Continental Divide – Finale

This post should conclude our CDR trip. It was really fun putting the story in print and I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. This is the final post of a four post series. Look at the menu on the right to navigate to the beginning if you want. We love seeing all the comments and appreciate the personal e-mails, thanks. We have more trips planned but nothing epic on the little bikes for now. We leave in two days for another GPS Kevin adventure on the big bikes (F750GS and Africa Twin). It seems like another Mexico trip is in the works, we’ll see what form that takes….

The ride home

So, if you count from the time we left home in August and included the time taking care of the broken fuel pump, we were almost a full month into this trip. We love riding but for some reason as we start for home we start putting in more miles per day. Get-home-itus. September 6 was no exception. We rode 328 miles from Kremmling through the Park Range in northern Colorado Stopped for lunch in Steamboat Springs and made tracks north for Wyoming. Before we knew it we were back in Rawlins but this time for only a brief stop before continuing north. A little way out of town we picked up a dirt road on the CDR that we skipped on the way south because of the torrential downpour.

It was sandy… and took us a while to transition our riding skills from rocky hill climbing techniques to Baja style sand riding but we managed and it was fun.

Loose, straight, fast, deep sand roads,

After about 30 miles of that excitement, we were back on the pavement where we decided to skirt along the north side of the Great Basin Divide on highway 789 into Lander for the night.

The next day was another 300+ mile trek. From Lander, we rode out of our way heading south to South Pass. We loved the section from South Path to Boulder so much we wanted to do it again, I’m glad we did. This time I took a few pictures.

Fall colors on display at Sinks Canyon State Park

I checked the weather app on my phone in Lander, it looked ominous.

Did I have that right?? 90 degrees at the time but Winter Storm Watch??

I filed that information in the back of my mind as we made our own CDR detour on a most excellent paved road to Sinks Canyon State Park and then continued on an extremely fun gravel road through the Freak Mountains. We switch-backed up to over 9,000 feet at Fiddlers Lake before dropping down to the highway and South Pass. The dirt road through the Prospect Mountains was spectacular, fast and smooth with plenty of beautiful vistas except for the dark clouds ahead.

We were making good time getting to Pinedale just after 1:00 and rode north into Grand Teton National Park. The route through the National Park was slow with traffic, and it started to rain. Heading North just before the entrance to Yellowstone, the route cuts West onto another favorite track of ours, this time it was getting colder and the rain was getting worse. Something was blowing in…. The wind picked up and soon we were coming upon down trees across the path. Were those snow flakes?? At one point we came to a downed tree that was way beyond my ability to move. A truck approached from the other side. He had a chain and tried to move it but it wouldn’t budge. I really didn’t want to go back to the crowded National Park, and we probably wouldn’t find a hotel anyhow, I was starting to get worried. I wish I would have thought to take a few pictures but my hands were freezing and I didn’t feel like messing around with my phone.

We got around. Deby and I stomped through the woods at the edge of the road and by breaking branches and knocking down small trees made a route around the tree. It was tricky riding but we made it. The truck turned around.

The weather was getting worse. It was late afternoon when we dropped off the mountain into Ashton, Idaho. Population 833, in other words not much. We had a reservation for the night in Island Park, Idaho only 27 miles away to the north at the cozy Sawtelle Mountain Resort. We knew it was nice because it was the same hotel where we stayed at on the way down. Twenty seven miles, we could do it… we were cold, it was raining, and the visibility was sinking to zero through our fogged up face shields. We stopped at the corner gas station to try to warm up before heading north.

We actually warmed our hands on the hot dog rack in the picture. It didn’t really work.

Later I learned we were heading up “Ashton Hill”, a local website had the following warning, “Be prepared for sudden thunderstorms accompanied by lightning, hail, and strong winds during the summer season. Falling trees under these conditions are not unusual. Also, be alert for deer, elk, or moose on or near the highways.” It started to snow….

Deby and I were both raised in Wisconsin, we know about snow and have driven extensively in snow. I’ve even ridden motorcycles in snow more than a few times but this was bad. It started as a few flakes but as we climbed Ashton Hill the flakes got “thicker” as they say and came down harder. Soon I was on the side of the road riding slowly with our turn signals on hoping cars would see us, and avoid running us over. We both had to ride with one hand and use our other frozen fingers to constantly wipe our face shields to even see a little bit. It was dark and dangerous.

I pulled over after 10 miles for a discussion with Deby, who was doing a great job following behind. We were 1/3 of the way to the hotel, still riding uphill, it was getting colder and the snow was now probably 4 inches deep on the roadway.

I’ve done some crazy things in my day and cheated death probably more times than need be, but this was just too dangerous and I said we were turning around. There wasn’t much argument from Deby. We slipped and slid the 10 miles downhill back to Ashton and pulled into the only hotel I saw, the Fishing Bear Lodge.

The Fishing Bear Lodge from Google Street View

We were a sight as we both dragged our soaking wet bodies into the small lobby of the motel (lodge??). They had one room left. I told the very nice woman behind the counter that I would take it and actually said I didn’t care how much it cost. I suspect that comment cost me at least $50.00 but I didn’t care. We didn’t get a refund at the hotel in Island Park so it was an expensive night.

We both warmed up with long hot showers before we ventured out looking for food. In short…. nothing was open so we went back to the same gas station pictured above and bought gas station food for dinner. Hmm, did we even have lunch? Chips, cheese, some processed mystery meat and liquid pork chops (beer, in case you skipped the other posts).

Final Day….

It was cold in the morning but dry we decided to make the 200 mile run back to Michael’s house via the shortest route possible. We climbed one last 9,000 foot pass and worked through the biting cold in our hands. We made a brief stop at the Klim riding gear world headquarters in Rigby, Idaho hoping to buy some warmer gloves but their showroom was closed due to Covid. Bummer.

In Idaho Falls we cut West towards our destination of Hailey and the wind picked up. We spent the next 150 miles getting blown around on the little bikes while trying to keep up freeway speeds on two lane highway 20. We blasted past the Craters of the Moon National Preserve where on any other day we would have stopped to explore the landscape, but we were on a mission and it was soon accomplished. We were at Michael and Dee Dee’s inviting home in time for some real food and hot showers. We made it.

So that’s it, the story that needed to be told. In retrospect it was really fun with lots of challenges. Like I said, we did the CDR back in 2012 almost 10 years ago but things change, the route changes, the roads change, we change. Will I do it again?? Ha, ask me in another 10 years when I’m in my 70’s.

Thanks for following this crazy blog. You never know what will be next….

Donn and Deby

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