How the West was Received: Ending the TransAmerica Path

We revealed Dave Scott’s story about driving the TransAmerica Path from North Carolina to Colorado in our November 2022 Journey Situation and on our web site right here, and it ended with an emergency evacuation at 13,000 toes within the San Juan Mountains. That is Half 2. –Ed.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
Earlier than resuming the TAT, we did a shakedown run on Final Greenback Highway close to Telluride, Colorado.

Breaking my leg close to 13,114-foot Imogene Go was in all probability the very best factor that occurred to me on the TransAmerica Path. Had I made it over the summit, I in all probability would have died falling down the opposite facet. That was my pondering as I cruised into Telluride, Colorado, a 12 months later to renew the TAT the place I had left off.

TransAmerica Trail part 2

Again within the Saddle on the TransAmerica Path

After my crash on the TAT, it took six months earlier than I may stroll with out crutches or a cane. Even a 12 months later, I nonetheless had a limp and took stairs slowly. Throughout my convalescence, I had loads of time to replicate on my TAT expertise. As a substitute of a solo effort like earlier than, I might have my buddy Nathen shadow me in my Jeep and pop-up trailer. We’d keep in contact by way of satellite tv for pc communicators, and he could be organising camp and carrying spares, gasoline, gear, and beer. This may permit me to journey my KTM 500 EXC unencumbered by heavy, hard-to-balance gear.


Since I used to be laid up within the hospital after my crash with my leg put again along with metallic screws and plates, I paid a neighborhood man to get better my KTM from Imogene Go.

TransAmerica Trail part 2 Imogene Pass
Imogene Go – the very best level on the path and the alpha and omega of my journey.

Almost a 12 months after my fateful tumble, I drove my Jeep and trailer to Grand Junction, the place the bike had remained untouched in a buddy’s storage. Nathen flew in from Philadelphia, and we loaded the bike into the trailer and drove right down to Montrose, the place the KTM obtained an overhaul. Close to Telluride, Nathen and I did a shakedown run on Final Greenback Highway, an unpaved scenic byway.

The subsequent day, I resumed my TAT journey by driving as much as Imogene Go and somewhat past to the precise spot the place I had fallen and ended my first try. I had been informed that the toughest a part of the path to the cross was the 20-mile jap method from Ouray. The western method from Telluride was solely about 6 miles; a man informed me his buddy did it in a Subaru. I naively figured I’d head up and be again in time for lunch. Nevertheless, about midway up, close to to the deserted mining city of Tomboy, the route turned treacherous, and as soon as extra, I used to be pushed to journey past my capabilities.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
One among Colorado’s high-elevation off-road routes.

On the time of my crash a 12 months earlier, I used to be in high TAT form. I had been on the bike virtually two months at that time, having traversed half the continent and crossed over the Nice Divide. This time, I used to be carrying sufficient {hardware} in my legs {that a} laborious fall would have all of it poking by my pores and skin like a porcupine. Furthermore, final time, after surviving one path atrocity or one other, I may say to myself, “Properly, I’ll by no means do this once more.” This time I used to be burdened with the information that I must return down the identical manner I used to be going up. If I fell down and broke my leg once more – and I virtually did! – completely nobody, not even my mom, would really feel sorry for me. I took all of it slowly and managed to make it again right down to Telluride in a single piece. 

All Downhill from Right here

From Imogene Go again down, I used to be on the TransAmerica Path once more. I adopted GPSKevin’s route from Telluride to Utah, the place I rejoined Sam Correro’s route. (See “TAT? Which TAT?” sidebar within the first installment of the TransAmerica Path story.) The climate was nice and the surroundings was superior.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
Utah is probably the most superior – and most difficult – a part of the TAT.

In Utah, simply south of Monticello, wishing to keep away from the lengthy desert bits that will push the bounds of my gasoline tank’s capability, I converted to the Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR), following it all over Moab and up the jap fringe of Utah into Wyoming. We arrange a sequence of checkpoints the place I might talk to Nathen every time I crossed a significant highway. That manner, if I bumped into hassle, he’d know the place to begin on the lookout for me.

Our first evening of tenting was at Warner Lake State Campground, which sits at 9,400 toes within the La Sal Mountains close to Moab. I used to be getting reacquainted with my KTM, having fun with its unladen lightness, and having Nathen ready for me at a ready campsite with steaks and beer was even higher than I imagined it will be.

