Kelowna, BC to the Beartooth Pass, WY - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-24-2015, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Cool Kelowna, BC to the Beartooth Pass, WY

I've wanted to "do" this ride for some time. Chatting w/ a neighbor who rides a Ducati 1100, I mentioned it, and he said "Let's go!"

We talked a bit, and I decided to wear 'mesh' gear, w/ my rain-gear to cover the mesh for rain AND for low-temps IF they happened (it's been about 36C - 97F - for quite awhile here) then we left on the 16th August at 1130 hours, the scenic route planned, so up to Vernon on BC 97, then E on BC 6 to the Needles Ferry to cross Arrow Lake.






The route from the ferry goes N to Nakusp, then S towards New Denver, where BC 31A to Kaslo is considered to be the Canadian version of the Dragon, where we turned E on 31A. There are LOTS of turns, all among the trees, but I believe that other roads close to where I live are BETTER...!
At Kaslo we turned S on BC 31 to the Balfour Ferry, JUST missing the 1630 one, so while we waited for the 1720 I spied another Versy - an '08 ridden by Devon (who'd just bought it a few months before) - and chatted w/ him, mentioning this site.


1720 arrived, ferry loaded,



and across Kootenay Lake we went.





arriving at Crawford Bay a short time later.



From there there's a very nice twisty road (BC 3A) to Creston, where we found a tent-site on the E edge of town. The weather had been good, comfortable temps, and the day had added 457 kms (283 miles) to my odometer, altho' there were forest fires just on the NW side of town, and in the far S.



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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 05:48 AM
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Thanks for the pictures...I would also like to be there now.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 09:59 AM
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I will have to burn down your way and try this ride. Just bought (8/19)a Suzuki 2011 GSX 650F with 750 KM on it last Tuesday rode it down to Vernon to see family and friends logging 1850 kms. Nice bike steady power incredible fairing with no helmet buffet and no wind anywhere on torso and legs. Looks like a crotch rocket but has an upright riding position with a little more forward lean the my old body likes. Price was too good too pass up. Prefer the sit in feel of my Versys vs the sit on of the GSX
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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17 Aug - Creston, BC to Choteau, MT

I was up-and-out at 0600, got the stove busy boiling water while I shaved and cleaned my teeth, then started breaking camp as my 'cup o' noodles' steeped.



Pretty soon my breakfast was eaten, the coffee finished, then everything 'lashed' onto the GREEN HORNET TOO, then E on the Crowsnest Hwy (BC 3) in sunshine and warmth.



John needed some 'brekkie', so we stopped at "Tims" in Fernie so he could 'load-up'. Met my wife on the ski-hill there..., just out of the frame left.



We rode E into Alberta, filled up w/ some "cheap" gas (at least - cheap compared w/ BC......) turning S thru Pincher Creek towards the Rockies on AB 6





Waterton Nat'l Park is near the middle where you can see a 'dip' in the mountains, RIGHT here!



Our plan was to enter the US at the Chief Mountain crossing nearby...



but first we needed to ride by all this beauty...!









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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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After another pic of the two bikes



and some questions from the Customs officer, we were heading S on MT 17, then S on MT 89 which is a GREAT motorcycle road!





with MORE stupendous views...



onto MT 49 to East Glacier, another great riding road, then we transitioned back onto MT 89 to Choteau, the planned camping for that night.

MANY years ago on my FIRST ride thru Montana I had gotten VERY muddy between Shelby and Sweetgrass when my Triumph slid-out several times in the deep mud. The highway department 'used' to tear-up the WHOLE hwy - BOTH sides! - and then do repaving all at once. My hope was that the practice had matured to something better, but then THIS



became THIS



and we could see a 'watering-truck' just going over the hill,



turning 89 into a quagmire. A motorcyclist coming towards us after the 'pilot-vehicle' yelled "FOUR miles!" as he went by.

He was right, and as we started (the vehicles in OUR line had graciously allowed us to the front of the line, ahead of them) we both were standing on the foot-pegs for the whole run, much of which was pretty NASTY!


Eventually we reached Choteau, and after some SEARCHING (the roads in town were being repaved, again using a pilot vehicle to lead us thru......) we turned into a pretty nice campground, and set-up.



an earlier resident's "accommodation" showing in this pic.



We had picked up a bit of mud, but being at the front of the line... NOT a lot!



The weather had been pretty fair, but the cloud-cover was increasing as we settled in for the night, another 619 kms (384 miles) behind us. I wondered what TOMORROW would bring, the clouds increasing, the temps lowering....
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-26-2015, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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18 Aug - Choteau to Red Lodge, MT....

We were up early, to see overcast skies and quite cool temps - Oh crap! I had worn my mesh gear, but counted on my rain-gear to keep me warm, or dry, as necessary, and today was THE DAY for it!!!

