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Idaho Riding 2016 – #4

Day 4 of riding in Idaho was great as usual. Dwayne, Chip and I set out on the Little Casino trail around 9:30am or so. Dwayne hadn’t ridden this trail since the re-route they’d done 2-3 years ago. I’d only ridden it once when the trail followed the original route but honestly don’t remember much about it except that there were multiple creek crossings.

About three miles in we stopped and Dwayne said, “This new trail sucks!” He preferred the old route that had less exposed side hill, more creek crossings and a good climb to the top of the ridge. It is not a bad trail, its just not what he’d ridden for so many years. My understanding is that the new route gets you up to the ridge sooner and it never crosses the creek. This is all part of a strategy to keep trails further away from running water thus reducing erosion and sedimentation.

Next stop was a couple logs down across the trail. They weren’t huge so we stopped and cut them with the hand saw. This section of the trail had been cleared recently and whomever did the work certainly earned their wages. Dozens of logs were across the trail just a week or two beforehand and the sawdust piles were still visible from the fresh cuts.

Chip wanted to stop where there is a good view of Redfish Lake and the Sawtooth Range. With that in mind we made our way up the trail looking for the best place to get some photos. A little climb and a few corners later the perfect spot came into play. Ended up being a great view in all directions! Chip got the photos he wanted and I took a few as well.

Chip & Dwayne - Redfish Lake in the Background
Chip & Dwayne – Redfish Lake in the Background

When we headed up the trail from where we were in this photo, I rode Dwayne’s new Beta X-Trainer for about a mile. The bike was very nice for the type of riding that we do. It’s plushness and linear power delivery are perfect for mountain trail riding. Anyone with a short inseam should try the bike as well. Dwayne said it is 10% shorter in both directions which makes it very maneuverable. It is a 300cc engine and all you have to do is dial it back a bit and you’ll be reminded it is a big bore. Oh . . . and electric start too!

This view is along the way . . .
This view is along the way . . .

Onward to the “4-way” where the Casino Creek trails come together with the trail up to the Rough Creek Fire Tower and Martin Creek that leads down to the Warm Springs Meadow. On our way up the hill you pass the junction with Boundary Creek Trail. I went down that trail about a week ago at the recommendation of a local bicycle rider. He said that anyone who can climb up Boundary Creek without stopping on a bicycle has iron lungs and legs!

At this junction we saw a bicyclist coming up that trail. We stopped and talked with him for a few minutes. If I understood correctly, he only stopped once on the way up. One thing for sure . . . this guy was fit! We told him where we were headed and he indicated he’d be going the same way. I’d cleared several logs off the trail ahead the week before so I told him it was probably clear. He waited for us to depart and then headed up the hill.

Martin Creek Trail was the plan so we took the right hand turn and made our way down the trail. I’d forgotten how darn rocky it was. I’d been up it once and there is this one rock step up that is just plain tough. As we approached the Warm Springs Meadow, the downed timber became more and more frequent. Looked like a big game of pick up sticks. That is just the best way to describe it. Forward motion was slow at times throughout this mess.

Dwayne & Chip in the Pick Up Sticks
Dwayne & Chip in the Pick Up Sticks

So we are sitting here on the trail, taking a break after crossing 50+ downed logs, and the guy on the bicycle rolls up. Yep. he’d caught us. Very impressive to say the least. I know Martin Creek is almost all downhill but he’d climb another 750+ vertical feet since we’d seen him and made his way down the trail and across all those logs and over all the rocks. Wow!

We were just getting ready to leave so once again he let us go first. About 20 more log crossings and we rolled into Warm Springs Meadow. What an awesome place! For many years I’d eyed this valley on the aerial photography and topographic maps. It was 2013 before I actually made my way to the valley. Awesome views!

Dwayne on the Beta - Warm Springs Meadow
Dwayne on the Beta – Warm Springs Meadow

About 1/4 mile past the location shown in the photo above you take a right and head up the valley. It is really marshy in that area as beavers are active nearby. We carefully picked our way through the wet spot and as we were getting back on the main trail we saw the guy on the bicycle coming our way. Geez!

