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My 2015 IAMC Challenge Adventure

by Wayne Smith (Platinum Level Winner) 
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, January 2016

2015 was another great year to participate in the IAMC Challenge. When I heard that the Challenge sites this year would be to document a site in all 44 counties in Idaho and each rider could choose an A or B site, or document your own site in the county (op&on C), I couldn’t wait to get started. I have been to all the counties in Idaho at some point in the past, but visiting all 44 counties in one summer, and doing it on a motorcycle sounded like a challenge. This year I logged 5,902 miles to visit all the Challenge sites. I rode a GS1200, GS800, and DR650 to log the sites. 

Time is always the limiting factor when planning my routes to visit all the Challenge sites. I wanted to avoid the highways as much as possible and still be able to visit all the B sites in each county. After some thought I decided to log the A sites in the counties farthest from home and then fill in the B sites as &me would allow. 

Petroglyphs at Wees Bar in Owyhee County midway midway between Swan Falls Dam and Celebration Park
Remains of early seAler’s home on Wees Bar.

I started the 2015 Challenge year by logging Ada County and Canyon County courthouses on April 12. I knew right away that I was going to miss the challenge of riding through the mud and snow to get to some of the sites as in past years. The next ride was on April 19 to Wees Bar in Owyhee County. This was my first club ride and my first ride on the DR650 that I bought a few weeks earlier. I met the group in Nampa and we had a good ride to Swan Falls. We pushed our bikes across Swan Falls Dam and rode to the Indian petroglyphs along the Snake River. Everything went reasonably well un&l it came &me to climb out of the Snake River canyon on a somewhat loose and rocky road. A big thank you to everyone on the ride that helped me pick up my bike several times. I earned some new scratches to document the fun. We later visited Ini&al Point and explored Kuna Cave and had a great day. 

Intermountain Bird Observatory, Lucky Peak.
Minidoka National Historic Site
Road to Pilot Peak blocked by snow.
Minidoka National Historic Site

On May 5, I rode to the Elmore County courthouse, Lucky Peak, Boise County courthouse, and Warm Springs Point. The B site for Ada County was Lucky Peak Bird Observatory. I have ridden to this site before but I wanted to visit the area again. The road to Lucky Peak is s&ll as steep as I remember from my last trip, but the sand washes seemed to surprise me more oYen this &me. I had never been all the way to the Intermountain Bird Observatory at the end of the road because the gate has been locked below the camp. The gate was open on this trip so I was able to ride all the way to the camp. The view of the en&re Treasure Valley from the top of the mountain is pretty amazing. 

Springtime near Pilot Peak.
Courthouse in Wallace Idaho.

On May 24, I logged two sites each in Jerome County and Twin Falls County. After visiting the Jerome County courthouse, I rode to the Minidoka National Historic Site that was the B site for Jerome County. I had never been to this historic site and it was well worth the trip. It is a very interesting and moving monument to the Japanese people that were forced to relocate to this internment camp during World War II. The National Park Service now oversees this monument. After visiting this monument, I continued on to Twin Falls Falls and Twin Falls County courthouse between the hail and thunderstorms and was able to log those sites before heading home. 

With below average snowpack from the previous winter, most of the snow was gone at higher elevations by late May so I decided to ride to Pilot Peak lookout and log a C site for Boise County. My plan was to continue across Hwy 21 and loop back to Idaho City on the east side of Hwy 21. I started the day by riding east across Pearl Road to Hwy 55 and down old Hwy 55 to Horseshoe Bend. I crossed Hwy 55 and headed up the road through Centerville and toward Pilot Peak. This was turning into a great ride with the wild flowers in full bloom and some great meadows to pass through. I started to notice that some of the fallen trees from winter had not been cleared yet but was able to get around or over everything. I continued up the road un&l I came to a shady spot about a mile from the lookout where there was a snow drift just too big to get around. This was a good spot for a break but I had to back track along way to get to the highway so I headed down the mountain the same way I came in. The sights were just as good on the way out. 

Fremont County Courthouse.
Box Canyon Campground.

I still had all of the counties in the northern part of the state to log so again I needed to make &me to take the trip north. The weather forecast for the Fourth of July weekend was for high temperatures over 100 degrees for most of the state. With the hot and dry conditions I knew that fire season would be in full force before long so I decided to leave on July 3 on a trip to the northern counties. I rode to Bonners Ferry and worked my way back to Coeur d’Alene the first day. At daylight the next morning, the low temperature was 82 degrees. My first stop was the courthouse in Wallace to log Shoshone County. From there I rode to St Maries along the White Pine Scenic Byway to log Benewah County. I worked my way south to Grangeville by late Afternoon to check off Idaho County. I headed south to spend the night somewhere cooler but by the &me I got to Whitebird, my thermometer was reading 109 so I decided home was about as cool as anywhere in the state. In two days of riding I had ridden almost 1100 miles and logged all 10 counties that I needed on this trip. I had now connected all the counties in Idaho from north to south but I still needed everything east of Twin Falls. 

I set out again on July 18 with plans to log the ten counties in southeastern Idaho. This trip went according to plan with no real drama except the usual epic thunderstorms to ride through. On August 22, with only six counties left to visit, I set out for Bingham County and worked north from there. Fremont County courthouse in St Anthony is one of the many courthouses in Idaho on the National Register of Historic Places. From there I rode north along the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway to visit Mesa Falls. This is a fun stretch of asphalt and the falls are worth seeing. The byway reconnects with the Highway 20 near Island Park. I spent the night at Box Canyon campground in Island Park where I’ve enjoyed many nights camping in past years. 

Old Teton County Courthouse.
Indian Lookout in Adams County.

All 44 of the counties in Idaho were now checked off my list but I s&ll had &me for a few more B sites. One of my favorite sites of the year was Indian Lookout in Adams County. The ride in to the lookout along the Little Weiser Road was good gravel road and the smaller Forest Service roads were in good shape until about a mile below the The next morning with temperatures hovering around 36 degrees I was in no hurry to get out of camp. With only Teton County remaining to complete the Challenge, I took my &me riding to the last Challenge site. From Ashton I took the Teton Scenic Byway and stopped at the Teton Dam site and then on to Driggs to log site 41a at the old Teton County courthouse. I wanted to spend a week exploring this area but I needed to be at work the next day so I headed home. lookout. There was enough rock hopping to hold my attention but the view at the top was worth the effort. 

2015 was a year of riding too many road miles and too little &me for exploring but that is becoming the norm for me. I still enjoyed every mile of the journey. 

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