all of the time…I’ll take a look at the pictures when I get home tomorrow.

This is our last scheduled day on the route.  It is a fairly short run of 70ish miles or so, with pretty big chunks of pavement.  The first part of the route took us to the highest elevation of the trip ~6700 feet at Lone Frank Pass.  There was a huge forest fire in this area about 5 years ago and you can really tell.  Didn’t get any pictures though.

Then it was on to find the official WABDR geocache.  It is at a picnic area (whose name I can’t recall right now) that is located at a fairly high elevation ~6300 feet.  We utilized the picnic tables for lunch before heading off to find the cache.


The geocache was fairly easy to find once I calibrated the compass on my GPS.


On the way back to the bikes, we ran into a bunch of grouse



Coming down from the Geocache was the last of the dirt, and it was the most challenging of this section.   A logging truck just about took me out as it merged into the road we are on, I had to hit the throttle to get in front of him.   Coming down of the hill was steep and a bit loose, but made it down without issue.  Once off the hill it was pavement all the way to Canada.

We debated on our route home…Our original plan was to go into Canada and loop west to Sumas and come down highway 9 (which goes all the way to Woodinville).  On the trip, we started to lean toward going back to Hwy 20 and taking it west.  Well, we decided to stick with the original plan.  Crossing into Canada was a no brainer – I have my passport card with me (the first time I’ve ever used it).  At this point, we are officially done with the WABDR!  We did it!

We cruised up to Hwy 3 and started heading west.  We are camping in Manning Provincial Park at the Mule Deer Campground.  The site is really nice – right on the river.  It is a bit close to the highway though.  Hopefully the traffic won’t bug us.



Should be home tomorrow, at which point, I’ll finally be able to upload all of these Smile.

WABDR Day #4: On to Cashmere!

Started the day off by cleaning things up.  It is extremely dusty on these roads – to the point that I’d wish it would rain a bit to wet things down – but not too much because many of the roads will turn into nasty mud. It was so dusty, that the inside of my helmet cam filled up with dust!


the camera is cool though – unscrewed one small screw and I could get inside and clean everything out…I swear I took an after shot, but I can’t seem to find it. 

After cleaning thing up, I got to take a shower (one of the perks of staying at an RV park).  It was the best shower ever!  I even had some clean clothes to put on when I was done.

To finish out a busy morning, I figured out the issue w/my 12 volt adapters.  The fuse had popped, but it popped for a reason.  The positive wire I ran to install it was rubbing against a bolt that goes into the frame (ground), once it got through the insulation, bad things happened.  Fortunately it was an easy fix with a couple of wraps of Gorilla Tape.


So we got off a bit late again today – about 10:30 or so.  After our issues yesterday, we decided to take the easy bypass into Ellensburg.  This allowed us to make up a bit of time (that being said, it sounds like many people are having issues with this section – check out this link).  Stopped for some fuel in Ellensburg and then started up to the top of Table Mountain.  The road going up the hill was a ton of fun – it was paved a good part of the way, although about 3/4 of a lane wide.  We stopped at the Lion Rock Campground for some quick lunch.


The road to this point was easy – in fact a bunch of college kids made it up to the campground in a Mercedes sedan…Not sure I’d drive my 911 up there though.  Things would become a bit more difficult soon.  But first we stopped to take in some good views (although it is very hazy up here right now).



Continuing along, the ride got a little more challenging again today, although not quite as hard as yesterday.  We eventually passed a sign that said the road was for “high clearance vehicles only” – unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the sign.  The road became more rutted and there were some steeper sections with loose rock.  And then it happened!  While cresting a small, steep rocky hill, my dad hit a rock with his skid plate – the bike stopped instantly, but he didn’t.  Launched over the windshield.  He came through unharmed, and did manage to dislodge the rock and move it a couple of inches. 


Fortunately this morning he rearranged all of his luggage to make it easy to strip off.  So, getting the bike back up was way easier.


While we were picking up his bike, we could hear some bikes coming the opposite direction in the distance, so I moved up the road a bit so I could stop them while we cleared the bike out of the way.  It turned out to be a group of 3 Canadians doing the route N to S.  They had actually taken the bikes through the washout that is just S of Cashmere and recommended against it. We also got some pointers on some of the roads that we are going to hit in the next couple of days. 

Our plan it this point was to take the bypass down to Wenatchee and then stay at the state park where the Wenatchee River joins the Columbia…well, we get there and the campground is full.  No problem, there is a kinda cool county park on Hwy 2 just outside of Wenatchee – it was full too.  So, we went all the way to Cashmere and got a hotel room.  Turns out the Chelan County Fair is going on right now.


