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Naches – June 06

 

Trip Motto:  Remember, it stays light until 9pm…

 

Thursday 15 June

I loaded up and headed out around noon or a bit later.  Circumstances had changed things around, so I had already loaded my Jeep up on the trailer behind my friend Steve’s big Dodge earlier in the week.  I headed up to Silver Lake, WA to pick him up there, at the last minute we decided to take his dog, Rex, with us.  Rex is a golden lab, fast on his feet and a water loving dog with a great personality.  From Silver Lake we headed over the mountain on Hwy 12 to Naches.  I had planned on picking up groceries there, not realizing how small Naches is and that they don’t have a very good store.  Oh well, quick change in meal plans and we got food and were on our way up the mountain.  While we were hunting a place to get groceries we talked with another Jeeper, a local.  He was just leaving us, when I saw Dan drive by.  I ran back to the pickup to get my HAM, but either he didn’t hear me or didn’t have his on or mine is not working right again.  We said oh well and went to the other store.  Turns out this local Jeeper chased Dan down and let him know.  Only when he got back to where we had been we were gone.  The Jeeper tracked us down at the other store (its not a big town) and let us know that Dan would meet up with us at camp.  We headed out of Naches and up Hwy 410 to FS 19.  From there you take the 1903 road to where we were camping.  Only, we missed the turn.  I realized it in a few minutes, but we had to go further up the road to turn around.  We turned at Longmire Meadows (where I usually camp) and there was a couple of Elk down near the road grazing.  Beautiful animals.  We got back to the correct road, flagged the turn for those behind us, and went on up.  Ran into Dan coming down the road.  He had found a rather full campground, but wasn’t positive that that was the correct site.  It was, and we did find a place with enough room for all the rigs and trailers on the outskirts of Ponderosa Flat camping area.  Not much there, flat spots, fire rings, pit toilets, some big trees and a creek.  Very nice.  It was full, mostly motorcycle folks I think.  We got camp set up as it was getting dark.  Just before going to bed, I threatened Dan with his life if he woke us up early.  Friday was a day off for both Steve and myself, and we were exhausted from the weeks work.  We told Rex to stay close, and then hit the sack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 16 June

Up late, a kind of leisurely morning.  Getting to sleep in was heaven!  Best night’s sleep I had had in days.  When we woke up Rex was missing.  He didn’t come when we called.  Steve took a walk around the campground looking for him and letting people know we were missing a yellow dog.  He sort of shrugged and said he will come back.  So, we got the rigs unloaded from the trailers, and about 11 or a bit after we headed out for some trail.  It was Dan and his grandson Kyle in the flat fender and Steve and myself in my TJ.  No one else had made it for Thursday night.  We headed out up the 676 trail that is right across the road from the campground.  It’s a pretty trail, and sure enough it started to look familiar in spots to me.  This was the 4th time I have run up in that area, but I do not know my way around.  I had a map, but it was one I picked up in 1999 at the Gad-Zuk’s run up there.  We played around, having a good time.  Finally we came to a spot I couldn’t make.  A steep cut out clay hill with a huge puddle at the bottom (we were trying to go up).  We could have winched it, but I figured with just two rigs, why bother.  We headed back down and checked out some roads, and eventually found another trail to play on.  It was a nice day.  When we returned to camp late that afternoon we spotted Rex curled up asleep on Dan’s trailer.  We saw that he was chained there, and his food and water had been moved over there in his reach.  On Dan’s windshield was the following note:

 

Hello,

I found Rex about 9 miles up Ravens Roost.  Apparently he had spent the night with some dirt bikers who couldn’t keep him off of the bed.  They fed him a full pound of cooked bacon for dinner and eggs and toast for breakfast before letting him continue his adventure.  I split my lunch with him while we patrolled the Little Naches and looked for you.  He was a great partner for the day and would make an excellent ranger when he grows up.  If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call me at the Naches Ranger Station 356-1431.

