Explored a bit more of South Cle Elum Ridge, FR-3350 to FR-111. FR-111 is in bad shape after the recent forest fires; lots of fire fighting big rigs moving through out this area over the past few months of fire season and they’ve done a number on the roads. Not really a fun drive these days.
Decided to go with my back up plan: to explore the area south of Ellensburg, WA. After a steep ascension on Umtanum Rd to get to Old Durr Rd., which appears on the left, the surroundings turned to desert. Old Durr Rd. is part of the Washington Backroad Discovery Route. This whole area of Mantash/Naches is known for it’s rocky roads. If you like that sort of thing then this area is your cup o’ tea.
Durr Rd. is mostly a slow going ride; lots of baby head sized stones that require one to be focused on choosing a good line. Surprisingly, I was tailed on this road by a little red civic coupe with a couple inside. I have no idea how they made it as far as the antennae towers, (46.849739, -120.577336), but that they did. Not that the civic will ever be riding the same again, but they made it. Good for them!
During a short break at the antennae towers, I noticed that this viewpoint can see both Ellensburg as well as Yakima. That’s about 18 miles to Yakima and 9 to Ellensburg. Also visible was Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker. Quite a nice view.
Heading south again on Old Durr Rd one slowly makes the way down the hill. Again, rocks, plenty of rocks. A few times, I thought something had snapped in my suspension.
Once it levels out it becomes a gently rolling pleasurable country road interspersed with dust bowls and thick gravel which gives superb drifting opportunities.
The deserts of Washington are very hot and dry. If you venture off into this territory, be sure to bring waaay more water than you need. It never hurts to include some food, cold weather clothing…and so on. Bringing enough of everything for an overnight camping trip seems like a good idea to me. If one breaks down out there it might be a while before you can accomplish a self-recovery or find help.
After making my way to Yakima, I headed West up towards 410. The sun was setting as I made my up the pass. Stunningly clear view of the surrounding mountains, the moon and the occasional rockfall-in-the-road kept my attention. Capping the day: The sun setting behind a 14,476 tall volcano is an awesome way to end the day.