Car camping, hiking and overlanding in the desert, once again escaping the rain of western Washington.
A few of the Exped crew headed east from Seattle for a little springtime adventure in the desert. Across the Cascade Mountains, along interstate 90, we were seeking a bit of a change from the rainy side of the mountains here in the Pacific Northwest. After crossing the crest of the mountains we turned right and headed into the wilds to the south of Ellensburg, Washington. This is beautiful country; grey ridges and green valleys fragrant with the scent of sage. Deer, elk, birds of prey and, in the month of April, vegetation beginning to bloom.
Rough dirt roads criss-cross this place, perfect for a couple days of camping and hiking and overlanding sandwiched in between. We camped in a valley bottom, trailhead-hotel style. We circled the wagons and slept in the vehicles rather setting up tents. Camp is, literally, where we parked. MegaMat, MegaMat Duo and MegaMat Lite were the sleeping mats of choice, and a combination of mummy bags and quilts for insulation. We brought tarps but didn’t need them - no rain this time (it's a desert!). We had immediate access to great hiking right out of camp. Sage country allowed us to simply strike off in whatever direction caught our eye. We worked our way up valleys to ridge tops with expansive views. In the distance were hints of the Cascades, reminding us of the rain barrier they represent. But brushing up against sage every other step brought us back to our dry reality.
After a night in plush, vehicular comfort we had breakfast and a warming fire and then jumped into the cars for our drive across windswept Umtanum Ridge. In places, we ran into pretty deep pools of snowmelt straddling the dirt road. And we found challenges to our mostly stock SUVs! Some steep ascents and descents and the occasional threat of high-centering kept the drivers on task. As we dropped off the ridge a herd of elk crossed the road. They are the real overlanders!
This was a fun, quick retreat into the outdoors (mid-week!). A bit of hiking and cooking gear, a sleeping bag and mat and that’s pretty much it. Instant camping trip! #trailheadhotel