Day 1 – Wed
Last year instead of camping in the usual location we decided to try Riders Camp for the first time in a long time and things went well enough that we decided to camp there again this year. Melissa, Cassidy and I left early and were able to get to the campsite at 11:30am. You would think that in the middle of the week the campsite would be empty but there were only two spots with fire rings left and they were right by the road. Damn I had hoped for a better spot.
We decided to setup in the best of the two spots available and hope that it would be ok. Given that no one else was supposed to arrive until the evening it was time to get some firewood and then go exploring. Cassidy was nice enough to act as chauffeur so Melissa and I just told her which direction to drive. We found a few dead ends and then drove part of the Divide Trail back across the bridge ending the trip at camp about 4pm. No one else was supposed to arrive until the evening so we settled down and just relaxed.
About 5pm a group that had one of the great campsites, down by the creek and furthest from the road, packed up and left. Well heck you do not have to tell me twice. We did not waste any time packing up and moving and by 5:30pm we were settled into the new site. While I was splitting wood for a campfire John arrived and his camp all setup about the same time I had a fire started. Not too long after we had a chairs setup around the fire Chad, Dana, Jay and Colton arrived. While they were setting up camp Jeremy and Noni rolled into camp also. It was not too much longer before everyone was gathered around the fire talking making smores and enjoying them selves long into the night.
Day 2 – Thu
Morning found everyone sleeping in a little since hey we are all on vacation and it was time to relax. Order of the day was to do a little 4 wheel exploring and so it was we found ourselves heading towards Quartz Mtn. There was a big cow elk along the way standing off to the side of the road in a meadow and she did not seem to care one about the noisy rigs driving past. Arriving at the top of Quartz we found several patches of snow so stopped and let the kids out to play while the adults took in the view and checked messages to make sure everything with family and friends was ok.
About the time everyone decided that the wind was making everything too cold we decided it was time to load up and move on down the 4W306 trail which would of course require that we drive through the snow to reach the start of the trail. John was having a little more trouble that he should have and we found that his rear locker was not working. Just on the other side of the snow field there was a tree down across the trail so while I removed the tree John checked the electrical connections for the locker but was not able to find the issue. Being that there was nothing more we could do at the top of a mountain we headed on down the trail.
There were a few more trees down on the trail we ran across but we made short work of them by dragging them off to the side or cutting them out and pushing the sections off to the side. We turned on down the 4W308 (Shoestring) but turned off pretty quick into the Rock Garden which a few people had never seen before. If you have not been there then I highly encourage you to do so some day since it is a pretty cool place. Out the other side of the garden we turned down the 4W330 (Tip Over Trail) where we ran into another tree across the trail.
I got out to hook up to one end of a tree and pull it off to the side but as soon as I got out a swarm of mosquitos tried to suck all of the blood out of me. It was so bad that I had to cover up with my hoodie and put gloves on to keep them off my hands. In the end it was a group effort that required pulling cable to get the tree out of the way and it seemed like it took an eternity to get done with all of the mosquitos bothering us. Tree moved and trail unblocked we got the heck out of there! The whole time we were working on the tree I could hear Moose singing “There is a skeeter on my peter whack it off!”.
Running out the end of 4W308 we turned towards the Funny\Moon Rocks so that we could visit the spot where Chad proposed to Dana. We reached the spot and stopped for some lunch and to take a few pictures before moving on to Funny\Moon Rocks. After sitting and watching others play on the rocks for a bit we decided it was time to head back to camp. At the top of the ridge just before dropping back down the other side I noticed that I had received a text message from Tom at some point saying that he was going to be heading over to join us camping and expected to arrive that evening and could I let him know I got the message. While everyone else kept going back towards camp I tried to reply but could not get a cell signal so switched to plan B. Using my Ham radio I was able to have a short text message conversation with Tom and let him know that we would be looking for him.
Mission completed it was time to catch up with the rest of the group so I let the suspension do its job sucking up the terrain and I am sorry to say it only took about 10 minutes to catch the group. After that it was a nice drive on the trail through Tripod Flat then on to finish the rest of the 4W307 trail where it ends just by the Manastash campground. From there it was a short trip down the gravel road back to camp.
Tom, Penny, Bella, Riley and their two Great Dane puppies Hercules and Meg arrived just about dark and once they had camp setup came over to the campfire to enjoy the night with everyone. Not wanting to break the habit we all stayed up way to late talking late into the night but hey â€¦ we are on vacation.
Day 3 – Fri
We all woke up late again in the morning (this might be a pattern) but not so late that we could not start some 4 wheel exploring before the morning was gone. Today we were joined by Noni’s daughter Lexi and her SO Tony who would be riding with Jeremy and Noni in their CJ7. Chads brother Casey with his family and their Friend Johnny with his family were also joining us in their pair of mostly stock CJ5s. This would make the day oh so much more interesting later on.
Before the sun was too high in the sky (but just barely) we were heading out on the trail running through Tripod Flat and kept on going towards the Naches side of the trail system. Turning off on 4W687 we headed past the spot where I earned the cow bell the year before and down the hill through a fun twisty trail which dances back and forth through the trees. Coming to the 4W686 we continued down hill for a bit until turning off on 4W685 which ends on a FS road.
