Fires, Tires, 'n Bears Eh? Ooh YeyyaahhH!!- Trip Report

Blackdawg

Dr. Frankenstein
Fires, Tires, 'n Bears eh?
Ooh Yaayh!!!

FTnBE-8.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Chapter 1: Simple Beginnings

This trip report is well over due. But better late then never right? :D

This trip takes place in August of 2015. Mike, Ben and I are once again headed to a new place with our companion Timmy. We also invited a flat lander to join us, Chris from Kansas. Our trip would follow most of the WABDR route with a few alterations and then continue up into British Colombia.

As per usual, this will be told mainly from my memory and point of view and is mostly a journal for myself and friends to look back on. But I hope someone else enjoys it as well.

I was VERY excited for this trip. Frankenstein seemed to be running in top notch shape. I had a new bed rack setup and a killer front long travel kit to break in. My girlfriend Devin had flown out from St Louis and had never been to the West and I was very excited to show her why the mid west was so lame :p Devin and I drove to Ben's place in Idaho to stay the night on the 7th. From there we caravaned to the rally point of Cascade Locks, Wa.

This was a very long drive across Washington and then along the Oregon and Washington border. By chance Chris was pulled off on the side of the interstate and heard us chatting on the CB radio and immediately caught up to us. We got familiar with him as we chatted the whole way to the rally point. One thing that had caught our attention was the very very apparently burn scars of multiple fires. This had be one of the worst years for forest fires in Washington and we would experience this in greater depth later.

Mike had chosen then meeting spot of a burger joint and as he was the closest person to the spot was there first.

IMG_9660 by mike digirat, on Flickr

But we all rolled in and greeted each other with hugs. Being spread across three different states means we don't see each other much. Then dug into some nice burgers and shakes.

Our fourth member of our troop was still not with us though even after we finished eating. We stocked up at the grocery store and I decided to try swapping CB antennas and broke out the tools, Ben laughing that I was already wrenching on Frankenstein and we hadn't even started.

IMG_0002 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

Timmy still had not shown up and even on my APRS rig he didn't appear to be close. We could get him on the cellphone either.

Venice, Ben's Co pilot was ready to go!

IMG_0001 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

Finally Timmy did show up though and we hit the road crossing the mighty Columbia river.

IMG_9661 by mike digirat, on Flickr

We refueled before hitting the dirt. Ben, Mike and Timmy chatting final travel details while they wait...on me..as per usual.

FTnBE?.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Finally, we hit the dirt and aired down. I always love these trips for various reason, but one is to always see how we have grown and changed our rigs to better suit our wants and needs. Every one always has different ideas and preferences. Its great to see all of the same but also completely different trucks. Reflections of the people driving them.

FTnBE?-2.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-3.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-4.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-5.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

I was ready to tear up some forest service roads, but our first road was..well..short lived. And we found ourselves back on a short piece of asphalt. Coming from the high alpine desert of Wyoming, I was drawn to the amount of trees.

FTnBE?-6.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Tree tunnels though would grown old to my taste eventually. But was still very different for me.

Then we hit our first problem, already, in a real tunnel of growth.

IMG_9665 by mike digirat, on Flickr

Timmy had heard a rattling from the underside of his truck and a quick inspection revealed that the rear shock body cap had popped off and was rattling around on the shaft.

FTnBE?-9.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

We all just too the opportunity to chat and give Timmy **** :D

I mostly drooled and The Red Heads *** with the rear bumper I had made Mike the pervious winter.

FTnBE?-8.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

After Timmy had repaired the truck we set off again and quickly realized that this trip was going to be dusty. Like insanely dusty. The extremely dry summer Washington had had really showed on these roads. This dust was super fine and would just linger for what seemed hours.

IMG_0011 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_0016 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

This meant we started to spread out a lot. Mike, Timmy and I had Ham radios, though it was new to Mike. But proved to be helpful for this. The WABDR route continued and the going was fast for us. The road was relatively flat and being in a large group, as long as you aren't the first one, means you can go quite fast.

Not that fast is always a great idea..

I had told myself I would not get Frankenstein airborne on this trip. I wanted to had gussets and reinforce areas before getting carried away. But as I was looking out the window enjoying the view, Timmy came up over the radio.

“Hey Monte, there is a nice little jump there if ya hit it right.”

Hmmm..sounds fun. Long as I don't go TOO hard, I thought as I looked forward and saw the little bump in the road. Instinctively I floored it in 2nd gear thinking nothing of it.

Until I actually hit it.

This was one of the deceptive humps. The kind that looks small from one direction only to drop off a lot more then you thought on the other side.

Mustve hit it at 35-40mph and instantly thought...Oh Ssssshhhhiiiiittttt. I swear it was a full second of air time and Frankenstein came down with a crash.

