Rides & reports of motorcycle adventures..


riding the rez. Chocolate Falls, rocks, & rain. 8/20/10

Ridin' the Rez.  8/20/10

Kim, Tom & i met at the sedona exit off of I-17 to for a ride to the Navajo Reservation.  With the recent monsoon rains, we hoped there would be some water in the little colorado river, & grand falls, aka chocolate falls would have some flow.  Tom rode over from Prescott, & we were off, going up the old blue grade into the mountains in the mogollon rim.

The ride up stoneman lake road.. this used to be the main road to flagstaff before they built I-17.

It was about 4k ft where we left, & we would get up near 8k elevation.  The rim country is nice & cool this time of year.  We had some puddles, but nothing too dramatic.

We did a little exploring.. took a different route than we usually do when in these parts.  Naturally, we had a bit of backtracking to do, gates to cross, some pretty rocky roads, too.  It was nearing 11am when we got to the morman lake area.

Back on some easier roads, we enjoyed the trees.. nice cool pines & some aspen stands.

This is Morman 'Lake'.  It's an open meadow that can get filled with water in a very wet season or high snowfall.  We had a pretty wet winter, but it was pretty dry by late spring.  It did make a  nice wildflower display, though.

We lost a little time on the rim, so decided to jump on the pavement for few miles.. lake mary road to wynona ranch road.

Here we got onto the wynona ranch road.. some of it is a boulder field.. just rain drainage.

This went on for several miles.. we took a couple of stops for rest.

We could see the vegetation change.. the pines started to give way to open chaparral.  Cows looked hotter & crankier.

Off in the distance, we could see the san francisco peaks for a reference.

The road also opened up & got easier.  We passed more cows & continued the ride up toward the Rez.

We crossed I-40 & stopped for lunch at the 2bar3 saloon & steakhouse.  It's kind of a biker bar, now, on the distant outskirts of flagstaff.. where renegade bikers like us hang out.  It was decent.. reasonable, but not cheap.  Nothing to take pictures of, though.

It was after 1pm, so we decided to take Leupp road up to grand falls.  It is paved, so we cut some of our off road riding.  The last 10 miles or so to grand falls are sand roads.. with some ruts & a few boulders to keep us alert.

The big question on our minds was:  Would there be any water in the Little Colorado river?  Tom & I came here last month & it was dry as a bone.  Would the recent monsoon rains provide some decent flow at the falls?  Our question was soon answered.

Who would go first?  Someone had to record such a monumental feat, & Tom was already camera ready for the brave pioneer who would venture across.  Kim didn't hesitate, but blipped the throttle & took the plunge.

I followed suit.  The water wasn't too deep.. just to the axles at the deepest point.  But the underlying concrete low water crossing was in pretty bad shape.. still it was better to stay on the concrete, as Tom would soon illustrate.

Kim & i were surveying the mud on the other side of the river when Tom began his crossing.  I just turned in time to catch him taking a dip to cool off.

It looked like he had taken a gallon (or more!) of chocolate milk & dumped it all over himself & his bike.  He had gotten too close to the edge of the concrete, & had gone into the rocky river bottom.  Obviously, you could not see the rocks on the bottom, so we had to man handle the bike back to the concrete crossing.

Kim sat motionless on his bike, in answer to my question, 'who's going to go back & help him?'  So i guess i volunteered to slosh through the muddy torrent & help our poor soggy comrade.

Using our water skills, we maneuvered the bike out of the rocky river bottom & back on the safe concrete.

Now we would have the mud to go through..

Even though Tom's bike had fallen over, he had killed the engine right away, & got it up before water got into the air intake.  It started right up with no problems.  Had water gotten into the air intake, we would have had more problems on this day.  But Tom's quick thinking.. with no regard for his own comfort or appearance.. saved the day for more fun riding ahead.

The mud turned out to be much easier than it looked.  I got across with no issues.. just stayed in the ruts that some trucks had made.  Tom & Kim went off to the side, but it wasn't too deep, & they got across, too.

We went the rest of the way to Grand Falls, which was a few hundred yards from the river crossing.  This was the Little colorado river.  It runs from the white mountains near snowflake, az, to the Big Colorado river in the Grand Canyon.

Now there was pretty good flow in it.  The mud gives it a chocolate coloring, hence the alternate name of 'Chocolate Falls'.  I'll have to ask Tom how it tastes.

Just for reference, here's how Chocolate falls looked a month earlier, when Tom & i came back from the Grand Canyon:

But it had a nice roar to it, now, & was muddy & well named.  Even though they were splattered with muddy water & soaked from the crossing, the bikes were happy to pose at the overlook.

Chocolate Tom, with Kim looking on sympathetically..