I had naively thought that after I left Colorado’s San Juan vary, the remainder of the TAT could be simpler. After all, I used to be improper. Most of the BDR sections in Utah require severe enduro expertise to recover from and thru sand, rocks, and steep ledges. Since hitting Moab, I used to be having three or 4 near-death experiences a day, and I used to be beginning to get somewhat PTSD due to it.

TransAmerica Trail part 2 Bear Lake
Bear Lake, straddling Utah and Idaho, was a welcome place to catch our breath after days within the excessive nation.

I don’t know what guys with these large ol’ Winnebago journey bikes do when the path will get so steep that you simply principally see simply sky out of your peripheral imaginative and prescient when you careen downhill, your gear driving on the small of your again, your toes urgent on the pegs to maintain your crotch from shoving the tankbag into the handlebar, feeling that handlebar flex, transferring quicker than your engine can brake you, when even a look on the entrance brake may tuck the entrance finish and the one factor between you and oblivion is somewhat tap-tap-tap-tap on the rear brake, none of which slows you a lot if you hit a kind of 14-foot switchback drops the place you need to do a 180-degree slide flip proper on the precise spot the place water and gravel acquire on that a part of the bobsled run. 

And if the path just isn’t strong rock with smaller rocks piled on, it’s sandy shale with 10-inch water ruts working parallel and diagonally down the slope, overlooking a canyon with damaged timber and whitewater rapids roaring tons of of toes under. It’s not if however when you’ll fall. Once you do, Mr. Journey Bike, in case you don’t die or wreck your bike, are you able to decide all of it up and get again on? I’m not speaking about lifting the 500-lb beast in your driveway very first thing within the morning however moderately selecting it up on a steep slope of shale, nose-down, within the late afternoon, removed from residence, when darkness looms and each delay means additional lack of mild, when your arms really feel like moist spaghetti and your knee or ankle is sprained and your ribs harm if you breathe, which comes out as a gasping wheeze anyway due to the altitude. 

Then it’s one other trick to get again on that tall-ass bike – and tougher nonetheless to begin it and get going once more. In contrast to that point in Colorado after I one way or the other entered a mystical fugue state and glided over some tough patches, in Utah I wasn’t picked up by Charon and ferried throughout the River Styx.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
Heavy site visitors in the summertime provides to the issue of Colorado’s high-elevation off-road routes.

Out of My Arms

After being so tense for therefore lengthy, I lastly numbed out, held on, and let the bike work out find out how to get down the mountain by itself. I accepted that I used to be in all probability going to fall daily it doesn’t matter what. Fortunately, I had good high quality physique armor, gloves, boots, and helmet, all of which had been examined and held up, even to the purpose when the bones beneath them gave manner.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
A lot of Utah and the Nice Basin required cautious navigation.

My denouement arrived after I got here face-to-face with a downhill flume that seemed to be made solely of bowling balls. Partway down the slope, my entrance tire obtained caught between two boulders, leaving me holding all the things upright on tippy toes on a 3rd boulder, with the clutch pulled in and about 75 extra yards of steep bowling balls to go.

Properly, I did my half, was my final thought as I kicked the entrance tire unfastened. Gravity and the KTM took me up over a boulder and down into the bowling alley. I hit an enormous rock head-on, bounced backward, and rolled over it. Then one other and one other, like bumper vehicles on a slope, bouncing and hitting and banging my manner downhill.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
It was a transparent evening once we free-camped on the prairie, and we noticed hundreds of thousands of stars.

After an extended day of nothing however rocks, it was nightfall earlier than I made it to camp. After I obtained there, the tent was arrange however nothing else: no meals on the barbecue, no chilly beer, no smiling face to greet me. Nathen was curled up in his sleeping bag, unconscious. I used to be pissed off however figured he should have altitude illness, so it was an MRE for dinner and an early campfire alone.

The subsequent morning was freezing chilly, and for the primary time, I used to be not excited to greet the TAT. We have been within the Uinta Mountains, in Utah’s panhandle east of Salt Lake Metropolis, amongst 10,000-feet-plus Bald Mountain and Hayden Peak, surrounded by alpine lakes. It was a few of the most spectacular surroundings I’ve seen wherever on the planet, the air perfumed by pine. I principally keep in mind that a part of the journey like a dream.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
Throughout the summer season, some campgrounds – like this one within the La Sal Mountains close to Moab, Utah – must be booked properly upfront.

