Harley Tracks - Trail Update

Discussion in 'Road Trips/Touring' started by mc2, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. mc2

    mc2 Active Member Contributor

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    Nha Trang to Hanoi on a straight hard run is less than 3 days. On a more leisurely pace on the scenic route I arrived in 7.

    If there is a list of world class motorcycle rides the HCM Trail deserves to be on it. Across increaslingly better road as you ride north, into the remote region on the Western Branch, under the blazing heat of strong solar rays and through many expected monsoon rains, it was all a fantastic ride.

    I found access to a few remnants of the old trail used during the war and naturally layed Harley Tracks on them. Photo stops were many, or to just soak in the natural beauty.

    I arrived in Khe Sanh early to visit the war memorial/battle site, a visit filled with deep sorrow, followed by anger. In the morning I ventured into the hills for a walk through the woods. Unbearably hot and humid, dense brush filled with thorny vines literally tore me up. The thought of Vets still remaining in these hills brought sorrow to a greater depth.

    Continuing on with heavy thought I was stopped 2 minutes below the 17th parallel by the strongest and heaviest monsoon rainfall I have encountered. Totally alone in the most remote region of Vietnam with a wall of water falling on me, visibility down to a couple hundred meters at best with thunder that felt like it was shaking the mountains. Walking around on the Trail during this was so cool! After an hour of this I was reminded with the thought of the Peanuts character Linus standing on the pitchers mound in a rainstorm shouting to his team, "I think its letting up", and I cautiously rode on.

    Up the Trail I turned to the west to lay Harley Tracks on route #7 to the Lao border and back. A sceninc ride on a great riding trail, between a few "blemishes".

    Rice harvest is full on through the central regions and that is an awesome sight. Very labor intense with many trails covered with drying of the harvest.

    As the Trail neared Hanoi it was sad to see an increase of heavy traffic and what it is doing to My Trail. All being relative it was still a great ride.

    After a few days of visiting and taking care of some business I'll be off to lay more fresh Harley Tracks in a round about way to Sapa. Been up there twice before and hope this time to see sunshine and the magnificient mountain vistas it is so popular for.

    Some photos posted in my albums for your entertainment. Enjoy.
     
  2. lorne

    lorne Senior Member

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    a very good read with some great shots....thanks for sharing
     
  3. 09RG/92spster

    09RG/92spster Member

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    Awesome pictures, thanks.
     
  4. guinneach

    guinneach Member

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    Hey man! Erik here from Saigon. When I saw this post I knew it was you. I went down the Skyline Drive in VA a couple weeks ago with a buddy who worked with me in Saigon (you never met him). I've got to say, as beautiful as it was and as nice as the temps were, it just wasnt like riding with the guys in Vietnam.

    Shoot me a PM with a good email addy, I only have your work email.
     
  5. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

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    Hey mc2, you write good. It's almost like I reading a news documentary, but it's more since I was in Nam in 1970 and the words you use and the places you talk about brings back so much into my mind.

    The HCM trail as I remember it was all on the Laotian side of the border, is that still the case ?

    Do you ever ride up QL 20 highway ? I would give anything to have some pictures along that route. I've ridden it on convoy many times between Long Binh and Bao Loc. Was on two different small one hill bases along QL 20 for quite a number of months. One at the top of the mountian pass just before Bao Loc and the other at the bottom beside a 3 building village called Bazar.

    I lost all my pictures from then and have none so if you ever do ride that I would be most gratefull to see some of um. The river at the bottom of the pass would be a shallow stream in the dry season and turn into a raging 7 feet deep river in the Monsoon.

    That pic of you with your bike, it looks like you are holding a shirt or something. Is that a patch of the "Black Horse" 11th Armored Cav ?
     
  6. guinneach

    guinneach Member

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    RWB, I rode that route three times last year and the year before. Actually met mc2 and rode with him as well as HOG Saigon. I have a couple pics I took on the climb up the mountains just before Bao Loc but there isnt a lot of detail. Shoot me an email and I'll send you what I have. It is a beautiful ride, and as you might remember it gets nice and cool once you top out in that coffee country.
     
  7. mc2

    mc2 Active Member Contributor

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    RWB,

    Thanks for your flattering comments:p
    I am glad I can connect because I am working on a book about my rides.

    Just arrived in Sapa after two days of fantastic riding laying fresh tracks through the mountains. It was just 'bubbling' with scenery!

    Yeah, I've been in and around Bao Loc on #20 and the other one from the southeast - that was a rough ride, but pretty scenery. Some of the creeks are damed up now. I'll pull out some photos for you later.

    That is the POW/MIA patch on my cut off that I am holding. I carry it wherever I ride.

    You're partly right about the HCM Trail in Lao, but it changed so often with the overhead bombing. Actually crosses the borders with Lao and Cambodia many times. But remnants still here in Nam and where I could, I laid Tracks.

    Cheers
     
  8. R_W_B

    R_W_B Senior Member

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    If you can find time I would greatly appreciate seeing those photos. Especially if you just happen to have one of that small (then anyway) Bazar village by the river in the flatter land at the bottom of the mountain pass. We had a small base that held one company of men just across the road from the village shacks. Actually there were two camps, on the nortwest side of the river was a small ARVN camp and on the southeast side of the river was our camp. The name of our camp was Camp Brown. It was built out of railroad ties and the bunkers we lived in were buried within the permeter berm.

    I'm sure the camp has long since been rotted or torn down, but just to see that area would be a soul experience for me. There was a large ravene that went up along side the entry road into the camp.

    The other camp at the top of the pass (still a few miles from Bao Loc) was beside a natural rock quarry which probably is also gone after 42 yrs. The name of that camp was Camp Woodstock. We built it from scratch on a bare hill. It also was small and only held one company of men.

    The first part of my tour I was down south in the flat lands along QL-13 from Lai Khe to the Cambodian border. I remember when the 11 Armored Cav came back out of Cambodia from the incurrsion operation, on QL-13 which crossed into Cambodia at the time. Lai Khe was a fairly large Vietnamese village back then.

    As G.I.s we referred to Viet Nam as "The Nam" and our homeland (the U.S.) was referred to as "The World". The first words a newbee heard upon arriving out at his actual unit in the bush was "Hey Jet fuel, where you from back in the World".

    I have several childhood friends who lost their lives there, and my unit lost 61 men over 5yrs with some of them during 1970 that I was there. It was a long time ago but a huge part of my soul. I am thankful for it in a strange sort of way. It made a man out of a naive boy and set me on different path than I might have taken otherwise. But it was a rough row to hoe at times.

    I thank you for whatever pics you have of those areas.