10 days and 1621 miles on the
footpegs of a KTM 640 Adventure. A dislocated shoulder on Day 4, with some
bruised ribs for good measure. Nothing really quite like hammering into a
military checkpoint on the border of Baja California Sur and dropping the whole
show on the pavement and skidding to a grinding halt at the feet of an
18-year-old kid wearing a dusty set of BDU’s and sporting a clapped out Heckler
and Koch G3. Not to gloss over the Russian prostitute in San Ignacio or running
over a Thresher Shark (mouth with teeth, tail, fins – you know – a real shark)
in Laguna Manuela. I’ll never forget meeting Coco for the first time or hitting
a concrete culvert across the road at 80+ miles per hour just after crossing
checkpoint charlie Northbound out of Gonzaga Bay. In Baja, as far as adventure
goes, you get your money’s worth, pretty much.
Guidelines for How to roll through a military checkpoint (click here)
Book Tease - Buy My Book!
best dual-sport and off-road motorcycle adventure riding reports from
Team Ruptured Buzzard include the chronicles of Stovebolt and his
friends as they rally across dusty tracks in the desert and mountains,
caught up in the slipstreams of adventure from Baja, Nevada, Idaho and
Montana. Gritty and down to earth, the pages unfold one after another,
inviting readers to pause in reflection around a campfire under starry
skies and then hang on for dear life while racing across a desert floor
on the outskirts of Area 51 as fighter jets patrol overhead. While not a
guidebook, it will entertain and perhaps inspire readers to get out
there and track down dreams of their own; sucking marrow from the bones
along the way. And, to Never Give Up!
Purchase directly from the publisher by clicking HERE
If you can't go big, PLAN BIG. Then, just go big. And always
come home. And never, ever give up!
Team Ruptured Buzzard
Dislocated shoulders (innumerable occurrences)
Crushed ribs (multiple instances)
Torn medial meniscus, knees (multiples)
Blown appendix and septicaemia
Blind faith (misplaced)
Scorpion sting in spine
Lack of money
Lack of interest
Lack of vision
Lack of daylight
“Squirting through the eye of a needle”
Dead cell phone and low-pow GPS
Where Buzzards Dare to Tread - Where they live, and where they ride
Idaho Arizona Idaho City Continental Divide Bone
Wyoming Nevada Some Swamp Goblin Valley Behind The Rocks
British Columbia New Mexico Hatfield McCoy The Sawtooth's Munger
New York Baja Oregon Trail Florida Algodones
France The Tetons The Flattops Cajamajue Wash Crater Lake
Virginia MacGruder Corridor Yellowstone Country Bonneville Salt Flats The Wasatch
Washington The Big Holes Salt River Range The Shenandoah's The Bitterroot
Montana Centennial Range Big Sandy Oregon Buttes Emmigrant Trail
Belgium The Gravelly's The Caribous Car Door Corner Appalachia
Utah Red Desert Five Miles of Hell Shackham Caliente
Colorado Moab Paradise Valley Lake Chapala Slickrock
What Do Buzzards Eat?
Clif Bars. Octopus parfaits (for real – I watched it.)
Fish tacos. A tortilla wrapped around just about anything. Burgers and beer.
Snickers and Doritos. Bottled water. Camelbak water. Creek water. Dirt. Bugs.
Blood – yours and somebody else’s. The east end of a westbound skunk. Pizza.
Red Mountain Debacle, and the Fiery Funerary Barge in Some Far Away Fjord…
(Mis-Adventures with the Viking Man)
One fine, sunny day, two guys set out on their dirt bikes to go off on a leisurely romp in the Big Hole Mountains in southeast
Idaho, and ride the Big Hole Crest Trail. The only “plan” was to maybe stop and pick some huckleberries en route, and one
guy knew where there was a large, ripe patch to choose from. The other guy could give a hoot about a berry in his mouth
and was jones’n for some throttle time on his new KTM. But, they were both psyched and ready for a break from work and
a lot of fun on the trails.
In each of their hearts beat the pulses of younger men… for a time, and they rode off to a trailhead, and pointed in.
Berry patches came and went, but not one stop for picking got made. The riding was just too good! They rode over the crests
from north to south on a trail that spans the 26-mile length of the Big Hole Range, with 360-degree views all the way. Peaks
and valleys abound, the valleys called “holes” giving the range its name. There was no end to the picturesque scenery on the
entire ride, and finally, toward the southern terminus of the ridge crest the height of land is reached on Red Mountain, the
tallest peak and the point at which a navigation decision needed to get made. Ain’t nuthin’ but a thang…
Don knows the way, he’s hunted up in here for years, and that “trail” visible down below that curls way away from the ridge
crest toward a deep valley below has got to be the way. It’s steep for sure, and looks pretty committed from the ridge crest
above, but since no obvious peel to the left and east toward the Teton Valley presents itself, a good eyeball study from the
top yields the decision to send one guy down there to check it out, and report back. So, “Stovebolt” with the new KTM enduro
machine volunteers to tackle the recon with the idea being that both the machine and the rider are probably more able to get
turn it around and get back up if it looks as if it is the wrong way, and try another route off the ridge and down to the east.
