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  1. #1
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    Mar 2007

    TR - Idaho-Montana stoke (pic heavy, ID-MT X-post)

    I've seen many complaints about too little stoke in this forum recently, so here you all go.....

    Three of us made a week+ long trip from San diego recently to get some high elevation riding in before the snow flies. Destination this trip would be 4 days in Stanley ID and 4 days in Montana. Fortunate timing allowed us to escape last week's brutal heat and humidity from what was left of the Baja Calif hurricanes. Being on vacation is awesome enough, but being able to rub our perfect temps in the face of everyone sweltering back home was priceless.

    After flying to ride the Chilcotins earlier this summer we opted to fly again and rent a truck to avoid the 15hr drive. This would mean traveling light and no camping comfort gear like chairs, cooler, water jug, cooking equipment, or full tools/bike stand. Turned out this was not a big deal and gave us extra days riding without having to drive through the night.

    After a late start due to freezing temps overnight we started day 1 with an intro loop to the Boulder-Whiteclouds.

    Brian (406) and Gil (Gman) check out the trailhead map

    Our route would start with a 2 mile climb to 4th of July Lake and then descend down a valley to the Washington Lakes basin seen here

    From there the climbing began and views opened up

    When I got to the top of this pass my jaw dropped. The white streak down the opposite mountain was brilliant white, the pic does really not do it justice. This is looking down into the Chaimberlain Lakes basin.

    While we were snacking a visitor showed up, came within 20ft of us

    Finishing our break we enjoyed the drop into the basin

    At first I thought this was one of the lower Chamberlain Lakes but those were tucked in closer to the bottom of the peak

    We checked out the first Chamberlain lake and then started an out and back climb to 10,000ft Castle Pass

    Views were not bad looking down toward Germania creek drainage

    Dropping beyond the pass was incredibly enticing with switchbacks dropping as far as the eye can see, but would mean a 1,500ft climb back up. Gil rode down the first switchback before stopping.

    I hiked up a small ridge to get a better view of the mountains to the left of us, which was definitely worth it.

    It was a fun drop down from Castle pass

    Chamberlain Creek Tr was little used compared to the Castle Divide trail we'd been on. Through a couple open meadows the trail nearly disappeared.

    It was steep in many spots, I would not want to ride up this trail!

    Hmm, what is this laying on the trail?

    We made it down to Germania creek after a longer than expected descent. Germania is a moto trail so we expected to cover distance faster. We did, with a few fun rock sections thrown in

    It was either wet shoes or barefoot for creek crossings.

    And finally there was a beast of a climb out from 7,000 to 9,500 at 4th of July Lake

    Views were excellent again on the climb especially being in the golden hour, so I did not mind too much.

    Last came a 2 mile happy ending back to the truck that ended right at dusk, so timing was pretty tight. It turned out to be more than we had bargained for at +/-6,100 ft in 28 miles, but was still a great ride. Things cooled off fast again in the evening and we were looking for hot springs near town. Never found them in the dark unfortunately, but they are all over this area. Great start to the trip!

  2. #2
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    Sep 2014
    this makes me happy

  3. #3
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    Mar 2011
    Now that's what this forum should be about. Nice work!

  4. #4
    Team Fearless Descender
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    Oct 2004
    Amazing. Beautiful shots.
    "...when your ride is nearly over, it seems to have lasted but an instant..."


  5. #5
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    Mar 2007

    Day 2 - Little Casino to Big Casino Creek Trails

    Another cold morning, another late start. The Stanley Bakery is always recommended for great food served and attractive hippy chicks, but we could not get near the place because there were two large weddings in town. We made up for that loss by searching out a couple of the hot springs we had missed the night before. Rising steam made them easy to spot in daylight.