I asked Tom if he wanted to see it from the other side.. we could cross back so we could get some other shots from a different perspective.  But he was happy enough to see it from this side.. so we didn't cross back.  It is nice seeing it from the different points of view.. it's pretty dramatic.

Tom & I had taken our boots off & Tom removed some of his gear for drying.  The sun was hot, & things dried out a little.. not that it mattered as the day wore on.  Kim somehow managed to stay relatively clean & dry throughout the ordeal.  Here he is demonstrating the swimming stroke Tom employed while in the water, & Tom displaying his nice chocolate stained t shirt.

Drier & warmer, we continued our way into the Rez, following some nice sand roads as we headed up toward the next crossing at Wupatki.. there aren't that many places to cross the Little Colorado river.  If we could not cross at Wupatki, we'd have to go all the way to Cameron & cross at the bridge.

As we rode toward Wupatki, we saw dark clouds & falling rain in the distance.. right in the direction we were heading.  Perhaps it would move on by the time we got there.  Perhaps not.  There were also a few lighting bolts in the distance.. another enjoyable prospect for us to face.  The air cooled, & the winds picked up.  In the next clip, you will see the rain start to fall as we rode along.

I had brought my rain jacket, & i think Kim had one, too.  But Tom only had a thick cotton sweat shirt.  He seemed to enjoy the rain.. He takes great pride in his appearance.. always nattily attired, so perhaps he welcomed the rain as an alternative to washing his clothes.  So Kim & i did not put on our rain jackets.  We would suffer with our riding comrade & ride unprotected in the downpour.  I could not let my poor nuvi gps take the rain, though.. so i stopped & put it in my tank bag.  Someday i'll get another waterproof gps, but for now this works ok.

The rain continued, & so did we.  As you can see, the terrain was very open.. no cover anywhere.  We could only ride on & get through it.  The temps dropped quite a bit, & the water ran through my mesh jacket, pants, & into my already wet boots.

The other problem we had was the road started to get slick from the rain.  A thin layer of slippery mud began to form on the road.  Fortunately, it was pretty straight, but there were some interesting spots with ruts & turns.

After about 20 miles or so, the rain began to diminish.  The skies cleared, & the roads got wider & sandier.  We eventually got to the Wupatki crossing.

It looked deeper & more ominous than the Grand Falls crossing!  We pondered whether to cross or to continue another 30 miles to cameron.  We were already wet.  Might as well try crossing.

It was a bit deeper than the other crossing, & it was harder to make out where the concrete bottom was.  There was a little disturbance in the water from rocks about halfway, so i made toward that, then aimed to the other side.  The water was a little over the axles, but the bottom was even.. a little bumpy, but no big holes.  Next Tom would attempt to cross..

He was riding too close to the edge, & got tossed off the concrete bottom into the rocky river bottom.  But now he had the skills & experience to keep it upright.. plus he was mostly cleaned up from the rain & didn't want to get muddy again.  He got off & expertly maneuvered the bike back onto the crossing & safely out.

But now it was Kim's turn to cross.  Would the pressure get to him?  Would the stress of getting his outfit muddy make him choke?  Nah.  Cool as a cucumber, Kim rode straight across, almost yawning as he went.

We were heading for open, sunny country.  The road would be paved in a few miles.  It was after 3pm, & Tom was ready to head home, so we cut short the ride around the Peaks we were considering.  Tom still had about 150 miles to go back to Prescott, & Kim & i had about 100, so we hit the pavement & headed south.  The air was dry & much warmer, so we finished drying out as we rode along.

We came in the back way to sunset crater nat. monument.. most people don't come through the reservation to get there.  This was an old volcano.. not that old, though.  .. still a lot of volcanic rock & cinders around.

But we didn't stop to site see.. we kept on the throttle & headed home.

I stopped for gas in Flagstaff.. Kim & Tom had the big tanks & didn't need to.  Kim & i went down oak creek canyon, into sedona & home.  It was around 200 miles for us, & probably 100 miles more for Tom total.  It was a very scenic ride, lots of interesting terrain, very varied.  We had pines, open desert, chaparral, & lush riparian sections to ride.  River crossings & overviews were icing on the cake.


Tricky tracks. Flying cows. Deja vu Grand Canyon, 7/26/10

Deja vu daytrip, Grand Canyon revisited                                                            7/26/10

I'm a couple of weeks late getting this ride report up.. i didn't take any videos.. didn't even take the video camera.  I got a few stills, but nothing spectacular.. even though we were going to the Grand Canyon.

Tim had to cancel on our Annual Grand Canyon ride, & Terry has been wanting to come over from Ca & ride with us.  Tom eventually got tired of the whining & set up another grand canyon ride.  It would be a deja vu ride to the Grand Canyon, going up through Ash Fork, where he had gone earlier with some of the Phx boys.

