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Washington Backroads Discovery Route Report

Sep 20, 2018

Run report - WABDR (Washington Backroads Discovery Route)

Day 1 - Wa 6 Canada to Conconully

Well over 100 miles of off road driving plus at least 70 on-highway driving makes for a long but fun day.  But before we dig into the run I need to fill you in on some information that will become important later.  At 6:00am we informed the Hotel (Omak Inn) that our toilet was running all night long and it was clogged.  By the time we left just before 7:00am they still had not done anything about it.  More on that later.


At 7:00am, we met at the Safeway gassed up and ready to go.   After a quick drivers meeting, we hit the road.  Wendy’s gray JKU pulling lead, Shawn’s mean green TJ, Terry and Pam in Mad the Max TJ,  Cheryl and Ryan in their black JKU,  Travis and Kristel in the Texas Red JKU and running sweep was Joseph and (Lisa?) in the built white TJ.  We headed north on 97.  Beautiful morning but there was a lile haze from a fire in Canada.  We made good time but had to slow once in a while for Terry’s TJ to make the hills. I have no way to know for sure but it would be a safe bet that his TJ weights more than a stock JKU.  At Oroville, we may have gone a block past the turn but did not have to back track at all.  Terry came on the radio and proclaimed that this was the first turn around.  Although there would be many turn arounds that day this one did not qualify since we did not back track because of a navigation error.  It was simply just a change in the route.  On to Canada.  It was a nice drive up the Similkameen River toward the Nighthawk border crossing, but danger was everywhere.  Yep, you guessed it, Cows.  Not only did they block the road nearly causing a pileup but they also left landmines.  Some Tamers made it through clean but the lead rigs did not do as well.  Both Wendy’s and Shawn’s jeeps suffered direct hits which thanks to off road tires slung the cow crap alongside the jeeps.


The boarder at the Nighthawk crossing was incredible. It is a open valley with a view of Hurley Peak.


If you have not been, there is not much to the crossing. Just a overbuilt US border building and across from that there was a Canada border crossing that looked much like a small gas station.  We did not cross, instead we turned around several 100 yards before. Terry once again proclaimed this as the first turn around. However there was no navigation error and this was part of the route. 


Then we headed south along Lake Palmer where we saw several Deer and a Coyote. We turned down Toals Coulee road where we had our first real turn around. I should note that although the GPS is a godsend it does not tell you exactly where to turn. Driving, leading, and navigating all at the same time is a skill I have not yet mastered. We took the turn up a steep hill just past the Double R Ranch. And aired down to 20 PSI. Pam, who was watering the bushes, found that there are small cactuses that like to grab hold of your pants and hold on. No real damage and we headed up Rattlesnake Mountain then on to the side of Quartz Mountain.


Along the way we stopped several times so that Cheryl could water the dogs and everyone else could have a snack.


Toward the back side of Tillman Mountain, the roads opened up to high meadows which gave Shawn a chance to live out his dream of some day becoming a rally driver. His grandson, I am sure, enjoyed the ride.


Later that day, Shawn and I were talking about the run and why few people have done it when he said that this was like Naches at 40 miles per hour. True I was thinking it was like wheeling Gallagher Head, Liberty, and Naches all in one day. The landscape and trail changes drastically along the way and so does your speed.  Sometimes slow and sometimes we moved at a pretty good clip.


Did I mention that there may have been a few good views along the way?


After 66 miles of trail, we dropped down into the little town of Conconully where there was a long line at the gas station.


We all enjoyed a snack or two before heading back on the trail. We took a steep climb up Ruby Hill where we stopped at China Wall. China Wall is a foundation where part of the Arlington mine once was. The longest section was 80 feet long and 27 feet high. The whole thing looks very out of place in the middle of nowhere.


The day was getting long, so we moved on. Down the road we stopped to air up. I normally take this time to take a quick look at our jeep but I also look at everyone else’s. It was there that I smelt a burning rubber smell from Terry’s TJ. Sure enough the AC pump bearing was cooked. Shawn and Joseph figured out that all we needed was a different belt and we could bypass the AC pump. So off we went. Along the way we called and found the belt we needed and the store was going to be open until 8pm so we had plenty of time. At the auto parts store, a swarm of Tamers quickly had the belt changed. Most of us then headed into town were the food was alright but the service was slow. What I personally did not like was that they added a service charge without letting anyone know. Good thing we noticed so that we did not double tip.