Warm Springs Meadow
Warm Springs Meadow

The next mile or so is flat and there were several downed trees along the way to the next creek crossing. This crossing has a “bridge” if you  want to call it that. Essentially, there are about two dozen logs laid lengthwise across the creek. No boards or anything on top. We came to a stop got off and carefully walked our bikes across.

On our heels once again was the guy on the bicycle. He was incredible. Chip told him it was all “downhill” just ahead and onto the Williams Creek Trail. Chip had forgotten there were two more small ridges to traverse before the final descent. Oh well, this guy was in the for the long haul.

Warm Springs Meadow Pano
Warm Springs Meadow Pano

Dwayne took off and I rode just behind his dust all the way to the Williams Creek trailhead just of ID75 near Obsidian. Chip rolled in about 3 minutes later and we took advantage of some shade offered by a pine near the trailhead sign. There were two vehicles parked there and within 8-10 minutes bicyclists arrived, loaded up and drove away. About 5 minutes after that, the bicyclist rolled right up to us. I was amazed! He’d climbed up and over those two ridges and cruised down Williams Creek with ease.

In the end, we learned he was from Washington State and was not acclimated to the high altitude as he lived at about 800 feet above mean sea level. His bicycle was a “Felt” and from what I figured the frame alone cost around $10K . . . yep, just the frame. He’d been “glamping” (his term) with his family at Redfish Lake.  He was impressed with how we got our bikes over all the downed logs but we were blown away with the fact that he’d been keeping up with us for nearly 30 miles!!

Before he pedaled down the road, he took some pictures of us and grabbed a selfie or two. It is about 6.5 miles of flat pavement to the turn off for Redfish Lake from the trailhead. I estimate that the loop he’d ridden was ~36 miles. Wow! Dwayne put it best when he described the guy as “sculpted” . . . you can probably get the picture.

We too made our way up the road and back to the turn off for Boundary Creek. I was looking forward to climbing the trail back up to Little Casino. A group of horses was coming down and we all got off the trail as best as we could. One horse was spooked by the whole thing and almost bucked off the rider. It was kinda scary. Didn’t like it that that happened.

I met a hiker half way up so I shut off my bike. She walked by, said hello and high-fived me! Wasn’t expecting that! The trail was clear up to the junction and all the way back down to the Casino Creeks Trailhead. Simply awesome single track compared to anything we have in Kentucky.

Dwayne had an iced downed watermelon in his cooler so Chip cut it up and we enjoyed it before loading the bikes. What a wonderful way to finish up another great day of riding in Idaho. No doubt I’m fortunate to ride with these guys!

It was good to shed my gear and I was certainly getting hungry. Jumped into the Sprinter and pointed it towards the hotel for a shower and dinner. Already thinking about the next riding adventure!

See you on the trail!

 

Idaho Riding 2016 – #3

Day three turned out to be adventure! Chip and I went out for the day and started right where his RV was parked. The ride began with about 4 miles of asphalt heading out towards Stanley Lake. Another 3+ miles of two-track leads to a frequently used section of single track that traverses some awesome meadows where the views of the surrounding mountains are wonderful. We stopped about 6 miles in where the trail intersects with the Elk Meadow Trail. The photo below shows the view just beyond the trail signs. We have to cross that meadow.

Elk Meadow
Elk Meadow

I’ve only been across this “trail” four times now. Each “crossing” was memorable. The first year, the meadow was flooded with about 7″ to 9″ of water with thick reeds and grasses stretching as far as the eye can see. I was following someone that had been across before and magically we emerged at a 10′ wide running stream where there was a sand bar that made it easy to cross. After that, you turn left and head towards this tall wooden post way down the meadow where the crossing is easier. More than half of this 1+ mile crossing was through the flooded type area I described above. Sketchy.