“Tally Ho.” Stovey lights his Austrian Magic Machine, and glides off. And down… Little thought bubbles bounce out from
underneath his helmet and pop out above his head, surrounding his middle-aged noggin with a stream of provocative narrative,
known only to himself and his guardian angel.
For a long time, I’m gone and Don is left to himself to spy whatever he can of my progress from the ridge above, and I’ve long
ago lost sight of his position after taking a few turns and a major drop that put me in a position out of our sightline. My guess
is that this is not the route down, having turned a corner on the side hill that gave a better view of what lies ahead, and the
trail has dissipated to the point that there is only little evidence ahead of it being used by the local ungulates. And by the fact
that I committed to a six-foot drop through an exfoliated section of “trail” that was so steep and so loose that there is no way
this piece of trail gets regular bike traffic. But the “game trail” led right through it and there was no way else around on the
knoll. It was either turn back then, or commit to the drop which looked promising from above, and only petered out pretty much
immediately thereafter. It looks like the ride is taking on some new flavor from this point on. My bike is on its side, in the dirt,
and a few pebbles are dropping lower down inside my right boot, grass strands streaming from two buckles now unclasped on one
of my Alpinestars Tech 8’s.
I can’t get back up on the bike after one feeble try, so I land it back down below in a more level spot and take a few moments
to walk my track ahead, and spy what might be available on the open trail toward the ridge exit. The “trail” has definitely
diminished and what lies ahead around the corner after the drop is only obvious single-track game trail, and further away it
simply appears to obliterate altogether. Disappears right off the face of the earth, and not a hoof print in sight even. This is
the end of the trail. The end of the line. The beginning of the end…
I try a few more times to get back up the steep section. I fail.
Time goes by, and it’s hot out… My struggle continues, to no avail. Eventually, I have left myself in a fairly worn-out lump in
the side of the trail below the steepest section, helmet off and sweating profusely in a thirsty puddle with no shade in sight,
save for the spec of a shadow from a passing hawk hunting from above.
This could get ugly! And time goes by some more… I hope Don stays put, and that I can find a way back up. This is a “no-go.”
I hope this saddle I’m resting in is just a temporary platform of relatively flat ground on this ridge to regroup on, while I
recharge for the successful attempt that will get me back up to where Don is waiting, the mighty Viking with all the local trail
insight! Sheeesh…. Another suck on my Camelbak and I’ll give this thing the mighty hill climb effort deluxe, and …
....when last we left our heroes, they had just rejoined their ranks, having been separated for about 45 minutes or so while
Stovey rode ahead to reconnoiter a good looking trail on a ridge, and Don subsequently decided to follow. The ride down basically
sucked for both intrepid sage thrashers, but it sucked harder for Don who managed to get in a couple of hair-raising tumbles,
and arrived at the saddle with eyes bulging from sockets full of dirt and too much sun, astride (sort of) a quasi-mangled XT250.
There then, under the increasingly brutal heat of a Southeast Idaho Summer blast furnace, they faced each other and...
"I bent my handlebars - look at this...” Don said.
"I see...” said Stovey, and "...are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, but I crashed up there - not once, but twice and now look at this bike, I can barely ride it. I'm going to have
to bend these bars back." Don was pulling off his helmet and going for his water as he spoke, and I was eying him for any signs
of permanent damage and/or shock. Nothing was visible protruding from his parts; no stick seemed to be coming out of his back
or sides; no blood to speak of, nothing gushing anyway, and no bones poking through his t-shirt or his jeans. I hadn’t made it up,
but my riding partner had made it down. Big time.
T-shirt and jeans and work boots and a full face helmet constituted Don's riding gear; that and a pair of killer sunglasses that
wrapped around his face, and combined with his Scandinavian lineage gave him the appearance of a mad Norseman, a real life
Berserker. Looking at Don one could easily imagine him at his own Viking funeral, afloat on a raft at sea, cast adrift in a flaming
wooden funerary barge.... only he wasn't dead yet! (Can you imagine how pissed a guy could get floating along on the water,
waves gently rolling your handmade wooden craft, a breeze wafting over the bow, as you suddenly realize that the whole mass
is ablaze from underneath, stoked by flames fuming forth from seasoned hardwoods soaked in pine pitch?!) Don seemed about
that baked under that helmet and behind those glasses, and as we stared at each other on the top of the saddle, I watched
some dirt and gravel crumble from the skin on his elbow and fall to the ground.
