Great weekend amongst friends started out as a closed event, shared with a few Facebook friends and suddenly…
So I chose two trails to run that we had run last year when they were challenging but not too tough for the group, and having no problems last year, they seemed like good choices that I shared with the gang as they arrived at camp3 miles up the NF 1202 in a meadow above Pickle Prairie. Brandon, Tammy, Kolby & Sage (LJ) beat us to camp by a couple hours. Mandi, Syler & I (JKU) arrived around 8:30 pm, and Doug, Karen, Ian, Eric, Emma & Rocky (JKU) showed up about 10 pm, with Lynn, Dave, Jesse, and a friend (JKU) appeared about 11:30 ish. A little chatting was done and we all hit the rack looking forward to a great weekend of wheeling.
Saturday – Butcher Knife 4W642We set out about 10 am and ran down the NF1000 Rd (aka S Fork Tieton Rd), and missed our turn and ended up turning around at Conrad Meadows, before finding our way back to the NF 1070 Rd, to the base of Butcher Knife and saw another group going up what they called Cakewalk (aka 4W640 Memorial Meadow). We aired down and prepared for our run up the long supposed 3.8 mile trail to Blue Lake. Running the 640 was relatively easy, crocheting our way through the trees, about a mile in we found our trail the 642.
This particular trail is challenging as it bumps around a little in the beginning but we found our way a couple times after checking maps. As we got deeper (higher) into the trail things got a little more challenging than they had been the year before. There were quite a lot of trees down by wind, or decay, at one point we even had to clear a tree that crossed the trail at about 5 ft high or windshield height for most. Continuing on we found that last winter’s snow and runoff had dramatically changed our trail into quite a challenge. A few of us had wheels lifting off and some body roll that was unnerving to say the least but we came together in our teamwork and made sure each other got through the tough spots. I got quite a bit of video footage that I’ll need to pair down to something enjoyable to watch, however, as the lead rig all I got was trail, but Mandi and Tammy got some pics and/or video of some of our run.
About halfway through, we were again chasing maps deciding on the trail’s direction as the signs didn’t make a lot of sense. We also decided it was an excellent time for a lunch break. Then off we went forging our way to the top and Blue Lake was the landmark we were looking towards. This part of the trail is deep (3-4 miles) into the woods, and had changed also challenging with both up and downhill off camber situations to test our mettle. At some point I horseshoed my swaybar links which set us back a good hour, removing and swapping sides, and doing a trail fix (to straighten the thing out), it was a good break from the trail as a few of us had experienced some more tough spots that rattled our nerves and we were looking at trail that the runoff had not been friendly to at all (2-3 ft ruts in the two-track), luckily there was a side path that had been made to not further the damage of the main trail. Of course it was pretty steep and looked to be pretty loose, so we decided to err towards safety and tied a couple of straps together and pull some cable. After I winched and crawled up we shuffled cables and got Brandon & Doug up, although both pretty much over ran their cable pull with little issue, Dave and Lynn gave it a shot without and walked right on up, so it wasn’t as soft /loose as it appeared…
Shortly after this we after that we hit the little meadow midway and the decision to press on was made as time was getting the better of us. Within the next hour we arrived at Blue Lake (on 4W615) and kept pushing for Blue Slide Lookout, with the occasional stop for pictures along the way. We finally made it to the lookout about 5:30 pm and took another break and grabbed some great photos, including a group shot of the rigs, checked out the warming shack, and verified the remainder of the route to get back to camp. We chose to drop off the ridge on 4W637 and jump off on the 4W677/677A to catch the 1010 road back to the bottom, not realizing it’d be another 2 hours of weaving downhill through the trees to test our maneuvering skills in the limos (JKUs). We eventually bottomed out and made the down the NF1010, to NF1000 then back to our camp on NF1202. It had been a long day, with lots of intense wheeling and everybody quickly grabbed some dinner before gathering around the fire. After some chatting, and sharing stories we all welcomed a good nights rest…
Sunday – Pickle Prairie/PP Loop & Shorty (4W611, 4W609/609A, & 4W610)
Sunday’s run was the easier of the two, and another favorite trail of ours, that we have been on a few times. This trail had also been touched by last years winter, and added a little more difficulty to it too. Today we didn’t get as many pictures as Mandi took the wheel. We left camp about 10 am with Doug & crew, and Lynn & crew tagging in, Brandon’s crew wanted to get some lake time before heading out so we said our goodbyes in the event we didn’t catch back up before leaving.
We ran down the NF1202 to the 611, and followed it up to the 609. We got up past the first set of hills and found the culprits that lathered our camping meadow with patties/pies. They were open ranging on the next meadow up probably 20- head of big black dogs (cows) at least that’s what Syler thought. When we got to the first hill climb we opted for the run up the side through the trees, it would have been easier to take the hill, as the trees and off camber made it a test of proper maneuvering to get the 3 limos (JKUs) through then we were off and running across the top and back down the loop Mandi was doing so awesome I told her so!
Then once we hit the bottom we decided to run shorty backwards and not 50 ft in Mandi’s attention was grabbed by a branch that might tag our viewport (windshield) and BANG!!! Hisssss… A (LARGE) rock had snuck up on our front left tire and slashed it. So lunch sounded good to everyone while we again tested our trail fix skills (Hilift, tire iron, old spare, strap for the axle, etc), we got her going again in about 45 minutes with lunch and ventured down the trail to some uphill off camber bits before dropping down into a favorite little mudhole that seems to last year round.
However as you’ll recall we were running this backwards, and the normally easy mudhole became a test to get tires up the 1 ft bank. Mandi’s first try had us off camber on the driver’s side staring at muddy water, but she was able to back up and hit it again and got us out with little fanfare (having two different treads up front wasn’t helping in the mud). The other two rigs saw our folly and made adjustments and blasted right through with little trouble. We followed the trail all the way out to NF 1202 and returned to get packed up and head for home about 2 pm. Mandi & I decided a meal at Bron Yr Aur Brewing Co was a good idea and stopped on the way to Naches before heading the rest of the way home.
It was a great run, with some challenging wheeling, everyone did awesome and I believe had some fun. Standby for a lot of Pixel pics, and if you have some to share please add them… See you on the trail!
For more info and pictures on this run, check out the thread on our forum http://www.rattlesnake4x4s.com/nu4um/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=180