Time for high range again and a long run down the FS road to Hwy 410, I think that there was a mention of ice cream. Can anyone say Whistlin’ Jacks. Reaching 410 we all turned left on the highway, engines roaring, suspensions flexing, left front tires lifting off the pavement expressing the urgency of the drivers and passengers for the tasty treats that await them. We all rolled into Jacks about the same time to fill up the rigs with fuel and grab some treats. I could have done with out the bone head idiot that parked their car at the pump to walk in and spend 20 minutes screwing everyone that needed fuel. Just think ice cream, just think ice cream, just think ice cream. Fuel up done we all lined up in the parking lot and enjoyed our ice cream on the warm afternoon.
Ice cream done we headed back up 410 turning off on NF19 then up to the fish ladder at the Salmon Falls Interpretive Site. We all parked on the side of the road and got out to walk around for a bit exploring the falls and cooling off by the river on the warm afternoon. Science and history lesson done for the day we all loaded back up and headed down NF19 and turning left just after the Quartz Creek Bridge up the FS road to the start of the 4W676 where we all dropped into 4 low again. It was at this point that the mostly stock CJ5s started to show some issues. First was some clearance and traction issues getting hung up in ruts on the trail. No worries tug on the strap and we were all heading in the right direction again. Funny thing .. When I drove through the same spot I had a little trouble also and had to stand on the throttle a little to make it all the way. Someone was nice enough to point out that my front wheels did not appear to have power and I realized I made the twin stick mistake forgetting to engage the front axle. Duh!
Brain fart realized and front axle engaged so that power to all 4 wheels is possible again we all continued up the trail. Things went pretty well for a while but then the hills started to get a little steeper and the rigs a little hotter. The CJ5s specifically started to get a little to warm and having some fueling issues resulting in vapor locks. Solution was to get the rig back to flat ground and crack the fuel line so that delivery of fuel to the carburetor was possible again. Once the motor was running again the rig would charge up the hill and hope they got to the top before having another issue. There were a couple times where we had to put a strap on the rig and tow it to the top of the hill because there was not flat spot to back down to and crack a line. We kept doing it though and eventually everyone made it to the top where the trail intersected with 4W306 and we turned towards the Shoestring trail.
The CJ5 gremlins appeared again and we had a little trouble on 4W306 getting through one of the rocky sections but eventually we got everyone heading in the right direction. The day was getting pretty long at this point so at the intersection with 4W308 (Shoestring) we took a left and headed in a direction that was generally towards camp. There were really no issues to speak of on the Shoestring or on the part of the 4W307 that we used to get back to camp. Rolling into camp felt oh so good after a long day on the trail. Goodbyes were said to John and the day trippers but we welcomed Chris and Heidi who had arrived a short time before we did. Campfire started, camp chairs out around the fire. Conversation started and smore construction begins. We all settled in for another good time around the fire talking long into the night.
Day 4 – Sat
We all slept in a little again (I am confirming a pattern) and everyone was ready to go wheeling by mid morning. We decided to take the FS roads through Barber Springs heading for the Funny\Moon rocks so that Chris could get a chance to play not to mention an opportunity for some entertainment watching others play also. Chris had some issues over heating issues on the way up the steeper climbs so it took a little while longer to get to the rocks but we eventually made it there.
We were right to think that there would be a show. The Funny Rocks were packed with people and rigs lining the area which was almost a natural amphitheater situated around the rocks. We all found a place to park and settled into watch anyone who cared to try a line see what they could accomplish. Chris got a turn to play a little bit and was able to drive a couple lines but after an hour we all decided to move over to the Moon rocks where there were a lot fewer people hanging out. Chris got another chance to try a couple lines and we once again decided it was time to move on when the crowds started to get bigger.
Looking for something a little different we left the Moon rocks heading south on 4W695. The trail was not particularly difficult but it did have some really wonderful vistas looking out towards Yakima in the far off distance. At the end of the trail we turned left on a gravel road which traversed the hills in the general direction back towards Barber Springs. No one needed low range so we had all switch to 2 high for the run on the gravel and things were going great for a while. Something always happens though and so it was I came around a corner and found Jeremy and Noni on the side of the road with issues. Front what we could tell the tie rod end had ripped out of the tie rod because it had been adjusted too far out and there were just a couple threads holding it into the tie rod. Jeremy pulled out his tools and repairs were made while everyone else stood around and offered advice while eating a sandwich. Always glad to be of help.
With the repairs made we continued on down the FS road until reaching and turning on to 4W607 to head back up Manastash Ridge. It was not too long after this we made it to 4W698 the turned towards Baber Springs again and retraced our steps down hill back towards camp on the FS roads. Everything was great for a long time but once we reached the Manastash road again and started climbing we needed to pull over in order to let Chris’s rig cool down again. Eventually we made it to the Divide Trail and started to run it backwards ending up at Bick Meadows and running across the bridge right into camp. It had been a long weekend and everyone was ready to call it a day so we all settled in for the night to relax.
Day 5 – Sun
While Jeremy, Nonie, Chris, and Heidi were planning to stick around for another day (lucky) everyone else had to get home on Sunday so planned to head out early and avoid traffic. So it was that we said our goodbyes and parted ways way earlier then we had been getting up in the morning for the last 4 days. I for one am happy that I have started making the trip to Riders Camp again. Being so close to the trails makes for longer wheeling days and the road into the site is not that bad all things considered. I will be back again.