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Thread: Calgary to Redmond via the OBDR

  1. #1
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    Calgary to Redmond via the OBDR

    A change of jobs and the ability to take vacation whenever I wished allowed me to be able to go to the rally this year. I have seldom been able to choose time off in the summer to allow attending rallies, so this was a treat. Once I decided I was going, I made the choice to ride my new 2009 F800GS there, afterall, its under warranty still, and need as many miles as possible to fully flesh out any problems.

    The next decision was how to maximize the potential of the GS in getting there. A bit of online research turned up an interesting route known as the Oregon Backcountry Discovery route. Perfect. I started aquiring maps, GPS tracks and trip reports from others who had dared to take this route.

    There are a number of sections to this route and my trip would see me starting in Walla Walla, Washington at the north end, and ending in Sisters not far from Redmond. This would have me travelling over three seperate portions of the route. The remaining sections lead further south and end up in northern California.

    I spent quite a few hours compiling the routes for my GPS, using the various sources I had found. It would be quite difficult to follow the route without the aid of a GPS. Many of the roads were poorly marked and confusing to find even with GPS. The roads on the route varied from short stretches of highway or paved roads to well maintained gravel FSRs to jeep tracks that barely qualified to be called a road at all. Toss in some spectacular scenery, some interesting lookout towers and other attractions and a couple of river crossings and it was a perfect GS tour.

    All the planning paid off with only a few deviations from the mapped route; some for fuel stops, some for roads that disappeared and had to be backtracked on to find a passable one. It was a true test of my GS and of me.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  2. #2
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    Day 1-Calgary to Dayton Washington, Lewis and Clark Trail State Park. 906 Km



    Everything was loaded and ready to roll, I just had to toss in the last couple of items and do a few last minute chores and it was time to get going. Departure was at 7:30 AM under broken cloud cover, the remnants of yesterdayÔÇÖs rain. The temperature on the bikes computer read 14.5 C, a bit cool, but no need for too many layers and certainly not the electric heat from the grips or the GerbingÔÇÖs vest.

    TodayÔÇÖs goal; get to somewhere close to Walla Walla and the start of my adventure. I headed south out of Calgary on Highway 2, through Okotoks and over to the Cowboy Trail, highway 22. The temperature had dropped and the lingering rain clouds closed in to block out any warmth from the sun. I pulled in at Longview to top of the fuel and add a layer for warmth.

    I got back on the road and heading south to highway 3, then west on it. By Cranbrook the bike needed fuel as did I. Now it was a bit warmer, so a couple of no longer needed layers were shed, and a bit of venting opened on my suit. After a short stretch and some necessities met, it was further west on the Crowsnest Highway. Keeping southward onto Highway 95 would bring me to the border crossing at Kingsgate. After a brief inquisition and the viewing of my passport, I was allowed to proceed into the US.

    I continued south to Coeur dÔÇÖAlene where again the demands of internal combustion required more sustenance. The temperature had reached a somewhat warm 32 C. I was making good time on my goal for the day, so without wasting too much more time it was back on the road. A short jaunt west on I90 brought me to highway 195 south. At Colville, I made off towards Walla Walla via an every changing number of roads. The road never changed, just the numbers. By now the temperature was flirting with 38 C, my water supply was keeping me hydrated at least if not cool. By Dayton, I was cooked and ready for a break. A quick stop to pick up some evening refreshments, and it was on the short distance remaining to Lewis and Clark Trail State Park for the night.

    I set up camp in a nice shady site, cooked supper and got organised for the next day. It was a nice little park, not spectacular, but it was the last shower IÔÇÖd see for a few days.

    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  3. #3
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    Day 2, Walla Walla to John Day Camp

    Let the adventure begin. I made the last blast on the highway into Walla Walla where I squeezed every drop possible into the gas Tank FOR the roads ahead. Not a lot of gas stops out there. Following the GPS guide I headed east out of town through farm land, forest and acreages. Soon I was at the Oregon border and the end of the pavement. The road was quite good for the start, and then came the turnoff to Tiger canyon road. It skirted along the hillsides down into, then back up out of the canyon; a bit rougher road, but not bad.

    The next turn took me onto a very much less maintained road; it was rough and rutted, but thankfully not muddy, though it certainly had been judging by its condition. Good fun. I had a slight miscalculation or perhaps an error in judgement which resulted in me spending a bit of time righting the bike. No damage other than having to get the bars back in line. Oops.





    Eventually I managed to find my way to Ukiah, but it wasnÔÇÖt easy at one point. The road I was supposed to follow was barricaded and dug out, so I attempted to find an alternate. That proved to be no better and that meant a bit of backtracking to get back to where I had just been. From there I opted to head straight down to the highway and into Ukiah for fuel as the misdirection had eaten up too much of my precious range.



    Full of fuel again, though only regular grade, I again trusted myself to the GPS and found myself on another dead end. Backtracking Again, I took navigation into my own hands and found my way back onto my route.