The second year it was relatively dry and the crossing was not too bad at all. I had the GPS tracks so that made it easier to find the trail and the best crossing points. Year number three was an adventure for many reasons. Check out this video for a cool riding blooper captured on helmet camera in the meadow. Hats off to Philip for keeping the bike out the water!

This year was a challenge. The middle of the meadow was closer to 10″ to 12″ deep. I followed my tracks closely but it just kept getting deeper. We reached the point where the initial creek crossing was supposed to be easy, but that was far from the case. The sand bar was gone and a tall bank had been cut into the far side. (We found out later that beaver dams situated downstream had raised the water level in the meadow.)

Retreat! We turned around, backtracked to the edge of the meadow and started riding along the margins as best we could. Patches of willows, large sinkholes, and narrow but deep creek crossings were encountered. Our goal had been to find that tall pole where the second crossing was marked and finally it was within reach. Some quick searching revealed a place to cross that was easy and wouldn’t tear up the meadow or the opposing bank. Less than 20 yards beyond where we crossed, the tall pole highlighted the path forward.

A mile or so afterward, we were at the base of the mountains where the trail intersects with two others (see below). This was a good opportunity to take a quick break and regroup. I knew that the climb ahead promised to be the next challenge.

Trail Junction
Trail Junction

What we found on the way up was not fun. There were dozens of downed trees and some portions of the trail had deteriorated for a variety of reasons. Not good. At one point, I had to use the hand saw to cut a path so we could move forward. I should have taken my chainsaw on this ride. Bad move on my part.

With some effort, we reached the top of the climb. The last portion wasn’t steep but it sure was rocky. Momentum was the key! Elizabeth Lake is visible from this summit and a good view of the Sawtooth’s is just a few feet away through the white bark pines.

Elizabeth Lake
Elizabeth Lake

We paused for a while to enjoy the view and rest up a bit. What a cool place! I feel fortunate to ride on this great trail system with folks that appreciate it and know it well.

At the Summit - Elizabeth Lake is at my back.
At the Summit – Elizabeth Lake is at my back.

The next section of trail is notoriously rocky. Keeping a good rhythm is tough as there are places where you have to bulldog your bike through the boulders. Reprieves are few and far between until you reach the next trail junction. The scenery is nice and the wildflowers were on display, but concentration on the trail was important.

We forged straight ahead at the next intersection and made our way down Swamp Creek trail. Someone had cleared most of the logs on that route, however some quads had pushed there way up the trail about 2 miles farther than allowed. Irresponsible use of the trail will eventually lead to its closure. The trail ends at the highway where we found a way across the meadow and over to Cape Horn road. After about 3 miles of gravel, we reached the Valley Creek trailhead. There is a short quad section that leads to some single track or another Forest Service road.

We chose the single track! The Forest Service had worked on this trail last summer and it wasn’t too bad considering it burned 2 years ago. The setting is surreal. The ground is seared black as are the trees. Wildflowers are abundant on the hillsides and the creeks in the valley are very lush in comparison. Riding the trail with the trees was certainly better but we still have fun on this slow and steady climb up to Basin Butte road.

A view towards the White Cloud Mountains from Basin Butte Road
A view towards the White Cloud Mountains from Basin Butte Road

Chip and I took another quick break at Basin Butte road. The view above is just a few feet from the trail marker on the opposite side of the road. Afterwards, we coasted down this trail which leads back to the Basin Creek trail. This mostly downhill route is favored by mountain bikers. All was going well until we encountered some downed trees in an old burn area near the end. Getting around a couple of the root balls was not easy and going over was not an option!

Some more nice single track back led us to another Forest Service road and then back to where Chip’s RV was parked. Just under 50 miles once again! Kim was nearby at the RV Park with her friend Kathy so she came over as I loaded up and peeled off my gear. It was about 4:30 and I was ready for beer! Back to Stanley for a shower, some beer, and a good dinner.

