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Dust, Bugs, and Thousands of miles

– A Recollection of my 2015 IAMC Challenge

by MaChew Spurlock (Pla6num Level winner)
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, January 2016

A huge thank you and round of applause to those who organized the 2015 challenge locations. Also a loving thank you to Heidi, my absolutely wonderful girlfriend, for her patience and tolerance of my adventurous and &me consuming motorcycle lifestyle. 

This last year was challenging for a number of reasons, be it available vaca&on, motorcycle maintenance and opera&on, or my lack of organizational skills and &me management. There were sacrifices made and chances taken, but during the adventures, I was thankful for the opportunity to explore and engage in what our great outdoor world has to offer. My advice, if you see an opportunity or behold an inspiring landscape, take a moment to snap a picture and write a few notes in a journal. You never know if you will be back that same way anytime soon. Remember that &me and place with recorded details. I wish I had written more about my travels. 

New Denver
My trusty Suzuki DRZ650.

My main choice of equipment this year is a 2001 Aprilia Futura sport touring bike that is designed to cover pavement very quickly. It is comfortable, efficient, and is able to carry enough gear for multi-night travels. I failed to document exact miles this year but can roughly confirm we traveled a minimum of 4,400 plus miles. 

This includes a southwest Idaho day loop of five counties, a northern one way trip (up into Canada, then West to Port Angeles, WA) collecting nine counties, a south central day loop visiting five counties, and a large eastern loop over two and a half days covering over 16 locations. 

The rest of the time was spent in the saddle of a very capable 2009 Suzuki DR650. To the best of my knowledge and records we have traveled about 3,500 plus miles together in 2015. 

Sun Tunnels
Wide open desert (right) near Lucin, UT.

There is an incredible amount of scheduling to complete in order to adventure on any kind of motorcycle, and my only wishes from last year would be that I could have visited more off road locations on the DR. Luckily some of my 2016 resolutions include more &me traveling dirt roads and camping off the bike. 

Rocks in southern Idaho or any part of northern Utah. The Sun Tunnels and flat, wide open spaces were highlights for me on this trip. I believe it was the longest dual sport ride I had ridden, which taught me a few things about equipment choices and organization. 

I enjoyed riding and sharing adventures with the club. In May Sam Stone led an amazing and informative ride down into Utah, covering a ton of ground and sharing his library of knowledge with us about days of the past. I had never visited the City of I led a group up to Yellow Pine, ID for the Harmonica Festival in August. I enjoyed our outing to Cinnabar Mine and Monumental Summit and will have to revisit the area to explore a few other roads and locations that I missed this last year. The dust levels were high on this ride and we had to space ourselves to avoid dirty helmets and irritated eyes. The people watching in town is always interesting but I felt the nights were too noisy for me, and I will consider consider other camp locations if we plan to aPend this festival next year. 

Cinnabar Mine about ten miles east of Yellow Pine.
Monumental Summit a few miles east of Cinnabar Mine.

The rest of my travels were solo, with the exception of spying Gary Umland (mainly his bike) at a roadside BBQ eatery in Malad City, Idaho. We toured together for a few hours that Afternoon but had to follow our strict routes in order to accomplish our goals. We parted ways After offering well wishes and safe travels. 

My favorite and most challenging weekend ride was up highway 21 to Challis and the Pahsimeroi Valley. Traffic was slow to Idaho City, and Lowman was hazy with smoke. 

Bear Lake County Courthouse in Paris, ID.
North of Stanley with colorful, rugged mountain in background.

Pausing near Clayton, I viewed a few Blue Jays fliPering through the pine branches. I spent Friday night at the Challis Hot Springs RV campground. The folks there are very nice and welcoming, and they even stayed up late to check me in. The evening temps were frosty but the hot, natural spring waters soothed my stresses and sore muscles. I slept ok, but should have brought my air maPress. An early morning alarm of nearby coyote howls woke me. I packed up camp in the dark, donned the armor and hit town to enjoy a delicious breakfast at the Y-Inn located on Main Street in Challis. Fueled up, I checked the engine oil and headed south on Highway 93. 

Just before the tiny “town” of Dickey, I turned east and headed through Doublesprings Pass (8,318 Y) over into the Pahsimeroi Valley. There were plenty of clouds but I s&ll managed to glimpse a few angles of Borah Peak, Idaho’s highest mountain (12,667 Y). 

Borah Peak covered in clouds and snow
Fish in Barney Hot Springs

Roughly navigating through some cool country, I ended up at Barney Hot Springs. I heard rumors there are tropical fish that live in this pond and I needed to find out for myself. I shared my snack lunch of Ritz Crackers, chocolate candy bar, and peppered beef jerky with the fish. They seemed to enjoy the menu. 

Rocky ATV trail up the west side of Big Windy Peak

From here I located Sawmill Canyon Road and proceeded eastward to summit Big Windy Peak (10,390 Y). The ride up from the west side is very rocky and loose in some sec&ons. I had one small get-off but no injury or damage was done. There was a storm system Big Windy Peak. blowing across this mountain range, so visibility was hindered from time to time. I had to unload the en&re bike to summit the peak as the road was definitely a level 4 difficulty. I reached the top slightly shaken as the ride required massive balance discipline, the right amounts of throttle, and some very colorful language. I didn’t stay long since the sun was moving across the sky and I wanted to visit a few more locations before calling it a day. 

Big Windy Peak.

The ride over the saddle and down to Highway 28 was super bumpy with many large round river rocks to avoid. I ate lunch in Leadore but came to realize the $5 “chilli” was recently reheated from a can. I fueled the bike and decided to head towards Lemhi Pass with a recommendation earlier in the week from Tim Bernard at Happy Trails in Boise. It started snowing while traversing over Bannock Pass into Montana and again as I was crossing Lemhi Pass back into Idaho. This was a very historically interesting area. 

I ended up rolling into Salmon, ID later than expected and due to the temperatures and how worn out I was, I opted for a room at the Bear Country Inn. Very quiet, clean and simple $61 room that included pool and hot tub use, free wifi, and coffee with danish in the morning. Bertram’s Salmon River Brewery is just a few blocks of a walk into town and happens to be one of my favorite local brewpubs. I enjoyed a few craY beers with dinner, bantered with the wait staff, and then turned in for the night. Sunday was another chilly morning and it was difficult mo&va&ng myself to get down the road back home. I buzzed a handful of miles south on Highway 93 before stopping at a trailhead to a natural hot spring. The two mile hike in is fairly strenuous but worthwhile for the views and relaxing peaceful soak. 

Redrock Stagecoach about 3 miles east of Lemma Pass
Goldbug Hot Springs near Elk Bend, ID.

Unfortunately this particular place is becoming well known and the camping crowd was larger than expected. I did manage a private 30 minute soak in one of the middle pools and was thankful for that amount of solitude. 

Back down the trail and on the bike I stopped again in Challis for a burger, sweet potato fries and a Cherry Pepsi to fuel myself for the remainder of the trek home. I learned of a few new areas to explore this coming year and will definitely be back soon.

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