Offroading


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Over the course of the summer, we’d become progressively more daring on the terrain we would tackle in our little SUV. Jennifer often was out of the vehicle to direct us through areas with deep ruts and large rocks, to ensure our front bumper or spoiler didn’t catch. The most challenging conditions we’ve taken on so far was while returning home from a late-summer camping trip. Our maps showed a direct route to the highway, but we soon encountered a small hill partially blocking the road. Many, many vehicles had crossed before us, so we decided to give it a try with Jennifer out of the car guiding.

The hill, pictured above, was getting pretty close to the limit for our vehicle. We made it over though, and figured the worse was behind us. But the next challenge was that the road was partially washed out a short distance beyond, and we had to go right up against a tree to stay on the road. Then, after all the work of getting over the hill and past the partial washout, we hit a total washout where the road was completely gone. Some 4x4s had made it up a very steep hill into the woods to the north, but that was definitely beyond the capability of our vehicle.

Below are highlights from August 19th through 21st, 2022. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a map with our most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

8/19/2022
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Cat Sitting Hotels
At Cat Sitting Hotels in West Seattle to drop off Spitfire while we head out for a two-night camping trip. We normally use Wagly in Bellevue, but they didn’t have capacity so we needed to try a different company.
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Spitfire
Spitfire checking out his weekend digs at Cat Sitting Hotels. They took great care of him and made sure his enclosure had plenty of places to tuck away, but he could also see out when he wanted.
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Logging Equipment
The area we’re driving through on NF-7010 off Highway 410 is being actively logged. We passed several large logging machines along the way.
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Road Closed
A few of the spur roads off NF-7010 were closed due to the active logging.
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Landslide
A major landslide across the valley, viewed looking east from NF-7012. The creek below at the bottom is called Slide Creek, so this probably is a common occurrence.
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Large Campsite
Checking out a large camping area at the end of NF-7012-375 with a partial view to Mt. Rainier through the trees. We’d seen better ones on the way up, so didn’t stop here.
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Guiding
Jennifer guiding James across deep ruts and holes along NF-7012-390 to make sure our front bumper or spoiler didn’t catch. We had to do this a lot today as the roads were in pretty rough shape and barely passable with the low ground clearance of our SUV.
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Campsite
We didn’t find any sites we liked better, so returned back down along NF-7012 to a spot we’d seen earlier with a great view to Mt. Rainier. The only reason we didn’t take it right away is we didn’t feel quite ready to stop and wanted to explore the area a bit more. The site was a little uneven, so we’ve leveled the vehicle with orange Tri-Lynx levelers.
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Lunch
Lunch with a view to Mt. Rainier from our campsite along NF-7012.
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Mt. Rainier
Even slightly obscured by clouds, Mt. Rainier is a dramatic sight.
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Crab Cakes
Making crab cakes for dinner. Our Coleman Classic camp stove and the rest of our cooking gear is working out really well.
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Dusk
Dusk looking northwest from our campsite along NF-7012.
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Evening
Enjoying the evening view in the warm glow of our propane heater. The day was quite warm, but it cools off quickly in the evening at altitude 3,237 ft (987 m).
8/20/2022
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White River Valley
Clouds have filled in the White River Valley this morning, but we get an interesting view above them.
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Road Closed
A logger stopped by our campsite on Saturday morning and told us we were behind a locked gate that wouldn’t open again until Monday. He let us out, but we were lucky he’d come by otherwise we would have been stuck when we tried to leave on Sunday. The sign pictured was the only warning to us. It’s not clear how to avoid this other than keeping out of active logging areas with only one exit.
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PCT Hiker
A hiker along the Pacific Crest Trail as we explore along Blowout Creek Road near Green Pass.
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Clouds
Ascending into the clouds at altitude 4,734 ft (1,443 m) along Blowout Creek Road near the junction with Forest Road 7038. The road looks a bit like it’s heading off a cliff ahead.
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Potential Campsite
Looking down to a couple of potential campsites along a spur road off Forest Road 7038. It felt a little too early to stop though, so we’ll keep them in mind for another time.
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Big Rock
Driving around a large boulder along Forest Road 5200-2 alongside Tahoma Creek. There sure are a lot of ways to damage a vehicle out on these forest roads.
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Tree Splintered
A large tree that had splintered apart along Forest Road 41 by Cabin Creek.
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Dusty
