It has been a while since the Tamers were at Manastash. For one reason or another it just never seemed to happen because of weather too hot, wild fire, or just timing. There always seemed to be something preventing the club from going back to Manastash. Well this year that was not the case. The Tamers decided that the weekend just before the 4th would be the weekend that the Tamers go back to the Manastash.
Melissa, Alex, Cassidy, and I could not get out of town fast enough and head over the mountains Thursday night. All week long we had been looking forward to camping and there was nothing going to stop us from getting there. With responsibilities finally taken care of we left the house about 5:30pm and resolved ourselves to just deal with traffic. Honestly it was not that bad and the only part that was a pain was right there in Bellevue on 405 between 520 and I-90. Once we were on I-90 it was hammer down and moveâ€™n east bound we were not going to stop until we got there. Along about 8pm we rolled into the camp site to find Bruce and Debi had beaten us there by a few hours and secured an area for the Tamers. Honestly I was surprised that there were not more people in the area as there was just one other camp besides ours nearby. After camp was setup I ran out and got a little fire wood so that we could all settle in and wait for Keith and Kathy who were on their way. They finally got there about 10pm and after a little more campfire therapy we all headed to bed for the night to dream of the wheeling to come.
We all woke to the sound of the wind in the trees and the water running in the creek nearby. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. We knew that Gary and Casey were planning on camping but did not know when they would arrive so we decided that along about 9:30 it was time to hit the trails. I (Rudi) being the only person that had been to Manastash before got the privilege of leading the group up and over the hill (saw a doe on the way) and down into Buck Meadows where we ran the Divide Trail (4W311) first. Of course there was the obligated stop on the bridge for pictures and things moved along pretty fast after that with just three rigs.
After the 4W311 we headed up to the Top of Quartz Mtn and took in the 270-degree view of the mountains around us including the always majestic Mt Rainer. We were all surprised to find a bit of snow still in the shady spots also. Nothing that we could drive in but there was enough for snow balls and snow angels. After having lunch we headed down 4W306 but were soon stopped in our tracks when we came around a corner and found no less than 4 trees across the trail. The first and second trees were driven over but the third and fourth it was just not possible unless I could somehow teach the jeep to high jump. So with a little creative winching and a little bumper application we were able to clear the trail and move on towards the Shoestring trail 4W308. Note too self … stop forgetting the chainsaw.
It was just before we came to the Shoestring that we got into the area of the forest that had burned a couple of years before due to a wildfire started by a lightning strike. You get a little creeped out driving through a forest of dead trees all the while worrying about hitting one and knocking it over and having it come down on you because the roots are all burned out from the fire. We did eventually make it through the burned section of the Shoestring and along about the time we made it to the Region 4 Meadows everything was green again having escaped the fire. As it was getting late in the day we moved on down 4W307 towards Buck Meadows and then up and over the hill again back to camp. We found that Gary and Casey had arrived in our absence and put up the Tamer Banner while they were waiting for us. So with a long day of wheeling done we all settled in around a fire for the night and told tall tales of yester year (or was it just yesterday, I do not remember).
We all woke to the sound of the water running in the creek nearby, the sun shining, and the birds were chirping. The wind was also blowing just a little bit harder than the day before warning of perhaps a little variation in the weather to come later in the day. This was the day that the Campers were to be joined by a few more Tamers who could not spend the weekend out but were still looking to go wheeling. We were joined by Curt, Wendy, Emily, John and Mathew in a JK. We were also joined by Ashley and Brian in an XTerra. There was also Chris and guest in a TJ. Steven and Rudy appeared out of nowhere in the Camo JK. and finally Tammy and Mark rounded out the group in Tammyâ€™s TJ. So if you are keeping track you should have 9 rigs in all this day.
Mark, Tammy, Keith, Kathy, Bruce, and Debi took off ahead in one group (4 rigs) and everyone else made a second. By breaking things up a bit we hoped to keep the dust down on the road over the hill. After a quick drivers meeting where the driving conditions and safety on the gravel roads was discussed the rest of us headed out to make the trek up and over the hill. We all met up at the top of the hill just before you start dropping down into the basin and saw a Cow Elk with a calf along the way to run upper part of the Divide Trail 4W311. This went pretty well and with everyone feeling ok about the day so far we headed for Wells Meadow (4W328) after lunch. I should mention that the XTerra did have some interesting moments and really liked to show off its undercarriage by getting on three wheels but everyone was looking out for it and we managed to get it through without incident.
At the bottom\end of Wells Meadow we turned towards the Shoestring 4W308 with the intention of driving the Rock Garden Trail 4W309. We got there but not before some excellent driving by Ashley and Chris in the Xterra on the part of the Shoestring that we had to run. Just before we got to the Rock Garden we were again driving through the burned area from the wild fire. It was at this point that several people reminded me of my advice from the day before; “Don’t Bump the Trees”. This advice was given with the utmost of concern for others and quickly turned into a mantra someone declaring it over the CB each time a rig got close to a tree. Teach me to hand out advice (smile). We finally reached the Rock Garden which is a way cool trail and very difficult to describe and do it justice in the process. You are literally driving across a field of rocks and formations of rocks all around you trying not to lose the trail or get lost which is a very real possibility. If you have not been there you should put it on your list.
