Wednesday, August 10, 2011

BigTrip2011 – Day7 – Mountains and Rainstorms

My original plan for today (August 4) was to ride straight east to Atlantic coast in Maine from Vermont, but a tip from FuzzyGalore sent me off on a different adventure. 

She had suggested I visit Mount Washington. I took her suggestion since it was on the way, but I didn’t expect to be bashing down a dirt road on a fully loaded sport bike!


Along the way I got my first glimpse of the presidential mountain range. I was stunned. This is the scenery I was looking for in the Adirondacks, but didn’t see. I love looking at mountains. They weren’t as impressive as the alps or the Rockies, but I still stopped and enjoyed them for many minutes.


I enjoyed riding in Vermont. Twisty, empty roads, with beautiful scenery. It was a great day to ride.

The GPS told me to turn off the main road, so I followed it. It appeared to be taking me on a shortcut that would save a few miles and “be faster” I did not have the option selected to avoid dirt roads.

I ended up on a minimum maintenance gravel road that was sometimes paved, but cleared had not been maintained in years. It wound through the edge of the national forest. The asphalt had cracks, frost heaves, and potholes. The road had something else which made it very interesting to ride on, it large upheavals in throughout the road the side of large footballs. It was an exciting game avoiding all of the road hazards while trying to stay upright. The SV only has a few inches of ground clearance! I found myself standing on the pegs for most of the nearly ten miles. The forest was distractingly beautiful which made the ride all that more difficult. The road ended, and I was back on a freshly paved road. I think my bike sighed in relief.


I took the auto-road to the top of Mt Washington. It’s a private road and it cost me $15 for my motorcycle. It was a great alpine road with lots of twists, turns, and a steep grade. The lack of guard rails meant the view of the scenery was unobstructed.

Here is a view from the top looking back at the start:


Most of the cars pulled over to let me pass on the way up except for one smelly, black Mercedes. He just kept puttering along at 10-15mph. I think he was scared. I kept pulling over to let them get some distance as I admired the view. The car smelled like a overheating engine and the fumes were making me gag. This sequence repeated itself several time during the eight mile climb to the summit of 6288 feet.


It was foggy at the top, so the view wasn’t as stunning as it could have been. Many people took the hiking trail to the top which I was told only took about two hours. I think it would have taken me two days unless sherpas carried me up.


Mount Washington is has a couple records to it’s name. It has the oldest hiking trail in America (laid out in 1819) which has been in continuous use since. It also has the highest recorded ground wind speed of 231mph.


The views were great on the way down, and I stopped frequently to take photos and video. I’ll likely be posting the video after I get back to MN.


From there, I headed east towards the coast in Maine. I stopped at this roadside rest (Snow Falls) to put on my rain gear. There were two waterfalls and a few picnic tables. It was a relaxing place to have a snack with only the sound of the occasional motorhome roaring past breaking the sound of the water flowing over the rocks.

IMG_1602 IMG_1605IMG_1608

Many hour riding in the rain and trying in vain to dodge the dark rain clouds, I arrived in Bar Harbor, ME. It was full of tourists on foot walking everywhere. The traffic was also very backed up.


My original plan was to camp in Acadia National Park, but the thought of setting up the tent in the rain and enduring the overnight thunderstorms sent me seeking a motel. It took me quite a few tries before I finally found one. It seems the effort to flip on the “no vacancy” signs was too great for many establishments. I stopped for dinner, and then continued my search. The rain took a breather for the short time I was looking after dinner. I eventually found an over-priced motel and checked it. As soon as I parked the bike, the skies opened up again in a massive downpour. I unloaded the bike in the pouring rain, hung up my wet gear, and fell asleep listening to the rain.


Mount Washington and the ocean view were two of the highlights of the entire trip so far. Thanks Fuzzy!


  1. Chris,

    Your pictures of Snow Falls give me reason to rethink my tentative plans for next year: The Southwest. The Northeast looks like a beautiful region to visit.

    As for crapping out and getting a motel, I completely understand. Last year I did the same thing in Michigan. After riding in the rain, there is not much tolerance left for an overnight in the showers. The motel folks took such pity on me, I got almost half off the room.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  2. 15 bucks well spent. Gorgeous views. You should have kicked that stinky Merc off the cliff ;-)
    Your trip is really making mi curious about this part of the US.