"Well, we want to make for damned sure we don't be breakin' those bars if we manage to bend them - that'll put us in a pretty
fix if they break, and they break pretty easy..." I said to Don, thinking maybe we should try to ride it out bent. He just
exclaimed how damned near impossible it was to try to control the bike after they stuck in the ground on the 2nd crash and how
he felt he would be damned if he was going to try to ride it another inch the way it was.
Well then, we got together on the little project and he sat on the bike and pushed down and away on the throttle side of the
handlebar, and I got on the ground underneath the set and got a grip right on the throttle. As we began to reefin' and tuggin’
we felt the bars begin to budge, just once, and then we had to reposition ourselves. We regrouped with our grips and with a
combined effort we tried it a second and last time - reeeeef, groan, budge, crinkle and snap. We were done; our bending job
was now complete. The bars were no longer bent straight back and up in the air, they were instead in essentially two separate
pieces. Our bending days were done, and it appeared as if our splinting days had just begun. "What would McGuyver do?" was
the thought that entered both of our minds, and we both managed to utter something brilliant like, "I'd like to see McGuyver
get out of this one!" to each other, at approximately the same moment after the "SNAP!" of the chincy offshore steel control
handle. And there we sat, sizing up the situation.
Don parked the bike in the usual fashion, "kerplunck" on the ground as he darted off into the pines to hack a fresh bough from
a nearby tree. I sucked on the plastic tube once again, and thought about home. Then I thought about the ravine. And then I
looked up and thought about the ridge we had just come down on the way to get to this infernal boiler plate of a ridge top, full
of sagebrush and red dirt. HEll, even the birds were gone, not a peep out of them here on the aeries - they had all gone down
to some cool shady grove in a meadow, where there was some breeze through a canyon to ride along on and a cool drink from a
stream to be had. Nothing looked alive up here, and the two of us could hardly argue the point, judging from the way Don looked.
If I looked anything like him, we both could pass for bad replicas of the Sphinx - three quarters proned-out in a sand dune under
a hot sun, the chiseled wrinkles of our middle-aged skin coughing out dirt in chunks to be absorbed by an anonymous desert floor.
It occurred to me then, that we might be baked unless we got out of there fast.
Well, Don came back to his bike like a teenage usher in a movie theater, all in a hurry to get his charges seated and all caught
up in the importance of his work. He had himself a nice little stub of a tree branch in his ham-handed fists, all freshly killed but
still ever so very pliant. All important now was the task of applying the "splint" to regain some stiffness to the new 2-piece
handlebar set. Maybe he figured "green wood is better..." or some other such physical nonsense...
As he was wrapping the sticks around the bars in a dry run of sorts, attempting to set up a fitment, it occurred to me that we
should be using the strongest possible method of splinting (by whatever means) which should include sticking something inside the
hollow of the bars and getting a grab on them from the inside out, as well as from the outside. I ran off again to look for just
the right sized stick to try that out, and Don stayed at the Yamaha, as any good surgeon would stay at his table until it was
indeed time to hand off the suturing to the chief scrub.
When I got back to the Yamaha after a brief trip to the donor tree, and the itinerant passage through the shade it briefly
provided, I saw that Don had begun to cannibalize some parts to use in the splinting – a brilliant idea from what I beheld! You
see, Don kept a set of those red-neckedy handlebar gun rack mounts on his bars, as he often rode out with a carbine lashed
across the bars to shoot at critters in a meadow who were sitting on a log eating an acorn on a Sunday afternoon in the Rockies-
stuff like that. Anyhow, those mounts were just sort of sticking up off the crossbar, aimed at the riders’ facial area,
specifically aimed at the orbital cavities, and of course served no practical purpose on this ride....until now.
Don had removed one clamp from underneath the right side mount and had begun to massage the wingnut off the bottom of it as
I moved in closer to satisfy my hunger for curiosity. As I got closer I just grabbed the damned U-shaped gun mount from his
hands and held it up to his face, proclaiming "brilliant!" and that this is the perfect thing for "my splint"... I took the metal thing
over to a nearby anvil shaped rock on the ground and began to bending the "U" shape right out of it. I managed to straighten it
into a shape of lesser angle such that it approximated the natural bend that the handlebars were supposed to have, and ran back
like a teenage usher again to Dan, still seated on his bike, now droopy-eyed looking at me. Like a kid who just had his GI Joe
taken away from his playmate, Don sat there and watched me force the rubber-coated metal thing into the hollow of the bars
and reposition the two broken pieces together in some fashion that I thought would work.