We eventually found a wonderful single-car spot tucked off Forest Road 41 with a view to Cabin Creek. Our poor car is very dusty after the day’s driving.
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Lunch
Lunch with a view to Cabin Creek. We normally prefer higher-altitude campsites with a mountain view, but this one along the creek was too beautiful to skip.
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Wading
Another advantage of the higher-altitude view campsites is they often lack thick tree cover and we usually have no trouble getting our Starlink satellite dish to hook up. But here in the woods we’ve tried all candidate spots around the truck or on the access road and can’t get the clear view to overhead satellites that Starlink needs. James decided to walk across the creek and try there, and it just barely worked.
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Connectivity
The Starlink cord trailing away from the WiFi router inside our car across the creek to the satellite dish perched on a log on the other side (click image for a larger view). It’s perhaps a bit odd to have the satellite base station on the other side of the stream, but it got us connected.
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Making Dinner
Making dinner at Cabin Creek.
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Pork Tacos
Delicious pulled pork tacos for dinner, with fresh cilantro, onion and lime, at our lovely spot along Cabin Creek.
8/21/2022
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The Office
Getting a little work done in the morning at our outdoor office along Cabin Creek.
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NF 4110-129
Out exploring before returning home, we found this campsite along Forest Road 4110-129 with a great view north to the Cascade Mountains and the distinctive peaks of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
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Cabin Creek Bridge
The bridge across Cabin Creek is looking pretty tired. Here we are re-crossing after exploring Forest Road 4110.
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Hill
Our maps indicated we could reach I-90 traveling east along Forest Road 41, but we soon came to this small hill partially blocking the road. Many, many vehicles had crossed before us, so we decided to give it a try with Jennifer out of the car guiding.
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Ascending
Here we are approaching the midway point of the hill where the big risk is getting top-centered as we crest the hill. We’re about as far over to the passenger side as we can get before that happens.
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Narrow
We don’t have much room on the driver’s side either with the steeply sloped wall.
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Three Wheels
We’re getting pretty close to the limit for our little SUV on this one.
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Turn
Once over hill, we need to make a sharp turn to the passenger side to avoid contacting the dirt wall with the corner of the front spoiler on the driver’s side.
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Tree
We made it over the hill, but the next challenge was that Forest Road 41 was partially washed out a short distance beyond. We had to go right up against this tree to stay on the road.
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Washout
View to what is left of Forest Road 41 on the passenger side of the car as we pass the tree. We’re right on the edge.
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End of the Road
After all the work of getting over the hill and past the partial washout, we hit a total washout where the road was completely gone. Some 4x4s had made it up a very steep hill into the woods to the north, but that was definitely beyond the capability of our vehicle. So we reluctantly turned around to face everything we’d just gone through all over again. We were so bummed we forgot to take a picture, but this screenshot from the satellite imagery makes it pretty clear.
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Cabin Creek
View to Cabin Creek as we return back out. The water level looks quite low.
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Checking Clearance
James checking for clearance at the driver’s side as we return back over the hill. With care, we made it back out through both hazards.
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Keechelus Lake
View to Keechelus Lake and the Cascade Mountains beyond as we descend on Forest Road 41 towards I-90. We’re about to cross over the Stampede Pass railway tunnel that trains enter after ascending the Borup Loop.
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Paved Road
After the challenge of getting over the hill and through the road washout, and back again, we enjoyed being back on a paved road.
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Dust
A view to the rear of our incredibly dusty car as we stop for gas in Snoqualmie Pass. The last time we stopped here for fuel was in the winter, when a huge pile of snow slid off the roof right where we’d just driven.
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The Commonwealth
Another great lunch at The Commonwealth at Snoqualmie Pass.
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Hydroplane
One of several small hydroplanes being towed west along I-90 as we return home from the Commonwealth.
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Port of Seattle
Passing the Port of Seattle as we arrive into the city from the south after picking up Spitfire at Cat Sitting Hotels in West Seattle.
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Seattle Skyline
The striking Seattle skyline with Lumen Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, at right.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map. And a map of our most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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