So, I got my second shower in one day!  What is the world coming to?  After showering, I did a little laundry in the sink.


Then we walked to a local BBQ restaurant for an awesome BBQ dinner!  Since we are in Cashmere, we’ll pick up the route tomorrow in town here…so we missed a small section of the route from the Beehive reservoir to Cashmere due to our reroute.  That’s it for now!

WABDR Day 2 & 3

Been camping outside of cell phone coverage, so this is several days update all at one time!

Day 2: In the Shadow of Mt Adams

At least the old man made it to the gravel road before he dumped his bike today…but I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s go back to the night before.  The tents have a really cool glow when we turn on our LED lights on the inside.  I tried to capture the effect last night and it came out pretty good.


my tent came out brighter because the light is actually brighter – I’ve got new batteries in my light. 

This was just the beginning of a very long night.  It turns out that the campground is right on the train tracks, and the train only comes at night.  But that’s ok because it’s just a train, or two, or about twenty.  To make things better, the train tracks cross the entrance road to the park.  So, each train was obligated to blow their horn 3 or 4 or 10 times as they crossed the road.

About 6:30a or so, I gave up and got out of bed.  I whipped out the Jetboil and made a quick batch of oatmeal and ate it up for breakfast.  Then it was time to start working on my bike.

My plan was simple, ride down on the roads with my standard sprocket on, and switch out to the 14 tooth sprocket (makes it easier for off road) when we got down to the start of the route.   I even switched out the sprocket nut before we left to make it easier to change.  Well, after loosening the back wheel, taking the chain off, and taking the sprocket guard off…couldn’t get the stupid nut off to swap the sprocket out.  So, I had to put the whole thing back together again.  I’ll use an impact wrench when I get home to get the thing off…It could have been worse – the old man forgot to bring his 14 tooth sprocket Smile (wasn’t that the theme of yesterday’s blog?).


At this point, we hadn’t even started to break camp yet.  So, once the bike was back together, it was time to tear down the tent, and try and get it back into the same package it came in…I actually pretty much took everything off of the bike and repacked it and got it  to fit a bit better. 

So, our 6:30a wake-up turned into a 10:30a departure.  It was a bit windy for the first bit of the ride.


We stopped for some fuel and then we were on the road!  I was leading the way today, and after being on the gravel for about 15 minutes, I hear a big “uhhhohhhuhhohh” over the intercom, followed by a big crash – the old man dropped the bike.  So, I found a spot to park my bike, so I could help him lift his off the ground.  One of his panniers was ripped up pretty good, so he got out another strap and wrapped it around everything to hold it on his bike.

From there, we continued on to lunch at the Oklahoma campground.  Upon getting into his pannier, he found that his Jetboil had been crunched!


but is was nothing he couldn’t handle – after pounding on the thing forever (or at least until I was through with lunch), he finally got the cup straightened out enough that he could get the fuel and burner out.


After lunch we headed up to the ice caves.  The ice caves were really cool! (get it Smile).  You walked down a big staircase into this cave, and there was ice all over the place.  It was significantly cooler than the temperature outside the cave.  According to the sign, the cave is actually an old lava tube.



Because of our late start and the “incident” (and repair), we were running a bit behind schedule.  It was pretty apparent that we were not going to make it to Packwood today, so we started scouting out campgrounds.  About 4:30 or so, we found a cool campground to stay at.

once the tents were pitched, it was time to make some high quality freeze dried food – Teriyaki Chicken dinner for me!


After dinner a guy stopped by to check out the bikes.  He is up here elk hunting – archery season just opened yesterday.  Conditions are a bit hot right now though.  His buddy did see a bear yesterday – I better sleep with my pepper spray tonight!

Day 3: Hard

Got up around 6:30a again today, made oatmeal for breakfast, and then broke camp again.  Actually hit the road by 9:30a or so!  The ride into Packwood was pretty straightforward.  After Packwood, we jumped on Highway 12 on our way to the next offroad section of the WABDR.  Well, there was road construction.  At one point they had dumped a bunch of fresh dirt onto the road – deep, soft dirt, and a big milk truck had gotten stuck.  Well, they routed traffic around the truck and both of us almost bit it…we were going over a section that nobody had driven on to pack it down.

After our near crashes on Highway 12, we went up a road toward Bethel Ridge.  There are several trailheads at the top and we stopped for lunch.