After a long day, I just wanted to head back to the hotel and sleep…… But you know that was too easy right?  After getting back to the hotel, we followed someone up the stairs, and to our surprise they entered our room, 224. Lucky for us, we took almost everything with us in the Jeep that day. We checked in to the front desk where we found out that they had booked someone else into our room.  I am not sure exactly what happened, although the maid said something about us leaving because our stuff was not there. I asked if we were allowed to take stuff out of the room and his reply was, yes of course. It sounds like someone screwed up but it just gets better from there. Remember that running toilet I mentioned at the beginning of this run report. I guess the morning front desk did not do anything about it and the maid flushed the toilet. As I am sure that a plumber like Evan could tell you a clogged and running toilet equals bad news.  This is where I pick up Joseph’s story.  When he came back to the hotel he found that his room had been flooded and that his carpets where still soaked. I guess they did not think he would notice.  My room (now someone else’s) had flooded and Joseph’s room was right below ours. Joe, Wendy, Emily and I waited in the lobby while the front desk tried to figure out what to do. They started calling other hotels but no luck. They ended up giving us a room that was not fully painted. Which was fine. For Joe, they offered a room with no sheetrock but he opted to stay in the same room. To add insult to injury, the next morning at check out the same guy that did nothing about the running toilet, did not know that he was supposed to comp our rooms. Both Joseph and I will be making contact with the hotel to file a complaint. I guess you know where not to stay if you are in Omak.

All in all an incredible day.  Great wheeling and even better people.


Day two - rub some dirt in it


With most of us well rested we again met at 7:00am. Since there were no issues on the trail from the day before, I offered to let the group change their place in line if they wanted to.  I guess they liked where they were at and no one changed. On this type of run, it is a good idea to spread out so you don’t choke on dust.  But we also don’t want to lose anyone.  So at intersections, where it is not clear which direction to go, we use the relay method. The lead stops and waits for the next rig. As soon as it shows up, the lead takes off again. This ensures that no one gets lost while keeping the dust down. Of course if you do all the work to plan the trip that means you are in the front and don’t have to worry about the dust. The down side is having to do things like put together a run report.


And then we were off.  Headed south on 97 toward Chelan. Amazingly, Terry’s TJ was pulling the hills at a much better rate than yesterday. I guess his failing AC unit was sucking power the day before. Where the road climes to Lake Chelan on Alt 97, we saw some possibly bad news. There was a triathlon in Chelan: expect delays it said. In my head I quickly came up with a backup plan. If we could not get to the trailhead, we would take up the WABDR at Ardenvoir and then head south from there. You always have to be flexible on a trip like this. We stopped and did a quick top off of the tanks and headed toward the south side of the lake. There, we found the triathlon in full swing. They did stop us but let us go through. We had to drive slow due to all of the runners and bikers but for the most part we were able to drive around them. At one of the stops one of the organizers shouted Jeep parade at which point several of us started our parade waves. In time, we made it all the way through the bike traffic and back to an open road. This is where we came to another possible issue. Up ahead was a road block reading local access only. When stopped, the fire fighter said we could go through but he had crews on both sides of the road and asked us to go slow. I think they were clearing brush as there was no fires and yes we drove slow.


Climbing away from the lake we made our way up a small valley.


We stopped to air up along a stream where several of us watered trees. We later found out that we were only a few hundred yards from an outhouse, but oh well.

We headed out again and climbed out the other side of the valley where I had a choice. Take the easy road which would be faster, easier but with less views or we could take the harder, steeper and slower route but with amazing views. I once had to write a report on Robert Frost so you better believe that we took the road less traveled.


Robert Frost Quote. Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference


The trail was overgrown and from the looks of it no one had been on it for a while. The forest was burnt out here somewhat recently which did also make the dust worse in places.


But the views more than made up for the lack of trail quality.

We made several stops including a quick stop at an old radio tower.


On this trip we were using our CBs but also had the GMRS radios.  We started to pick up the local water park on GMRS 4. Listening in was very entertaining. At one point we heard an employee talk about needing to take a pee and some personal time.  I am not sure what she was doing for personal time but she needed to take it.  Wendy added to the water parks conversation and said something about a woman losing their bottoms. Although the water park could not hear us it did make for good entertainment for all of us. 


We broke for lunch just before the top of one of the passes. It was a little on the hot side and on a steep hill side but you could not beat the view. We then started a long descent and I mean lonnnnnng descent toward the Entiat Valley.


Near the valley floor, we aired back up and drove to Cashmere for another top off of the tanks before heading back over the pass. The views on the WABDR are simply the best in the entire state but more importantly it’s about getting out and having fun with friends.  We will be planning new trips next year.


We also saw a lot of animals this trip here is my daughters full list which she asked me to include in the run report. Cows, coyotes, dogs, rabbits, quail, hawks, butterflies, deer, horses, chipmunks wild turkeys, grouse, bees nest and mice.


We really enjoyed this trip and look forward to doing it again.


Curt Brady

Run Leader

Cat Behavior Consultant

Bigfoot Tracking Expert

Chief of Prophesy Fulfillment