First things first, I decided to take some advice from Optimus Prime:
Even though I had not planned on being back in Albuquerque until September, the timing worked out pretty well. My birthday was a week away, so I decided to stick around so I could spend it with the family. The down time allowed me to check out Freddy to make sure everything was in order. The only real issue I had to address was his tires. They were starting to show their age, so I decided to put a set of 265/70R-17 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac’s on him. Including shipping, mounting and balancing, they cost a little under a thousand dollars.
If you’ve been following along over the last couple of months, you’ll know that I didn’t spend much time off road while I was riding Overkill. Well, I decided to remedy that. I made my way North towards Colorado and picked up the Trans America Trail as it crossed Engineer Pass.
The eastern side of Engineer Pass was actually pretty easy. The road was in pretty good condition and the switchbacks were big enough that I didn’t have to do a 3-point turn to make them. Going down the western side was a whole different story. The weather had turned and it had started to rain sporadically, just enough to make the trail nice and slippery.
On my way down I caught up to a couple of guys, Austin & Eric from BraveHeartOverland. Austin was kind enough to spot for me as we were traversing the more technical spots. Engineer Pass road is 20.5 miles long and it took about four and a half hours to traverse it, good times.
Eventually the three of us made it to Ouray Colorado and we decided to stop and get something to eat. The next morning the three of us set out bright and early. Austin and Eric decided to take Black Bear Pass, while I chose Imogine Pass. We would rendezvous in Telluride Colorado.
According to the people who decide such things, Engineer Pass is considered a moderately difficult trail, and it’s about as hard core as I wanted to get with Freddy in his current configuration. Black Bear Pass however is considered a hard trail with extremely tight switchbacks that can be a challenge even for tiny Jeep Wranglers.
Imogine Pass is also rated as moderate and I had a great time crawling up it. Jeep Wranglers were a dime a dozen along with side-by-sides and quads. I was the only one who brought a full size Chevy, though there was one guy doing the trail in a Lexus SUV!
After lunch in Telluride, we hit the road and headed towards Moab Utah.
There had been a flash flood the day before we got to Moab. The pool a the KOA we stayed at had been flooded with mud, along with several streets it looks like.
Austin and Eric spent a day or two playing on the trails in the Moab area, but I wanted to be in Portland for the weekend, so on the road I went.
29 days after departing Cape Hatteras, I made it to the Pacific Ocean.
After spending the weekend with a friend and her family in Portland, it was time to start the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route. It is a 575 mile route that starts in Stevenson Washington, on the shores of the Columbia River, and meanders its way though Washington to the Canadian border at Night Hawk.
Day 1 was pretty easy going. The trail wound north through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and wasn’t too difficult.
Day 2 started off pretty easy, but it quickly turned into crawling over 100 miles of rocks and bounders and climbing up and down hills. I passed a couple microwave relay stations along the way and what looked like a Doppler radar station. Probably someone’s weather radar.
It was slow going, but eventually I made it to Ellensburg and got some hot food and a comfy bed for the night.
Day 3 was going pretty well until I came across this landslide. There is a path through the trees, but it’s not big enough for Freddy, not by a long shot. It is easily traversed by motorcycles though as I learned about 5 minutes after running into this obstacle.
The trail is not wide enough for me to turn Freddy around, so I started to slowly back him up until I found a place wide enough for what would likely be a 500 point turn. As I was doing this a couple of guys rolled up on motorcycles, Jim and Tom. I explained why I was backing down the trail and Jim kindly offered to ride back down the trail on his BMW and scout out a place for me to turn around.
While Jim was doing that, a group of 5 guys came across the landslide on their bikes and stopped to chat with Tom and I. Talk about good timing. For 2 and a half days, I’ve seen maybe 4 people on the trail. Then all of the sudden there are 8 of us, all doing the WABDR.
Jim returned shortly and said there was a T-intersection about 200 yards down the road that was plenty big enough for me to turn around on. And then Jim and Tim set about conquering the landslide that had stopped me in my tracks.
It’s just as well that the landslide was there because about 150 yards further up the trail it had washed out. There is definitely not enough road left for me to get Freddy across.
Once all the bikes had cleared out, I backed Freddy down to the intersection, turned around and backtracked to US97 and made my way to the nights camp spot in Leavenworth. From Leavenworth, it’s up to Whidbey Island for a couple days with family, then into Canada!