Doing a loop like this is nearly impossible in Kentucky. There are few places left in the US where riding like this is an option. I plan to ride as much of it as I can before it is all gone!

See you on the trail!

Idaho Riding 2016 – #2

On my second day of riding, I was lucky to tag along with Bill and a friend of his from the Boise area. We went out on Basin Creek and up to Hindman Lake. There was a group of four riders there when we arrived so we took a break. Before we left another 3 riders showed up. As usual, I was the oddball in the group. All of the bikes were orange with the exception of one Husky (orange KTM) and there I was with my blue YZ/WR 250. Everyone else was from Idaho so the “Kentucky” plate on my bike stood out.

We left the lake and headed down the trail and over to the Valley Creek Trail. A short way down the trail, our group turned left (eastward) onto Prospect. Lots of deadfall was on the ground but Bill employed his saw and we made our way through the route. The first couple miles was bad but it got clearer as we moved towards the Basin Butte road.

After a short break we headed down Sunday Creek trail back towards Basin Creek. I hadn’t ridden Sunday Creek since the recent burn and it looks really bad in terms of erosion. The good part was the wide variety of wildflowers. There were more colors and shapes and sizes on that trail than any other that day. The purple lupine were shin deep and covered the blackened soil along the single track trail.

The end of Sunday Creek intersects with Basin Creek so we took that trail back to the trailhead where our vehicles were parked. Good timing. Bill had business in town and at the RV Park and I was looking forward to getting Smoke Prime Rib for dinner!

No pictures of this ride. I do have some GPS tracks as proof but nothing more!

See you on the trail!

Idaho Riding 2016 – #1

Took a short ride this morning. Kim dropped me off at the Casino Trailhead around 9:30. I went up Little Casino and the trail was in good shape. Most all of the deadfall had been cut back. There were two places where I had get out the saw, one of which was an ancient six-trunked white bark pine that had fallen across the trail about 1 mile past the Boundary Creek. Some folks had been riding around it and it was all chewed up. Not good.

A Grand View of the Sawtooth Mountains
A Grand View of the Sawtooth Mountains

I ran into a large group of hikers that had come up Boundary and stopped to speak with them for a few minutes. There were about 12 teenagers with a couple guys that were probably teachers or camp directors. They were tired and wanted to know how far they’d need to hike in order to see the surface of both Redfish and Little Redfish lake. When I told them it was about 2 miles or so, they kinda decided to head back down!

I found a few snow drifts in the usual places along Little Casino as they’d been sheltered from the sun. Last year was the only time I’ve ridden that trail and not seen snow. From what I understand, the snowpack was pretty good this past winter.

Snowdrift
Snowdrift

Went up to the 4-way (Little,Big,Martin,Lookout) and took a short break and turned around. Went back down Little Casino to Boundary. I’d never ridden Boundary, so I took it down to the main road and then back to town.

4-Way Trail Intersection
4-Way Trail Intersection

On the way down I stopped for a mountain biker that must have had iron lungs. I was very impressed at his progress on the unrelenting steep grade. I shut off my bike and got it off to the side so he could get by. He stopped at the switchback just past me and thanked me for allowing him to come by easily. I told him Little Casino was clear which was going to make his loop much easier.

On top of the world!
On top of the world!

I didn’t have my helmet camera with me for the ride but I did get a few pictures along the way. That is good, as I rarely get to stop and take pictures when riding with a group.

Trails like this is why I ride!
Trails like this is why I ride!

I don’t like riding on the pavement but sometimes its necessary to make a good loop. Having the plated “WR” is nice for those occasions. I got back just before noon so Kim and I went to lunch. She was pleased and I was certainly ready to eat!

See you on the trail!

Riding in the Front

I had the opportunity to ride with three great guys this past weekend. It is interesting how the family of off road riders is intertwined. Through a random set of associations, Michael contacted me about riding in Kentucky. I’d hinted that waiting until later in the Fall would be ideal as the place was really grown up and there were lots of trees down from the Spring storms. So that was the plan, wait until October or maybe after a frost.

