Dirt Gather V

July 9-12, 2009


The "Dirt Gather" is a dual-sport ride and camping trip we started a few years back when Steve Powers and Ron Radko scouted out Perrygin State Park, just north of Winthrop, WA. The group camp there offers 99% privacy (just the odd hiker or mountain biker seeing where the road ends ruins a perfect score). The group camp is at the southeast corner of the lake shown in the map below.

I was first to arrive this year, Thursday about 3:30pm, so I got my pick of spots to pitch my small tent. About a dozen attended this year, and most of us trucked or trailered our bikes in so we could bring more stuff than would fit on the bikes. Several brought multiple bikes, with Phil setting the bar at 5 (most of which he loaned out).

Here's the fire pit, where we had a nice fire every night courtesy of Alex who brought a considerable amount of seasoned Tamarak firewood of such quality that we built a "one match" fire with nothing but wood (no paper, no gasoline, no magnesium).

While waiting for everyone else to show up, I got this shot of a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. All my shots were done full-rez with a Nikon CoolPix S600 point-and-shoot camera on a single charge. I later cropped and tweaked them all before resizing them for this page to 800 pixel width.

Heading out Friday morning for the day's ride. My XR650L on the left, Steve's Husaberg FE570, Phil's KLR650, Scott's BMW F800GS and Gary's plated water-cooled, kickstart-only XR650R. The Husaberg was the lightest, most powerful, best handling of the bunch, but also had the shortest range (about 80-90 miles at our modest pace).

The first year we rode up here this was a beautiful forest, but a couple years back there was a huge fire. We rode north up that twisty road you see photo center above. It got a bit cool at elevation, whereas it was in the high 80's down in Winthrop.

I always stop to smell the roses, or in this case, the non-roses...

Our destination was the Canadian border, and the photo above shows what the terrain looks like in northern Washington just a mile south of British Columbia. Just south of this shot we passed Palmer Lake, a gorgeous place with some vacation homes along the west side. One place had about 1/2 dozen KTMs parked in the driveway.

Just 1/2 mile south of the border was this abandoned log cabin, with part of the original sod roof still in place. Though the grass died long ago.

Fuel issues (and a bit too much focus on the road instead of the rider waiting at an intersection) changed our plans somewhat so we rode east to Oroville to re-fuel. On the river into town we saw a gold dredging rig (the kind in an inflatable raft with a big pump), and a guy panning for gold on the opposite shore.

We'd packed lunches we made in camp, so we found this shady spot to enjoy them.

Phil lead most of the day, as he'd mapped out the route north. He also lead most of the way back to camp, though some of us remembered the route from previous years. This was a pretty little lake near Conconully we passed. Early July is a good time — still some green grass, not too brown yet, and great weather.

Checking the GPS'es (almost everyone had one on their bike). Dust was a bit of a problem for everyone but Phil. We compensated mostly by riding with quite a bit of spacing and waiting at intersections for the next rider so we wouldn't lose anybody.

A photo experiment that turned out okay.

I love this vista, and get a shot every year. I think this is NFD 200 Rd, but I'm not sure — it descends to meet Bear Creek Rd which leads back to the campground entrance. We get here via a dirt road out of Conconully that parallels Loup Loup pass to the east. That's probably Phil in the red jacket on the right side of the photo. Total mileage for Friday: approximately 190.

Day two (Saturday) some who missed Friday's ride wanted to do part of it, so we did a shorter (110 mile) loop. This is Scott on his newish F800GS which he was generous enough to let several of us ride. We all checked our Bank accounts afterwards but found them insufficient, which was disappointing. It's a damn nice bike for dual-sporting on forest roads!

Lisa Denzler borrowed Phil's DRZ400 and had just stopped to snap a photo of the road in the background which we'd just traversed. This used to be so pretty, but then you couldn't see the views for the trees.

Lisa again, descending from Baldy Pass (over 6000') on NFD 37 Rd, the other side of the hill from the previous photo.

We're good people, we stop and shut down the bikes when we encounter horse riders. One of them even thanked us.

We finished the 2nd day at the Twisp River Pub, in Twisp, where we scored a table large enough for the 11 of us, plus our gear. The food was excellent, the apple cider not so much. The Ruben sandwitch was to die for. Then back to camp where we cleaned up and declared happy hour(s) until dinner (pork chops, salmon, corn on the cob, french bread, green salad) was ready. Gary has the camp-cooking thing down pat, and everyone was well fed. Quite a few bottles of whiskey gave their all as well...

Several of us headed home early Sunday AM, but some stayed for another day of riding and went home on Monday. The weather, roads and company were excellent, and IMHO this was the best Dirt Gather ever!

Copyright © 2009, by H. Marc Lewis. All rights reserved.