The path moved previous towering ridges and undulating excessive prairie as I crisscrossed between the borders of Utah and Wyoming, in the end popping right down to Bear Lake, the place Nathen had already ready camp. We stayed there for 2 days to recharge, sleeping many of the second day. 

TransAmerica Trail part 2
Having a chase automobile to haul gear and a companion to assist out – and greet me with a frosty beer and grilled steak on the finish of every day – was a recreation changer.
TransAmerica Trail part 2
Having a buddy alongside was a recreation changer, however it was a problem to take care of communication and hold the Jeep – and Nathen – functioning.

Cousins to the Rescue

As luck would have it, the BDR people blazed a connecting path from Utah to its Idaho route that completely synched me again up with Correro’s TransAmerica Path. At Balancing Rock, I left the TAT to observe the unique Oregon Path. One of many highlights of my cross-country journey was tracing the wagon-wheel ruts of America’s pioneers. I navigated my very own grime path to Three Island State Park – a significant impediment for coated wagons in these occasions – the place I picked up Idaho’s state-run Primary Oregon Path Backcountry Byway, a 100-mile grime route that ends at Bonneville Level.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
This 102-mile byway follows the wagon ruts of the pioneers on the Oregon Path.

Nathen and I headed southwest to Melba, Idaho, the place my cousins Calvin and Corrina reside. We confronted double jeopardy: Nathen, who had been listless for days, couldn’t get off the bed, and we had mechanical points with the Jeep. We took Nathen to pressing care, the place he was identified with Lyme illness, normally contracted by a tick chunk. I felt dangerous that I had pushed and prodded him to maintain transferring; I assumed he was simply malingering. Nathen flew residence to Philly, and I left the Jeep with a mechanic and my trailer with Calvin and Corrina and reconfigured the KTM so I may end the TAT how I began a 12 months in the past: solo and unassisted.

Via Hearth and Brimstone to the Sea

The Pacific Ocean Spur of Correro’s TAT skirts the desolate Nice Basin, which apprehensive me due to my restricted gasoline vary. A full day’s driving took me the farthest I had gone with out refueling since leaving Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. When my engine began to sputter dry, I found that my gasoline bladder was empty after a part of it melted on the KTM’s exhaust pipe – happily it hadn’t ignited! Fortunately, I used to be already on blacktop coming down from the mountains, so I pulled within the clutch and coasted right into a gasoline station within the little frontier city of Canyon Metropolis, Oregon.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
Among the extra distant areas have been useless quiet.

With the desert behind me and milder mountains forward, I confronted an impediment that nearly ended my journey. The Satan’s Knob Advanced Hearth was raging uncontrolled and spreading, and the TAT ran proper by the center of it. I spent the evening in a motel close to the hearth zone and plotted a route farther south towards Crater Lake. Nevertheless, the hearth shifted in a single day, and I ended up needing a park ranger escort by a just lately burned space. It was sobering to see the melted roadway and burned-up husks of what was once a forest. The air smelled like charcoal.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
Forest fires have the potential to smash a TAT journey. Keep linked to trace forest fires.

The remainder of the day was one frustration after one other as I navigated my manner across the hearth. After I obtained again on pavement, it was darkish, and I used to be virtually out of gasoline. I hit a number of miles of Interstate 5, the primary freeway I had been on since I began the journey. The expertise was surreal. I noticed extra individuals than I had in days, sharing three lanes with all kinds of automobiles, the wind from passing semis buffeting my laden dirtbike.

I spent my final evening of the TAT on the Wolf Creek Inn. In-built 1883, it’s the oldest constantly operated lodge within the Pacific Northwest – and apparently probably the most haunted locations in Oregon. Arising early the subsequent morning, I used to be filled with power, able to embark on the ultimate leg of my trip-of-a-lifetime, the fruits of a two-year journey that began on the sting of the Atlantic Ocean.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
Watch out when tenting in bear-prone areas, particularly if this man is round.
TransAmerica Trail part 2
Many components of the TAT cross by grazing areas and have gates to open and shut.