Bethel Ridge is supposed to be the hardest part of the entire ride – baby head sized rocks while climbing uphill.  Well, there is an “easy” bypass that we opted to take, and it was easy.  This got us to highway 410.  Next up was to go over the top of Cleman Mts.  We started heading up the hill and we missed one of our turns.  I picked a poor spot to turn around, caught my front tire in a rut, and gently put down the bike…however, it took both of us to pick it up again.  We zipped back to our missed turn and started to climb.  The road was getting more and more difficult with large (golf ball to baseball sized) loose gravel, and big erosion ruts thrown in.  As we started to climb a long steep part of the hill, I stalled my bike (had it in 2nd, should have been 1st) and dropped it.  My dad sped on by to keep his momentum going.  I managed to lift the bike myself and get going on the steep hill again.  I stood on the footpegs and just went for it.  I passed my dad who had stopped in a good spot because he though he needed to come help me lift my bike.  The hill was probably a total of 2 miles long.   I waited at the top for several minutes and the old man was not showing up.  So I started hiking back down the hill…about a mile down the hill he was trying to lift his bike up…he had dropped it.  After some serious wrestling, we got the rubber side down again, and he jumped on and started up the hill…Made it about 100 feet and then dropped it again.  We did this two more times before he finally just went for it and made it up the hill.  Of course, I had to hike Sad smile.

Top part of the road…he made it through this part:


Resting at the top of the hill


After a long rest at the top, it was clear we weren’t going to make it all the way to Ellensburg today.  The WABDR map had a campground shown at the bottom of the hill…The bottom of the hill was still a long ways away.  The way down was easier than the way up, but it still wasn’t super easy.  Eventually, we popped out at Wenas Rd and headed toward Yakima looking for the campground.

Of course, we couldn’t find the campground…ended up going to far, and then pulled over to chat w/a farmer to figure out where it was.  Turns out it was an RV park, and really the only camping around.  We had passed it about 5 miles back up the road.  We got there just as the guy was closing up and snagged a tent site.  To top off the day, the old man dropped his bike as he was parking it at the site.


and a view of our campsite.


Well, it really isn’t a super level site – I’m kind of on a hillside, hopefully it won’t bug me too much. There is a pretty decent shower here, so I’m looking forward to that in the morning.  At some point today, my 12v adapters died – I’m hoping I popped the fuse, I’ll check that out in the morning as well. 

WABDR Day #1

Ok, I know I promised to do a trip summary for the motorhome trip, but I’ve been lazy and haven’t gotten around to it.  So lazy, that I’m actually on my next trip – Doing the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route with my Dad on our motorcycles.  This route goes from Oregon to Canada almost exclusively on unpaved forest service roads.

This trip has been in various stages of planning for almost a year, and now we are finally off and doing it.  Doing a trip like this takes quite a bit of planning, so of course we put it off to the last minute – sorta.  In August, we spent some time going over the route details.


and then just got the GPS tracks from the WABDR site…we are carrying the paper maps in case we have a GPS failure, or have to re-route for some reason.

And once you’ve planned the route, you’ve got to pack the motorcycle – we are going to be spending some extra time in Canada, so we could be gone as long as 10 days.


and yes, all of that stuff fits on the bike!


Today we rode down to Stevenson, WA, which is the starting point of the ride.  We left my Dad’s house around 9a this morning.


The bikes are really loaded down and very heavy…to the point that the suspensions are so compressed that it is challenging to find a place to put the sidestand down to get off them!  To prove that point, we stopped in Greenwater for a quick break.  We got back on the bikes and were ready to go, when my Dad realized he forgot his sunglasses in his bag.  So, he proceeded to get off the bike, but forgot to put the sidestand down and dropped it in the parking lot…Wait, that doesn’t prove my point, it just proves my Dad forgets a lot of things!

We stopped in Packwood for lunch and fuel, and then stopped in Randle at the ranger station to get the one set of maps we did not have yet.  Then we got on the coolest road of the trip.  From Randle down to the Columbia River, we were on a nice long twisty road.  Every once in a while you’d pop out for some killer views.



We cruised on down to Stevenson to snag some pizza for dinner.  Contemplated getting fuel, but there is a gas station near the beginning of our ride tomorrow that we’ll just use.  After dinner, we set up camp at a small county campground on the Columbia.


Now it is dark, so I’m blogging away and then heading off to bed!  Start getting into the dirt tomorrow!