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Dirt Bikes, Off-Road, Panamints, Panamint Valley, Happy Canyon, Ride Report, Trip Report

[Dirt Bikes]
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Location: Vortex Springs
Riders: Ted & Bob
Source: Posted to (RMD)

On 1 Mar 1998 01:33:34 GMT, in "ted" <> wrote:

Had a great time riding in Florida last week and thought I would post a report.

My buddy Bob (Somerset, KY) and I (Dayton, OH) wanted to do a short dirt bike and scuba diving trip in Florida. After a little investigation, we found a place that could accommodate both - Vortex Springs in Ponce De Leon, Florida!

Cheap was the name of the game so we took the tent, grill, misc. camping gear, etc. I started packing the Blazer on Sunday and was quickly overwhelmed by how gear intensive dirt biking and scuba diving both are. Having only done one or the other on previous trips, I was not prepared for just how much crap I packed in the truck. I got it all in, but was quite concerned about where I was going to put Bob, let alone his gear!

On Wednesday, I left work at 4:45 pm, went home, loaded my bike (89 KTM 350) on the trailer, hitched the trailer to the Blazer and took off for Kentucky. Arrived at Bob's house about 11:00pm. We loaded Bob's gear in the Blazer (took some major reorganizing) and his bike (81 Suzuki DR500) on the trailer.

Bob had a 7:00am meeting on Thursday. It ran a little long, so I didn't pick him up until 10:00am (about 2 hours later than planned). No big deal, we were glad to be getting away from work and on the road. Took lots of food, so didn't need to stop until we got to a Hooters in Newsome, GA. Had some dinner (while the food was great, we really go for the great service!), and then got back on the road. Got to Vortex Spring about 10:00pm, had camp set up by 11:00pm.

Got up early on Friday (about 7:00am, early for us) and decided to go for a dive. Got geared up and in the water by about 8:00, we were the first ones in and the visibility was great! Water was clear as gin! Vortex is a fresh water spring, with an underground cave. Lots of freshwater fish (carp, bass, perch, etc.) and eels (green and blue). The cave is well marked and grated off about 110 feet down, with approx. 300 feet of penetration. (Please no flames about cave diving). If you've never been in an underwater cave, you can't believe how dark it is when you turn out the lights! You literally can't see your hand in front of your face. Had a great dive, played with the eels (they seem to be harmless but are very curious) and called the dive after about 40 min.

Packed the dive gear, refilled the tanks, had some lunch and decided to go for a ride. Vortex has 360 acres of woods and trails and we had a blast. The trails had a great mix of terrain. The trails went from deep soft sand, to mud, to hard packed dirt, to water crossings, to log crossings, to tall grass (i.e. no trails), to dirt/sand roads! There was even one place where they had been logging, looked like a field of saplings knocked down! To get from one trail section to another, we crossed this section and probably went 200 - 300 yards without touching any dirt - just riding on the trees! What a great time! We had never ridden in soft sand before and it was a blast!

I had just put new tires on the KTM (Michelin S-12's, front and rear) and they worked perfectly. Completely changed my bike! (If you have an older bike and want to improve it's performance, I highly recommend getting new tires - they gave me a confidence I haven't had before)

We are both typically pretty slow riders (Bob is faster than I, his Suzuki isn't as quick as my KTM, but Bob is smooth!) but these trails gave us an opportunity to kick up the speed. A couple of places I could get wound out in 4th (hey it felt fast to us) and it was awesome! Some of the faster trails had deep sand in a couple of the corners, and this was great! Just plant the front wheel and give it the gas. The KTM would kick the back wheel out about a foot and just roost!

After about 3 hours of riding, we headed back to camp. Grilled out some steaks and geared up for a night dive! What a day! Water was stirred up pretty good (there were about 100 people diving there that day), and we were tired (I was anyway), so we called the dive short. Packed up the dive gear and called it a night.

Got up Saturday morning about 8:00 am, geared up and went riding again. Tried all of the trails from Friday and blazed a few of our own (that was interesting). Also explored some of the dirt roads in the area. All in all, another great day of riding. What fun! Got back to camp about 12:30, cooked lunch, broke camp, loaded the Blazer and the trailer and hit the road by 2:30pm. Drove straight though and got back to Bob's house about 1:00am Saturday night. What a trip.

Slept in on Sunday, left Bob's about 11:30 for Corbin, KY. Had lunch at the original KFC and saw Colonel Sanders Museum (we always try to include a little culture and education on our trips). Even went to the local Flea Market where I got my wife a knock-off Tommy Hilfinger sweat shirt for $15 bucks!

Got back to Dayton and had the truck unloaded by 7:30pm on Sunday. What a great time - both bikes ran flawlessly, no "big" crashes, Blazer ran great (15-16 mpg) and the weather was terrific (mid -high 70's during the day, lots of sunshine). My total expense for the trip (diving, gas, food, camping, sweatshirt for wife, etc.) was right at $200. What a deal! Highly recommended!