His hands joined mine, and pretty soon, and to make a long story short, a whirlwind of clamps, another gun mount from the other
side of the handlebars, a set of wrenches and duct tape all commenced to wrapping and tying and clamping and wiring. Along with
our freshly killed tree limbs, which were also added with tape and baling wire, we had ourselves a genuine McGuyver Special - a
mass of wood, tape, pot metal and wire all clamped up and ready to go. Now ‘which way were we going?’, that was the question.
It was getting later, and we needed to figure out an exit.
We debated the pros and cons of each direction, and pretty much figured we were better off by far getting back to the top of
the ridge from which we had come, as the alternatives going down on any route were looking grim at best. The only tough part
was the two nasty obstacles we had just run across and they were no small shakes to get around or through, either of them,
and we both held serious doubts as to whether we could make it back. Still, we thought we might stand a chance if we doubled up
two guys to a bike and man-handled each one, one at a time, back over and through each obstacle. Two bikes, two obstacles,
As it turned out, almost two hours later, we were right back on the same spot, even after giving it everything we had to try and
go back up.
For nearly two hours we tried to cross that Martian landscape on that section of ridge above “McGuyver Saddle,” and we nearly
died doing so. As before we had selected the guy with the new KTM 300 Enduro rig to head out first, as if he were going to
carry and plant the flag on the far side of the last uphill obstacle. "That's One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for
Mankind"... sort of a mission I guess. I got to the first obstacle and wiped out, low-siding uphill like a good little racer, but
exhausted from my diminished capacity to maneuver the beast on such a steep hillside - I was tiring. I got the bike turned
around through a monumental effort, and retreated (after losing some 30 feet of height on the hill in the process, and damned
near going all the way down to Dante's inner circle as well, into a steep draw). I got back to a flat spot and turned around and
tried it again, and got only a foot or two closer again before I controlled a hairy dismount and anchored my feet to the hillside
once again. This time I was going to try to push smarter, and make it past this obstacle, no motor.
I tried and Don joined me and together we just barely managed to get my bike over and at substantial risk of losing the bike and
falling down, the two of us. Way down. Don had gotten his bike up to near where I had first crashed and dismounted there, now
waiting for me to try to get past the second nasty obstacle going back up, and this one would be a killer. This was the one with
the 6 -7 foot vertical exfoliation, rat-hole chunk missing, and the sphincter-squeezing slope on the downhill side was enough to
make you believe you were standing on the edge of a Black Hole - everything gets sucked in, nothing comes back out. I sucked on
the camelback and lit the Katoom. I looked back at Don and said, "when I clear this one I'll come back for your bike." He just
said okay, and asked how much further until we would be riding, not pushing and carrying. I told him that the obstacle in front
of me was about 30 feet ahead and it looked like we were riding just a few feet after that - on trail back up to the ridge. He
nodded "okay", and I revved the KTM to life.
I aimed that bike before I let go of the clutch lever, and then took off - heading for the obstacle of rock and loose red dirt
sprinkled with rocks, gravel, and a few more rocks. I hit the rocks, then the rock and slid over the marbly dirt and rock, and
crashed. Damn! I'm crashing and I'm going down! "My God I'm heading down into that Black Hole of a draw - I'm going to
careen off of rock after rock at the speed of light until I get sucked into that Singularity the physicists say will turn me into
a frozen strawberry daiquiri..... ssheeeeeyiiiiit!" Down went the bike, but it didn't get far, as it perched on the nearly vertical
side slope to the ridge and stopped underneath the rock it had just been commanded by an ill-minded pilot to climb. I just hit
and bounced and stuck to a rock, that was it and I was saved. But there we were, me and my new KTM, planted on that
damnable side hill. I turned and looked back for Don, but he was just out of sight downhill of the first obstacle.
