Faris Cave, near Kanopolis, KS
9/14/03 was an awesome day to ride 140 miles in the Smoky Hills area!! The weather couldn’t have been better. Todd Hanchett’s XR 500 and my KLR 650 rumbled, as we, the leader-less duo (read suckers) set out to ride toward the Minneapolis area. We hoped to get lost, find some awesome dualsport routes and eventually follow our "digital breadcrumb trail" back to our starting point. By the way, thanks for the GPS battery steadying tips, Mr. Clean ... no shut downs.

We began our route in Lindsborg. The route took us along back roads to Coronado Heights. After briefly exploring the Coronado Heights area, we spanked dirt roads headed for Kanopolis Lake. We explored several two-track areas, and eventually arrived at Kanopolis. We took a five-minute break to observe a vulture having lunch. A prone deer was the guest of honor. Todd (the experienced Boy Scout leader he is), showed me an area called Horsethief Canyon, and Horsethief Cave (http://www.naturalkansas.org/kanopolis.htm). Most of all, I enjoyed watching Todd hike the loose sand and rock trails in his Fox Motocross boots.

On the way out of the Horsethief area we rode past a very active Prairie Dog Town (boy, those little critters like to dart right out in front of you. They must be working in cahoots with those "GEICO squirrels").

After leaving the lake, we briefly visited Castle Rock Ranch Bed & Breakfast (http://www.castlerockbnb.com/), which is a great place to escape to (if you want your cell phone to be out of range). Innkeepers Judy & Terri are pretty neat. For land conservation purposes you can’t ride to the Castle Rock. Since we didn’t want to walk the 20-minute trail, I snapped a picture and we set out for Mushroom Rock State Park (http://www.kdwp.state.ks.us/pmforum/mushroom.html).

At Mushroom State Park, an unknown bug of the biting variety attacked me, attempting to put me in a headlock. Thanks to my "cat-like" reflexes and combative skills, I managed to jump around like an idiot and save myself. I also had the "good fortune" of discovering a small stress crack related fuel leak coming from my tank (where the welded bracket bolts onto the frame).

Ever ready for adventure, Todd and I pushed on to Faris Ranch and Faris Caves. The caves were pretty neat. There are two rooms, which were hand dug into the sandstone cliff. According to KS Parks officials, they were once used as a school and living quarters. There is also a spring which bubbles to the surface in the "caves." There is even a third small "room" which has a small cold spring water pool in it, which was used for refrigeration purposes.

Deciding to skip the Minneapolis area, we rode west toward Kanopolis to fuel up (read: NO GAS STATIONS). Todd had a really close view of a gorgeous (and large) hawk, which swooped down a few feet in front of him. We pushed on to Ellsworth, where we fueled up and had lunch at around 2:30 PM

After lunch we decided to head back toward Lindsborg. Todd and I again rode dirt roads, which varied, from sand to gravel to rock and back. While in the lead, I dropped a map from my map case. Todd turned around to pick up my map and sample the local (loose) soil. Neither Todd nor his bike sustained injuries. His XR must have been offended at laying "sunny side up", since it took at least 30 Minutes to start back up. Todd was even kind enough to pose where he landed for a picture to amuse us all.

The rest of our ride was uneventful, taking us back into Lindsborg, where it all began. What a fun day!!!!!!

Photos and story by Nef Torres

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