Doug Grosjean's
Alaska Trip Report

June 1999

 
Day 3; Monday, May 31st, 1999
Start: Western South Dakota
End: Five Springs Falls USFS Campground, Wyoming
590 Miles



In the morning, we carefully inspect the rear wheel on the GS. The rear end leak seems to be fixed - great!!

We take I-90 west across South Dakota and into Wyoming, where we pick up I-25 northbound. The morning is damp, on and off, and we are both so anxious to "get somewhere" that maybe we haven't loosened up enough, mentally, to actually enjoy the ride.

Looking back now, it seems as though Seattle was a goal that we just had to make, that once we got to Seattle, well, that's where the real adventure would begin, and until then we were just "trying to get somewhere".

We exit I-25, and head west on Rte. 14A in northern Wyoming, into the Bighorn Mountains. Climbing out of the valley, 14A is a great road as it twists and turns and climbs and climbs some more.... We start to see snow accumulations along the road, as we continue to climb. Then we encounter extremely heavy, thick fog. Very, very thick fog, our speed drops way down as we can't see a thing... the dew accumulates on the faceshield and I wipe, accumulate, wipe.... water accumulates all over the bike and the Aerostich, then runs off and the cycle starts over, everything is dripping.... our 4-way flashers are on, and every now and then a car comes along from the opposite direction, headlights on, and we don't see the car till it's right there in front of us. Very nerve racking after awhile.

Suddenly, we climb up out of the fog, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. There's heavy snowpack up here, it's only Memorial Day after all, and the scenery is incredibly beautiful, with dense pine forests poking through the deep snow, and the smell of pine trees thick in the air. Dark green on bright white against a deep blue background is a beautiful combination.

Now the road is fun, we motor along at a good clip, electric vests and heated grips turned on, and allís right with the world. We have the road to ourselves on this late afternoon.

I'd come this way with my new wife back in 1991 on an R100s, at exactly this time of year, and it all looks vaguely familiar, but not quite. Different amounts of snowpack make the scenery new to me compared to my 1991 honeymoon trip.

Then our first moose sighting on the trip, a big gangly looking moose is wandering alongside the road and gawking at us as we pass by. It won't be our last moose sighting.

The campgrounds up here are all closed, full of several feet of snow, and I suspect that it would be a very cold night at this altitude.

Then we start down out of the mountains. The road is winding down into the valley, and Joe being a faster rider steadily pulls ahead. It's not a race, and I'd lose if it were, so I just enjoy the downhill sweepers and the scenery as we descend.

Arriving on the plains, and there's Joe waiting for me. Turns out he noticed a sign for a forest service campground (Five Springs Falls), and it's about that time, so we decide to go for it.

The road to the campground is marked bumpy / rough / sharp turns for the next 2 miles. And it is - cool! Looks as though when the pavement was fresh it was awesome, but it's been years since it was last paved. Just dodge the biggest potholes and the gravel, and we arrive eventually at a perfect camp site on the banks of a small creek. We walk across a narrow foot bridge and set up camp.

Why is it perfect? It's sheltered from wind by the trees against the base of a hill, the creek provides "white noise" for sleeping, there's a fire ring and firewood left by previous campers, we're the only people in the entire campground, and it's free.

Perfect!!

We make camp, and arrange our bedding while there's still light.

Then we cook a supper of chili, hot chocolate, and noodles over our camp stoves.

After supper we build a fire with the wood that's been left by others, and look at the stars in the clear night sky before turning in for the night. We can see our breath, feel the heat of the fire, and hear the water flowing over the rocks in the creek. All is well.

Now it sinks in - we are on tour!

And then we turn in for the night.


Doug Grosjean
Pemberville, Ohio 43450