Oct. 6, 2007 ... The day started out early, riding to the east into the beginnings of sunrise. There was a star studded clear sky starting out, but within minutes, the rose colors of an early dawn were replaced with ever increasing shades of gray as fast moving scud clouds swarmed in from the south. The sun would peak through momentarily from time to time, but we would have overcast conditions throughout most of our ride today.

Kansas typically has a killing frost by the first week of October .... but this year has been atypical in many ways, and today was no exception. The day started in the low seventies, and continued to climb into the mid eighties by late afternoon. A steady wind from the south kept the roads fairly free of dust for trailing riders.Our first rendezvous point was Augusta, KS ... where Tracy Ropp - Goddard - KTM 640 Adventure, Ken Clifford - Wichita - KLR650, and Roger Baugh - Wichita - KLR650 met. From there, we proceeded on to our main jump-off point of Beaumont, a near ghost town located at the top of the southern Flint Hills region. In Beaumont, we were joined by Britt Lolley - Wichita - DL650.

Following breakfast at the Beaumont Hotel, our group headed south into the expansive wind farm just south of town. We then turned east and followed Crisco Road, turning south towards the ghost town of Western Park. We cut back to the west again, this time riding to Latham ... and enjoying the expansive overlook at the Green Ranch.

We rode south out of Latham a few miles, then turned back to the east to follow the Grouse Creek valley, one of the major watersheds along the western face of the Flint Hills. We weren't disappointed with the scores of vistas we were treated to. Also, while riding south along the valley, we had an opportunity to stop and photograph four old bridges crossing Grouse Creek ... one iron and three arched stone. All were built in the early to late 1920s. After visiting our last bridge, we rode to the east into the Ferguson Ranch area, then turned south to reach Grenola, KS .... and a lunch stop. The one cafe' in town is a converted 1880s bank building ... a reminder of the once prosperous times when Grenola was a thriving cattle drive town.

Riding north out of Grenola, we entered open range towards Union Centre. Again, the prairie greeted us with the muted earth tone colors of Fall, sprinkled with an abundance of gold, white, and sky blue wildflowers. We rode on to Piedmont, then cut back to the west to ride a little used road that offered the best elevation change of the day, and some great panoramas, too. Arriving back at highway US-400, we made the decision to end the off-tarmac section of the day, locate fuel, and return home. We had ridden close to two-hundred miles today, half of that being dirt, gravel, and two track roads.

Simply amazing visuals today. We saw several deer, quite a few incredible vistas, and a profuse number of wildflowers. It was a perfect day to be out enjoying the Flint Hills ... rb

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