Made breakfast, broke camp, got everything strapped onto GREEN HORNET TOO, then rode to the road where we were greeted by a sign telling us to "WAIT FOR PILOT VEHICLE". The campground was about a half mile from either end of the re-paving, so our wait would have been LO-O-ONG, but John looked left-and-right, then turned right, over to the left lane which was wearing a fresh 4" layer of asphalt, bypassing the equipment in the right lane as they were laying down 4" THERE!

Pulled into a gas station in Choteau (luckily under cover......) as it started pouring rain while I filled up, then we headed S onto MT 287 to where it intersected w/ MT 200, John leading, then his right signal went on.... I pulled beside him, pointing out that THAT would turn us W, away from where we were going. He pointed out that W WAS correct, as we rode secondary paved roads rather than the "slab"....

About 26 miles down 200 (in the rain......), to the sign for the right turn onto MT 279 to just W of Helena, and we turned.

An 'aside' - this road is PROBABLY the twistiest and up-and-down road I've EVER ridden (you Montana guys - IF you haven't ridden it YET... get out there and TRY it - preferably when it's NOT raining!... - - -), and it would SURE have been nice to actually SEE it...!

We stopped for gas and supplies (John had breakfast) at a Safeway, then back headed E on MT 287, transferring to MT 12 at Townsend (where we went thru another 'bout' of road repair, but NOT as bad as yesterday's...), and S on 89 for 8 miles, then left again, onto 294 where I FINALLY took my camera out for two pics.





A right turn put us back onto MT 12 which we followed to a right turn onto MT 3 towards Billings. The GPS route planned us to turn W just N of Billings (to bypass the city traffic), but when we got to the intersection, and flashing red-blue lights w/ an LEO stopping any turns, so S into Billings we went. Bit of a SNAFU there, and, FINALLY, 45 minutes later we transitioned to MT 212 to Red Lodge, in-and-out of showers all the way!

The map showed a campground there, so when we saw the KOA sign a few miles before Red Lodge, we stopped to chat. John wanted to get some supper, so I rode into the KOA, got us a site then started putting my tent up. The skies were quite dark, so when a fellow came over to talk about the Versys, I said that until the tent was up I couldn't spare time to talk.

About half way thru the process the skies "opened" again, but it only rained a couple of minutes before the sun broke thru and I got my camp set!



Warmed my chili, ate it, then John arrived to put up his tent.



The skies cleared, then darkened, then cleared again, so we were hopeful that tomorrow would bring BETTER weather, so off to bed!



Today had added another 633 kms (392 miles).

Ed
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-26-2015, 02:53 PM
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Very nice.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 11:37 AM Thread Starter
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19 August - Beartooth Pass, WY to Cameron, MT

Up at 0700 - EUREKA!!! - blue skies and NO clouds!



A cold front went thru during the night (after dumping a "bit" more rain), so it was cool and clear. To celebrate, we broke camp w/out my stove getting used, then rode into Red Lodge to a HUGE breakfast of grease and coffee, then W again on MT 212, soon into the Pass.







And some SERIOUSLY twisty roads...



and on a scale of ONE to TEN, that road is DEFINITELY a TEN!









There's even what appears to be a dirt version of the road on the W side of the range....



We're getting SERIOUSLY high now, too!



Last night's rain in Red Lodge was a 'skim' of snow up here.





This the HIGHEST I've ever been - on the ground (probably never higher than 6,500' hunting in the Alberta Rocky Mountains) - exceeded in aircraft, of course!


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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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MORE HIGH country...

This is definitely "high arctic alpine",



reminding me of the times I operated in the "Far North" in RCAF C-130s (or dived in the Arctic Ocean Arion......)



but now, looking into Montana we were starting to see smoke.



I arrived at the marker before John did



and an Oriental tourist took this shot for me



followed by this one when John joined me



then we began the LO-O-ONG downhill.







MORE smoke showing further W...







w/ Cooke City and the E entrance to Yellowstone Park to the right, just past the two jagged peaks in these pics.







Cooke City is just around the next bend, and this was a good time to remove my rain-gear which had kept me warm, but no longer needed.




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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 12:11 PM
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Nice Nice NICE !!!!!

Thanks for sharing !!!

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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 12:22 PM Thread Starter
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Yellowstone and SMOKE!

We originally had planned thru Dead Indian Pass on WY 296, then back to 212 to Cooke City, but ran into a HUGE number of bicyclists going the same way. We'd hoped that they would turn back when the road started climbing but, no such luck, and when we were stopped at a road construction near the Pass, decided to do a 180 and get the heck outta there! The bikers were decidedly UNSAFE, riding into the narrow two-lane road, from the shoulder, making our passage quite dangerous.