However, he and his riding partners had some plans fall through and wanted to know if this past weekend (8-29-15) would work. Sure! But I reminded Michael about how grown up things would be, especially the blackberry briars. They are long, strong, and brutal this time of year. I’d planned on clearing trail all weekend so it was fine with me. They could help me beat down the vegetation that is engulfing the landscape.

Large Oak at the Staging Area
Large Oak at the Staging Area (click to enlarge)

They were in route by late afternoon on Friday and planned to stay in Jamie’s Bus at the Wal-Mart in Danville. Yes, he has a red International school bus that has been converted into a toy hauler (see photo above). Ryan was on his way from West Virginia whereas Michael and Jamie were coming down from the Indy area. I met them at about 7:30 am in Danville on Saturday and we headed south and parked in the back staging area under the massive oak that dominates the field (see photo above).

Since they were driving a great distance, I had to make sure their trip was worthwhile. I wanted to include some loops with the best single track but I knew that many included sections that were grown over with tall weeds and briars. Oh well, that was the only way it was going to work and like I mentioned before, it gave us a good first pass  at beating it down with 4 riders coming through. The bad part about this plan . . . I was the one that would be riding in the front . . . the whole time. Argh!

As anyone that frequents the woods in Kentucky this time of year knows, there are spider webs everywhere, especially earlier in the day. I’m not particularly fond of spiders but if I have all my gear on I can plough through some webs. I just don’t like to see a spider crawling around on my goggles. Distracting at the very least. Look at all the webs on my brake line below. My helmet looks even worse.

Mileage & Spider Webs
Mileage & Spider Webs (click to enlarge)

The crew took off and hit a part of the old course that I hadn’t ridden since late winter. About 1/4 mile in we came to a downed tree and had to duck out through the brush and up to the field to get around. Unfortunately, we had to do that several times throughout the day. I told Jesse, there were several places we’d need his big saw. Regardless, we were able to quickly get around, up, over or under most things but turning around was the only option in a couple instances.

In one case, the alternate route was definitely the coolest. We dropped off an established trail that was blocked by a massive downed tree onto some very old single track that hadn’t been ridden in at least 3 years. There were lots of face slappers but we made it through and dropped into this deep black shale drainage feature. A little shale waterfall is situated above our point of entry and from there it runs down and around a very slick corner and into a tall bank. I looked back and Jamie was “surfing” around that corner with only the slightest control of his bike! He pulled it off quite well though and came to a safe stop. Michael paused for a photo-op with his KTM 200 propped against the bank (see photo below).

Black Shale Creek Bed
Black Shale Creek Bed (click to enlarge)

I told them there were some nice elevation change on this property and several times we were able to navigate trails that went from one extreme to the other. We hit Cat Cave Hill, the Goat Trail, came down and off the recently cleared Pencil Ridge, and took our first break at the overlook that is at least two hundred feet above the Green River Valley. As with everywhere else in the woods, the vegetation was obscuring the best views but you could still tell it was a long way down to the valley (see photo below).

Scenic Overlook
Scenic Overlook (click to enlarge)

The riding was going well and there was 13+ miles of some great trail behind us before it was time to take a break for lunch. Michael and Ryan ran into town to Subway and Jamie stayed behind to re-jet his Husky (Nick Fahringer’s 2014 race bike) as he’d not done it since returning from out West. My “good bike” was pinging (lean) too so I got my other one out of the trailer, pulled the chainsaw mount off, and strapped on a front headlight assembly. I’d ridden it the past three weekends since re-jetting from Idaho and it was doing fine.

After lunch we went to the “new” side of the property where it is really, really grown up with briars and massively tall weeds. You can slowly move through the stuff and knock down the weeds but the briars love to latch on. I’ll have to say, the most awesome jersey for this type of “thrasher” riding is the Klim Dakar Pro. It is truly like wearing armor. That jersey with a wicking under shirt as a bottom layer and you’re set for pushing through the nasty stuff.