Devin's eyes, who by the way has NEVER been offroading before, where dinner plates. But the smile was ear to ear as she giggled.

I was in shock the truck was in moving shape.

“A LITTE jump????!?! Bull **** man! I just flew!” I said

“Oh, well, sorry haha you aren't supposed to hit it hard” replied Timmy.

Least we got that out of the way early...


FTnBE?-10.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Needless to say, the smoothness of the roads defiantly provoked hooigan driving

FTnBE?-12.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-14.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
 

Blackdawg

Dr. Frankenstein
Finally a break in the tunnels of tree allowed us some stellar views of Mt Hood and Mt Adams.

IMG_0037 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_0023 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
FTnBE?-16.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
IMG_0034 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
FTnBE?-17.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-20.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

After this was a very fun down hill section that we all enjoyed pushing our suspension on. Except maybe Chris who was still rocking totally stock suspension somehow. But he gave no ****s and was still able to ride Ben's *** most of the way.

FTnBE?-20.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-23.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

We then turned off of the WABDR onto NF-023 and continued down it till NF5601. Where we would spend our first camp night. This time Chris was the ground dweller and not Ben as he had upgraded. Timmy had even caved and was repping the king of all the expo points, an ARB roof top tent.

IMG_0039 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_9682 by mike digirat, on Flickr
IMG_9677 by mike digirat, on Flickr

It was a nice beginning to the trip. Simple but we knew we had a long ways to go. The entire state of Washington really. And though the roads weren't to be overall challenging, we would push our rigs capabilities in the name of speed.

Another new feature to our trip was our propane fire pit. Due to the ongoing fires there where bans in Washington and British Columbia. But by god we where going to have a fire! And the propane fire pit checked all the safety boxes and all the rangers where more then happy to allow our use of it.

So tents out, fire up, and beer being exchanged and drank. We settled in for the night and talked into the night.

The next morning we hit the road and too NF56 to NF2160 to NF21. This lead us back to highway 12 east which meant we had to air up.

IMG_9688 by mike digirat, on Flickr

Venice was up for helping with the task

IMG_9693 by mike digirat, on Flickr

We found ourselves passing through Packwood and few people wanted to stop for forgotten food items so we made a short stop.

This lead to our first death. Well, we didn't realize it was a total death yet but Mike's truck couldn't start when we came back out.

I take every opportunity to rub in break downs since its usually the other way around.

IMG_0041 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

But kidding aside we quickly jumped Mike and topped off the gas to head up to the overlook of Mt Rainer off the highway. Being its so tall, clouds are often part of the spectical. It was still gorgeous though.

FTnBE?-26.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-27.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Ben approved

FTnBE?-30.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
IMG_0042 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

We continued down to our next turnoff onto dirt.

FTnBE?-32.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

NF-1500 was our turn and we aired down ready to climb the mountain up some fun twisty road.

FTnBE?-33.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
 
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Blackdawg

Dr. Frankenstein
Now, this photos is important. Take not of how Frankenstein is parked.

FTnBE?-34.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Im parked on an odd hump and look at how inviting that big fat wide tire is. Its almost like a table right?

Well I thought so, and set my camera on it while finishing up my tire deflation. However.

I left it there. :anon:

And we set off up the mountain. Mike lead with Ben and Chris in Tow. Timmy tail gunned and I was in front of him. We all enjoyed the twisted road and nearing the top I finally saw a scene I wised to capture, and reached for my camera. Which was not there..

“Do you have my camera?” I asked Devin.

“What? No, isn't in your bag?”

My hear sunk.

“Nope.”

****. We started digging through my truck, but come on. There aren't THAT many places a DSLR can hide in an extended cab tacoma. By now Timmy had caught up and was radioing the others of the situation.

It then hit my like a ton of bricks. It was at the bottom of the mountain.

“Im going back down to get it” I radioed.

“I'll come with” replied Timmy. The others where at the top and stopped for lunch to wait.

I tore down the mountain. Pshing the limits of grip in the corners and taking full advantage of my new suspension.

“Well I gotta say Monte, I'll admit that new suspension makes your **** fast” Timmy said over the radio.

“It definitely helps!” I replied drifting through corners.

“yea...im...im going to slow down. See you down there.” said Timmy.

As I continued down thoughts began racing through my head. What if someone had seen it? Would they take it? Is this road popular enough for that to happen? **** what if I just ran over it? What was only a few minutes but seem like an hour to me, I finally reached the bottom.

And lo and behold! The canon DLSR was lying in the dirt. But otherwise undamaged. How lucky is that? Due to the angle of my start im guessin that the small roll back while engagin the clutch had allowed it to fall backwards before I set off.