With the Rock garden behind us and the time after 5pm we really needed to head back to camp so chose the most direct path down the 4W328 to Tripod Flats and then used the 4W307 to get back to Buck Meadows. Having everyone on the FS road we started to head back to camp and saw another Cow Elk munching on grass in the evening light (it was about 9pm). Not too far from Gnat Flats on the way back we also saw a herd of about 40 Elk on the way who after they saw 3 or 4 rigs decided that it was time to start calling to gather the herd and move off further into the trees.
We all finally got back to the camp about 10pm which makes this one of the longest runs in recent Tamer history. Everyone was very tired and with some people having a 2-hour drive home ahead of them we all pitched in to make sure that it was going to be a safe journey for them by airing up tires, checking lug nuts, and in one case getting ice and pain medication for a broken toe acquired while walking part of the trail. The jury is still out on how the run this day will be remembered but I think that I can honestly say …. it will be remembered. As people were ready they headed out with the exception of Steven and Rudy who had made plans to stay the night and run trails the next day. As an indication of how tired people where we did not have a fire that night and instead sat around a lantern eating a very late dinner and talking about the day.
We all woke to the sound of the water running in the creek nearby, the sun shining, and the birds were chirping. The wind having been blowing most of the night seemed to have let up a little after pushing some of the clouds away. Today the Campers were joined by Tom, Mary, Lauren, and Hunter with them all riding in Maryâ€™s TJ. Tagging along was also Tom’s friend Jake driving his CJ5 with a V8 and then much to my surprise and joy was my brother Russell. So it was that the 8 rigs headed out over the top of the ridge again heading for Buck Meadows. This time we used the 4W311 as a short cut to get to Manastash camp ground and onto the 4W307. Our goal was to head for the Funny Rocks and Moon Rocks. I know that this may amaze you but I had never been to the Funny\Moon Rocks and after 10 years of wheeling with the Tamers I figured it was about time and as I had been trying to get there all weekend it was going to have to happen this day or not at all.
It was a pretty nice run over to the rocks with a stop here and there for breaks along the way. The 4W307 trail was interesting to be sure and I would not mind running that trail in the rain as it would be a real challenge to navigate all of the side hills and trees. We did eventually make it to the Rocks and got a chance to see a few purpose built rigs doing their thing climbing near vertical lines through the rocks and making it look easy. After a while it was deemed late enough that we had to get back so that the day trippers could head home. As we were heading out Casey announced that she had to find an old piece of wood for her son to make a table out of and the one she wanted was a couple of hours out on the Shoestring. Ummm … will you accept a different piece of wood? There was no way we were going to get back to camp before midnight if we ended up running the Shoestring. Casey was very nice about it and kept an eye out on the trip back for something that would work. It was with great joy she announced finding “the one” not too much later. “Really … that one?” each person asked wondering how to avoid the hernia the 200lbs log represented. “Yup that one” she exclaimed with finality. So it was with determination several of us got the log into the back of the Toyota where it was strapped down for the journey back to camp. With the log loaded we all climbed back into our rigs and started heading on down the trail again. Now when loading the log on the Toyota Gary knew it would make the truck behave a little funny but I am not sure he was prepared for just how funny it would behave. Moving at a speed that resembled the “Speed of Moose” Gary very carefully drove the Toyota through the woods. Along about this time the discussions as to who should be awarded the Cow bell started since it was Gary that was driving but it was Casey’s truck and her log. After getting a funny look from people along the way and leaning against a few trees when the side hill was a little more than the top heavy Toyota could manage, the logging truck and everyone else finally made it to the Manastash campground.
It was starting to get later again so we elected to take stay on the FS roads all the way back to camp. At the drivers meeting the day before I stressed to everyone the importance of driving on your own side of the road at all times slowing down a lot for blind corners. I take this to the extreme and most of the time I am hitting bushes with the Jeep I am so far over on my side. The reason that I do this is that there are a lot of people that cut corners or drive in the middle of the road. By my driving so far over on my side I have been able to have enough time and room to react should I come across another vehicle on the road. This day it prevented a motorcycle rider who was cutting the corner from becoming one with the Jeep hood. Take away from this should be that you always need to look out for the other guy. On the way back we passed a few more trucks but none of them were the narrow misses that the bike was. We all finally rolled in about 6pm and the people heading home that night started to load up. We kept the BS to a minimum so everyone was only there 90 minutes before they headed home (smile). Steven and Rudy elected to head on out with the Day trip people and the rest of us settled in by the fire to talk trails and rigs.
We all woke to the sound of the wind in the trees and the water running in the creek nearby. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. After three days of wheeling we were all pretty beat and with the potential for I-90 traffic to be horrible in the afternoon through Cle Elum we all decided that we would come back to Manastash again and would rather head on towards home now in order to get things cleaned up and ready for the next trip. Thanks to everyone that made it out for the weekend or for just the day. As mentioned before, I think that this is one of the runs that will be remembered for a while.
Hope to see you on the trail again soon.