Riding on abandoned railroad tracks on gas powered karts wasn’t something that had occurred to me as something to do. When my friend George mentioned it my first thought was, this sounds dangerous. Maybe even unlawful. But it definitely sounded like fun. Something that appealed to the kid in me. Riding the Rails. Who does that?
George had been having this thought for some time and had already started looking into the possibilities. Within just a few days and several internet searches and a handful of youtube videos, we had an idea from which a plan soon sprang. The discussion and videos were shared with another friend,
Jeff who is a master fabricator and outdoor adventurist. Soon, within just a few days, a prototype kart was built and we were on our way to Riding the Rails.
The first kart was so successful that it wasn’t long before a second kart was underway. Each kart with two seats, a 6hp Honda engine and enough room for tools, chain saws for clearing track and of course a cooler for beverages.
And we are on our way.
Our destination is in the southern part of Idaho’s panhandle where we hear there are miles and miles of abandoned track. We hope.
And there was. Literally miles and miles of track. Some out on the open plains in farm country, some in mountain valleys running alongside beautiful rivers and some up high in the mountains. We were in for a treat and we would be seeing places that weren’t otherwise accessible. Oh, and we quickly found out ways to know if the tracks were abandoned or in use. You have to be very careful with this and check with local jurisdictions to know for certain.
We meet up with a couple of other guys who enjoy doing the same thing but have been doing it for years. They turned out to be great guides and good friends.
We met up with Richard and Scott at our camp site, planned the route and left to take our karts on their maiden voyages. Over the next several days we rode the rails, saw amazing country side landscapes, made new stories and connected with new friends.
There is however a difficult side that shows up from time to time that requires some hard work doing manual labor. Fallen trees,
old rock slides, vegetation growing up through the tracks and the occasional missing track all require stopping (in time not to derail or do damage to the karts) to clear the tracks. In one instance we even came across the carcasses of livestock that had been discarded on the tracks. This caused some unusual problems that needed special attention. The smell was atrocious and they were too rotted and too big to move. We had to lift the karts and carry them around. Without retching. Without falling on them.
But the scenery made it all worthwhile. Riding on these tracks so far removed from roads, towns, houses and traffic and seeing scenery that you might not otherwise be able to see makes you want to get out and do it again as soon as possible. You just have to do the research and find out the place to go that are safe and where you aren’t trespassing.
At the end of each day we would spend our evenings around the campfire, fine tuning and gassing the karts, talking and telling stories about the day and planning tomorrow’s ride. You could say a good time was had by all.
To see more photos and video from this trip go to Team Rust Rides the Rails
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