    Our camp was just above the shore of Stanley Lake

    Hot springs with a view. Would have been epic for sunset but unfortunately this one was little more than luke warm

    Better luck here along the highway. Scalding water can be directed right into the pools or the cauldron

    Having sorted out our post ride options we drove a few miles up Hwy 75 to the trailhead. Both upper and lower Casino Creek trails leave from the same trailhead making a convenient loop

    The climb up Little Casino started nice, got tough/loose for 3/4 mi and then was nice until we approached the final ridgeline. After the first tough part a nice view of the Sawtooth mountains opened up


    The final couple miles had some steep HAB. Each of these are moto trails so they go straight up the nose of the ridge. Gets us up high faster, at least. And stopping to rest gave relief in the form of amazing views.

    Nearly at the top we spot Casino Lakes below and get a peak at the White Cloud peaks in the distance

    White clouds, tough to get a good pic of they are so white

    Up top we get a bit of riding before the descent starts

    And then it is on. Fun, chunky, yet flowy

    The trail had lots of whoops in between all the chunk, almost like A-line for xc bikes. Sorry, enduro bikes.

    Dust picks up lower down so we had to spread out

    Post ride soak and refreshments were enjoyed

    More visitors. We were not the only one enjoying the warm waters!

    This ride was 20miles and +/- 4,100 feet. It felt less than that since most was good climbing and the rest of the HAB went pretty quick. Definitely a good one, and you can also connect from 4th of July trailhead from Day 1 to these trails for a long point to point.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2009
    Excellent post. Thanks

  7. #7
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    Apr 2009
    Thanks for the trip idea for next year. Spent a week in Missoula and had a blast. Now I will have a blast getting there

  8. #8
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  9. #9
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    Sep 2010
    Good stuff, Evdog.
    And your'e right......this local is jealous!
    Re-Cycled Person who rides a mountain bicycle.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
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    Mar 2007
    Day 3 - 4th of July Ants Basin to Fisher Creek

    We finally got in the Stanley Bakery for breakfast this day and it lived up to the hype. Temps were a bit warmer too, so things were definitely on the up and up. Many options for routes were on the table but getting into some of the areas I wanted to check out involved big point to point rides. Not able to shuttle this meant shortening the routes and doing some road riding. 4 miles of flat pavement and a 2k fire road climb over 10 miles wasn't bad, and it got us to what I think was my favorite ride of the trip.

    We would end on the legendary Fisher Creek trail, which is actually called Williams Creek Tr (the fire road to get to it is Fisher)

    The pavement was a breeze and we were soon onto the dirt road. It went from sage to nice forest, to burnt valley. The turning trees made for some great scenery and the climb was not bad at all, except for 1/2mi near the top. Took around 90min to get to the singletrack. Same as it would have taken to shuttle, so whatever.

    We started off with the same climb to 4th of July Lake as we did on Day1. This time we turned L just before the lake and did some hike a bike up to a high ridgeline

    We were greeted with a mind-popping view of Ants basin on the other side

    Check out the bend

    There was a fun descent off the ridgeline into Ants basin

    But watch your speed, the switchbacks were sharp and steep

    Lower down they got real loose too, which made it hard as the views were trying their best to draw your eyes off the trail

    A bit of easy cruising toward Born Lakes

    Then the riding got tougher with some nice chunk and steep climbs/descents

    Some maps show the trail going straight north in the basin but the route you want is to go straight to Born lakes and pick up the trail near its outlet down Warm Spring Cr

    The trail from there was a great mix of rough and buff

    More color down the canyon

    There were a few steep climbs to get above cliffs over the creek

    And more nice colors as we rode through a burn area

    Looking back up the valley

    Nearing the end of our ride on Warm Springs trail we enter the big meadow

    The creek is looking quite fishy here, but I forgot my packable rod. GIl checks it out for fish

    We had our last climb of the day up to the top of Williams Creek Trail, around 800ft in a couple miles. We were back on moto trail now (from 4th July Lake to our turnoff here was non motorized) and this one was nice and buff, easy climbing all the way up.

    Then a couple more miles climbing on Williams Cr

    I had pictured the whole descent being buff trail through burn area like this

    But most of it actually looked more like this

    After a couple of us nearly got taken out by cattle we had a bit more of a climb before the final descent. Very fast and fun trail, though I wouldn't call it the best in the area like most people seem to.

    After the ride we were back to the hot springs for a soak and refreshments. Same scene as the day before, but larger snakes!

