Mid-week prior I spoke with a friend about going for a ride this mid-july weekend. My first planned route was deemed too short so I came up with something a little longer
The plan included multi-day motorcycle camping for the first time without consideration on where we would stop. Tuesday involved outlining a route with some evening shopping for compact camping gear. I didnít like the sleeping pad options locally, so I ordered one online that thankfully arrived for pickup while crossing the border Friday. Other gear included a MEC raven sleeping bag and an Eureka Spitfire duo tent.
Day 1: Friday 5-9:30PM, 300km
Friday at Lunch I picked up a nuvi 765T backup GPS for $45. After work and a quick stop at home I proceeded to the aldergrove border with an extended crossing to meet a friend in Bellingham at panda express for a bite. Around 7pm we departed Bellingham skipping out planned backroads to head to Stevenís Pass.
With deer, sunlight and warmth migrating and departing with dusk we stopped at the rest area before Lake Wenatchee. The lit area was appreciated and we decided to setup tents off to the side. Iím amazed at the comfort newer gear provides and slept great.
Day 2: Saturday 8:00AM-9:30PM, 700km
I realized my sleeping bags compression sack was too small after a long morning battle. A later start led with a slower pace as my friendís DL650 had uncomfortable vibration at 70MPH and he was breaking in a new seat that wasnít working for him.
After a lovely jaunt through the mountains we arrived in Leavenworth - a German-styled tourist village - for breakfast. The buildings were quite ornate, but paled in comparison to their beer wagon.
With a full stomach we headed through Yakimaw Canyon. Twisting along one could admire the gentle current carrying those floating down the river. Dropping from the mountains, we entered endless fields accompanied by massive wind generators. The temperatures rose over 30 as we proceeded down highway 12 offering the ultimate test of my friends new seat.
My friend wanted to try my bike as we travelled between Sunnyside and the Dalles. The DL650 has a similar riding geometry to my ST (with risers) but I immediately noticed the lack of fairing my knees rest against and the new seat was flat, firm and wide in the back limiting movement. This DL650 was equipped with handguards and a madstadt adjustable windscreen positioned to vertically blocking tons of air making the Strom warmer the ST.
Before Oregon we switched back with my friend noting the lack of vibration and need to rev for power. The forward leaning riding position wasnít appreciated while the airflow was. We removed his handguards and positioned his windscreen down for airflow.
Lunch came late at Big Jimís in The Dalles Oregon before rising up from the Columbia River. The fields surrounding the road go as far as the eye can see offering rich smells and sights covering dunes and valleys in fresh grain baking in the sun.
We bypassed Maupin through the canyon alongside the river to twisty eastern roads. Along John Day river we noticed people camping alongside the road. Our search for the perfect spot ended at Spray where to went back for a compromising spot.
Thunder and clouds gathered in the distance placed pressure to pitch with haste and I discovered the challenge of working without hands-free light entering the tent as the drops fell. Being a desert the thundershowers were short-lived and it took quite some time to cool down.
Day 3: Sunday 9AM-11:00PM 750km
Sunday offered a leisure start to explore the surrounding area and swim in the river. While I forget the small place we stopped for breakfast along Hwy 26 I do remember the pie.
The highway and sights are quite interesting but the hellís canyon rally in Baker City, OR offers a great place to relax. The rally attracts 10,000-15,000 motorcyclists over the span of a week.
Rattlesnake pass and Hellís Canyon offer perfect surfaces, perfect visibility and a barrage of extremely elevation changes with tight curves. My condolences to a rider that was air-lifted from the pass before we arrived.
Looking on from our best viewpoint yet, we decided that Spokane was the best place to stop for the night. The Old Spiral Highway has significant development along the road making an evening cruise preferable to avoid traffic. The original plan to loop along the hillside to Spokane changed to a direct path.
Day 4: Monday 9AM-9:30PM 700km
Our path was shortened yet again in an attempt to arrive early. The semi-direct roads to Inchelium are decent; we arrived to roll directly onto the ferry. If you take the ferry you must ride twin lake road and the next pass to Nespelem. While the surface is marginal - one turn had the rear tire try and slide out while vertical - the path is fantastic.
The roadway into Omak transitions from forest to desert and I highly recommend taking the highway over the north side of the river through town as it was slow and hot. The heat increased as we travelled onto highway 20 noticing smoke coming from the hillside. We got within a few meters of the flames before getting turned around.
The detour around old 97 to 153 was dreadfully long but the hope of a leisurely stop at Winthrop for a bite to eat pushed us onward. Two hours later we arrived at Winthrop to discover services had been shut down due to the fire and no refreshments were available. To complicate things further my friend had chills he couldnít shake despite being in the mid-30ís. We took a long break before limping over the cascades.
We parted ways at Hwy 9 to cross at different borders. While my crossing was quick my friend was detained; his eyes were dilated due to exhaustion and he appeared to be ďpretty highĒ. Maybe the next trip will involve less distance.
More pictures Here.