This weekend I went exploring along the 1-90 corridor heading east from Seattle.
My first waypoint was Tinkham Rd. This is a somewhat infamous area for the many free shooting ranges that had populated the hills south of i-90. Not anymore- safety for the hikers on the many trails that now meander and criss-cross around the Iron Horse trail have taken priority. Being that Tinkham is close to Seattle many day hikers come this way so the dirt roads are all washboards and potholes. All in all, Tinkham rd. is boring. Won’t be heading back that way anytime soon.
So, craving more deep wilderness I headed further East to South Cle Elum Ridge, once again. Before I got too deep into the wilds I aired down my tires with my new tire deflators. I found a seller on ebay with these brass deflators at a fraction of the cost of the Staun or Rugged Ridge deflators. So far these seem to work just fine: quickly releasing tire pressure from 40psi down to 22psi. Makes all the world of difference to have your tires at a lower pressure when out exploring the back country. It gives much better traction plus you float over much of the washboards and potholes, saving your front suspension from taking a severe beating.
Climbing up into the hills on NF-3350 I noticed that there was a bit more traffic than usual. Must be people are getting in a few good trails runs before fall/winter weather really sets in, I guessed. I stayed on 3350 as it made it’s way south-east. It was here that I ran across the usual familiar issues when using most mapping software: inaccurately traced roads and some roads entirely missing. I had a paper topo map of the area but I was interesting in testing the accuracy of Google Maps in the back country. As expected, just a few short miles from South Cle Elum the accuracy of Google Maps becomes very suspect. I would very much like to head a project with Google Maps whereby the back road maps are updated and accurized. I’m sure the forest fire fighters and Search & Rescue would appreciate it.
Continuing on, I made my way to Osborn Point, an open pasture with an amazing view. 47.121096, -120.902642
It was later in the afternoon with only a couple more hours left of day light with some rain clouds moving in and the GPS on my phone wasn’t receiving a signal. My plan was to make it down to Taneum Rd. and head east to connect up with I-90 closer to Ellensburg but the looming rain clouds plus the uncertainty of where I was prompted me to reverse course back the way I came.
Somehow, over the space of just an hour Osborn Point had become a busy place: 4 other trucks were now there, filled with guys in camo and sporting shotguns. Turkeys are plentiful up in these hills so I figured they were doing some hunting.
Entering the golden hour for photography I wanted to get some shots of the Cascade mountains. I took NF-211 as I knew it had a fantastic overlook onto the whole Cle Elum valley.
It wasn’t long before I heard a ‘howdy’ from the hiking trail behind me. Another turkey hunter had stealthily arrived. Turns out this was opening day for turkey season. Ahh, that explains it. It was getting late and I still had a few hours of drive time before I arrived home so I rolled out.
South Cle Elum Ridge road and the surrounding area is great fun to explore. It can be a little challenging as some NF roads can quickly turn technical. Nonetheless, it was a gorgeous fall day to be out in the forest.