A Nice Final Day on the TransAmerica Path

It was a good looking day amidst magnificent surroundings, and I needed to savor each minute of each mile. I took somewhat nation highway tour to Golden, a well-preserved ghost city, and farther alongside, after the highway turned to grime, I hoped to blaze a path right down to the TAT. What appeared like a good suggestion turned out to be a self-inflicted ordeal, and I ended up bushwhacking and almost succumbing to a hostile blackberry bush.

It was virtually midday after I obtained my final tank of gasoline. All through all the journey, I had gotten just one flat tire, again in Tennessee. The expertise had value me a whole day, so after I had new tires mounted in Colorado, I had the store set up a bib mousse within the entrance tire as an alternative of a tube. That puncture-proof doughnut of froth in all probability prevented a number of flats after I was bouncing from rock to rock like a pinball in Utah. Nevertheless, on the finish of the path, it went from being merely squishy to downright flat with about 60 extra miles to go.

TransAmerica Trail part 2 Three Island Crossing
Three Island Crossing was the make-or-break impediment for a lot of pioneers on the Oregon Path. From there it’s due west to the Pacific.

I nonetheless wanted to traverse the coastal Siskiyou Vary, and the path zigzagged from the treeline right down to the Rogue River, then again up and down once more, repeatedly. Due to the flat entrance tire, I saved my pace round 20 mph and took tons of of turns as sq. as potential.

Nonetheless, it was an incredible day. The countryside was like a biggest hits album of the entire TAT. Alongside the Rogue River, the thick deciduous timber jogged my memory of Appalachia. Climbing into the mountains, the pines, chapparal, and vistas have been emblematic of the West. In between have been dank, moss-covered redwoods that heralded the Pacific. And I noticed extra wildlife than on another stretch of the entire journey: elk, deer, a bear cub, a beaver, and an eagle.

TransAmerica Trail part 2 Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls on the Snake River close to Twin Falls, Idaho, just isn’t straight on the TAT, however it’s a worthy detour.

On the charge I used to be going, it was going to be a stretch to make it to the coast earlier than darkish. However someplace up within the mountains when the highway forked, there was an indication within the route I used to be going that mentioned “COAST.” That recharged me, however it was hours later earlier than I lastly rounded a tree-lined nook and stumbled on U.S. Route 101. I used to be met with a chilly blast of wind and the open ocean. Identical to that the GPS route ended, and the TransAmerica Path was over.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
It was heartening to see this signal on my final day of the TAT.

It was a number of miles south on 101 to Port Orford, probably the most westerly city within the decrease 48 states. I hugged the shoulder to journey sluggish sufficient to maintain my tire collectively and never get run over. Orford is a fishing entrepot uncovered to the tough sea. I discovered entry right down to the seashore for the ritual dunking of my entrance wheel within the Pacific, as I had achieved within the Atlantic after I began my journey greater than a 12 months in the past.

The wind was sturdy, the sand was comfortable, and the tide was coming in shortly. It was all I may do to take off my gloves for a selfie and hold my bike upright. A few foot and a half of water rushed over me, soaking my boots and burying my rims. It was tough to get out of there, and with that flat entrance tire, I barely made it again up the eroded slippery cliff to the principle highway.

TransAmerica Trail part 2
It rattling positive wasn’t straightforward, however I lastly made it to the Pacific.

I rode again to a dock the place there was somewhat shack that seemed like a bar. The cranes have been hauling up the final boats of the day as I pulled as much as the fisherman’s tavern, leaned my bike towards a publish, and shut off the engine. That’s when the enormity of the entire thing washed over me.

Stuffing my gloves in my helmet, I pushed open the door, and yelled out the good factor ever emitted from my lips: “Hey all people! I simply rode throughout America on a dirtbike!”

TransAmerica Trail part 2 Port Orford
Probably the greatest days of my life included celebratory beers and oysters at this fisherman’s bar in Port Orford.

I ordered a mug of beer, a dozen oysters, and a flounder sandwich. After a second beer, after I requested for the test, I used to be informed that one of many different patrons had coated my tab. Later, I used to be the one visitor in somewhat redwoods lodge, the place I watched the sundown from a scorching tub, with a bottle of champagne at my facet.

Take heed to Dave Scott’s unfiltered story of his total TAT journey in Episodes 46, 48, and 50 of the Rider Journal Insider Podcast.