While the WABDR Day 2 was the first challenge to overcome, finishing a 6 day off road trip was the next goal to manage. Here’s the low down.
The day started with bacon and eggs for breakfast. How could anything ever go wrong? Have I mentioned how much I love the Adventure Skottle Grill?
Famous last words, as the very next thing was two more flat tires and a trip into town to replace our supply of tubes and to get a bunch of straps for the people whose luggage was failing.
We headed toward Lion Rock, a view point that is especially fun to get to because of the big buried rocks in the moderate hill climb to get there. Everyone tried to see the lion, with various amounts of success. We continued on, and were through last years wash out before we knew it. There was no warning sign, at least on the side we were coming from. Danger? We laugh in the face of danger!
The next bit was fun, fast, and loose. A sandy section required a break for videotaping and photographing jumps, and it wasn’t long before we were to Cashmere. There’s always the debate at this point in the trip – everyone prefers dispersed camping, but Cashmere offers a campground with showers and a restaurant with amazing BBQ. The vote was in, and it was pro-showers. Into Cashmere we went. The campground at the expo center is now run by motorcycle people, and we met a couple who just sold everything they own, bought an RV and are traveling around the country with their street bikes and dirt bikes. Watch for their story soon!
As we journeyed the forest above Leavenworth, the KLR in the group started having overheating problems. We didn’t consider it a sign of anything to come, at the time. We all journeyed on together through the absolutely beautiful Wenatchee National forest. This is one of my husband’s and my favorite places to ride. We turned onto a road with waterbars, when suddenly, our group was stopped. The KLR was in the ditch, it’s rider next to it, people gathering by his side. He didn’t see that waterbar until too late, and rode a front wheelie for 75 feet before the bike decided to somersault. We weren’t there more than 5 minutes when an angel in a cheerful yellow jeep appeared. We’d realized our guy had a broken collar bone, and was not going to be riding to the hospital. This lovely young man offered to drive him.
Grateful, we worked on getting the bike towed, on the fourth of July, from the middle of nowhere to somewhere. This led to a long day of waiting, and as evening approached, I got to lead the scouting crew for a campsite! We identified a ledge with a view, and then decided to tackle the problem of water. We were far from where we’d planned, and after a hot day of sitting around, our resources were pretty low. We continued riding all the way to the little town of Ardnevoir, where we already knew, the one gas station/store/post office was closed for the holiday. I took it upon myself to acquire us water, as the non-threatening gal of the group. We saw a family outside bbqing, and after I explained our situation, they invited us in to fill all of our bags with water.
Victorious, we headed back to our group. On the way, we found two lost souls on little bikes, miles from where they were camped. My husband led them the highway while the rest of us set up camp. That’s the thing about forest angels… you get to be one as often as you need one. That evening, we stayed up late talking, expressing sympathy for our fallen group member, listening to sheep lowing, and watching the very tip of the fireworks over the ridgeline.
Over breakfast, we set a goal to finish section four and part of five. The northern sections were easy, save “the jungle” which I could hardly contain my excitement for. But, before heading out, my husband wanted to share his favorite part of riding with the group. A huge grassy field with a lovely hill climb that overlooked Ardenvoir. So much fondness for this little town.
We hoped the store was open today, but my intelligence from the night before was correct. The store was closed, so we set out at a lively pace toward Chelan, and the promise of water.
The Jungle was the only obstacle between us and Chelan, and our whole group handled it with ease. I admit, I was able to take no pictures – it’s steep, switchbacks, with a ton of rock and windfall in the ruts. No problem to ride through, but stopping seemed precarious when I can barely reach the ground most of the time. So, the jungle will live on only in my memories. But, coming out of the jungle, we saw Lake Chelan! It wasn’t long before we were visiting the nearest brewery, enjoying another fantastic lunch, before we continued on our way. The trip from here was hot hot hot. Post Chelan, many people have heard about washouts. The biggest challenge of the washouts was the giant Cat digging up the road that didn’t leave us any space to get around! I tried for a foot plant where there was no ground, and ended up upside down. Oy. Always with an audience. Once righted, I was through the washout before I knew really what was happening, and we were all riding again. Reaching the Rock Creek Area, another scouting expedition yielded a magical camping spot that had a stream to cool our feet and our beer, and no other people in sight.
Knowing I’d see the Canadian border today, I thought I’d be excited, but found myself becoming wistful. I knew this was it. Out of our campsite and into the large rocks, then moon dust, and then flying through a creek crossing, and the pensive mood passed, for a bit. The riding was great, and we were in an area of the state I’d never seen before. But I found myself stopping. Taking photos. Immersing myself in these long stretches of burned forest, rounding the corner, and then delighting in the deep green of the forest. Over and over and over again. But, you can only go so slow before nearing the true end of the ride. We crested the top of the last hill before the border, and began our descent to the road. The pavement took us too the border, and we took the obligatory photo before high 5’s and hugs. And then we parted ways. But only for a moment – most of us ended up at the same gas station in the nearest town, where my friends husband was waiting to surprise her. She was delighted!
People sometimes ask why we’d want to ride the same route that has been charted, the same route as other riders, the same route we’d done the year before. I can’t answer for the others in our group, but I love getting to share WABDR stories with friends. We get to talk about sections and what we encountered, what was similar and what was different. It is slightly different every time we ride it, from the fires obscuring the sun to the four wheelers rearranging the rocky sections. And, these scouted rides keep you on public roads instead of private property, and have scouted the most beautiful route with the most interesting off road riding available. And, the fact that it is prescouted means you can split your group up, and if everyone has tracks, you don’t have to worry about people getting lost. More personally, I discovered the WABDR right after I got my first dual sport, an xt225. Like everything I do, I said “Let’s go do the advanced section!” With no experience, my thinking was “how hard could a road be?” Needless to say it was hard, and I did a lot of falling. That was five years and three bikes ago, and this was the first time I can say I made it through all by myself. I love revisiting routes so I can see my hard earned progress.
Tips and Tricks
Get your Discover Pass
Obey all fire laws
Go with people you trust
Ask everyone to have GPS tracks
Communicate expectations about goals, stops, and pace before the trip
Make decisions as a group
Support each other
Bring tubes and know how to do trail side tire changes
Bring straps in case of luggage failures
Know your needs – I brought heat and a cooling vest because temperature affects my riding skills. I also keep a lot of snacks in easy to reach places because being well fed keeps my brain working at trail speed.