At this point it is getting warmer and the vegetation is very thick but we push on. Just like all day long, I’m leading the crew and taking the initial hit. The branches, leaves, briars, weeds, and spider webs were a challenge in most all places unless we’d cleared it within the past three weeks. I reminded them, that I was riding in the front and taking the brunt of it on their behalf!

On the Trail
On the Trail (click to enlarge)

We started off the afternoon by dropping onto the cool switchback trail that works its way down the north slope of Moore’s Branch ridge. Jesse did a great job scoping out this trail over the winter. It is really shady, covered with small rocks, and blanketed with massive ferns this time of year. The trail ends at the banks of Moore’s Branch and wiggles through some tight trees and up the creek bed a bit. This whole area is still a work in progress but I was able to give the group a good sampling of the landscape and what we have to work with.

The rest of day included pieces of the old KORHS course(s) and as much pure single track as I could weave into the loop. In the end, I only missed a few trails that were nice to ride, but they can “experience” those sections next time they venture down to Kentucky for some riding.

I checked my odometer as we rolled back into the staging area and noted we had 31.45 miles logged for the day.  That is not bad when you consider the size of the area we have access to for our adventures. It is the generosity of a few families that allows us to develop a nice trail system. Special thanks to them!

It was around 3:30pm, my bike and I were covered with spider webs, my nose was cut, I was itching all over, and drenched in sweat. Felt like an appropriate time to call it a day, especially since these guys were heading up to Louisville to ride mountain bikes in the Mega Caverns on Sunday. Everyone was tired, but no one was injured and all of our bikes were intact. Success!

It was certainly a good time and I always enjoy taking folks on a little tour of the Kentucky woods. When you’re the host, riding in the front is always a necessity but in last weekend’s conditions, it was certainly a challenge. I now have a nice mixture of bites from chiggers and deer tick larvae to remind me of our little adventure. I sure hope they enjoyed the trails. I did!

See you on the trail!

Taken for Granted . . .

I’ve been riding motorcycles since I was in 4th grade . . . 1976 was the year I started. During that nearly 4 decade period, things have changed significantly. In the early days, I remember us having plenty of places to go and ride. There were trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest, private farms or wooded properties, some pipeline areas, and even empty lots in and around the neighborhoods where I lived.

This Way!
This Way!

Today, only a very small fraction of these places are open for riding. The Forest Service has shut down essentially all trails except for the Red Bird Crest Trail loop. There are some other areas that are open but many are dead end, one way trails that are less than 10 miles in length. No one wants to drive an hour or more to just ride a 10 mile trail. As for private properties, the fear of litigation has stopped all that type of access and riding in residential areas was nixed due to disrespectful actions and idiots who think that louder = faster.

Don’t get me wrong here . . . I too have been “one of those” annoying characters. I’ve drag raced my uncorked IT125 down a residential street with Travis, ridden without the appropriate protective gear, ventured off the designated Forest Service Trail, and stirred up excessive dust and dirt with no respect for those in close proximity. Most of this occurred during my teenage years and even as a young adult.

Don't Take It For Granted!
Don’t Take It For Granted!

Over a long period of time, a broad range of experiences in a wide variety of settings has totally changed my perception of motorized recreation. First of all, if you take the places where you can ride for granted you will lose them. This is especially true in cases where the trail system is of mixed use. That is, the trail system is shared with hikers, mountain bikers, horses, and motorcycles.

Mixed Use Trailhead Signage
Mixed Use Trailhead Signage

In a mixed use trail situation, the motorcyclist is the lowest on the totem pole. You must yield to all other users. It is a matter of respect and simple etiquette. Shut off your bike and if possible move it to the side so that the other trail users can easily get around. Smile, say hello, apologize for interrupting their outing, and make sure they know how many more riders are in your party. Inquire as to how their day is going and if you are carrying a saw (someone in your party should be), ask them if there are any trees down across the trail ahead and let them know that you’ll remove them accordingly. Doing all this goes a very long way to earning the respect of non-motorized trail users.