Walking back to Don I pulled my helmet off and grabbed for my plastic water tube, like a spaceman about to blow his suit. Sucking
on water like I needed it for air, I topped the rocky outcrop above Dan, who sat there in a heap on his bike, waiting for the 'all
clear' for him to take his chance at getting his bike up - I looked down at Don who began to ask about the next obstacle, and
getting his bike up the first try. I just told him, "hey, I didn't make it..." He looked with me and came back to my bike where it
was Superglued and almost hanging on the side of the ridge crest, and then just looked at me, and then back at the obstacle. We
decided that there was no way we were going to make it back up the ridge, no matter what we did or how hard we tried. We had
given it our all to get one bike past one obstacle, and still had another bike to get past both trouble spots. We were dangerously
close to losing the KTM to the Singularity and we were becoming dehydrated fast. We moved to get off the ridge, and decided
that "handlebar or no handlebar" we were stuck reconsidering the all-downhill-only options, period. Our “UP-climbing” day was
We anchored and slid and braked and engine-compressioned and slid and scared and swung and slid and re-anchored, and got that
KTM turned around off that red face of a dirt cliff below the exfoliation, and doubled up on that bike for all we were worth to
get it manhandled back down through the first obstacle. We split up at a point near where Don's bent, broken and splinted
Yamaha lay waiting for him (now facing the wrong way as we were retreating), and I manhandled my bike on my own now, through
thick sage and over loose dirt and rocks. Grabbing up my helmet again, I kick-started the bike from the uphill side, then
continued to struggle with clutch fanning and bush bashing until I reached a point about 50 feet downhill and safe to remount
away from the last nasty obstacle - that took about 15 minutes. I was nearing collapse from the heat and effort, and knew deep
down that whatever my future held, if there was going to be a future, it would have to be without this heat. It was time to
hit the silk and bail out from this line, even if it meant catapulting myself off this ridge and into a creek bottom. At least there,
even with a flail chest and broken bones, I could be cool in the shade of some willow tree. Maybe a badger would happen by and
piss on my forehead or something, anything to take the edge off. It all sounded good to me, so when I caught up with Don back
at McGuyver's Saddle, we only rested a couple of minutes before heading down. We had already decided which of the ravines to
enter, and through process of elimination had ruled out the ridge we were on, we elected not to follow it down, even though game
trail disappeared down that ridge. We also elected not to take the steeper ravine. Since we couldn't side hill up and contour out
with Don's broken bars, we headed off into the only remaining option, and it didn't look that good. We theorized that we might
make the highway in a few hours, but I thought to myself we would be lucky to make it home at all that night. Luck indeed.
It was 6:00 pm, and we had spent almost 2 hours thrashing on that uphill attempt. We aimed our bikes single file, Don first so I
could see where his pieces went when he crashed from makeshift handlebar failure. Down into the ravine we went, leaving the hot
anvil of McGuyver's Saddle behind us above.
For an hour we bashed and slid, crashed and banged our way down that slope and toward the creek bottom. Toward the end, we
were nearing our own ends. We hardly ran the bikes at all; it did more harm to our efforts than good. The only time I ran it was
once when there was only moderation to the slope where I thought I could gain some ground by riding, and maybe get a rest from
the pushing, sliding tugging and front braking. The second was for about 30 seconds while motoring through a bog near the bottom,
right above the creek. Other than that, it was a downright nasty thrash and a scary combination of engine compression braking,
tail-sliding and front braking to maneuver those bikes down. How Don got that thing down in two pieces (his bar splints failed after
he let the bike tip over, standing in a relatively benign spot, exhausted and taking a break - he just let the bike fall out of his
hands and it landed square onto the repair, kaput), I'll never know.
Viking Man sure had his day with reefing on that crossbar and using engine compression only to manhandle that XT - he had no
way to access the front brake and the terrain was horrendous for hikers on foot, let alone a guy with a wrecked and
brake-disabled dirt bike. Sheeesh. Halfway down that ravine I bet he wished anything he was floating away on that fiery funeral
barge in some far away fjord of his ancestral homeland. I know his forearm was wishing for anything other than its assigned task
of continually mashing on the crossbar and reefing that bike into the hill, trying to keep the whole mass of metal and plastic and
Viking meat from rushing downhill into a Singularity. (Vikings by nature hate daiquiris.)
We finally arrive at the creek bottom after an eternity of battle with brambles and willow/aspen thickets, bogs and tree roots.
I find myself battered and nearly physically beaten toward the end of the down slope struggle as I fight my way through willow
saplings as thick as hair on a dog and as high as twice my height. The bike almost refuses forward motion as we tangle together
in a merciless struggle against the pliant willow branches, up to my knees in webs of branches. The branches catch under the
brake and shift levers, getting lodged between them and the frame and halting progress until I manage to free the current mess,
and again I do this, and again. The spokes and swingarm and chain are all wound up in the same mad choreography as we struggle
and struggle toward the sound of trinkling water, all the while still sucking on what's left in my camelback. At long last, I make
the creek bottom, and still it is no great welcome…
The creek itself is entirely overgrown, having entered into it so far upstream as to be nearing the headwaters with thick
undergrowth of steep, shaded ravine. I am now in water and rocks with slippery uneven footing, manhandling a motorcycle still
laden with fuel and tools and parts. I’m wearing boots exceptionally well suited to riding, but not to walking (on just about any
surface, let alone one with creek goo). I've also been wearing my kidney belt, chest protector and jersey all day, and with the
camelback and spares on my back I've been without decent ventilation for about forever. It's feeling like about time to get rid
of the bike..... but I love this damned thing!