Thanking my lucky starts I sat and waited for Timmy to finally make it down. Which took a few minutes.

“Holy **** dude, how are you alive? I almost died trying to follow you! Damn near lost it in a corner.” Said Timmy.

“Ha! Well glad you didn't die man. You wanna lead going up?”


“No..I'm...Im good. You go ahead..”

Now not wanting to be late to lunch. I again tore up the hill dreaming of a turbo or supercharger. Something to give me more power. Stilling a 4k rpms was ear splitting. So much so we didn't have to tell the others of our arrival.

IMG_0064 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_0068 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

Sorry for the rock spray Ben!

They all called me one lucky sumbitch. And we laughed about the situation and enjoyed one hell of a view with our sandwhiches.

IMG_9703 by mike digirat, on Flickr
IMG_0059 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_0070 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

After lunch we continued down the road along the cliffs edge. Which also gave some great views of the area, Mt Adams, and Rimrock Lake.

FTnBE?-43.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
IMG_0072 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
FTnBE?-50.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

The dust was still as bad as ever. Even on top of the cliffs edge.

FTnBE?-51.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

But we didn't mind, the view was still stellar here as the smoke didn't seem to be impeding our visibility.

FTnBE?-53.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
IMG_0089 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

What a view!

FTnBE?-60.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

But wait lets zoom in..

FTnBE?-59.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Spies!

FTnBE?-58.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

This started a photoing a photo war.

IMG_9734 by mike digirat, on Flickr

This was a great moment. As Mike bent over funny to get a photo of Frankenstein Ben mockingly squatted to get him doing it. Timmy reacted and of course I had to follow suit. I wish I had the sequence of photos from this haha

FTnBE?-64.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

But we had to keep moving which I was more then happy with as I was still just having a blast with long travel.

IMG_0099 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
FTnBE?-66.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

We then dropped down the backside of Bethel Ridge and hit the town, if you can call it that, of Nile.

IMG_0113 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_0117 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

I was still fascinated by the evidence of all the water here.

FTnBE?-71.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
 

Blackdawg

Dr. Frankenstein
Then we hit another snag. While refueling in Nile, Mikes truck once again, would not start.

As we all laughed we got the jumpers out and tried jumping him again.

FTnBE?-72.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

But the truck was dead. Like as dead as can be. The “town” of nile was no place where we would find a replacement. And then we realized the situation was even more complex.

Timmy had dual batteries as did I. However they were not OEM sizes and would not fit in the stock battery tray so we couldn't just give him one of ours. Chris had a 2nd gen which uses a much larger battery so he couldn't give his up. And of course Mike has an automatic transmision. So push starting was not an option either.

This left Ben. He had a tiny hilarious energizer battery in his truck. But it would fit. And he had a manual so we could push start him.

Let the surgery begin.

FTnBE?-73.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Luckily its a very easy surgery and we had the battery swapped quickly.

FTnBE?-74.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

The tiny battery from Ben's truck started Mikes truck and we push started Ben's truck.

“Well, just don't kill it and never shut it off till we get to camp!” said Chris.

With that we set off and went up NF19 and found a camp site next to the Little Naches river. Devin and I where already sick of the dust in our hair and took a quick dunk in the river, which was freezing. I tried to coax Venice into it but she was not having it haha

Sadly we don't have any photos of this nice little site.

The next morning we continued to the Naches wagon Trail. Mike had left his fridge unplugged all night and his truck somehow started.

IMG_0141 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

We pushed Bens truck to life and setoff.

FTnBE?-76.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
IMG_9743 by mike digirat, on Flickr

This was the only trail one of us got stuck on. Chris got high centered on a rock.

“I was just following you.” He said to me laughing.

“Yea, don't do that, bigger tires and an actual lift. Your stock man!”

FTnBE?-77.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

But didn't take long to get him out and directed up a more friendly line. And we continued down the trail.

IMG_9749 by mike digirat, on Flickr
IMG_0144 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
FTnBE?-78.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-82.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
IMG_9759 by mike digirat, on Flickr

I always find these signs nice. I often wish I stopped at more of them along highways and such. Always cool information.

FTnBE?-83.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Every spot that seem narrow peaked Mike's and Ben's interest if id fit. Luckily I never had any issues.

IMG_0159 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_9762 by mike digirat, on Flickr

Then we came to a semi famous “bridge” crossing. Its just a narrow one lane wooden structure made to help protect a sensitive marsh area.

IMG_9760 by mike digirat, on Flickr

And when I say narrow, I mean...NARROW. Well. If you have long travel..

Everyone else didn't have issues.

IMG_9770 by mike digirat, on Flickr
IMG_0169 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
FTnBE?-85.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-84.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

I had a bit of a tighter squeeze here..