I'm always up for a ride to the Grand Canyon.. it has to be one of the most amazing spots on earth.. certainly that i've ever seen in my few years of living on this planet.  I was to  meet Tom & Terry in Jerome, then we'd take dirt up through the perkinsville road, over to drake, then up to Ash Fork, where we'd meet Tim.

Early morning along the perkinsville road..

North toward the San Francisco peaks

We met Tim in Ash Fork, gassed up, then went north to go along the railroad tracks for a bit.  Tom had the gps tracks, but he had also given them to Terry as a backup.

After a few wrong turns, lost riders, & general confusion, we determined the problem to be with Tom's gps.  His tracks were the same color as the roads, so he couldn't tell if he was on the track, or just another road.  Terry would stop when we made the wrong turn, but it would take a while for us to get back on track.  Once we corrected the track color on Tom's gps, it was easy sailing.

Along the tracks..  this is a fun section following the train tracks.  We followed 2 different train tracks on this ride.

The trail wasn't hard.. it went up & down & treated us to some great vistas in the junipers.

The riders:  Terry, Scotty, Tim, Tom.  Riding honda xr650l, yamaha wr250x, honda xr400, & yamaha wr250r, respectively.

Our only mishap on the ride.. Terry picked up a staple somewhere along the road.  Tom had a spare tube, which we expertly changed & continued on the ride.. less than an hour, even with all the talking & gawking from the gallery.

Soon we left the train trail, & ventured into open cattle country.  We crossed many gates, which worried Terry.  Being from California, he was used to closed gates being closed trails.  Rules, regulations..  But out here, unless it is clearly  marked & padlocked, a closed gate is just for the cows.  If we can open them, we're going through.  Terry did draw the line in not wanting to cross a gate with signs warning to stay out.. no trespassing.. violators would be shot, etc.  Tom's track had us going through that gate.. following the route that the earlier Phoenix troublemakers took.  So we took the long route.. out across the open prairie, following miles of wide easy roads.. with occasional ruts & washouts to keep us alert & entertained.

Terry had the big tank.. he was the supertanker.  Tim had the smallest range, & eventually ran out.  You probably didn't know this, but the old honda xr400's are so versatile they will run on colas.

A couple of drinks for the honda, & we were back on the road.  We were getting closer to the track Tom had, which would get us back to following the train tracks.. the grand canyon railway tracks.  But dark clouds were beginning to form.  Afternoon rains are quite common this time of year.. some of the monsoons we get can be drenching.  We were heading towards those clouds.  As we followed the train tracks, we also came upon more cows.  Most of them would flee in terror from the vicious carnivores who pursued them.  But this time, Tom felt sorry for the terrified beasts, & circled around them.  Terry & Tim dutifully followed our leader who was so sensitive to the feelings of nature's gentle creatures.  But there was one who seemed to enjoy watching his quarry flee the pursuing hunter.. the morbid torturing of the victims we intended to eat.  I stayed on the trail, watching the cows scatter from the mighty hunter, like a cat toying with a mouse..

Some of the cows got seperated from the main herd.. then would realize they weren't following the group & bolt across the trail, risking death for both the hunter & the hunted.  That's how the herd instinct works.. doesn't have to be based on common sense, or what is reasonable.. just follow the herd.  ..even if it kills you.  We do that, too.

My herd was back on the trail, & the guy above made it back safely to his herd.  That is a good reason to always ride slowly & carefully through animals like this.  I've seen many cows wait motionless until you were right on them, then bolt unpredictably.

We got through this group of cows safely, then it began to rain.  We were hurrying to get to Tusayan.. we were hungry, tired, & wet.  The temperature dropped 20* & being wet didn't help, either.  It was later than planned, due to backtracking, re-routing, & flat tiring.  We ran into several dead ends.. the road was marked on the gps, but fizzled into nothing or a fence.  We finally did make it to Tusayan, gassed up & had a pizza.

We were planning to go back along the Az trail.. ..dirt trails toward Flag, but it was getting late, so we decided to slab it back home.  I turned off on hwy 180 towards flagstaff, while the rest of the crew continued toward Williams, then over to Ash Fork.  We rode all the way up to the grand canyon, but no one wanted to go see it.  Tim said he'de seen it in the rain before.  So this ride didn't really have a destination.. it was for the ride.  What about the title shot?  The first picture in this report is from an earlier ride i was on this year.. i thought i should at least have a pic of the Canyon since it is in the title of the report..  Sorry about that..

I had over 300 miles on my odo when i got home.. most of it from the pavement home.  But it is very nice to have a good street worthy bike to ride on the pavement if necessary.  Tim's xr was geared a bit low for the long ride home.  But he got back to his truck & loaded up to go back to Bullhead City.  Tom & Terry made it back to prescott.  We survived another long day ride.


Grand Canyon 2010, Day 4.