I'm calling out to Don now, whom I'd abandoned to his own line down through the Aspens above. I had decided that he didn't
have a chance trying any way other than the way he was going, as he had no real braking opportunity save for the masochism he
had to commit to in letting the trees do that work for him. "Fuck that", I remember thinking to myself, as I let him slip past me
into the shallow forest drowned in sunlight, and on toward the creek bottom from above. Like the scene in the movie “Titanic,” I
watched Don glide into the saplings with no front brake, tugging at the clutch side of his bars and then the crossbar, bashing and
huffing and squeezing and shuffling in his work boots and his t-shirt and his jeans; an unspoken farewell as he drifted down into
the abyss, surrounded and then engulfed by saplings and sweat. I spied a different line and laid in a new heading for the KTM.
"Flood tubes 3 and 4, and open outer doors" as it were - and I prosecuted my solution to the bottom, Neptune’s spiny trident
taunting me with tines all the way into my destiny toward Davy Jones’ Locker in the creek bed.
After a couple of minutes calling out for Don, (I couldn't see more than a foot or two ahead of me, and only UP at that), I heard
a call back in reply, but I couldn't tell exactly which direction the voice came from in return. I finally broke through enough
branches to a spot in the creek where I could see downstream a few feet farther. From there I could see Don, standing on a
steep rocky bank above the creek, about 60 yards or so away. A few minutes later he had found me in the thicket, standing in
the stream wearing my Alpinestar Tech8 riding boots, (Italian made - good fitting), with water running over them past my ankles
and my sagging eyeballs hanging out of their sockets. I was pretty near spent!
One last determined effort brought me and the KTM close to the bank where Don was standing, and he helped me push my bike
with the throttle "ON" over a meander and I cut across one last section of stream before expending my last bit of will to
continue on with the bike. For today, perhaps forever at that point - the bike was superglued to the face of the planet, and
neither one of us would move it further. Dan's bike was about 75 yards downstream, as he had entered the creek bottom
further ahead of me a few minutes before I had. It was so thick with understory and deadfall that we couldn't see or hear
each other at all even though we were separated by at most 150 yards. We had reached the bottom in one piece, each of us,
and the bikes would still survive, but they weren't coming out with us.
I propped the bike up where it sat in the creek, water gently washing over the rims, only that deep to the side of the stream,
and let it stand there against the steep rock bank. I removed my helmet and took another suck off the camelback tube, and
decided to bring my helmet with me. My thought was that a bear or rodents would get the helmet liner and trash it, attracted
by the salt in it. For that matter, oddly, it occurred to me that the damned critters might even go after the seat for the same
reason. I chuckled at that - I wasn't about to dismantle my motorcycle and strap the seat to my back out of fear of a bear
eating it. Hell, Don might see that and try to ride me out and then where would that leave me?
It was 7:00 pm. I abandoned my brand new, 2000 KTM300EX/C, $6200.00 motorcycle, and we set off on foot.
We sloshed through creek crossing after creek crossing. For miles we clamored over rocks and downed logs. We wriggled our way
through standing deadfall and overgrown game trails and finally came to a road, a Jeep road. Sign said "Red Creek" and pointed
upstream toward the direction we had just come from. Well, at least we now knew where we had been. Now we just need to get
home. We figured we could find our ways back to the bikes when the time came. For now, it was all out for home.
The day has gotten way past long, and as it is we are overdue for home. Our wives and family members are going to start to
wonder where we are and whether or not something has gone amiss. We’ve got a long way to go to get back to civilization and I’m
already feeling spent, physically. The dehydration hasn’t helped. A foggy though crosses my mind about how I am going to be able
to perform on the job tomorrow with another Monday back at work. Don might be thinking similar thoughts as well, and I wonder
what is on his mind about it. We’ve both put forth an all out effort just to get down off that mountain and we both need to get
back to work in the morning, and nightfall will be upon us before we even make a paved road. Maybe very late at night at the
rate we’re going to be able to muster.
We walked and walked and walked. IT was mostly uphill, honest. We bumped into a couple of guys on horseback, with five dogs.
They were sheep herders, tending a large flock grazing out in the forest. They asked us if we had seen any sheep and we said
"No", we had left our motorcycles and were walking out from deep in the forest and they just turned around and rode away,
walking their horses. They blazed away at a pace in comparison with ours that it left us speechless, which was just as well as we
had become so dehydrated that wasting the air and moisture in our lungs and across our lips was an ordeal anyway. We had even
broken down and drank untreated stream water, a practice I had given up even as a kid some 25 years ago, out of fear of
contracting giardia. That was a precaution though, this day I could not afford to take. We drank like criminals and had soaked
our crusty heads under water and refilled our camelbacks and marched on out of that Red Creek drainage.