IMG_9771 by mike digirat, on Flickr
IMG_9773 by mike digirat, on Flickr
IMG_0164 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

But Ben spotted me across it with no drama.

IMG_9774 by mike digirat, on Flickr
 

Blackdawg

Dr. Frankenstein
With that, we finished the trail and ate lunch.

IMG_0174 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

After lunch we headed out and somehow Mike's truck...turned off..ha

and it would not start again.

IMG_0176 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

So I had the pleasure of jumping him.

IMG_0178 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

And that made it very obvious that we need to get Mike a new battery ASAP. Our route would take us to Cle Elum later that afternoon and we figured that would be a good place to get a battery. So now Mike and Ben where not allowed to turn off their trucks.

We climbed out of the valley and ended up on a lovely open stretch of open cliff road. Which allowed us a wondrous view.

FTnBE?-88.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
IMG_0183 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_9781 by mike digirat, on Flickr

The WABDR route is pretty cool as you seem to ride the tops of the mountians for good portions, then dive down and back up onto another ridge line.

IMG_9787 by mike digirat, on Flickr
IMG_0192 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

Eventually we made it to Cle Elum. Where I decided to look at an issue that had started that afternoon. My 4wd was on engaging. So I crawled around under the hood of Frankenstein while Mike bought a new battery to hold him over till he could get a nicer AGM battery and gave back Ben's battery.

IMG_0202 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_0203 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

From here we jumped on I90 breifly to Ellensburg to get on to Reecer Creek road.

FTnBE?-91.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-93.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

We continued to Table mountain Road which dead ends but has a nice view. Though the smoke rather hid most of it from us here.

IMG_0205 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr
IMG_9791 by mike digirat, on Flickr

We where getting further north and into the active fires and the evidence of this was quiet obvious.

FTnBE?-97.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
FTnBE?-98.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
IMG_9793 by mike digirat, on Flickr

We turned around and camped at a rather nice big open spot. Up went the tents and out came the stoves for dinner.

FTnBE?-102.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr


Not only dinner, but dessert! I had brought ice cream in the freezer. Glamping to the Max!

FTnBE?-103.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

We then fired up the propane fire and enjoyed the fading sun light.

IMG_0214 by Benjamin Springli, on Flickr

We had not been on the road long enough that normal life was beginning to fade away. Almost a distant memory. This was life now. A life on the road in the back country. Where we cringe at the thought of passing through a town and having to drive on that terrible black surface they call asphalt. Our world now consisted of dirt roads, high mountains, with everything we needed and wanted in the back of a truck.

We where finally in the groove.

Let the Adventure begin.

FTnBE?.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

To be Continued..
Chapter 2: Dust n Smoke
 

mscuiletti

Observer
Great photos and report! Once again, I'm envious. Looking forward to your next chapter, hopefully smoke not being from the trucks.
 

Blackdawg

Dr. Frankenstein
Great trip report and fantastic photos. What camera gear are you using?
Thanks!

We shoot Canon gear. Although, nothing super special.

Mikes setup: 50D shooting mainly a 10-22mm f/3.5 and occasionally a 28-135mm

Bens setup: T2i with a 10-18mm f/4.5, 50mm f/1.8, Tamoron 100-300mm occasionally.

Mine: 60D 18-135mm f/3.5, 10-18mm /f4.5, and 50mm f/1.8 occasionally.

Nothing super awesome. But we know how to use them as we have owned them for a while.

We did the WABDR twice in the summer of 2015. It was indeed DUSTY and downright warm that summer.

Regards, CW
Yea it was killer dry. Fires where nuts that year. Was ironic for me as usually Wyo is burning but we had only one fire all year haha was odd. Got us back this year. Had around 10? 12? something like that. Most all around where i live too.

Always always love your trip reports and photos. Thanks for the share
Thanks!

Great photos and report! Once again, I'm envious. Looking forward to your next chapter, hopefully smoke not being from the trucks.
Thanks for reading!

In for the ride as well! WA is a pretty awesome place.
Wa is pretty cool. Wouldn't mind going back thats for certain.

Another great trip report, thanks for sharing! Brings back memories of my WABDR run in 2014.

Derek
It was a nice chill run really. Good trail system.
 
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Blackdawg

Dr. Frankenstein
Nice trip!! And ice cream on the trail ROCKS!!

Sent from my VS987 using Tapatalk
It was awesome! Was my dads dual zone fridge freeze as mine showed up a day too late..was nice. But damn did it suck down the battery! and the unit was too big for my new bed rack setup so it made packing a total pain.

Newer fridge fits perfect. But no freezer..oh well. Compromises!
 

1MK

ExploreDesert
Good stuff as always!

I always enjoy reading and viewing your reports. Thanks for taking the time to put it all together.
 
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