August 16-19, 2012 - Evan's Creek & Historic Naches Wagon Trail Expedition - Washington : Off Road Trip Report
Attendees: Chris (chuffer), Peter (venturer), Helmut (helmut_s), Mike (Mr Mike), Dan (toyrex), Scott (scottitus)
Rigs: 1987 Isuzu Trooper, 1992 Isuzu Pickup, 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser, 2008 Toyota Tacoma, 1987 Toyota 4runner, 2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
The adventure started August 16th in the early afternoon with a long five hour drive in 100+ degree temperatures. Living in Oregon there's rarely occasion to complain about heat or sun. However, this was the annual exception and considering the basic Isuzu truck has no modern amenities such as air conditioning it was HOT. Keeping cool meant dumping water on my head while getting blasted with hot muggy air from the open window; it was a long, hot trek to say the least.
Thankfully, temperatures dropped while climbing into the mountains towards the Evans Creek Campground. I setup the ARB roof tent, ate dinner and waited for Scott, Chris and Chris (yes, they are different people). Scott arrived shortly after dark with his sons Josh and Charlie along with their dog Cruiser. Chris and Chris rolled in late and setup camp in the dark.
In the morning our troop hit the trails. We began our day on Evans Creek Trail 102 followed by Trail 198. Evans Creek has tight, technical trails which are best suited for a narrow, short wheelbase vehicles. After lunch we drove Trail 519 and enjoyed the view of Mt Rainer while taking a break from the heat. Afterwards, we decided to drive into Mt Rainer National Park with the hopes of swimming in a lake. Unfortunately, the $15 entrance fee made us turn around. On our way back to the camp we drove Trail 311 and relaxed afterwards for the remainder of the night.
We got up bright and early Saturday morning, broke camp and drove to the Safeway in Enumclaw to meet with Dan, Mike and Helmut. Unfortunately, Scott had work and headed for home. Our new group of five drove on to the Historic Naches Trail. It has been several years since I have been to the Naches trail and finding the entrance took some exploring. We ended up finding a trail intersection and followed it back several miles to the trail head. After getting to the trail head we ate lunch and chatted for a bit before turning around and hitting the trail again this time from the beginning.
The Naches Trail is a history wagon trail that crosses the Cascade Range through the Naches Pass and is an extension to the Oregon Trail. This route was originally used by Native Americans as they traveled over the mountain for food and trade. We drove the 13 mile section of trail that is open for 4WD use. The trail has steep inclines, lose rock, meadow bridges and narrow passageways. At Government Meadows the Naches Trail intersects with the Pacific Crest Trail. We took a short hike down the Pacific Crest Trail which leads to the Camp Urich log cabin that is complete with wood stove and available for overnight stays on a first come first serve basis. This is a popular destination for hikers and winter travelers. There are incredible views of the surrounding meadow and plenty of wildlife to enjoy.
It was getting dark when we reached the final section of the Naches Trail. Thankfully, everyone was still onboard to complete the trail. This final section proved the most difficult by far with extremely narrow passageways and steep climbs. We somehow managed to shoe horn everyone through including the Tacoma! We exited the trail just after 9pm. It had taken us over 8hrs to complete the Naches trail but what an incredible experience!
Our group once again decreased in size as Helmut and Dan decided to drive home vs camp out. Chris, Mike and I drove on to find a remote camping spot and setup for the final night. We enjoyed plenty of great conversation and recounted our past days adventures.
On Sunday morning we got up, broke camp and began our voyage home. We stopped off at multiple Mt Rainier view points to take in the majestic scenery. We had phenomenal weather and exceptional company. This was an epic trip no doubt!
by : Peter Stewart