    Stats were around 36mi and +/-4,700 (includes the 2k dirt road climb)

  11. #11
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    Mar 2007
    Day 4 - Big Boulder to Little Boulder

    For our last day in the White Clouds we moved camp to the east side of the range. This ride had potential to take us back to Castle Pass where we topped out at 10,000ft on Day 1 if time and legs would allow. The plan was to start early as overnight temps were nice by now. Unfortunately the skies opened up unexpectedly right at our 6am wakeup, so that was abandoned as we waited out the rain. It was after 9am before it looked safe enough to head for the high country.

    We start at the Livingston Mill TH, near an old mining town. Check out the Lost & Found, Idaho style

    Cool history. Why can't we all just "live and let live"?

    Nice stream crossing. First part of the trail was steep section followed by flat section, and repeat...

    Big Boulder is rated double black on the map but climbs a lot easier on nice contour singletrack than the rating would suggest

    We topped out around 9500 and then had a nice descent down to the boulder lakes basin

    The Boulder Chain Lakes are tucked in behind the rocky ridges all the way back to the main ridge in the distance. Checking out these lakes was a main objective for the day

    Boulder Chain Lake #1

    We cross a stream to get to the main boulder chain lakes trail

    Lake #2

    Riding next to Lake #3. Took a bit of HAB to get up to this one

    Pic of the lake

    Trail splits with a low option for fisherman and high option to get to the next lake

    Lake #4. I lost the trail here, it goes into a boulder field. Supposedly you can HAB to the last lake then up and over Windy Devil pass to Born Lake from Day 3 to create a loop. Interesting, but sounds heinous.

    Lake #3 again on the way back down

    I started to do a bit of fishing but soon noticed clouds rolling in fast, so we made a bee-line out of there. It was a mile and a half from the lowest of the lakes to Little Boulder Cr trail and we made quick time out of there

    Fortunately rain never materialized beyond a few spits so we were able to enjoy the trail

    It eventually opened up into a fast ripper of a descent, and the views opened up too as we approached the lower valley

    Some of the trail was real loose and steep, you could go as fast as you could handle

    Nice view down the valley toward the bottom of Germania Creek drainage

    Final bit of descent

    We were done at a pretty reasonable time as we faced a 5 hr drive to get to our next day's ride in Montana. Giddyup!

    Stats for the day, around 19mi and +/-4500

  12. #12
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    Apr 2010
    just remember when you get back home. Idaho sucks. Please tell everyone that.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
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    Mar 2007
    Quote Originally Posted by tim208 View Post
    Idaho sucks.
    406 kept saying that, but mainly because there was no mcdonalds in Stanley for breakfast

  14. #14
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    Dec 2004
    Most Excellent. Postcards galore!

  15. #15
    mtbr member
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    Jan 2004
    Nice pics and write up!

  16. #16
    mtbr member
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    Mar 2009
    Beautiful country, your post contains enough stoke to last me till Xmas.

  17. #17
    pin it
    Reputation: cyclelicious's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Do much diverse trail and landscape! Love Mr Fox

    Thank you for sharing your trip!
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  18. #18
    mtbr member
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    Mar 2007
    We continue.....

    Day 5 - Curley Highline

    On to Montana! Our first day in MT was Curley Highline, one of the most highly thought of back/high-country rides among those who like that sort of riding. We wanted to do it on our prior trip but the trail has a seasonal closure for sheep humping and we were there during the closure period. I am told they take these things more seriously in MT than they do in Socal.

    There may or may not have been some rain overnight, we're not sure - but it didn't affect our start time and we were off reasonably early

    A couple miles of dirt road brought us to the trailhead where climbing began in earnest

    It started off and quickly got technical with some loose rock and moto/horse ruts to fight through. Soon enough we crested a ridge and dropped down into the Curley Lake Basin

    Steep side hill in places

    There was some contouring beyond the lake and the trail was not bad, just constant climbing

    Eventually we got to a saddle and then into a final climb up some tough switchbacks

    Holy cow did the views open up as we got higher

    We crested the final ridge and stopped for a snack. Squint and you may be able to pick out a dot of orange where we rested

    Then it was on, a few switchbacks on the open scree slope took us back below tree line where things opened up

    This is a moto trail too. Interestingly left hand turns like this tended to be chewed up and rutted by motos, while right handers were in great shape. Do they all suck at turning one direction?

