Last month a group of us bike packed through Washington's "Outback"- the Colockum and Quilomene Wildlife Areas. We started at the Colockum Wildlife Headquarters at the Northern boundary (just south of Wenatchee) and rode all the way through to Vantage along the Columbia River Gorge. Total milage is only a little over 51 miles... but it truly seems like 100+. Due to a time consuming shuttle to start and a return shuttle at the end, we took 4 days (3 nights) to complete the trip. This route has only been legal to travel since a "land swap" of some sort around the time of the wind farm construction. A swath of land out there used to be private and posted "no trespassing". That section is now part of the Qulomene WRA. Riding North to South allowed us to do some of the steepest sections as downhills. Great Trip! Great partners! Lots of stories to tell about this one!!
Here's a link to "Spovegas'" Blog where he's doing a fine job of telling the story complete with GPS info: 26InchSlicks
Here's some footage of the trip. They're a little long for some... but lots of stuff for folks interested in the route...
Not all miles are created equal. Spend any time watching the vids or reading the blog and you'll start to realize these were some very hard-earned miles indeed, 'roads' be dam*ed.
Ward is always a treat to ride with because he seems to have a perma-grin about what he's doing and where he's at... he's one of those people who seems to truly drink in the 'it's not a destination but the journey', and thanks to his predilection (and patience) for cameras he's gotten some amazing ride footage from central WA over the last few years. But don't let his giggity fool you: dude's a strong rider. So if it took HIM ~6 hours to cover less than 10 miles, rest assured the whole lot was in for an 'adventure'.
To put this in perspective, I have ZERO reservations rummaging around deep into Teanaway/Taneum/Manastash by myself, will probably even do some solo overnights at some point in those.... but the Whiskey Dick/Quilomene country gives me Real Fearô due to absolute remoteness and exposure to weather and just about everything else. As I told the guys when we met them at Whiskey Dick bay the last night of their trip: "There's probably 100 ways to die out here, but I don't think any of them are quick. And it might take a while to find the body."
I'm very glad Ward put this trip together because it is proof-of-life for MTB interest in recreation in this area at a critical time in the government planning processes. Several times he's referred to it as "Washington's Outback" and I believe that's an accurate descriptor. As insanely harsh and unforgiving as this country is... there's nothing else quite like it. We look forward to riding there every spring and husby's already declared an interest in Ward's next expedition. I'm probably going to have to sit the full adventure out due to my insane reaction to poison oak (I had a patch on my shin after reconning in a brushy draw this spring), but could easily be talked into camping in some of the southerly reaches accessible without undue schwack such as the upper Skookumchuck valley.
"...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."
"Spovegas"(his mtbr name) is an excellent writer and photographer! And an awesome ride partner as well!! Looking forward to our next trip- the annual Northwest Fat Bike Meet at Ocean Shores (Sep. 21st & 22nd) if not sooner...