(2007) Chumstick

Riding Blind

I had been invited to the Chumstick Rally and BBQ by its organizer, JR of Cashmere. We had met (a couple of times) at the Seattle International Motorcycle Show and he was quite insistent that I participate one of these years. This would be that year. The Rally appears to be a simple affair: show up with your GPS, download some waypoints, pick up some tickets at geocached locations and then hook up for an evening of camp fires and camping.

But behind that “ease” came months of hard work as JR scoped out the routes, cleared deadfall from the winter storms and made sure that a hot meal would be waiting for us at the campground. He found willing volunteers to ride sweep, prepare the meals, tote supplies to the mountain in a van and I’m sure countless other activities that remain “behind the scenes”

I titled this page “Riding Blind” because that’s how I felt for most of the ride. Partially literally, as the dust kicked up by other riders would obscure road hazards and sting my eyes. Also figuratively, as my GPS never did work for me and I was reliant on following others for the clues and directions. This is primarily a pictorial display of my weekend with some explanatory text thrown in there for good measure. I hope that you enjoy reading it half as much as I did riding it!

June 23-24th, 2007
Total Miles: 421 miles
Seattle, WA to Cashmere, WA

The party started Friday night in Cashmere, where about 20 of the participating riders showed up at JR’s house in Cashmere, WA (more would show up in the morning). They pitched tents in the back yard of JR’s house with the overflow going into his neighbor’s yard. JR knows how to throw a party, with hot dogs and brats on the grill, cold beverages and plenty of chips.

The next morning riders set off at their own schedule. Most had downloaded maps to their GPSs and would follow the route set by JR months ago. Some, like me, weren’t sure of their GPS and chose to ride with others. And still others had no GPS and would be wholly dependent on someone else to find the way to the campsite that night.

The ride left Cashmere behind and quickly initiated the riders in dirt. Lanie was the first to drop her bike, having crossed a deep rut at the wrong angle. Tim helped her out by switching loads to make her bike lighter and easier to manage for the rest of the ride.

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It didn’t take long to find the dirt – and the first fall

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Deep, dried ruts to grab the front wheel

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Tim (of Happy Trails) takes on an extra load

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Four riders approach

From there it was a series of back roads and paved roads, crossing through Leavenworth and heading up the mountains on the north side of the town. Views became more impressive.

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The group informally re-groups at a junction

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The new ’08 KLR

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Coming down the road

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Typical scenery at the start

After a quick drop down into a valley the road once again started to climb – and didn’t quit until we reached Chumstick Summit, the namesake of the ride.

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Dry pines and sagebrush

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Almost to Chumstick Summit

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Views coming up to the summit

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View from the summit

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A group of riders still on the summit

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Two riders heading out

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Heading down from Chumstick Summit

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Glorious views and road

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Still going down

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Common corner with nothing in the distance

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Note the bluish tinge of sagebrush covered hills

From the summit it was all downhill, so to speak. The road eventually got very narrow and over grown, so tight between the brush that two bikes could not have ridden side-by-side if they wanted to. Large (and small) rocks littered the surface and hid in the grass growing on the road surface, while fallen trees (kindly cut back by JR earlier) made for yet more obstacles to avoid. A couple of muddy bogs, ruts and tree limbs all made for a most exciting descent. I would have loved to have gotten some pictures (because that right there is worth a thousand words) but at that point I was riding with some friends of mine and they kept up a fast pace that I didn’t want to miss out on.

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Glad I had the Green Mule for this ride!

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Little-used forest road

Eventually the path became a road again and I once again had a view. This time it was of a small town off the Columbia River, possibly Farris, WA. Regardless, our elevation made the houses and cars seem toy-like in the valley below us. Also below us were paved roads, something I was ready for after the brush beating I had just done. We made a brief stop in Ardenvoir before hitting the dirt again.

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The direction of things to come

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I’m not sure exactly what town this is

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But its on the Columbia River

I need to stop taking myself literally. We hadn’t gone more than a few miles out of Ardenvoir when I hit the dirt. The rear end had slipped out on some particularly deep and loose gravel and then the front end tucked in, throwing me to the ground with the bike on top of me. I turned off the bike, got up and spent the next ten minutes trying to pick the bike up before someone else came along. Picking up my bike is a personal goal of mine, something I’m not good at all, and I wanted to do it by myself for once. I finally did it, after much creative talking and kicking, only to find water gushing from a hose near the water pump.

Fortunately at that time a set of riders came around the corner and stopped to help. One of them had the brilliant idea to cut the torn section of hose off and reattach it to the pump. We laid the bike back on its side (so as to minimize fluid loss during the operation) and then I watched as they amputated the hose. This time I had help in getting the bike back up, we re-filled the reservoir, started the bike and as they say in some foreign country, Bob’s your uncle!

Putting the bike back on its side (photo by Scott Lawrence)

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Removing the torn section of hose (photo by Scott Lawrence)

Quick thinking by my fellow riders

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The road ahead

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Now we’re back to scenery and roads. Enjoy.

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This corner freaked me out – there was nothing beyond the road’s edge

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Pine cones and rocks look similar in the shadows

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Red-tailed hawk

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Summer flowers in bloom

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More roads through the backcountry

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Fun roads

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Perfect riding

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Another shot of the standing timber

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One of many bugs in my eye is visible here

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The clouds are moving in

Thanks to the ever-patient Scott (riding sweep for JR), I was able to follow him to the campsite. The temperatures dropped sharply that evening with the clear skies showing off a 3/4 moon and a complement of stars. The campfire, however, was the star of the show as everyone huddled around it. It went somewhere below freezing that night and other than a slight chill, an unlevel tent and a bruise on my leg, I slept like a baby…

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Camping for the night at 5,300′

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The campfire warmth was appreciated

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Other campsites in the meadow More campsites and bikes

Tell me what you think! I want to know!