    Some steep turns followed

    Soon after this stream crossing we got into a short steep climb and some technical rock garden

    A further climb over a short ridge brought us to a final screaming descent down the valley

    One short climb on the way down

    And then a final descent

    Our only planning shortfall on the day, IMO, was starting where we did which left a 4 mi dirt road climb to end the day. It wasn't bad but definitely was a buzz kill after the awesome descent. Fortunately there was some good swimming nearby.


    Cleaning up!

    Total ride was around 25 mi and +/-5,000ft

  19. #19
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    Mar 2007
    Day 6 - Continental Divide Trail (CDT) near Butte

    Our plan to ride Mt Blackmore near Bozeman was in doubt as the forecast called for 60% chance of rain with lightning. We decided to see how things looked and go from there, so found a campsite near the trailhead just south of Bozeman. The day didn't start well as a beautiful warm night gave way to lightning and thunder all around our campsite around 4am, followed by rain. Riding at elevation here would be out of the question so we re-evaluated our options over breakfast looking for areas not too far away that were not getting hit. Butte fit the bill and with a ton of new trail construction recently including a new segment of the CDT. Bike Magazine had a big writeup on Butte in July.

    Supposedly we would be able to climb 13 miles up to the Lady of the Rockies

    Very nice trail. A little steep in places but a good climb for the most part

    Playing around at a viewpoint overlooking Butte 1/3 of the way up

    The trail reminded me of the Tahoe Rim Trail with all the rock they went through

    Part of this segment was built last year, the rest this year

    The trail dodged and weaved around a bunch of large rock outcrops

    The ride back down promised some opportunities to get air

    The climb was somewhat rolling with a few descents thrown in. There was a 500ft switchback drop down to a saddle that we were all dreading having to climb back up on the way out

    Finally there was a long section of raw new trail that was not bedded in well yet and pretty tough to climb. A final HAB up an overgrown dirt road brought us up to the top of the mountain

    The sign says "welcome" but the tour guide who showed up with a "crowd of paying customers" and threatened to prosecute us had a different tune. The tourists were all happy to see us though.

    The view we came to see

    I mentioned the trail reminded me of TRT. That is without the lake, of course. We did get a nice view of a big hole in the ground though.

    This formation apparently called Little Jesus. I don't quite see the resemblance

    View from afar

    The ride back down was fast and fun though there were a lot more short climbs than I recalled descending on the climb!

    And some nice swimming right near the trailhead was a bonus

    The out and back was around 24mi and +/- 4,000ft

    Afterwards we stopped in at the Freeway Tavern for a wop chop sandwich. Apparently this was Evel Knievel's favorite sandwich and it did not disappoint

  20. #20
    Old Fart Swamper
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    You need to really consider getting published, I think you have a writer in you.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
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    Day 7 - Mt Blackmore to Cottonwood

    The rain having passed, we headed back to Bozeman to pick up where we left off with a cruise up and over Mt Blackmore.

    We are going way up there

    The trail started off tough with lots of slick rocks and roots

    We definitely didn't hike a bike any of the trail

    OK maybe a little

    Saw some goats

    Some of them saw us

    The climb was not bad at all and soon enough we were at the summit. 406 rides off the top

    We had interesting light on adjacent ridges with partial cloud cover but the views were excellent

    The trail to the summit was an out an back from the Blackmore-Cottonwood junction so we had a fun cruise back down

    Junction on the ridgeline just up ahead

    Cottonwood started off with fast trail and sharp switchbacks, which can be a dangerous combo. The mangled deer we came across met some other fate. Had to wonder if some big cat was not far off watching us when we stopped

    The trail was little used, narrow and fun

    We send Gman ahead with the bear bell to clear the way

    There was plenty of chunk to keep things interesting

    All the turning colors were quite a sight to see

    Toward the bottom the trail gets lots of use so watch for hikers. Gil nearly got taken out by an off leash dog that came flying around a blind corner.