Trail Courtesy
Trail Courtesy

I have personally witnessed situations where motorcyclists (and even mountain bikers) have not stopped and just blown past a group of hikers or horse riders. This is not an effective way to win friends or garner support for mixed use trails. Frankly, it just pisses them off and gives them the ammunition they need to totally shut down motorized access. Could you really blame them? No one is entitled to act in that manner.

Honestly, there are very few off road riders that have been taught these values. I suspect there are more out West than back East and this is evidenced by the abundance of trails that permit motorized use. Regardless, it is a problem and there are no indications that it is getting any better.

If you want to ride at race pace, roost some dirt, climb straight up every hill you see, or uncork your obnoxiously loud 4-Stroke then go buy your own property in the middle of no where and have at it. However, if you can’t afford to purchase some property of your own then you’ll be riding on public land or on some private acreage. If that’s the case, then you should treat the land and others that use it with respect. Remember that respect earns respect.

Trail Across a Meadow
Trail Across a Meadow

Simply put, taking the places you ride for granted affects us all. I suspect that in another 10-20 years the land we ride on currently will all but vanish. And honestly, it will be the fault of the vast majority of riders and their failure to follow some simple, common-sense guidelines. Think about it . . . do you want to be “one of those riders” that contributed to a land closure?

See you on the trail!

Idaho Trail Riding Photos

Photos never do the subject any justice. I stopped more time to take photos than I can count and rarely does the photo capture the sense of being “there” . . . nothing matches that feeling.

So, in my attempt to capture some of the landscape while riding, I grabbed the following photos. Maybe they can give you a sense of what it is like to ride in the big mountains west of the Big River!

See you on the trail!

 

Red Bird Crest Trail Ride Report (05-25-14)

Well for the first time, Philip tagged along with us to do the Red Bird Crest Trail. He’d ridden a couple portions of it back in 2007 but that was over by the Begley Trailhead and we only hit a few miles of it back then. He’d never done the entire 70+ mile loop.

The crew consisted of Bo, Jesse, Philip, and I. We had intentions of leaving the trailhead @ 10am but after getting our trail passes and so forth it was closer to 10:20 when we pulled onto the trail. This concerned me a bit but I knew that we’d have plenty of daylight if we kept moving and didn’t spend too much time at the store having lunch.

Getting Ready at the Peabody Trailhead
Getting Ready at the Peabody Trailhead

There had been a very windy storm a few days before and I’d heard that schools were closed down that way due to flooding and wind damage. Well I should have considered that before planning our trip. About 1 mile into the trail we came across some LARGE trees on the ground but they’d been recently cut and cleared from the trail. There was fresh sawdust on the ground so I figured the Forest Service had been working hard getting the trail opened up for the Holiday weekend. We made our way onward and each time we’d come to a downed tree it was obvious that someone had been busy clearing the trail.

We’ll that all came to an end just after the Sugar Creek trailhead. We fought our way under a large tree, climbed up the ridge and were greeted with some monster trees blocking the trail. Hmmm . . . maybe we should have ridden somewhere closer to home? Jesse had his hand saw but neither of us brought our little Stihls. Cutting these trees with the hand saw would take hours. So, we started lifting . . . the hard way.

The Hard Way
The Hard Way

So, reluctantly, we moved onward hoping we’d not find many more situations like that one. Things were “Ok” but not great. We didn’t have to do any more “team lifting” across logs but there were dozens of trips up or down the hill from the trail that were necessary to keep us moving forward. If all else failed, we’d get to the store and then ride the road back to the trailhead.

We finally made it to the store and it was about 2PM. If we could maintain the same pace we’d make it around the whole loop but I was still unsure. The owner of the store said that there had been lots of damage along KY66 and ridges above so things could get interesting as the crew pressed forward.

