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Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby sarkmych » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:16 am

Well, here I am planning my first adventure ride, likely solo during the Canada Day long weekend (unless there's someone out there who'd like to join me). My ex-wife gave me a free pass that weekend and I've got 4 days to explore the southern part of our province and into the good old USA. I'd much rather ride with someone else but my riding buddies are pre-disposed during that time. After much research and saving my nickels and dimes, I purchased a F800GS last summer. I am somewhat of a newbie but I've logged plenty of hours and miles on my 450. I've done Baja, the Okanagan in Kamloops and Vernon area on gnarly stuff. I've modded my 800 with the necessary protection, i.e. crash bars, rad guards, oil filter guards, barkbusters, etc.
My plan is this: I don't really have a set plan. I'd like to leave Seba Beach on Wednesday afternoon afer work and ride south. My eventual destination is somewhere in Montana. I've got most all the necessary camping stuff so I think I'm prepared that way. I have a few more items to add to my pack but I'm trying to stay as minimal as possible. I'd like to stay off the pavement whebever possible but at this stage in my riding career, I think pavement may be a blessing in disguise my first time out. I think I'll hook up with on the "Cowboy Trail- Hwy 22 just outside Drayton Valley then cut across to the FTR west of Rocky Mountain House. I think I can make Burnt / Fallen Timber campgrounds by Wednesday evening sometime. By Thursday evening I want to be somewhere in Montana. I'm thinking, anywhere in Glacier National Park would be nice. After that it's a crap shoot where I'll end up.
Any suggestions, info, warnings, etc you think I should know is always much appreciated. I will update you on my progress as it goes along.
p.s. Re: Bear Spray....Is it true it only makes you taste better??
Cheers!!
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby garrett » Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:53 am

Sounds like a fun ride. Enjoy the solitude.

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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby clarkee » Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:01 am

p.s. Re: Bear Spray....Is it true it only makes you taste better??

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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby kiffernathan » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:18 am

Sounds like a great trip!

I knew a guy who was charged by a mama grizz who had two cubs. She came at him from about 50 yards away, and he was shaking so bad he barely had time to get the bearspray off his belt before she was right in front of him. He said it stopped her dead in her tracks and she took off...

If that's not a good test I don't know what is, but to you it's one of those "friend-of-a-friend" stories.
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby cdnabn49 » Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:14 pm

I am totally envious... I can handle about an hour in the saddle right now and am hoping to extend my riding a little bit each time...
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby sarkmych » Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:12 pm

Sorry guys, working on a ride report for the first time. Just practicing.... bear with me, technical difficulties.




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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby sarkmych » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:04 pm

[color=#0040FF]This is my first ride report so please be patient....Still getting used to posting pics.

So, I made it.
2550kms in 4 1/2 days. Great Falls and back.

After packing my baggage onto my bike , sans panniers...
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with the aid of my finely tuned WR450 clothes rack...

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walked my bike out of the garage...
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To a somehat ominous start weather-wise...
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I began my journey but had to stop at work first to make sure the smoking crater hadn't grown much...It hadn't..
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After leaving work on the Wednesday June30th, I travelled down the Cowboy Trail to Rocky Mountain House then onto the FTR to the Fallen Timber campground (near Waiparous) where I set up camp the first night.
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Along the way I stopped at the Mountainaire Lodge which had changed dramatically since the last time I was there. Aparrently a disgruntled employee burnt the old store to the ground, so a new one was being built.
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I'd been to this area several times in the past. A fantastic place to camp and ride dirtbikes right out of the campground. very few places left where this is allowed. My kids and I love this place.