    Another fun day in the woods!

  22. #22
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    Day 8 - Beartooth traverse

    For the last day in Montana we did a long ridgeline traverse that ran for over 10 miles at around 10,000ft. Not many places you can do that.

    We started down past a nice lake and then crossed over and up the drainage on the far side

    Extra gnar points for starting above the 'snow line'

    pano shot as we climb up to the ridge line

    then it was open ridge line tundra for 10 miles

    Seems kinda boring but there were awesome views to the side

    The ridgeline narrows as we continue on

    Nice views down into the valley as well

    Trail starts to get real faint

    We lose it numerous times as cairns are far apart

    Eventually we get to the happy ending, a 3.5k drop into the valley

    Its a whole other trail, forested and fast

    Nice singletrack with some rock thrown in

    Fast finish

    OK, not so fast as our shuttle by hitch hike wasn't going so well, not much traffic. Finally got a lift which was good since the nearest shuttle/taxi service wanted $260 for a ride up the hill.

    Parked at the trailhead. Pretty sure this would not pass in CA. But guess they have different standards in MT

    This was a pretty interesting ride. You could call it boring xc for a long ways but the views, remoteness and faint raw trail made it very cool. And the descent at the end was awesome. Stats were 16mi, +1,000, -5000

  23. #23
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    Yellowstone drive

    Our plan was to ride Sunday in Boise, and we could either take the interstate back or drive down and go through Yellowstone. Hard to pass that opportunity up!

    A few sights from the drive

    Had to go look over the edge. There were rock climbers with ropes anchored around a rock

    Wyoming, brah!

    When you see this at roadside you know something is going down

    Wolf meet bison. The bison had apparently been gored and could barely move or stand up long. The wolves were taking nips and bites but not going in for the kill yet.

    buffalo x-ing

    Tons of other wildlife on the drive out - elk, pronghorn, deer. Well worth it and the crowds were not bad being after Labor day

  24. #24
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    Day 9 - Boise Ridge to Rivers front country trails

    We found a random spot to camp on the drive out to Boise and pulled into town around 10am. Flight was at 6 so we had a few hours to ride. Boise has a nice front country trail system right out of town and we were able to pedal from Adrian's house.

    "A few miles of road" turned out to be 4 on pavement and around 4 or 5 on dirt

    No big deal, it wasn't bad though my legs were pretty dead. We were soon enough on singletrack

    Glad I wasn't on a singlespeed like Adrian

    We had a 3 mile singletrack climb to the pass where we would have more options

    There was a fun drop down a ridgeline where we picked up another trail

    The trails were lightning past in places, fortunately the lack of trees provided good sight lines

    "Just one more climb"

    Leads to another fast descent

    Pretty extensive trail system that would make our San diego land managers heads explode.

    The final "final" climb

    That's a wrap, time to head back and pack up the bikes! Final day got us 24mi and 2,800ft climbing, all within 15mins of town.

    The fly-in and rent vehicle plan worked pretty smoothly. It helped being able to drop the bike boxes in Boise. Not sure what we would have done otherwise. Considering the airport/flight time and bike build took up around 6 hours each way and the drive was 15, we saved around 9 hours each way by flying. The travel cost was around $700 each to fly and rent compared to $250 each in gas to drive up.

    The main reason to fly was so we could get a full day of riding the first and last day. It worked great for the way up with an afternoon flight but on the way back we only had til mid afternoon to ride so it was more of a half day ride. In the past driving up we have taken turns driving through the night. Not everyone likes that but it is doable, or you can drive over two days and split it up with a ride in UT. I'm on the fence whether I would fly up for a trip like this again. For a larger distance, definitely. But there is enough good riding on the way up you can easily split the drive if you don't want to do it in one shot. The good thing is knowing we can fly for longer trips now. Alps here we come.....

  25. #25
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    Wow, What a great trip! Nice writeup and great photos.

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