Soon we stopped at the E gates to Yellowstone, and while John coughed-up $25 to get in, I used my "old-timers-get-into-national-parks-FREE" card.

In a few miles the road was TOTALLY blocked by tourists trying to get pics of a cow-elk in the shadows, across a river......, but we rode by, soon seeing this on our way W to Montana.













Soon thru the W gates, we gassed up at West Yellowstone, then continued N on MT 191 a few miles to MT 287, then NW to Cameron, our planned campsite. The smoke was getting increasingly bad, and I was thankful we'd had such GREAT weather over Beartooth!





We stopped here.



When the owner told us that as well as dark beer on-tap, the supper special was "baby-back-ribs", I decided to NOT use something from here...





but from HERE... the Blue Moon Saloon. AWESOME ribs, BTW!



Still LOTS of smoke





as we got ready to turn-in for the night.







Today had added another 446 kms (277 miles), lower mostly because of the beauty in Beartooth Pass, but also congestion in Yellowstone.



Incidentally - the bartender told us that there were 101 wild-fires burning in Montana at that time...!

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We originally had planned thru Dead Indian Pass on WY 296
Another great trip! I miss your mooses though...

Not much of a camper, so this may sound dumb, but do you have to find camp grounds out there or do you just find a dry piece of land and pitch a tent out that way?
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Beautiful Photos Ed and looks like an amazing ride..

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Do you use a pad to sleep on and if so which one? Thanks and keep the trips coming.


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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-28-2015, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Another great trip! I miss your mooses though...

Not much of a camper, so this may sound dumb, but do you have to find camp grounds out there or do you just find a dry piece of land and pitch a tent out that way?
You CAN, but in "bear country" (which is MOST of where I ride up N...), a commercial campground gives bears MORE choices, so, LESS chance of becoming an 'appetizer'....


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Beautiful Photos Ed and looks like an amazing ride..
Always happy to share w/ you, Joe! You should give WY a chance....

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Do you use a pad to sleep on and if so which one? Thanks and keep the trips coming....
I have a Coleman 2" that IS nice, but it's too bulky, so I bought a 1"... can't remember the brand, but IF you really want to know, PM me and I'll check... which allows me to use a smaller 'canoe-bag'.


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20 Aug - Cameron to Libby, MT

Smokey as hell at wake-up!



Got out the stove, boiled water while I shaved, brushed my teeth, then ate another 'noodle-cup' w/ coffee-chaser, then broke camp. On the road at 0800, via MT 287 N to MT 12 to Helena





altho', watching carefully, I was able to establish at WHAT mileage the first 'fuel-segment' emptied and took a pic



Don't forget that I fill my tank RIGHT to the top of the tank AS LONG AS I'll ride at least 20 miles before stopping...! Gets about another 1.1 L more than stopping when the fuel gets to the bottom of the fuelling 'tube'. Then we stopped for "gas'n'grub" at Safeway in Helena again.



After that we re-traced (a BIT!) our earlier ride there, going W on MT 12 to junction 141, NW to 200





then we transitioned to MT 83, a "scenic" highway () heading NW towards Flathead Lake, but, other than trees - the "hills" obscured in smoke...! - all we saw were several lakes, eight wild turkeys, and a dead deer on the shoulder.



We came up on Whitefish, looking for an "Information" place to check the fire situation, found none then headed W on MT 2 to camp at Libby, after checking the 'info' guys at Lone Pine State Park, who weren't much help, except telling us that NOW there were 125 wildfires active in the state. It was finally getting HOT, so we stopped by a lake, dropped our tee-shirts into it, then re-dressed - COOL at last!

I've read lots about Libby being the center of "anti-government" feeling, expecting to see cowboys carrying Barrett .50 'sniper rifles' everywhere!

I was surprised to not even see ONE... ..., so we found a nice campground, and I started getting my tent up while John went for a cafe..., and dinner.



And I started cooking MINE.



Today had added 664 kms (412 miles), and we HOPED to get out of all the smoke tomorrow!

Ed
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post #18 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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21 Aug - Libby, MT to home!

While taking down our tents we discussed the routes we could follow depending on the forest-fire situation in BC, John favoring via Nakusp and the ferry that we'd used on the first day, so I put that into my GPS which gave an arrival of 1822, but later I just tried selecting it to "take me home" which gave an arrival of 1413 via BC 3 and BC 33 - FOUR hours earlier! EVEN if a fire that had closed BC 33 still had it closed, I figured maybe an hour more via Osoyoos and BC 97, so STILL three hours better, but we'd wait on a decision till getting some up-to-date info on the fires.

