Author Topic: Naches Trail??  (Read 5536 times)

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Re: Naches Trail??
« on: Mar 21, 2008, 09:44:06 AM »
We took a peek at their trucks. "Nice rigs" we lied, but had no intention of offering them any criticism. The Ford had a U-joint held together by duct tape and bailing wire. I'm not making this up.

We decided it was definitely time to leave. As I packed up my cooler, the deliverance guys asked if we had any beer. We didn't. When I got into my truck, Jimmy, with his pack all ready to go, asked for a lift. He was out of food and wanted to hitchhike to Snoqualmie pass to pick up his next bit of food and clothes. I told him I wasn't sure what route we'd be taking back, but I'd be happy to get him to a road at the end of our wheeling trip and he could hitchhike from there. In any event, I'm certain that (like us) he wanted to be nowhere near the deliverance guys, who were busy arguing amongst themselves the finer points of the perennial Ford vs. Chevy debate. That was the last we saw of them.

Driving on a boardwalk 
Driving down the boardwalk

The actual summit of Naches Pass was a mile or so up the trail. There were a number of places along the trail where 4x4 clubs and the Forest Service had built elevated wooden boardwalks over environmentally sensitive areas. These boardwalks were designed for and wide enough for our trucks . It was a good example of how clever thinking and cooperation can allow true multiple-use of our natural resources without large environmental impact.

Since we were heading primarily down at this point, we had to be a little more careful with gravity tugging at us. My automatic transmission, which is a nice benefit going uphill, is a liability going downhill, as I have far less engine braking than my trailmates who had 5-speeds. I was careful to keep the slushbox in 1st gear, and allowed my brakes time to cool after steep descents.

Mud and trees

Deep mud and tall trees

Much of the eastern half was similar to the western. Steep, muddy, twisted, and narrow. We had to pick our lines carefully. There was one steep hillclimb that was also off camber. I had no intention of backing down a steep off-camber hill, so gave it a little more juice than normal. I got up the hill fine, but in my attempts to hug the uphill side of the trail as close as possible, I hit a tree root which popped my front end in the air and gave me a huge adrenaline rush as I had visions of rolling the rig down the steep embankment. In retrospect I never was really in any danger of rolling, but this was definitely a white-knuckles experience. My new co-pilot Jimmy was a little startled as well.

We worked our way down the rest of the trail to a valley where the terrain flattened out a bit. I think we were beyond the Naches Trail proper, but other trails picked up where Naches left off. There were several places where the trail would seemingly end at a graded gravel Forest Service Road, but there was always a trail continuing nearby either directly on the other side or up or down the road a few hundred yards.

Eric plowing through the gumbo
Be one with the mud!

Dan plowing through the gumbo
Dan likes the mud!

The rest of the trails went through forested valleys, punctuated by some great mud holes. I'm not normally a huge fan of mud, but since I was having such a great time, had lots of extraction gear, and I was traveling with competent companions, I decided to skip all the bypasses and head for the deep gooey stuff. We had a blast, especially on the holes that looked real shallow but turned out to be real deep. As if to remind us of the trail we had descended, even the bottoms of these pits were off-camber and made for some exciting wheeling.

Finally, we made our way to the end of the trail at the paved FS19 road. Generally, people following this trail head home on nearby Highway 410 over Chinook pass. 410 was closed for construction, so we could either head south for White Pass, go back the way we came, or east to Yakima, up I-82 to Ellensburg, then west over I-90 and Snoqualmie pass to go home. While we all wanted to do the east-to-west Naches route, we didn't want to do it in the dark, so we chose the Yakima-Ellensburg route home. This was an advantage for our new companion Jimmy as well, since we'd be able to drop him off where his food and boots were waiting. We grabbed dinner in Yakima (where we bought Jimmy his first junk food in months), dropped off Jimmy (who promised us a post card) at Snoqualmie Pass, and headed home.

Overall, the ride was a lot of fun. We saw some beautiful scenery, met some interesting people, and had some great wheeling. Never once did we have to break out any recovery gear. Every time our forward progress was impeded for some reason, we were all able to simply back up and try a different line. I look forward to running this trail many times in the future.
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