After slogging some more miles, through sheep-infested forest with the air filled with dirt from trampling sheep feets, the sheep
herders came upon us again, this time from the rear. Now before anybody goes and gets any ideas about 2 lonely Mexican sheep
herders coming upon us from the rear at twilight, well - let me just rephrase that... They rode up to us and dismounted and just
handed us the reins, and in very broken English they explained to us very manky looking NorteAmericanos that it was indeed,
"no problem, please take our horse, ride it to our home, not far away by the highway - no problem, you ride, we walk...". I
didn't say a thing but looked the short Mexican straight in the eye and asked him to please hold my helmet. He took my helmet
and handed me the reins of his horse, and I just looked at that horse and the horse didn't look back at me. I looked at the
Mexican and asked him to please hold the horse by the halter while I tried to get on, as I didn't know if I "could do it right".
He did, he said, "You do good!", and I mounted up.
Don was already in the other saddle as I leaned back against the tree in that caballeros leather rig, and thumbed the pommel
with my left hand. "Good boy" I dryly whispered to my new friend, the brown horse, whom I thought I should name,
"brown horse"; and "gidyap" I nudged with the heels of my Tech8's. We launched into a nice rolling plod which lasted about
another 45 minutes to an hour. We reached the highway at around 9:45 pm and bid farewell to all of our new friends, the sheep
herders and their 5 dogs, and the two brown horses. I named Don's brown horse, "brown horse" also, so there would be no
As my horse plodded along in the dark, it occurred to me that we are both going to be sorely tempted to call in sick at work, but
that’s a little bit of a problem since we both work at the same place. It’s a small business and we both hold key positions, and
either the absence of either of us, especially at such short notice is going to have an impact. I hope I can recover in the hours
remaining before Monday morning check in at the shop… Don too – he’s clearly as beat as I am, and I know he’s not happy about
the prospect of either of us having to face a long, hard day at the salt mines in the morning.
But, at least we are alive, and it feels like we’re going to make it!
We hitchhiked and got a ride within 5 minutes. There are a great many caring country souls here. We were delivered directly to
Don's house in Victor, whereupon he commenced to make the first phone call of the evening. I made my call and we jumped into
Don's truck to make the ride back to my truck some 20 miles away to the north.
I got home at 11:00m, and had a nice Chinese dinner waiting for me, reheated by my lovely wife, Dorothy, who had spent a
couple of hours anxiously waiting for word from me or about me that I was okay, and coming home. I got to give her that news,
and I am glad to be able to say 'Thank God I’m Home!" once again. Best Chinese dinner I ever had - General Tsao's Chicken,
with a Won Ton soup starter. Dorothy is my best friend, and I'll be glad when she and I are riding bikes again together. But
that’s for another day, another adventure…
There’s no mention of calling in “sick” tomorrow, and neither Don nor I are regretting just being alive and back in civilization after
such a grueling day dealing with the hot, exhausting day in the bushes. Getting rehydrated and some rest are top priorities for
both of us right now, that – and making our best apologies to our wives for putting them into positions of worry.
Monday morning dawns and as the early light rears its’ ugly head, it’s a bedraggled Stovey who greets the day, and takes
another shower to warm and loosen a body full of tight, twisted muscles, banged bones and raw sinew. Don is at work, and he’s
beat. His eyes are red and look like two piss-holes in the snow. A backslap or two later and a smile brings forth the inevitable
round table of war stories that follow, off and on all day. Usually, after the predictable jaw-drops from our coworkers and the
occasional customer who overhears a story in progress, the equally predictable and well-earned comments of “what a couple of
dumb-asses!” erupt, with beaming grins and shaking heads. Chuckle after chuckle all day long. Especially under the circumstances
with our bikes ditched in the timer-surrounded creek bed, there is some notable ironic humor to our survival, knowing that we
need to get back out there and recover those two-wheeled adventure machines. The fires are closing trailheads left and right,
and the US Forest Service is closing area forests altogether due to the rising fire danger and to keep the public away from
firefighting efforts that are building full on.
Well, this experience has provided lessons to keep learning from for years to come, for sure. I’m just lucky the boss didn’t give
us shit for being so tired and wiped out all day long afterward. He could have, but he just didn’t. I know I appreciated that, a
lot. And if he did, I might have just reminded Don that he did, after all, volunteer to go this ride, and it was HIS idea to go on
that downhill trail into oblivion. Our boss at the company had little to say about the whole thing other than, “Stovey, the next
time you take me out in the bushes like that, well – there won’t be any NEXT TIME, you dumb-ass!”
So we just concentrated on getting the rest of the day. The rest of the work week was spent periodically organizing our recovery
plan to get into the forest and get those two bikes out of there.