    This next set of roads was quite a handful. At first it was quite spectacular, hanging on the side of the mountain with a near vertical drop to the side. Care and caution were well in order. After the next turn off, things rapidly degraded. The road was much rougher and littered with baseball and golf ball sized rocks. Nice jagged rocks too. This was bad enough until the road started down a fairly steep descent. With the rocks and the grade it was not easy going; but then it gat harder. I rounded a tight bend to find a very deep trench gouged into one track of the road. This left just one wheel track to follow and it wasnÔÇÖt very good either. With all this combined, I again found myself with a bike to lift. At least by luck I had managed to not dump it upside down into the trench.



    With the bike finally back on rubber, not too worse for the event, I got all the gar reloaded and got back underway. I managed to get myself off the mountain and down to the John Day River. By this point I was tired and shaken, so when I came to a nice camping spot at the river side, I pulled in for the night.



    Camp was set up, supper made and eaten and then a bit of time spent by the campfire before closing out the day.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  4. #4
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    Day 3 John Day River Camp to McAllister Spring

    After Yesterday I was a bit anxious about the condition of the road I was on, but I was pleased to find the worst was behind me and the road went for many miles in very good condition. It degraded slightly further on, but was still quite good riding. I took a short side road up to Desolation Butte Lookout. No one manning the tower today, so I had a look about on my own then moved on, Good view up there, even better from the top of the tower I imagine. I didn’t bother climbing all the way up, it was quite an effort to go up halfway to the first landing in the thin air at the elevation, and the whole thing seemed a bit rickety.



    I made the rest of the route down into Granite, then on to Sumpter. Again I topped up with fuel, pleasantly they had premium here. The GS will be happier again, not that it complained about yesterdays low grade diet. In Sumpter there is an old gold mining dredge, so I stopped to spend a bit of time reading about it and viewing it. Quite a piece of engineering; must have made a hell of a racket when it was operating. Apparently not profitable though despite the amount of gold they managed to dig up with it. Not too easy on the landscape either, huge tailings piles snake through the whole area it worked.



    I got back under way and back onto the OBDR route. The afternoon took me over a variety of roads in a variety of conditions. Most were rough but passable, a few were quite good, and some were barely roads at all; and of course, the Malheur River, which I came to cross for the first time at Crane Crossing.



    It was not the prettiest river crossing effort, let me tell you, but I kept it upright and got across. This next bit of road was downright nasty with large protruding rocks and boulders up steep inclines and across lots of ruts. A challenging bit of riding it was. Finally I got past it and reached belter roads only to have to do a bit of recalculating of the GPS navigation again. Not too serious, just had to take a road different from the one that it wanted which was not to be found any more. Garmin needs to get a bit more up to date me thinks.

    It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun ws low enough that the light was being filtered through the tree tops. I felt it was time to find a camp and after a few more kilometres, I came to a nice little spot with a flowing spring. The best camping location though was a bit away from the water, but at least I did not need to ration too seriously.

    Camped, cooked, campfire and bed again.

    Last edited by MCMXCIVRS; 07-21-2010 at 08:46 PM.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  5. #5
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    Day 4, McAllister Springs to Prineville (almost)



    A bit warmer start today, the temperature reading on the bike told me it was 10 C, six degrees warmer than yesterday morning. I was in between the two crossings of the Malheur river on the OBDR route and given yesterdays less than stellar performance at river crossing, I held a few trepidations about the next one. It was not too long before I came upon it, and on the other side was an older gent camping and doing some fishing too. I stopped to survey the crossing and he coached me onward saying it was not too deep and I should just ”giver‘er hell and lift up my feet”. Well that, for the most part was what I did, and without too much ado I was high and dry (well dripping a bit) on the other side. Not so bad after all.

    From there on it was pretty easy going on into Seneca where I would again fuel up and did a bit of restocking of the larder, the provisions were getting a bit thin. Before long, there was a small gaggle of bikes stopped there; a solo rider on and R1200R and a group of three more with two RTs and a Ducati showed up. Next door to the gas stop and store were parked a few bikes, one of them a KTM 990 Adventure. Soon, the fellow that it belonged to showed up and we all began to chat a bit.



    Well, next thing you know, were off to tour his lodge. It seems this is a rather well known adventure riding lodge run by none other than J.W. Everitt. If you don’t know who that is, well neither did I, but it turns out he is a professional guitarist who has played with many famous groups and individuals including Crosby Stills and Nash. Well who knew? He turned out to be quite an interesting fellow and before long the tour had culminated with coffees for all and then up to the lounge in his lodge for a shot of his secret recipe homemade tequila. He was a very avid rider of all sorts of bikes from drag bikes to Bonneville racers to, of course, adventure bikes. It would appear that he must be pretty good with that guitar to pay for all these toys. I will let you know, we all bought copies of his latest independent album which he autographed for each of us.