It was certainly good to have some lunch and re-hydrate. As we topped the bikes off with gas, a crew we’d passed early arrived at the store. They said our tracks gave them hope that they too could make it to the store. I chatted with them a bit and learned they were from Indy and were down for the entire weekend. A couple of them knew Trail Rider Charlie which was cool. Jesse took a photo of them at lunch and sent it to Charlie this morning. He said, “They are all too old for me to know them!” Gotta love it. He commented on my cool “Ride or Die” jersey from the High Sierra Motorcycle Club which I have adorned on my last two Red Bird outings.

Lunch at Collett's Store
Lunch at Collett’s Store

My favorite parts of the loop are after the store so the plan was to forge onward until we just couldn’t go any further. It always amazes me how little traffic this portion of the loop actually gets. There are places where it is quad width but essentially it is just one beat down single track path. Few riders make it that far and the rocky ascents and descents keep many of the locals at bay. Philip was bored with the trail before the store but was really enjoying the last sections.

One view I always enjoy seeing the is the power line cut on a ridge that is on the extreme southern portion of the loop. You can see for miles in three directions! Philip was glad we stopped for photos as was Bo. The panoramic view would be even more awesome if those darned power line polls weren’t in the way, however, there wouldn’t be a view at all if the power line cut didn’t exist!

Power Line View
Power Line View

The next stop was where you cross KY66 by the Bear Creek Trailhead. Jesse was ready to bail on us but we talked him into to forging onward to the next bailout point. We were still finding some downed trees but there was always a way around, or at least we made one! There is about 3 miles of gravel and 4 miles of road in this portion of the loop but everyone was a bit tired and welcomed the rest.

I stopped when we arrived at the turn down the hill to the goat trail to see if Jesse was good to go or if he wanted to continue. He stuck with us and was then committed to completing the entire loop. He’d only done that once before so I was glad for him. Plus, he had a hand saw, so I was glad for us!!

I really like these last sections of the loop. They see very little traffic and I like the nice single track sidehill trails. There were a few BIG trees down once again but we found ways up and around each one without eating too much time. Forward progress was essential but based on the timing of things I knew we’d make it around.

We came down the trail to Section 21 and there was a massive tree down right across the entry. It had smashed the trail marker and there was no apparent way around. I sat there for a minute and decided to just take the fire road down to Big Double and back to the trailhead. It was the wise thing to do. About 10 minutes later we arrived back at the Peabody trailhead with no broken bikes or riders. Bo’s odometer showed exactly 73 miles and mine was at 70.53. I explained that was because my Yamaha’s front wheel was off the ground so much more than his KTM.

Another successful and hard fought loop was completed. Not everyone can do it in one day so I feel that it is a worthy accomplishment. Give it try someday if you haven’t made the entire loop. Get some good maps and take along a good guide. It is worth the effort.

See you on the trail!

 

 

The Right Tool for the Job

As with most things, it is so much easier when you have the right tool for the job at hand. We spent nearly one hour at a large downed tree that had two trunks a couple weekends ago. The little saws are nice but we ended up needing the hand saw so we wouldn’t get them wedged. It was slow going for a while but we had Philip along to help so that was good.

Gearing Up!
Gearing Up!

This past weekend we headed out to finish up some course work and Jesse asked if we needed the big saw for anything. “Yes!” was the answer. There were three places on that old logging road I’d been clearing where big logs needed to go. One of these spots was where we spent an hour a couple weeks beforehand. Luckily, the BIG saw fit right into my carrier with little issue. It fit well but it was so much heavier than the little saw. I immediately turned back my steering damper. I didn’t need that type of help with the monster saw hanging over my front fender.

Big Stihl on the Yamaha
Big Stihl on the Yamaha

If you want to check out some of the area I’m talking about take a look a these three videos. Winter trail work in Kentucky is always a great time. This is the only time of year you can tackle all the thorny plant matter out there in the woods.

See you on the trail!