Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Red Lodge Vacation

With my family in Taiwan I traveled West for a short vacation.  I have been working on getting in better shape, so I hoped to turn my new fitness level into something adventurous.  After finally getting on the road at noon, I realized that I forgot my helmet and needed to turn around and go the 30 minutes home to get it. I left for real at about 1 pm hauling my DR650 on a trailer without lights.

My first stop was in Miles City, Montana.  I was graciously hosted by my Uncle Al and Aunt Lucy.  I woke early and solved my trailer light issue.  Turns out the frame was not working as a ground like it should. Once I added dedicated ground wire I saw the lights.

Al recommended riding in Strawberry Hill Recreation Area.  I experienced solid riding there and on an area gravel roads.

After riding back into Miles City, I hung around with Al and Lucy during the afternoon and stayed for dinner.  Lucy sent a few slices of left-over ham with me for my trip to Red Lodge.

My cousin Chip gave me access to his condo while in Red Lodge.  I looked forward to him joining me later in the week.

My first motorcycle ride was up Hell Roaring Road,  I found the baby-head rocks challenging at first. I dumped twice.  First tipping over into the road and next bonking into the uphill berm beside the road.  Once I learned to keep my speed up and let the suspension do the work I felt more confident and remained upright.

The next day, I looked on a map and found what looked like a good route.  I went from Red Lodge to Belfry to The Chief Joseph Highway back to the Bear Tooth Pass for the trip back to Red Lodge.  I saw several dirt roads and double tracks to ride.  I followed this for about 5 miles.  The tracks continued much further than I traveled on it.  Lots of big sky here.

Friday night Chip arrived from Fargo.  It is always good to connect with him.  Saturday morning he suggested we play around doing some climbing on a snow field.  

This is the same set of chutes that makes the backdrop for my motorcycle picture taken on Hell Roaring Road.  Cool coincidence. 
 This picture shows the steepness.  I went up as far as I could on snowshoes bearing aggressive cleats.  Chip was able to go higher because he had proper crampons.  This climbing was physically challenging and just the right amount of scary.  Going down was harder than going up.  I used ice axes and kicked in steps on part of the descent.
 Sunday Chip and I road up Bear Tooth Pass on bicycles.  It took me 3 hours of steady climbing in, or near granny gear to go 15 miles and gain 4,000 vertical feet. to the 10,900' top.

I took my first rest break in the parking area below the chutes we climbed.  I still had 10 miles to go.

Shortly before we pedaled above the treeline, we saw this bighorn sheep ewe standing next to the road.  She seemed to wait patiently as I took out my phone and snapped this picture.
Chip rode ahead and took this picture as I crested the summit by the ski lift.  My Surly Long Haul Trucker had lots of gears for the climb and stable handling for the fast ride down. 

Huge thanks to Lucy, Al and Chip.  Their guidance made this a week to remember.  

Grounding seems to be a theme of this trip from lights on my trailer, to connecting with family, to tipping my motorcycle, to proudly huffing and puffing on the side of hills.  

Mountains offer grounding perspective.  I can simultaneously hold pride in my accomplishments and feel insignificant compared to their size, age, and grandeur.  This is a memorable trip.


MaryAnn said...

All of this is so significant and made possible by your earlier statement about getting in shape physically. Such a tribute to good health and much persistence. I enjoyed reading and seeing your photos!

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