    When we had interrupted his morning, he was getting ready to head out on a ride. I queried him regarding the OBDR, and he graciously offered to lead me in a better direction to get onto the next section. Well, I managed to keep up and sure enough soon he had me where I needed to be. After a brief adieu, he headed off on his way and I mine.

    For much of the next few hours the roads were quite easy going, mostly good gravel with only a few rougher patches. In the early afternoon I met a fellow on a KLR, the first bike I’d seen on the route at all, aside from on the few short stretches of asphalt. We both stopped and began to chat. It seemed he was in a group of three, but currently had lost his other two. We chatted a while and compared notes on the route. He, they, had all come up all the way from Doris California through the roughest section in the south of the state and on through Sisters and Prineville to end up where we met. They were headed the rest of the way on up to Walla Walla where I had begun, time and conditions allowing. He decided he would go sit in the shade a while and wait for the remainder of his trio to find him. I agreed to let them know where he was should I come across them and got back under way.

    Sure enough before long, I did meet them and let them know where they would catch up with their friend. A brief chat and we were all on our way again in our respective directions. They had assured me that the remainder of the route to Prineville was pretty easy going. Well I should have clued in from the fact that they had been through what is reported to be the roughest section of the entire route down south, so easy was a relative thing. Not that it was terrible, but it was fairly rough and rutted for quite a distance. All the same, that was the adventure I had come out here to find.

    Eventually, the road improved, with even a few short sections of asphalt again to help make up time. The day was getting long and I was watching for a spot to call home for the night. Soon a nice little spot caught my eye along MaKay creek road just 25 Kms short of Prineville. Good enough; I pulled off and made it my camp for the night.

    Last edited by MCMXCIVRS; 07-21-2010 at 08:51 PM.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  6. #6
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    Day 5, MaKay creek to the rally via Sisters

    Got going this morning and made the short ride the rest of the way into Prineville. Topped of the fuel again and then tried to decide if I was tired of back roads and to head straight to the rally, or do I finish the route to Sisters. A minute or two of playing with the GPS routes and I made the decision to finish what I started, at least the part I had planned of the OBDR.

    The decision made, I headed off north of town on the last section. The first few miles were on pavement, but soon the turn off cam that took me off onto the oh-so familiar rough forest service roads. Not too far along, again i was on hardtop running down into the State park at Lake Billy Chinook, but it was a pretty spectacular piece of road, paved or not. Lots of turns and hairpins and a wonderful view of the canyon and lake on the way down and back up again on the other side.

    Soon after climbing out of the canyon, the road turned off and I was on a very straight bit of dirt road on which i was still able to keep up pretty good speed. Eventually though that degraded into the type of rough track I had seen so much of. Many miles of that later I finally came out onto the pavement again not too far out of Sisters. The rest of the run into town, then I turned towards Redmond and the rally. Not too far out of Sisters, it suddenly hit me, I’d done it, I’d done what I set out to do. It wasn’t the easy way and that was the point of doing it. I’d done it.



    Soon I was at the rally and among the many bikes and riders there. As I noticed more and GSs parked around the grounds, many very nice but very clean, I could see I was one of the ones who had been through real GS country on real GS roads, with real GS challenges. I still find it hard to think of myself as anywhere near the calibre of rider that some are, but I could at least be happy knowing I had completed a challenging trip on my GS; the type of trip it was meant for.

    Last edited by MCMXCIVRS; 07-21-2010 at 09:37 PM.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  7. #7
    Registered User chasman's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Great ride report, Ed! Thanks for sharing.
    Chuck Manley #12106
    2012 Howlin' at the Moon Rally Chair
    Ambassador, Knights of the Roundel #333, IBA Member, Life Member NRA
    Black '13 R12GSA (the Outlaw), Black '02 K12RS (157K)

  8. #8
    Registered User RINTY's Avatar
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    Fantastic, Ed.

    You'll never forget a trip like this, as long as you live. And good that you didn't give up on that one section, because you'll be kicking yourself for years for not having done it.
    Last edited by rinty; 07-22-2010 at 02:36 AM.
    Rinty

    "When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

  9. #9
    Registered User kgadley01's Avatar
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    Great ride report...almost makes me want to buy a GS...almost
    AKA SNAPGADGET
    Lifes too short to ride an ugly Motorcycle

  10. #10
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Very nicely done Ed. Excellent balance of story telling, photography and personal reflection. A trip you must be very proud of completing.
    Ken
    [2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blue) - Mine]
    [2007 R1200RT (Sand Biege) - Hers]

  11. #11
    Retired User
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    Fabulous ride report! A real adventure and very gutsy of you to do it solo. I was camped not too far from you at Redmond and remember seeing your bike and tent and registering it as belonging to a real GS rider. Thanks for sharing.
    Bill Mayer
    MOA #98888
    R1200RT

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