Matthew S, Jeff and Kathie D, Grant, Raymond, Susanna and myself set out tackle the Washington Backroads Discovery Route(WABDR) in our Jeep Cherokee's. We had 4 Trailhawks and one 2018 Limited ADII with ~5,000 miles. This was my first overland run that I lead a group and we were hoping to get through sections 3, 4 and 5 of the WABDR.
We meetup Thursday evening in Ellensburg at the Iron Horse pub. This was the first time the group had meet everyone face to face. Raymond was not able to join us until the next morning. We chatted and had some drinks plus a quick bite to eat as we wanted to make it to lion's rock before sunset. Jeff and Kathie were staying in town for the evening, so that left Matthew, Susanna and myself. We fueled up before leaving town. The road up to lion's rock was smooth and paved most of the way and Susanna joked that the entire trail was going to be paved. Soon after that the pavement ended. We pulled into our camp spot just was the sun was starting to go down so we lined the jeeps up for a photo shoot.
We pulled the jeeps into the trees and set up camp. We all got to bed fairly early that evening. The weather was decent but a constant breeze all night. When I got up around 6am I was surprised how much colder it was then I expected and everything has a nice cover of dew. The wind was still blowing and Grant said his Jeep was reading 35* and my guess with the wind it was high 20's as my fingers were a little cold. We were expecting Raymond, Jeff and Kathie around 9am. So it was a bit of a lazy morning and everyone made some hot food to warm up a bit. We were all packed up and ready by the time the others joined us. Jeff and Kathie brought fresh doughnuts for everyone. We had a quick chat and did introductions again. Then we aired down and got on the trail.
We did have one minor technically difficulty as my tablet was not picking up our location. Luckily Ray had the GPS track loaded up also and Jeff was very familiar with the area even though he said he had not been on these roads in a long time.
We were happy the smoke had lifted a bit with the wind so we had some clear skies for a while. We rolled though burnt out forests and seeing all the new growth coming up. We stopped now and then for some photos. The roads were in good condition and we had been a little worried about the trail condition around beehive. But when we got there it was in better condition than we expected. The road there by no means was fixed but it was passable. This was going to be Matthews first time doing some wheeling. We put the jeeps in 4 low and a few guys locked up but I wanted to make sure Matthew was going to be fine since he doesn't have a locker. The jeeps made it look easy and we loaded back up and heading down the road. We passed a Honda element that asked if we made it through the washout. We joked around it the Element was going to attempt to make it through. We soon were back on pavement, so we aired the jeeps back up and headed into Wenatchee to find a park to have lunch at.
After lunch Raymond had to head home so we said our goodbyes. We talked about the plan and as were not going to be doing any of section 4 due to the wildfires we opted to head up to Chelan instead of continuing on to Cashmere along section 3 and then back down. We stopped to grab some fresh fruit before leaving town and soon enough we were in Chelan. We fueled up and headed towards copper mt summit to make camp. We made it to the summit around 5pm and everyone got their sleeping areas set up.
Fortunately there was no wind, but that also meant the smoke settled back in and we had no views that evening. We chatted and shared stories before turning in the night. The weather the next morning was more enjoyable and everyone made breakfast while panicking up camp. We were on the trail by 8am and once again the trail was easy going. Jeff wowed the group with his knowledge of the area and would point out areas that would have good views.
Then all of a sudden Jeff comes over the CB and asks if anyone was getting rain drops on their windows and soon it was raining lightly. Jeff let us know there was a steep down hill decent coming up. So we all decided to test out the hill descent feature on our jeeps. It was nice after shifting into 4 low and engaging the hill descent I put it in 6th gear and the jeep held me at 3.5mph down the hill. At the bottom we passed by the historical marker for ruby town site. Since it was raining we opted to stay in the jeeps instead of exploring a little.
There was a little talk about attempting section 6 since we were at the start but since this would add to everyone's drive and everyone has to work Monday we opted to end the trip here. We were going to camp one more night and take off in the morning but with the rain everyone felt like heading home. The Jeff and Kathie had family close by so they opted to stay in the area, but lead the group into Okanogan, so we could fuel up before heading home. Matthew headed home over 20 while Grant, Susanna and myself made our way down to Wenatchee and we parted ways there.
It was a great group of people and I look forward to more Cherokee adventures with everyone.