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Old 10-23-2014, 11:44 PM   #1
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Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

This trip report was supposed to be titled "Fortune Creek trail to Gallagher Head Lake", but it's not. I'll get to that...

For the first time in about 3 years, I had a bachelor weekend; the wife took the boys to an event out of town, and I had some work commitments that kept me from going. Luckily those commitments didn't span the weekend, so I thought I'd finally get to scratch the 4-wheeling itch.

I loaded up the dogs, my guitar, and a bunch of beer and headed out. It was raining hard in Seattle, but NOAA said it would clear up once I got east of the Cascades. Also, I don't care about rain- I have a van.

I took I90 East to Cle Elum, topped off with some cheap diesel and headed up WA903. I passed through Roslyn and Ronald but planned to spend some more time there later. Cle Elum Lake was pretty low, but I drove around the campground at the North end just to check it out. All the campsites are very exposed, but it seems like a pretty cool place to spend some time in the early summer for lake stuff.

I kept on WA903 which turned into Salmon la Sac rd and then into FR4330. The creek gets really cool up here, canyon walls a little steeper. A few cool campsites here, but this road is still pretty busy. I was surprised at how much private property was up here- lots of old miners cabins restored to residences.
This one hasn't been restored:

I pulled up to the trailhead for Fortune Creek, aired down the tires and took off the sway-bar endlinks... this was going to be aweseome! Climbed back in, went to shift the T-case into low range, and the rear shifter went waaaayyy too easy, then dropped through the floor. Unfortunately, this felt familiar, so I knew that my 4-wheeling weekend was done. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11545&hilit=atlas+pivot
This time, the rear shifter pivot had twisted off.

I had the spare pivot bolts with me and all the tools to fix it, but I also had a bunch of beer and my guitar. And the rain had stopped and the clouds were parting. So I kept heading up FR4330 until I found an awesome campsite right on Cle Elum river a couple miles North of Fortune Creek.

There were 6 sites in this area, but I was the only one there.

There was an awesome little beach about a hundred feet from the fire ring so I deployed my chair and guitar and began consuming beer.

This is what it's all about:

The dogs thought it was alright too.

Eventually it started getting dark

So I lit up a fire and caught up on a few issues of Overland Journal.

I mowed down some smoked salami, cheese curds, and cibata, then had a gloriously undisturbed night of sleep.

2006 E350 Diesel, SMB 4x4, RB50- "Hopper"- SOLD
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Old 10-24-2014, 12:26 AM   #2
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

Since I couldn't go anywhere in low range, I decided to just explore a few of the roads out there, scout some other camping areas, and explore Roslyn.

I hiked around the campsite area and found some interesting mushrooms (cartoonishly large) and this path:

It's actually the decomposed carcass of a felled tree. It looks like a berm of dirt with some wood chips on top. I wonder how long it took to get to this state. 50 years?

I headed North on FR4330 to the trailheads at the edge of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Pretty cool, some more potential campsites. I headed South and then out to Cooper Lake. There's a walk-in campsite there right on the water. Back to Salmon la Sac to air up.
This building has an interesting story:

In the early part of the 20th century, the timber company in the area wanted to bring railroad out here. For some reason the French government was involved in the funding. The first thing they built was this building to be a depot. Well, shortly after, WWI started and the French withdrew their funding, so rails never made it out here.

From here I headed back into Roslyn.

Roslyn is better known as Cicely, AK from the show Northern Exposure. In fact, the set of "AM 57, KBHR, The Voice of the Last Frontier" is intact in the corner of the building on the NE corner of 1st and Pennsylvania. This building, besides being a set for the show, was formerly the company store for the "Northwest Improvement Company" which was the name of the coal mining division of the Northern Pacific Railway around the turn of the 20th century. Roslyn was a coal town.

Caddycorner to this building is "The Brick" tavern, the oldest continually operated in WA, which features a running water spitoon (gross...).
Just West of there is a little park with some mining artifacts,

including this badass saw:

It's about 12 feet long and was used to undercut the block of coal intended to be blasted.

Across the street was Roslyn Brewing Co. who had no food, but some pretty solid craft ales and lagers.

Along Pennsylvania Ave are quite a few original buildings, many with the false front architecture popular in that time.

And this cool totem pole:

Around the corner is this building:

The left side used to be City Hall, the right side the Library, and in the basement was the Fire Department. The FD is now next door and the Library is now a bead shop

After seeing what there was to see here, I headed back to Seattle. Now to fix that stupid shifter pivot...

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Old 10-24-2014, 05:24 AM   #3
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

Great report. Thanks. New places to put on my wish list of trips.
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Old 10-24-2014, 06:24 AM   #4
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

Bummer about the van drama, but great TR!

"I don't care about rain. I have a van."
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Old 10-24-2014, 10:07 AM   #5
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

Thanks for the Roslyn pics - I loved Northern Exposure growing up!

Looks like a nice trip despite the minor mechanical woes. Amazing what a little solitude does to refresh and reset from the daily grind.
2009 Express AWD, CCV Top & 50-ish home build. Daily driver/camper/kid hauler
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Old 10-24-2014, 10:34 AM   #6
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

I was in that area only a few days ago... Nice trip report, thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-24-2014, 12:31 PM   #7
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

always good reports!
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Old 10-26-2014, 11:58 AM   #8
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

Thanks for the trip report... always nice to see areas I'd like to visit. Hope the repair went good.
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Old 11-01-2014, 12:54 PM   #9
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

Great trip report, thanks. I wonder what the area is like in the winter (November)
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Old 11-02-2014, 04:24 PM   #10
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Re: Cle Elum River (WA) Camping

Originally Posted by arctictraveller
Great trip report, thanks. I wonder what the area is like in the winter (November)
Judging by a lot of signs I saw, it's covered by snow and snowmobiles. Well, maybe not in November...

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