Woooo--Hooo!!! My kinda road!!
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The next morning i continued my ride south through Waiparous
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and then onto Kananaskis highway #40 to Coleman at Crowsnest Pass. With a few stops along the way to take a break and breathe....
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After lunch in Coleman, I stopped to take in the Frank Slide, I then carried on...
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I rode on to Waterton National Park intending to stay at the Waterton Village campground. The entire village was booked solid so I had to backtrack a bit to the Waterton Springs campground where they thankfully, had a few spots left to pitch a tent (no pun intended).
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Only saw one bear the entire trip right outside Waterton Village but it was too busy to pay any attention to me. Wouldn't even pose for a good pic. If you look close you can see it.
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Funny story: In the campsite directly beside me were a couple of young guys out to do some hiking in the backcountry. Next to them was a Hutterite family of 12 (yes 12) with a newborn that cried constantly. Directly beside me was another young couple with a baby of their own. In my experience, I knew this was going to make for a difficult night's sleep. After i rummaged around in my backpack, I found a couple of extra pairs of earplugs that I "liberated" from work. I gladly offered the boys next to me the plugs with the promise that they will thank me in the morning. They gratefully took them. The next morning when i woke up (in the rain) I asked the guys if the earplugs were helpful knowing the babies could have potentially cried all night. All I remember them saying was " I don't know about the babies but man can you snore!! We shared a good laugh and I carried on my way with a chuckle.

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[/color]
Last edited by sarkmych on Wed Jul 14, 2010 3:51 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby sarkmych » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:22 pm

I had awoken to the pitter patter of raindrops falling on my tent. Very peaceful actually. I slowly and carefully packed up the camp all wet and donning ATTGAT , experienced my first ever lay-down of the F8 (2 in total on this trip). Sorry, no photos. It was a muddy morning with the rain and after bidding farewell to the fellas next door, I being the hotdog that I think I am, stood on the pegs and twisted the throttle only to do a 180 spin out and topple over into the mud. GREAT!!! What a start to the day. I'm so used to riding the WR with the knobbies, I totally forgot that Scorpion Trails have no traction in mud.
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So, after picking up my bike out of the mud (with the assistance of 2 witnesses to the spectacle I made of myself), cleaning out the pivotpegz, I carried on to the border crossing at Chief Mountain. Stopped to take a couple pics

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Pretty uneventful crossing but a cool looking mountain aptly named "Chief

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Waterton Lakes Park, last look from the Canadian side.

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"
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby Andy » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:23 pm

Now that's my kind of trip... great pics too.

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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby verne » Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:03 pm

Nice report so far! You are making me think I should keep the KLR and do long road trips! (oh yeah, i'm married...never mind)
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby hockeygod » Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:22 pm

[bravo.gif] Good stuff Sarkmych! Great pics and I loved the story about the earplugs and the wipeout! I would love to do a similar ride...
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby sarkmych » Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:51 am

Thanks Hockeygod....we'll get a ride in together soon I'm sure.
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby sarkmych » Thu Jul 15, 2010 10:54 am

I think border agents should travel their country, then they would quit asking why I want to enter the US.
After the interrogation, I entered US soil. The ride from Chief to the next junction was very enjoyable. A nice twisty road down out of the mountains through numerous cattle guards or "Texas gates" as they call them, into St Mary's where I stopped for a much needed java and breakfast.

