4 Wheel Quad Riding
This is a experience of 3 older geezers, (70 + year old cousins) who decided to retrace the ride of one of the group who rode motorcycle on the Blue Lake trail in Gifford Pinchot National Forest of Washington State some 40 years before.
As we get older sometimes time has taken a toll on how well we can perform some simple tasks as hiking or moving around like we did when we were younger. Times have changed and if any recreational outings are to be maintained, other modes of transportation that in our earlier years seemed unnecessary now become looked at in a different light. Therefore the purchase of 4 wheel drive Quads takes on a different meaning. These machines shown are older early 1990s 250 and 300cc Suzukis. These machines are not for racing or tearing the ground up, but for getting us older guys from point A to point B and back again. As we all have back, knee, or hip problems, with a little bit of feeble mindedness thrown in.
After a few months of planning this trip we pretty well had things laid out. We each made and remade more than one list, being food, shelter, camp cooking gear survival gear, quad readiness, etc. We probably went overboard on some things, but what the heck, these motorized horses did not complain about the extra load.
A stop at the Randle Ranger Station on the way in to verify where it was legal to ride and gain any helpful information as trail maps etc. was in order. We were right in planning this trip in that the trails we chose are the only one where quads are allowed. Initially we thought that this restriction was being rather restrictive as compared to where the motorcycles can travel. But after riding here we decided that these Quad trails are in actuality just slightly widened motorcycle trails which were originally just hiking trails. Even with the trails designated 4 wheeler trails there are many places that are minimal width. With motorcycle usage for over 40 years, there are now many DEEP ruts and most of the top soil missing on the hills even though the Forest Service has tried to do damage control.
Lots of the trails are zig-zagging down a steep ridge with hairpin corners that a Quad has problems negotiating downhill without backing up. This can very well get kind of hairy and calls for lots of rider co-ordination between the brakes, shifting lever and throttle, otherwise you and the machine may well be launched out into space even 100' below onto a rocky hillside.
Our initial plan was to make this a 2 day trip with a overnight stay at Mouse Lake being on the itinerary, as LeeRoy and son Jim had hunted there before and knew some of that area well. The jump-off spot was to be the Blue Lake Creek campground where we left the pickup trucks and trailers. We departed from there at 10AM on Sept 26th 2006.
From there we rode about the mile southeast to the intersection with the main trail (#271) from the trailhead, and from there 3.1 miles on up to Blue Lake which has an elevation of about 4000'. The 271 trail from it's intersection with 271A to272 on the above map has been abandoned. From there the trail (#271A) then heads uphill steeper and with switchbacks before until it reaches the top which intersects with trail #272 another 1000' higher. South on #272 about a mile then will pick up the trail #271 which then stays on the ridge heading southeast for 4.2 miles until it intersects with a short side trail (#271C) (not shown on the map) that goes west to Mouse Lake. This was to be our intended camping area for the night.
|Jim, LeeRoy, & Errol with Blue Lake in the background using a time exposure on the camera|
A stop along the trail to glass a logged off hillside & sample some wild huckleberries
Time was slipping by and it was then getting along to after 5PM by then. We needed to be back to the campground by at least 6:30PM to be able to set up camp and get supper cooked before dark. We had not prepared for setting a camp up after dark. In the valley trail late in the fall day, dust from the lead Quads necessitated the ones following to drop back a bit. We made it back to camp about on time, but did run with the headlights on at the last, mostly for safety's sake however.
|The crew with quads and mountain in the background using a time exposure photo|
|An improvised shelter for the night, using the quads for tarp support & the sleeping bags between|
Errol passed away in 2015 of complications due to brain cancer, so we are glad to have made this trip
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Originated 9-27-06, Last updated 08-17-2016
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