Exploratory Camping Trip - Mt Adams, WA

KillRamsey

Hall of Famer
Location
Hood River, OR
Real Name
Kyle
My wife and daughter are out of town. Let’s start with that. It is an interesting thing, when they leave: on the one hand, I have the freedom to go wherever, do whatever, to make poor decisions, to not plan, to not remember to eat, to not make the bed if I don’t wanna. On the other hand, all my routines and structure are gone, and I get a little sad that I have no one to share things with. The second thing to know is that one of the little things that sustains my happiness throughout the years is finding really remote (yet still drive-able if you have 4WD) campsites off the grid... other things include playing live music and making beer. Now finding such camp sites, which are not on any map, takes a lot of effort and a fair bit of luck. You’ve got to spend days just prospecting, unmarked road after unmarked road. Combine these two things, and you have “what Kyle did this weekend.” I loaded up the electric mountain bike onto the back of the old 88 4Runner, put some beer and sandwiches in a cooler, filled a million water bottles, glanced at a map, and headed north across the river into Washington Saturday morning.

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KBRX8396
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

From 11 to 4:30, I went down 8-10 different remote dirt roads, often unloading the bike to explore all the various branches. I found a lot of snow (in 95 degrees, in June!), a lot of dead ends, and a lot of mediocre campsites full of shotgun shells, potholed beer cans, and elk tracks. Perfectly acceptable quiet places, but not The Place.

Downed tree? Not an issue for the bike.
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KBRX8436
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

Opting to push my luck, I drove on, and took a poorly maintained side road towards a town I’d never heard of. 5-10 miles down that road, I spotted a deliciously steep side road and pulled over to check it out. The first sign warned “Road closed in 4 miles – Storm Damage” which is excellent, nobody will be going down this road. The second sign warned “Narrow Rough Road,” which is even better. Trucky is not afraid of steep, narrow, rough roads. On up I went. And as advertised, the roads did very much require 4WD and a delicate touch.

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KBRX8431
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

One of many surprises (an abandoned tent crushed by snow, some homemade pit toilets, an elk skeleton) was this RV on the Steep Road, crushed by an avalanche, dangling over a drop-off, blocking 1/3 of the narrow road. It didn’t occur to me til a friend pointed it out later at home, but there’s a fair chance there’s a body or two in it. Just depends on whether it was occupied when the slide happened. I didn’t look.

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KBRX8433
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

Eventually, this was the best spot I could find, and is perhaps the nicest view of any campsite I’ve been to.

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KBRX8445
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

I biked some more, explored all the branch roads to their ends, found a total of 4 campsites (all good), came back, ate my dinner sandwich, consumed much good beer, and passed out in the driver’s seat at 9pm waiting for darkness. I had a fire set up to light, but never did. I awoke at 11, groggy, and stumbled out to take night pics / brush teeth / crash in the back of the truck.

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KBRX8495
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

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KBRX8578
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

The humble XC 50-230, ladies & gentlemen:
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KBRX8593
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

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by gordopuggy, on Flickr

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KBRX8623
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

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KBRX8624
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

At 6:27 exactly, the sun’s angle was just high enough to creep over the stickers in the back of the truck and alight upon my weary eyeballs, after which there would be no more sleeping. I put the bike back on, took a few pics, and was in Reverse not ten minutes later (the joys of camping alone).

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KBRX8642
by gordopuggy, on Flickr

Once back home, consulting Google maps, the road was not to be found, period. It took some good paper maps at a friend’s place to locate where I’d wound up, but locate it I did.
 

tonyturley

Legend
Location
Scott Depot, WV, USA
Real Name
Tony
Nice. We certainly don't see the Milky Way like that where I live . . . have to drive a good ways into the surrounding boonies for that. Even the small city where I live generates a significant amount of light and particulate pollution.
 

KillRamsey

Hall of Famer
Location
Hood River, OR
Real Name
Kyle
Nice. We certainly don't see the Milky Way like that where I live . . . have to drive a good ways into the surrounding boonies for that. Even the small city where I live generates a significant amount of light and particulate pollution.

The area west of Mt Adams is a vast, empty, wonderful national forest that dwarfs the ranges I was used to in Vermont. The scale is so much more vast up here.
 

Iansky

All-Pro
Location
Cotswolds, UK
Thanks Kyle for sharing your exploits - you certainly picked a superb place and the night shots are stunning. The shot of the crushed camper is a bit unnerving and I am surprised it has been left there rather than being recovered.
 

KillRamsey

Hall of Famer
Location
Hood River, OR
Real Name
Kyle
An update on the crushed RV:

I called the local Park Service ranger station to tell them about it. They hadn't heard about it yet and were very curious exactly where it was. Side note - the guy who answered was an AirBnB guest of ours a few months back when he first moved up here from San Diego for the job, which was cool. "....wait, is this Mark?!" "Yeah! Hey Kyle!" Anyway, Mark wrote back later and said the sherrif's department knew about it and had cleared the vehicle for bodies, but that they hadn't told the park service about it, which they should've. And there was some debate about whose job it is to try to get some kind of two vehicle up there to haul it out (gooooooood luck my friends).

Meanwhile, the backstory on how it got there: Last summer there was some Rainbow Fest hippy-type gathering in the forest around there, and this vehicle was one of them. The owners ran out of gas and money, and said "anyone who wants it can go get it." And no one did. So there it sat, blocking the road where it ran out of gas, until the massive snows we got this past winter came along and caused an avalanche on the hill above it, crushing it into the taco you see now.
 

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