ORV Ranger

Aaron Schlosser

 

I was laughing so hard that it took me three tries to read the note out loud to the others.  That was one tired puppy dog we had.  After a while we got a fire going and started dinner, and folks started rolling in.  First was Brian and Blake, and Mack and his son Kenny.  Then came Todd, and last to roll in was Keith.  We had spots for everyone.

 

Saturday 17 June

Not long after we got up in the morning, I saw a familiar looking green truck pull up.  Sure enough, it was ORV Ranger Aaron, stopping by to check on Rex.  We talked for a while, Aaron’s brother works on my district for the Corps of Engineers; he is stationed on the dredge Yaquina.  We both got a laugh out of that, it is such a small world!  He wanted to make sure that Rex was ok, and we had come back to get him, and that he was left in the right camp for sure.  He was pretty sure, he said, since he had seen a piece of mail on the dash of Steve’s truck and the name on it matched what was on Rex’s tags.  He said he had fed Rex banana bread the day before and had he not had tags on he would have taken him home and probably kept him.

 

After a bit we all got loaded up and we headed out for the trails.  The group decided that since Wildman was missing I was now the defacto leader.  So I grabbed either Keith’s or Todd’s trail printout and map, my map, and we hit the road.

 

Today we were headed up top to Moon Rocks and Funny Rocks.  I have been to Funny Rocks once, but not to Moon Rocks.  The first little bit of trail we hit on the way up was a nice hill climb, we had Rex bail out and run along side (have to tire him out somehow), and then we went up it, and then no one showed up, and no one, and no one.  Finally Mack came up and told us that Keith had a breakdown, so we went down the hill to see what was up.  Once we got him running again, we headed back up the hill and after a little guessing and no wildly wrong turns we were up on the ridge.  We headed over to Moon Rocks first to play, since it was the bigger area.  I headed for the top of the rocks and stopped to look things over.  After a bit of looking around Brian headed down into one of the cracks to play.  Keith headed down another.  Only, as he topped out on the rocks something went “pop”… turns out there was a press fitting in his steering that he didn’t know about and it broke apart.  We brought my Jeep down and put the winch line on him to stabilize him and he ended up welding it right there in the rocks.  Once that was finished, he was able to continue playing.  I also did some playing around in the cracks.  It was pretty fun.  After a while we headed to the lower side of Moon Rocks and Keith found a crack that he liked and with Todd spotting, headed up.  It didn’t look too bad, so I followed once he was at the top.  Only, it wasn’t so easy, I kept falling off the rock and out of the line I needed.  After a bit of mucking about with wheels in the air, Steve hopped out to take a peek (either that or I scared him, lol).  It only took a minute or so after that and I tried going forwards again and up she went and bang!  Over on my passenger side I went.  Luckily I didn’t have far to go.  I managed to climb out and the guys got the Jeep back on its wheels and I got back in and backed down the hill.  Some scrapes here and there and a hole in the sheet metal is all.  Nothing too bad.  Funny, no one else other than Brian wanted to try that line after that.  Brian did his usual magic and walked up the whole thing like it wasn’t even there.  We then checked out some stuff further down, and then we headed over to Funny Rocks, which is a smaller area with a different composition to the rocks.  Keith, Todd, Brian, and I played around a bit.  I discovered that I had a tire too low, and every time I went over a rock I lost more air (there wasn’t all that much in there to loose).  Mack got me aired back up and once Keith and Brian got tired of playing we headed on down the trail.

 

The intent was to head along the rim and then catch the 676 trail down to camp.  Only trouble was we ran into more people, snow, and some Rhino’s.  This was fun, we had to get turned around, get out and stay ahead of the “Rhino pack”.  All was going well, until one of the rigs in front of us got stuck in the snow.  He dug, and dug, and eventually Todd was able to get into position and pull him out.  The next rig was a bigger rig and clawed thru it.  I was not able to get over the ice bar that they had created and had to winch, after being pulled back several times by Brian.  Brian just bonzied up the trail and hit it hard and not only went over it, but broke the ice bar out of the trail.  No one else had much troubles.  We went back the way we came and headed down the mountain for camp.  Once we hit the end of the trail, we tossed Rex back in the back of the Jeep.  He seemed quite content to ride for a while.  When we got back to camp he just curled up in a little yellow ball and stayed out of trouble.