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One of the many tour busses ou can take through the "Going to the sun" highway through Glacier National Park.
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A fine steed, she be!!
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No close calls at all with the many head of cattle free grazing along and in the roads along the way. Sorry about the lack of pics, I was having too much fun riding and avoiding cowshit piles to stop for any pics until I reached a safe spot to stop. But here's a couple anyways of that area.
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At breakfast, I had overheard that there was a heavy snowfall warning for the Logan Pass area, so I instead rode south promising I would go through there on my way back. I chose to ride south through Browning to Great Falls. A very windy ride to say the least but very light traffic along the way. I'd have to compare this to much of southern Alberta with the rolling prairies landscape.
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I thought I'd stop here since the canadian flag was waving and I found that somewhat welcoming..and a good chance to stop and breathe...
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Once I reached Great Falls, the city ambiance was less than fulfilling. No offense to the city, I'm sure its a great place to visit but I really needed to get out of there as the road beckoned me to keep on going. I chose to head southwest towards Helena on the interstate. Prior to my journey, during the planning stages I had marked a couple of waypoints on my GPS for my trip north. One of the towns I earmarked was Lincoln. It is along Highway 200 north of the I-15 at the southern end of the Helena State Forest. This was going to be along the route I was to take going back north. Unfortunately, I didn't stop to take any pics but the I-15 south of Great Falls crosses over the Missouri River about 20 times. Very cool! As I passed through Cascade I noticed on my GPS that the waypoint at LIncoln was visible. I turned up north on Highway 287 to the junction at 200 and proceeeded west. A fantastic ride out of the prairies and into the forest. A must-ride for anybody on a DS or touring. Again, no pics, too much fun riding!! I decided that Lincoln would be my stop for the evening.
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The 4th of July weekend is nuts in the US so finding lodging can be somewhat of a challenge. As I passed through Lincoln all the motels and campgrounds were full until I got to the end where this one place happened to have a room available. Kevin and Luanne (cool name) owners of the Three Bears Motel, were very hospitable and rider / hiker friendly. Kevin offered the use of his clothesline out back so I could dry out all my gear from the morning's rain pack.
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At Kevin's suggestion, I had supper at the Montanan Grill. The best steak I've ever had..Again no pics...too busy eating...mmmmm steak....
After supper, I went back to the motel after checking out the town and Kevin suggested I take a trip out to the old goldmine. It was a evening DS ride into the backcountry a bit.

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Some old goldmining equipment still there, referred to by Kevin as the "dinosaurs".
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Along with the old goldmine was an old cemetary still in use by the locals but pretty much now a museum of sorts.
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Along the way back to the motel, I stopped to breathe.....
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.
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Re: Riding solo...Edmonton to Montana

Postby sarkmych » Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:29 am

The next morning, after a nice hot shower I continued my journey with my sights set on the "Going to the Sun" highway. West on 200 to North on Highway 83 through Condon and Seeley Lakes, up through Swan Lake. A very nice route. Another must-ride. It must have been because there were lots of other 2 wheelers out there that morning. I didn't stop to take much for pics, again having too much fun riding. I did have to stop and gas up though and grab another java.
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After gassing up, I rode north. I bypasssed Kalispell which I am regretting a bit, but the Glacier National Park was my destiny. My next stop being the park gates where I purchased a few gifts.
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I spied an XR650 in the back of a pick-up truck bearing my home province's plates. Just so happened the owner was nearby and we struck up a conversation. He was from Lethbridge and was here by himself doing some backcountry riding on the XR. I have to come back here and find these roads...I so need some good backroads maps.
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After waiting for what seemed like an eternity at the gates. I finally pushed through onto this legendary road. I stopped at a cool waterfall where a couple was actually getting married.
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The road up to the sun was epic!! It peaks out at about 6700 ft.
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It is a cliffside road with only 2 lanes, one in, one out. Along the way there was a couple of road construction stops whch blew my mind because I don't know where they plan on putting road in at those spots. The road that was there must have fallen off or something because it was quite narrow and a little hair-raising. The many glaciers that cross the highway are cut through by heavy equipment during the summer months to allow for traffic flow. It rained the entire trip, not hard but enough to soak you. It didn't matter. It didn't seem to anyways to the other thousand bikers i came across along the way. I'm going to let the pics tell the rest of the story.

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The "road to the sun" is about 50 miles but its a good 4 hour ride or more if you want it to be. I stopped at St Mary's again for lunch before heading back to "the true north, strong and free".
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Goodbye "Big Sky"!!
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It sounds lame, I know, but I went back the way I came through the Chief Mountain crossing. My trip at this point was essentially over with only the push home left.
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I stayed the last night in Clairesholm, Ab before taking mostly pavement to "The City of Champions".
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[color=#0040FF]At Ponoka I turned east to try to find mostly country roads home. I hate pavement!!

[[/color]url=http://sarkmych.smugmug.com/Other/Canada-Day-Long-Weekend-2010/12831103_z44UM#925612320_aPs6S-A-LB]
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[/url]


[color=#0040FF]And of course, I had to stop and breathe....

[/color]
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Last edited by sarkmych on Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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