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by Doug Patchin
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, June 2013

The ride started on Sunday, August 5, 2012, and has become known as “Idaho North to South the Dirty Way” following the Idaho Centennial Trail (ITC). The masterminds behind this ride were Bill Whitacre and Sam Stone with the route planning carried out by Sam Stone. The characters involved in this ride were Bill Whitacre, Sam Stone, Larry Meredith, CurLs Bjerke, and Doug Patchin (from Boise), Bob Jandro and MaP Griffin (from California), and Steve Killburg (from Searle). The plan was for everyone to meet up in Sandpoint and stay the first night at the home of Curt and Martha Forget – bePer known as Black Dog CycleWorks.

My plans changed due to being out of town unLl Sunday night; hence I was to meet the rest of the group at the second night’s planned campground, the Cedars, off of FS-250 northeast of Pierce, ID. My route to Pierce was going to be all pavement so that I could get there by the evening rendezvous. I traveled up Highways 55 and 95 to Whitebird where I followed the old Whitebird grade into Grangeville.

Old Whitebird grade with the Highway 95 in the background
Old Whitebird road snaking up from the town of Whitebird

If you haven’t ridden this road, it is a must do – no traffic, good road surface and enough curves to scrub off you sidewalls. From Grangeville I went onto Highway 13, another great twisty road, down to Kooskia and then Highway 12 north along the Clearwater River through Kamiah to Highway 11 with more hairpin curves up onto the Weippe prairie and finally to the town of Pierce. There I filled my tank with gas but neglected to fill up my Rotopax gas container. This will be more significant later on. From Pierce I took FS-250, French Mountain Road, that turned from pavement to dirt dirt afer about 10 miles. This is a part of the state I have not had the chance to explore. The road eventually leads to the North Fork of the Clearwater River and follows the river past the Kelly Forks Work Center. It’s just another 15-20 miles to the Cedars Campground or roughly 40-50 miles from Pierce.

If I remember correctly, I arrived at the Cedars Campground around 5pm and just waited – and waited and waited. There were not many people here, and none of my riding companions were showing up. I wonder if they are lost, or more likely that I am lost. I know they can’t be lost because there are seven of them, and Sam always knows where he is! Are they behind me, or are they ahead of me?

Waiting at the Cedars Campground
Setting up camp at the Cedars Campground
That Rotopax (red auxiliary gas can) sure makes a great resting place to put a bag on top of []

There is nothing for me to do now but set up camp, eat, and wait for them to arrive.

Anyway, it gets dark quickly surrounded by these giant cedar trees, and sLll nobody is showing up! I decided to call it a night and I will just have to find my lost companions in the morning.

Tuesday August 7, 2012:

The sun does not penetrate these giant cedar trees unLl late morning, so I got up, ate breakfast, packed, and got out of camp around 7:30am. It’s now Lme to find my companions, who are obviously lost somewhere behind me or ahead of me?

Kelly Creek Bride
Cayuse Emergency Landing Field along FS-581

Sam had given each of us the GPS route, and so I decided to move forward to the next rendezvous point, which was the Three Rivers Resort at Lowell. I headed south on FS-250 to its junction with FS-255 and continued south to the Old Kelly Creek Work Station on Kelly Creek. The morning was warming up nicely so I took a break on the

After sitting in the warming sun long enough, I mounted up and headed south on FS-581 up to East Saddle and down to the Cayuse Emergency Landing Field.

The beginning of Toboggan Ridge on FS-581

This area also is home of the Kelly Creek Fishery Special Management area in which Kelly Creek supports a unique wild population of Westslope Cutthroat Trout. I don’t know what kind of fish this is, but I may begin using these trips to start fishing again. Well, I have been wasting time, hoping the group would catch up with me. They are either really lost or just slow.