Day 4. Home again, Home again, jiggity jog. 7/8/2010

We got up early, loaded up the bikes, & were on the road by 7am. We gassed up at Tusayan, then took a NF road east. We were going back through the Navajo rez, & would take the Gray Mtn. truck trail to Gray Mtn, then go up to Cameron & go south on Rez sand roads through Grand Falls & to the Townsend/Wynona road near Flagstaff.

The road from Tusayan was graded gravel.. easy & very nice through the pines. But we took a few turns to get to the east, went through a gate, & the 'road' turned into this.

We had to climb some pretty steep & sharp turning switchbacks, which were a bit of a problem for Tom on the big Honda. He got the back tire buried in some loose cinders on one of the switchbacks. The bike stood up on it's own as Tom had to dig out behind the tire so he could rock it out of the hole. I went on ahead, then waited.. on these obscure trails, we didn't want to get too far apart. He didn't come for a bit, so i backtracked.. all the way to the switchbacks. No Tom. So i slowly went along the road looking for a cliff he went over, or a detour. He had gone off on a rabbit trail & lost the main road, such as it was. But he heard my engine & came back to the trail. We decided to stay in sight for the rest of this trail.

Here's a few short clips of this part of the road.

It was only about 10 miles or so, but eventually it opened up into a bigger, main road. We were still in the pines.. the air was nice & cool & the road was easy.

I was cruising along, enjoying the scenery & cool mountain air when i came too fast upon a sharp curve. I saw i wasn't going to make the turn, & ran off the road into a ditch. I wallowed around in it for a while, then finally got straightened out & made it back to the road. Tom was wondering what my side trip was about.. Unfortunately, i didn't have my camera on when i went off the road, & i didn't feel like doing it again.. we had a lot of miles still ahead.

Very quickly, we got out of the pines & into pinons, junipers & sage.. chaparral vegetation. You could see the turns coming up, so we could open it up a bit more.

Almost to the end of this road.. going to connect to the old Gray Mtn. truck trail going through the Nav rez. Now it was very barren.. little vegetation.. sage & scrub brush & a few junipers dotting the vistas.

We had a mile or so of pavement before we got to the GMTT. It starts going up right away, with some nice views to the north of the little colorado plateau.

This is a nice road with a lot of variety, great panoramic views, & no traffic. I think we say one pickup from the GC to Gray Mtn... about 60 miles.

Lots of wide open spaces. But we were not alone. We came upon several groups of wild horses.. many with foals. They are very smart & know where to go to be safe from the crafty motorcycle hunters.

The road was mostly open, with tremendous panoramic views.. but there were a few spots where we crossed deep washes & small canyons. The road got rougher in them, but no problems.

In the distance, we could see our mountains coming up.. the San Francisco peaks. To the right on the next pic, there are more wild horses.

They would go up into the rocks.. daring us to follow them. We wouldn't follow.

This lone maverick got caught out in the open.. it looks like he stumbled & fell trying to get away from the road. But he got right up & galloped off.

As we got down from the higher ground, it flattened out & the roads got wide & straight.

We stopped a couple of times to take pics of the horses, & one time i came upon these bigger 'hedgehog' type cacti. It is unusual to see them this big. I left my glove to show perspective.

This was a large group of horses.. but they were distant. I zoomed in to get them, but they were still a ways off. I liked the mountain backdrop, though.

Soon we came to the pavement, & gassed up at Gray Mountain. We then headed north to Cameron, where we could cross the mighty Little Colorado river & take some Navajo sand roads back.

This is another stretch of open, desolate country. Some homes are visible in the distance.. every 10 or 20 miles.. but not much out here. .. a few sheep, some cows, & a couple of noisy motorcycles.

There were a couple of roads we got on that were less travelled.. some pretty narrow, but nothing too challenging to ride on.

We were heading for the mighty grand falls.. or chocolate falls as it is sometimes called. During the spring snow melts, it has some pretty impressive sound & water volume. But in the summer before the monsoons, not so much.. Here we ride up to the majestic grand falls..

I knew the water got low in the summer.. but there was nothing! I didn't know it dried up completely.

Here's what it looks like with some water in it.. this is from a trip my wife & i went on this march. You can see here why it is called 'chocolate'. The pretty lady in the video is, of course, my lovely wife Darlene.

Tom & i left Grand Falls, crossed the Little Colorado river again, & rode on another sand road for about 40 miles to pavement. It started to rain a bit.. the sky darkened, so we decided to take pavement the rest of the way home.

Tom continued on to Prescott, & i went down to Sedona. It was a good ride home.. lots of miles, but easy roads, mostly. I'm looking forward to this ride again, next year.

Scotty's info

My photo
Sedona, Arizona, United States
Semi-retired home builder. Musician. wr250x adventure rider. Amateur philosopher. Innovator. Tech & gadget freak, genealogist.