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Thorn Creek Lookout the hard way!

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Good day everyone,  I realize that most of us adventure riders tend to stick to the forest service roads and whatnot.   As I have different riding groups I try to plan certain rides for them.   For this last ride, I put a route together that was primarily single-track for dirtbikes.    I know that I could take the Forest Service road 304 up and around to get to the lookout but wanted to do a ride with a few of my dirtbike friends.  I had attempted this once a few years back for the challenge points of Hazzard Lake and Crystal Mountian, more on this later! The Thorn Creek Lookout ride would start originally at 8A.M in the morning at the Trailhead GPS location 43.74612, -115.89648 but due to the cold front that rolled in that night, it was moved to 9 A.M.  The start of the day we had ten bikes including myself.   This is by far one of the largest group rides for a single track that I had been on ever.  We had everything from a DRZ400s to almost every brand of 300 2-stroke. At the start of the ride, I made a joke about my riding buddy that if the camera was rolling it won't be long before he fell off his bike.  If only I could make money on this joke.   It wasn't more than three minutes into the ride on the initial climb up to the ridge when he got a hand cramp and dumped his bike over a tree stump. Thankfully no injuries were had. As the ride pressed on I found that the evening rain showers from the night before hadn't made their way over to this side of the mountains, this made for a dusty ride.   With the group spacing out, it kept the dust down and the ride moving along.   As we connected the first section of the trail (Johnny Woods- Placer Creek) to the next we had a decent downhill section near the end of the trail before it dumped you out onto Thorn Creek Rd.  The downhill section had been torn up from the Idaho City 100 a couple of weeks prior.  the dirt was soft with small to medium-sized rocks in the trail.  Once on the road, we continued east to link into Mineha Ridge trail.  The start of this trial has a creek crossing followed by a nice sweeping uphill ascend. Along this route there was a decent hill climb GPX location 43.730000645399514, -115.8655413114164  This proved to be a bit more than the DRZ400s could tackle.  If you're wondering about the bike we did swap out the sprockets for the E model to help it out for this type of riding. Along with the DRZ, we had one Husky TX300 not make it... most likely due to exhaustion, physical fitness, and skill.  I believe I only made the climb as the rider on the DRZ told me that as I made the first right-hand turn there was a small section to get speed up before the hill climb.  I believe this is what ultimately got me to the top. Looking at the map before going up the hill I found that the single track just went up over the mountain and there was an access road that went around.   The two riders that didn't make it up went around on the road and met the rest of the group on the backside.  From this point, we were in a decent down to Cotton Wood Creek Road.  The condition of this section of trail was similar to the downhill section of  Johnny Woods, loose with small to medium rocks.  The only difference here was that the trail was a little tighter due to trees.  As we finished Mineha trail and crossed over Cotton Wood Creek Rd. we turned north and connected into Easter Creek.  The start of this trail was similar to Mineha, a small creek crossing followed by an uphill climb that was tight.  Along my climb, my rear tire slid off the trail due to the angle of a rock face that I decided to pop over.  This felt like it could have been a problem but the bike seemed to find traction on the hillside and tracked right back up onto the trail. Easter Creak eventually opened up into an ATV trail then into a 2 track jeep trail which then connected to 304 which took us up to the lookout via the link roads.    In the years past the road was only open on the north side but this year they opened the southeastern side.  I asked the lookout attendant and he said that the snow was blocking the northern route, that's why the other route is open.  Thank you for taking the time to read the ride report. I have attached two videos.  One is a music video, apology in advance as it has a curse word in it.  The second video is a quick moto vlog of the Upper Link Road.   The route back was picked by one of the guys in the group.  I had only planned the route there and was perfectly fine doubling back on it as the trails would be different going in the opposite direction.   He took us back down 203 the link road that ran into an ATV/MC trail 663003 according to Onx. From there we continued north on a few trails that I hadn't ridden before.  I wish I had had my tracking turned on as the ride back was just as fun. We ended up running into 661003 J connector trail then on to 660003.  We were working our way back to the truck that was parked down at Thorn Creek Rd. As we moved to the west along the single track I recognized the trail, I had been on it a few years past.  This time the trail had been cleared.  It's so nice when you're not getting whipped as you ride along some of the trails. The trail name was Pegs Leg.  Pegs Leg is a fun little loop that runs around in an east/west depending on your direction.  It was a little tight near the Northern side as I found myself riding a little slower to weave through a handful of younger trees.  Some of the other things along Pegs Leg that I noticed is there had been some trail maintenance, they put in braking bumps on some of the trail just before a corner.  My issue was at this point in the ride I was starting to get tired and found myself sitting more than standing, which in turn uses more energy to control the bike... or more like the bike controlled me.   One particular set of braking bumps I had had the clutch just at the point of bitting in, I had my weight to the rear sitting on the seat and the front tire started to climb.  I almost pulled an uncontrolled wheelie.  Grabbing the clutch and slowing to a stop, I had to catch my breath and drink a little water.  My left hand was starting to cramp up from all the clutch work that day.   I started off again to catch up with the group.  We linked into trail 660 which had a fantastic sweeping uphill climb,  we would go from the left to the right all the way up... the last left-handed sweeper turned up straight up the mountain for about 100 yards.  One of the riders hadn't made it up the last section,  the bike lying on its side with him standing over it.   I wanted to stop but everything told me if I did I wouldn't be able to restart and would need to go back down to the bottom. As I crested the top of the climb I hit my helmet on the bars knocking my camera off, luckily the audio cord held it to the top. A few moments later the other rider made his way to the top.  I re-secured my helmet cam and continued on with the group.  We linked into a trail called I-84 which runs North/ South it's a nice flowing trail that connects to many of the other trails in that area, we were pressed for time, and fuel was running low,  I had let the ride leader know that when we hit I-84 my fuel light was on.  I had about a quart worth of gas to get me back. Throughout the day I would shut the engine off on the long downhill grades to conserve fuel.  I knew ahead of time that this ride was going to be about 50-60 miles long and that my bike's range was right in that area. We had extra fuel if needed but, as this was my first long ride on the TE300 I wanted to feel it out and see how far I could go.   The last trail Blue Goose was where I found some dirt! I was coasting down the hill and went wide on a right-handed corner.  I had been here earlier in the day but hadn't realized it till later.  There was a small/medium-sized rock at the edje that I believe I hit while applying a little bit of front brake washed out the front tire and threw me to the ground.   I popped up and checked everything, picking up the bike. Nothing broken just a few scuffs.   I felt a burning sensation on my right arm just before my elbow.   I pulled back my jersey to find I had a bit of road rash...or rather dirt rash.  I wasn't leaking so all was as good as it could be.  I put my helmet back on and continued down to the end of the trail at Thorn Creek Rd.  We road east to the trucks and finished out the ride.  Ten bikes left and all ten returned.  Thanks for reading this, as it's truly amazing what we have right here in our backyard to ride.  I realize that most will never take this route but some may. In the end, it is all about the adventure,  ride safe! Have fun!  



Posted : June 19, 2024 5:59 pm
Alex Crane reacted