It was in about this location I started to notice that my fuel level was not where I thought it should be. I was just enjoying the ride and really wasn’t paying aPenLon to the miles since my last fill up. Well, it can’t be that many miles to the Lolo motorway! When I finally reached the Cayuse Junction on the Lolo Motorway (FS-500), my low fuel light came on. I usually can travel another 40 miles unLl empty. I kept having that nagging feeling that I might just get stuck in the mountains in an area I don’t know and with not a soul around is closer to becoming reality. I ride another seven miles along the Lolo Motorway unLl I come to an unmarked

Somewhere along Toboggan Ridge

It is time to proceed up Toboggan Ridge. The road starts to climb into some dense forest and I came upon the first person I have seen all morning. He is driving some kind of giant mower that is cuing down brush along the right hand side of the road. The reach on the extended arm is about 5-6 feet and he is cuing down almost everything in its path. I have to follow behind him for a couple of miles. He can’t see me or hear me because of the racket the machine is making. I was not able to get a photo. Finally he senses somebody is behind him and stops and lets me pass. Once you climb up out of this area you reach Toboggan Ridge which is an area that has had fires in the past and the scenery opens up with many acres of burnt, trees and lots of new growth.

road that drops down to Highway 12. I decide to take a break and contemplate my situation. It’s obvious I am not going to be able to accomplish my goal of riding the Lolo Motorway to its beginning/ending at Canyon Junction, so I sit and try to figure out if I should continue to Canyon Junction or bail out onto FS-107 at Saddle Junction to Highway 12 or try the small unmarked road behind me that also goes down to Highway 12. My dilemma is that this unmarked road on the Benchmark map is a very faint red line connecting to a bigger road down near Doe creek. While sitting and contemplating my woes, I notice that red plastic thing under my tail bag (the Rotopax auxiliary gas can)! Remember earlier when I mentioned this would be significant? Well it’s now that I can really use a gallon of fuel

Another half hour of contemplating doesn’t get me anymore fuel, so I decide to take my chances and head down the unmarked road that turns into FS-566. Well, it turns out to be a great ride down to Highway 12, and I’ve just used up another 20 miles of gas. When I arrived at Highway 12, I had to decide whether to go north to Lochsa Lodge were there might be fuel, or south to Lowell where I know there is fuel. I decide to head south and get behind another motorcycle, an early 1990’s BMW GS 100. I follow him for about 5 miles and he decides to pull over for a break, so I follow. I was hoping he could tell me if there was fuel back up Highway 12 at Lochsa Lodge. He didn’t think so, but he did offer to drain some fuel from his 11 GALLON tank. He asks if I have anything to put the fuel in. Of course I do, I always carry a Rotopax just for these occasions!!

We drained about 3⁄4 of a gallon into the Rotopax and into my tank. He said he would follow in about 10 minutes in case I ran out of gas completely. This happened about 5 miles up the highway from Lowell. Since becoming experts at draining fuel into a Rotopax and transferring that into my bike, we repeated the procedure again! I made it to Lowell, filled up the bike, and had a late lunch. Filling up the Rotopax can work up an appetite

Beginning (west end) of Lolo Motorway at Canyon Junction

Now, do I just sit around waiting for everybody to show up or maybe try to find them up in the mountains. Maybe I should ride the Lolo Motorway from west to east and perhaps meet up with them on the motorway. I decide to ride up to Canyon Junction on FS-101 and wait. Beginning (west end) of Lolo Motorway at Canyon Junction  It was about 6pm by now, so I decided not to ride the Lolo Motorway, and I headed back down to Lowell and the Three Rivers Resort to wait for my lost companions. At the resort, I tell the woman at the counter I need a tent spot and she asked me if I was waiting for some other guys to show up. She had just received a call from them, that if I showed up, to let me know they were at the Lochsa Lodge getting fuel and dinner and would be at the Three Rivers Resort about 10pm. She also informed me they had lost one of the guys! At 10:30 they roll in and the first one I see is CurLs. He proceeds to tell me that they lost Sam sometime during the day and have not seen him since. Just at this moment Sam rolls up behind CurLs and Sam is no longer lost but has been found. It seems Sam was leading the group and missed the turn to FS-255 and rode all the way down the North Fork of the Clearwater River to the Kelly Creek work center. He then had to double back and never did catch up with all of the others. Because of this slight detour, he too was becoming low on fuel up on Toboggan Ridge. But unlike me, Sam does not use his Rotopax fuel container as a platform for bags! So he puts in his gallon of fuel, and when he gets to the junction of FS-566 and the Lolo Motorway, his low fuel light comes on again. He heads down to Highway 12 and proceeds to run out of gas on the highway in the dark. Nobody stops to help him, so he is planning on spending the night on the side of road when most of the group rides past him, except one who stops and rescues him from a lonely night spent on the side of the highway.

And as Paul Harvey use to say “And now the rest of the story”. Click on the link below to read the rest of this saga in Sam’s ride report of this adventure.

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Alex Crane

This one looks fun.