 

A while after dinner Keith and Todd talked me into a night run.  I told Steve I would go if he went, so he kept me company.  Dan decided he was too old for it and Brian, Blake and Mack just wussed out on us.  We headed up the 676 trail again.  Wow, it’s a whole new trail in the dark, even when I just ran it the day before.  It was a fun little jaunt.  We were only out for a couple of hours.  I was too tired to do much more than that.  We sat around the fire for a while after we got back and then hit the sack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 18 June

This morning Todd decided that he would lead.  He had a trail map and such that he had downloaded for the trail to what I think is called Lilly Pond Lake.  The trail up to there was really great!  We had mud and rock, we had fantastic hill climbs, we had more hill climbs, and more hill climbs.  We ended up catching the 676 trail up higher than we had been before, but down below the snow and coming down the mountain on it.  It was great fun up high, and would have been quite interesting going up hill.  The steep clay hill where we stopped on the first day was quite interested for a last obstacle.  After we all got down it, Brian played around a little trying to go up it.  He didn’t have any better luck than I had had two days before.

 

So from there we headed down the trail again, only soon after Mack lost a brake line.  So those of us in front bailed out onto the road and waited for them to get it fixed and catch up with us.  From there we headed down the gravel road to camp.  I took one wrong turn and instead of putting us on the road to camp we came out one road lower on the highway.  No biggie, might have even been faster.  We got back into camp and everyone started loading up gear and rigs for the trip home.

 

Tales From the Trip Home:

 

Todd:  Did everyone make it home OK? I pulled in about 9:30 and just dumped everything on the garage floor.  Keith, that was some serious head wind coming through the Gorge. Did you have trouble? I couldn't get into overdrive until Cascade Locks. Did you notice the traffic advisory sign flashing coming down the hill from Goldendale? I'm guessing it was warning motor homes and trucks about the wind - I tuned to AM 1610 like the sign said and got nothing but static.

 

Keith:  I got in at about 10:40pm.  LONG drive.  I saw Brian pass me just as I was getting into the Dalles.  The winds were pretty nasty, but once I got to Cascade Locks, like Todd said, it wasn't too bad.   I also pulled in and just parked in front of the house (still sitting out there actually, long day at work, might unload stuff in a bit, might wait until  tomorrow).

 

We pulled into Goldendale for gas and dinner, and while Todd and I were talking standing next to the trailer he noticed something hanging down below the spare tire on the tongue and said "What's that?".  I looked and saw a fuzzy brown thing hanging from the C channel below the tire.  Didn't know what it was, so I bent down to look.  Imagine my surprise when I saw two little beady eyes staring back at me!!  Apparently sometime before we pulled out from camp WAY back up on the mountain, a ground squirrel had decided my trailer tongue was a nice place to take a nap (or maybe hide from Rex).  Poor little thing had managed to hang on through the bumps, twists and turns, and occasionally 65 mph speeds for 2 hours!!  I managed to convince him to hop down and he scurried away to make new friends and find a new home.

 

Dan:  We got home about 7:30, I think.  No problems.  10/4 on that head wind.  Still cleaning stuff up.  Great trip.

 

Steve & Jenn:  We headed over Chinook pass on 410, figuring to hit the cutoff (SR123) and end up back in the Packwood area and head into Silver Lake from there.  Only it turns out that SR123 is still closed with winter road damage.  We ended up taking the long way home thru the north side of the park and into Puyallup and onto the freeway and home.  After we hit Silver Lake it was just me headed down the freeway.  All was fine until I neared Vancouver and the freeway was down to one lane.  It took me an extra couple of hours to get home due to this road construction and then a wreck on the freeway.  I rolled in in the wee hours, parked the truck and crashed for the night.  I thought all was fine the next morning until I went to move the truck to unload and it was dead.  Lucky for me, my landlord stopped by and I hijacked him into helping me out.  After some messing around he was able to get it jumpstarted and I was back in business!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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