Back Country Discovery Route Jul 2018

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 there 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 little 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 Timber Tamer turn around.  Although there would be many TT 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 crossing but danger was everywhere.  Yep you guessed it Cows.  Not only did they block the road nearly causing a Timber Tamer pileup but they also left land mines.  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 Timber Tamer 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 Timber tamer turn around.  I should note that although the GPS is a god sent 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 8 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 happen 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.

Curt Brady
Professional Gaia GPS navigator
SN# 69196 and 142