We pulled out at 0800 (0700 BC and ID time), VERY smokey at the beginning, riding N thru Idaho, but the smoke lessening as we neared the Canadian border, blue skies and clouds occasionally showing thru the haze.



A few minutes at Customs then we were headed into Creston to check weather reports, but stopped for John's breakfast at Tim Horton's where I saw a 'cherry' '33 Ford Vicky hot-rod



as well as the fires we'd seen on the 16th, STILL in evidence...!



The only reports we got were from some fellows having a coffee. They told us that the Kootenay Pass (on BC 3) was open,



so our "make-a-decision" point became Castlegar, an hour or so ahead. We rode thru a few showers, the temps cool, as I made my mind up that, to save 3 or 4 hours, I was going to continue W, while John indicated he'd go N to Nakusp when we stopped for a 'pee' break after the Pass.

Just S of Castlegar I missed turning N - saw John turning in my mirrors - then did a 180 back to BC 3, but wasn't catching him as I went thru some of the HEAVIEST wind gusts I've ever ridden thru, on the hill descending into Castlegar, just as I became aligned w/ the runway.



IF you can imagine flying from THAT runway... there are some SERIOUS hills all around it! I only ever operated into and out of there once while on a C-130, and it was... interesting...!

The ominous rain-clouds and showers just in the NW of that pic convinced me to stay w/ BC 3, so despite NOT catching up w/ John, I knew he would know where I'd gone (and IF he'd decided to avoid the rain I'd see him again, further W!) as he headed N into the rain.

Just a mile W, outside of town, I rode up to an RCMP cruiser, lights flashing, a tree blown down across all but the left shoulder. I motioned my intent to ride around the tree, he gave me a "thumbs-up", and I was on my way, tho' I stopped a few minutes later, getting back into rain-gear as intermittent showers again began.

A few miles before Christina Lake, at Bonanza Pass, I saw this



then I crossed the bridge to THIS!



Thankfully the road wasn't blocked, and tho' I saw fire-fighters working up the hill from the road, I was able to ride thru. Another bend or two, and I stopped for this view of Christina Lake



with smoke from the Washington state fires in the distance.



Riding thru town I could NOT get over the apparent lack of concern on people's faces, then rode W



thru Grand Forks (where I gassed up), still wondering whether BC 33 would have been opened yet, 74 kms ahead.



A few miles further I saw an old-style ranch, took these pics....







I was close to 33 when I saw five burned-out vehicles at a service center, then rolled up to Rock Creek (NO evidence of fire...!), and saw barriers stopping traffic from going N on 33, THEN evidence of fire everywhere!








Ed
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post #19 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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the REST of 21 August...!

After Rock Creek, the evidence of fires was gone, except for a burned section of trees and grass S of the hwy, where the WA fires had 'jumped-the-border' a week or so back, but I didn't stop for pics



until I arrived at the top of the hill above Osoyoos - smoke from the WA state fires all along the S horizon



as well as one to the N, just above the town of Oliver (NOW 29 Aug - MUCH bigger!).



I looked S again...





then continued down the hill, temps getting MUCH hotter, so I decided I'd stop at the first fruit stand to the N on BC 97 to change out of the rain-gear, which I did (and bought a FRESH peach - M-M-M good!). Got back on GREEN HORNET TOO, rode around the NEXT curve.... Into a shower, so rain-gear BACK ON!...

I rode thru HEAVY rain, plus some lighter showers (so NO pics), then sunny for the bit thru Kelowna rush-hour-traffic to home, finally arriving just after 1615, the day good for 615 kms (381 miles).

The six day trip had covered 3,434 kms (2,129 miles), and I had used 135.8L of fuel (US G converted at 3.78L per US G). The mileage I got was 25.3 km/L. Converted to Imperial - 71.3 mpg; and to US - 57 mpg. Considering that MOST of Montana has speed limits of 70 mph on its paved secondary roads (we avoided ALL interstate "slab"......), PDG I would say....

My '15 650LT used NO oil, the tires were STILL at the 36F, 42R I had set before leaving, and I am quite happy w/ its performance and comfort.

GOOD ride, EXCELLENT destination (Beartooth...), FUN roads when you could SEE them...!


Ed
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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 10-28-2015 at 02:18 PM.
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post #20 of 28 (permalink) Old 08-29-2015, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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FWIW - we have been getting all sort of 'air-advisories' here, due all the forest fires, particularly the WA state ones, and a new fire about 15 miles S of our home. Here are two pics I took yesterday afternoon from our deck





plus a sunset one that illustrates the AMOUNT of color the smoke adds to the skies!



Right now it's raining, so HOPEFULLY that will help fight the fires!

Ed
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Last edited by fasteddiecopeman; 10-28-2015 at 02:21 PM.
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