Bruce, Geoff, Peter, Mark & Kathy it was great meeting all of you this past weekend. We had a great time and learned tons from all of you.
For those that weren't there I will attempt a brief write up of our trip.
We met at Safeway in North Bend at 8AM. Dana and I are not morning people so we headed up the night before and camped in the Safeway parking lot. Bruce was the first to show and as I was leaving the van to head to Starbucks for our morning coffee, he was already parked beside us. Bruce couldn't make the run up to Gallaher Head Lake but came to see us all off. Thanks Bruce, hopefully next time you will be able to make the whole trip.
Velogeo (Peter) and Geoff showed up shortly after, and after 30 minutes of getting to know each other we hit the road to Roslyn. Velogeo led the way at a leisurely pace across Snoqualmie Pass and through Roslyn. For those of you that were Northern Exposure fans this is the small town where the show was filmed. After another 5 miles we reached a small campgroud where we stopped to air down and lock our hubs. Then we hit the dirt.
We traveled about 3 miles on a good logging road then our fearless leader Velogeo spotted the turn to FSR 301 which is the Jeep trail that heads up to the lake. Let the fun begin!
The trail starts fairly mild but after about a half mile we were in 4 low crawling along a narrow rocky trail with a steep drop on the right side. The first major obstacle was a hunter in an old CJ-5 coming down the trail. The Jeep was able to climb up onto the edge of the hill and as Velogeo squeezed to the other side of the track he caught the point of a sharp log buried in the brush that skewered his right rear tire. Before he could stop he had torn a 4 inch hole in the sidewall. There was no repairing this flat.
We broke out the jacks and other tools and Peter got to work on the tire while the rest of us did our best imitation of a goverment road crew. Shortly after the wheel came off we heard the sounds of motors coming up the trail behind us. We had passed 12 Jeeps parked at a restaurant in Roslyn, which we learned later had been the same Jeeps that Bruce had spotted in North Bend, and now they were coming up the trail behind us. With Geoff and us behind Peter there was no way they could pass so we brought the Wandering Willys to a halt. They were in no hurry and came up to chat and check out the vans. The Wandering Willys are a great group of people and I would happily share a trail with them any time. Cayenne (our dog) even got a chance to romp with some of the Willy dogs. Velogoe however now had 6 people supervising the tire change.
With the spare on we hurriedly packed up the tools and fired up our rigs so we wouldn't hold up our new friends any longer. After about 10 minutes we found a clearing where we could all get off the road to let the Jeeps pass. We figured the smaller lighter Jeeps would be going much faster than our large lumbering vans. However, after a short wait they had not yet appeared so we pushed on. We reached the easier logging road wihich is an alternate route for the lower section without further drama and again waited for the Jeeps, before starting the last section of trail. Again no Jeeps.
The last section of the trail is definitely the hardest. It is very rough and rocky with 4 or 5 deep stream crossings that were problematic for those of us with EBs. Fortunately our trailer hitch took the brunt of the abuse, but we did get a few nicks in our rear bumper. Geoff in his RB wasn't phased in the least by these.
If there is anyone from SMB or Alluminess reading, plates welded across the bottom of the bumpers on the ends would be really helpful. This would help the bumper skid over rocks instead of catching on them.
The trail at this point also becomes very steep and started to get muddy and then snowy. This really made things interesting and I think we all used our front locker at least once. Velogeo was able to negotiate all of the switchbacks flawlessly but I had to back up on a couple of them because even though we both have 35" tires, on our '08 they rub against the fender flares when near full lock.
We arrived at the lake and found that both of the campsites were taken. There was a small group from the NW Overland society on the West campsite and hunters in the site at the North end of the lake. Shortly after our arrival the Wandering Willys showed up leading to a traffic jamb as we were backtracking down to the South end of the lake. Since we don't need a tent site, we were able to set up in a small grass clearing here.
The lake is a beautiful alpine lake tucked in among jagged rocky peaks. The lake is surrounded by grassy meadows and stunted alpines. The air was crystal clear and cold at 40 degrees however quite pleasant as long as we were in the sun.
Velogeo broke out his extremely cool folding fire pit, we had some lunch and barley pops, traded stories of past trips, and compared rides. As afternoon turned to evening we had dinner around the fire and then as the temperature dipped below freezing we retreated to Velogeo's SMB for more stories and shots of Herredura. The latter of which Peter and I would regret the next morning.
After breakfast the next morning we hiked up the trail and found the remnants of an old miners cabin that had burned down some years before. All that was left were burned timbers and broken pieces of a cast iron stove. We had a beautiful view of the lake below.
Goeff was able to indulge his love of high places.
Like many of you, we are all avid readers of Overland Journal and back at camp we posed with the latest edition. I am sending in the photos with the hope they will publish one. Keep your fingers crossed.
By mid-day we had to head back down. The snow on the trail had turned to mud which made for a slow first gear crawl down the steep sections. Near the bottom of the upper trail we met Bitburger (Mark, Cathy and their daughters.) After a short conversation Bitburger pulled to the side so we could pass, he turned around and we all rendezvoused at the logging road. Velogeo had to head home but the rest of the group headed down the logging road, found a nice spot on the river for lunch and more talk of Sportmobiles.
I think I can speak for all of us in saying we had a great time and are looking forward to our next PNW Sportmobileforum get toghether.