Flash forward to Friday evening, at the end of the week, and …tomorrow is our 14th weeding anniversary and we're heading back
out into the woods to go get the bike, right after work. We'll set up camp and drink champagne and spend the night dodging forest
fires, then get up on Saturday morning and hike the rest of the way back up Red Creek, and bring that iron home. Don and his
boys and the neighbor kids are all going, and we're packing in the chainsaw and rope, nylon strap, tools and fuel, and water -
plenty of water! And yes, another set of handlebars....
The only poor development really, has been the fire danger, and the fact that indeed 38 fires were started about 2 days ago,
from the passing of just one dry thunderstorm. Smoke has been filling our little valley here all week long, and a new storm is
building for more of the same without rainfall in sight. We need to get in and get out, before they close the access points for
fire fighting and what all else. The adventure continues...
Do Grizzly Bears Bark?
Yes, apparently they do............
Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
Submarine Stories, Moab, Quicksand and Radioactivity
Do you really need
a mask and a snorkel to ride a dirt bike across the Utah desert? Probably not,
but there was a ride when that stuff would have come in
mighty handy. Oh and as
an aside, quicksand is not a myth – the crap actually exists. Mask and snorkel
would only have prolonged the agony of a demise in
this miasma, but luckily for
one intrepid adventurer (apparently blind to it prior to entering the mire,)
the solution was as handy as the problem. Also, for what
it might be worth,
“yellowcake” is not a Twinkie that just fell out of some guy’s pack who was
riding ahead of you, so don’t pick it up. Radioactivity will only
foul up the
ignition map on your CDI, and probably not improve digestion of the
mega-burrito you’ve been toting around for the past 18 miles, looking for a
to snap that steamer.........
If you do 4 laps on it, does that make it a
Tire Irons and Why "J.R." is one Cast-Iron Son-of-a-Gun
Yes, you can change a ratty old Dunlop D606 into a brand
new D606 with some irons, and they come in awfully handy when you get into an
kickbox against a steel belted Motosteel Terraflex. But did
you know that a set of spoons also makes for a handy makeshift set of field
instruments? Neither did I..............
When faced with choking to death
or finding a way to clear an airway obstruction, and the only tools at hand are
a rock, a cactus spline and a tire iron, the
mind races to fill the void. Since
nature abhors a vacuum, and J.R. wanted to get that nagging feeling in the back
of his throat taken care of, one man stepped
up (while the other genuflected as
only a true desperado in that situation might do) and tried to get the job
.........the “Doctor” will see
St. Peter in a dump truck, can
this be for real?
Buzzards Ride Unadilla
That’s correct – the REAL Unadilla.........
Captain came to me one
day in 2003, and he got his name from the way he rode a motorcycle.
Five of us were riding dirt bikes across the Northern
prow of the
Bighole Mountains in the Targhee National Forest when I came to a stop
at an intersection on a dirt road. I was waiting for the rest
posse to catch up with me and then make our turn toward the Hot Springs
where we were all headed for burgers. As I shut my engine off
there, this little puppy came running
across the dirt road toward me. He was pretty small, but took many
strides, as big and as fast as he
could, coming out of a steep and deep
canyon, heading straight at me. There I sat in the saddle, wearing
my full battle rattle, and this little dog ran
up to me on my bike and
jumped right onto my seat, and fell, or rather bounced back off. He
tried again, and this time I leaned down and caught
his attempt as he
clambered and crawled into my arms and sprawled himself across my tank,
his furry little butt in my lap. As the rest of the posse
there we were on the side of the road, together. He had a flea collar
on so tight he could hardly breath, and he was wagging his tail
something fierce, and just licking me and wagging and smiling a little
puppy dog "smile." He put his paws up onto the crossbar and hunkered
down on that tank and looked up at me. We tried putting him inside
Andy's backpack which he had emptied out and swung around Biafran style
across his chest, in the hope he might stay inside it while we rode
down to the Hot Springs, where we hoped to drop him off and
find his owner,
if he might have one there who was missing a cute
little pup. Once he got inside the pack, he just jumped back out and
tumbled down onto the
road, and ran back across to me and jumped back
up into my arms and placed his paws onto my cross bar, waiting -
and wagging. And smiling
and looking up at me through my goggles and a
black full face Bell Moto6. He couldn't even see my face! With his
paws on the bars like maybe
the way a ship's captain might lean upon the wheel of his
ship as he steered across a distant ocean toward foreign shores, the
little pup stayed
put while I held onto him with one arm, and I got the
bike re-lit. I couldn't work both the dog and the clutch, so Travis
stood alongside me and
ran the clutch and got me into gear and shoved
us off, and I rode off one-handed down the road; dog on the tank, paws
on the bars, little furry
ears flapping in the 50-mph wind! I'll make
a longer story short by ending here with; we've been together ever
since. My little Captain.