  3. Mt. Washington looks like a nice addition to a trip. I've heard about the winds and snow up there but no one has mentioned trips in the summer. I guess the winter stands out more in peoples minds.

    Nice waterfalls...

  4. aw man, now it looks like I have another "must visit someday" on my list... :) heheheh... awesome though.

  5. Brady: the northeast has been great so far, but I also really enjoyed my trip to the southwest two years ago. I guess you'll just have to do both :)

    SonjaM: indeed $15 well spent. it's gorgeous country, but then again nearly everywhere I've been in the US has some good scenery nearby.

    RichardM: wikipedia had a nice bit on the weather. I was a bit concerned when I first arrived and saw the clouds at the top. I got lucky and didn't get wet or snowed on. I'm glad I went.

    The waterfalls were found completely by accident and provided a much needed break.

    William: LOL. if your list is like mine, it just keeps getting longer and longer.

  6. Chris, come over to Colorado....Pikes Peak and Mount Evans, both fourteeners, await you and your motorcycle. It'll be a good ride for us....


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  7. Dom: Trust me, I want to! I need to work out timing.

    I was there in 2009 riding around and loved it. The rockies are my second favorite mountains behind the swiss alps. the stuff on the east coast doesn't compare. the tallest they have is mt washington.

  8. Dom: PS: It would be great to meet and ride with you.

  9. Dear Chris:

    I sent you a comment, not 15 minutes after you left here yesterday, and it never appeared. I wonder if I wasn't so tired that I simpy erased it, instead of sending it on. Here is in a recap:

    The Presidential Range is thoroughly in keeping with the dignity of New England... But the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks has a savage splendor that must be seen feom the interior. This means an eight hour walk from a road, or by going up someplace high. I would have recommended the run up White Face Mountain to see the Adirondacks peel away like waves in the ocean.

    The next time you go through the area, take the walking tour through High Falls Gorge, stop to look at the river in the Wilmington Notch, take the run up White Face, take the tour of the ski jumps, and then visit the burial place of John Brown, the abolitionist. And, then you should have had dinner at the Hungry Trout, in Wilmington.

    Next time you go, ask an expert. I have three moto-riding friends in the area who could have taken you on the twisty tour of your life — all on "Seasonal Maintenance Roads."

    I had a blast going up Mount Washington — on the cog railroad. But I got a second shot at it with you! How I long to do this on a motorcycle.
    On the day that I went, the sky was crystal clear, which is very rare, I understand. It was the middle of July, and it was absolutely chilly at the top.

    Your pictures of Snow Falls in Maine were really cool. In the second shot, you have caught two "Potholes" in the frame. They are the circular cuts in the stone on the left. They are caused by sand and gravel being swirled by the current over a thousand years.

    I am not surprised you had difficulty finding a hotel in Bar Harbor, last week. It is the high season for Maine and even the secondary properties are full.

    It was fun having you for a guest this week... And I look forward to riding out your way... Perhaps next year.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  10. PS: Blogger broke my balls relentlessly attempting to leave this second version of the same message. I had to "sign in" twice, play musical chairs by typing in random letters twice, and then include a sperm sample.

    Fondest regards,

  11. Dear Chris:

    I posted the details of our visit together on Twisted Roads — using all of the editorial principles we discussed.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  12. I have appreciated following the tour. Been reading but not commenting until now. Some of the photos have been absolutely fantastic, by the way.

    Like you, I have ridden a bike on roads it might not have been meant to be on. Not really fun. However, knowing you can actually do it as well as having good war stories is priceless!

  13. Dear Jack:
    yes, next time I go through the area I will have to see many of the things I missed of which there are many I'm sure. Your suggestions would have been more handy before I finished that part of the ride :)

    Love the "potholes". We have an entire park in MN that is made of them.

    blogger must love you.

    thanks again for the hospitality. I enjoyed the time with you (and leslie and the pups).

    irondad: thanks. I'm glad you've been enjoying it. It was enjoyable to do. Which ones are your favorite photos?

    Oh the road was fun even on the SV650. Not quite like it would have been on the WR250R (or maybe even the GS). Makes me think back to 30+ years ago when every bike was for everything.

    Yes, having the confidence to ride your bike anywhere is priceless (and quite fun!)