Weekend at Rimrock
June 30 to July 3rd, 2010
From Wednesday to Saturday late afternoon I spent several days down at the Rimrock ORV in the hills to the south of Rimrock Lake. Weather was oddly cold, about 20-25 degrees colder than last year and skies were overcast most of the time with an occasional sprinkling of rain one afternoon and in the middle of the night of another day. The time there was spent in company with a few other members of the Jeep club I'm a part of. Our club has been heading down to Rimrock around the 4th of July for the last 3+ decades and it's a club tradition.
This year I decided to take the scenic route down there and travel the Cayuse and White passes, as well as the rural route from I-5 over to Enumclaw by cutting through the Muckleshoot indian reservation. The route through the mountains follows some valleys that are wedged between the eastern side of Mt. Rainier and the rest of the Cascade mountain range through a National Park. It's not as fast as looping around on the freeway but it's a significantly more pleasant drive and one of my favorites with gorgeous scenery.
The Jeep'n this weekend was at a very relaxed paced. We scoped out some great trails and I was able to capture new (to me) routes on my GPS for later mapping. Most of the trails here run (almost) straight up and down the ridge lines flanking each side of the valley. To the east is a ridge overlooking Goat Rocks, and to the west is Divide Ridge. On the other side of which is the Yakima Indian Reservation. Our camp was at 3500 ft of elevation and the trails would reach the tops of the ridges at 7,000 ft elevation. Most of this elevation gain happened in a very short lateral distance with incredibly steep slopes. At the top of Divide Ridge we ran into some snow that had not yet melted.
On the way home I retraced my route from a few days earlier. Unfortunately, coming through the Muckleshoot indian resevation on the eve before the 4th of July was a mistake. There was an hour and a half traffic jam from all the people trying to get a last-minute deal on the fireworks on sale at the reservation. It was quite the party atmosphere as a fog of burnt gun powder wafted over the street and people were lighting off substantial fireworks in some case less than 50 ft from about 2 acres of firework stands. . . . dry plywood boxes filled with explosives. Joy.
The start of Hwy 123 at Cayuse Pass behind Mt. Rainier. The road winds down
through the forested valley with it's lush, mossy understory and many creeks and
East of White Pass on Hwy 12 is this "scenic view point" looking eastward to
Rimrock Lake in the distance. "Scenic" . . . whatever. The view point was at Clear
Creek Falls which was right besides me a dropped all the way to the valley floor below.
This fellow wasn't part of our club but usually shows up at the campsite each year.
Today he and some friends of his joined us on the run.
Most of the trails run straight up the steep sections. But on this trail there was
some slight off camber sections that required helpers as a counter-weight. It was
only about a 10 ft section of trail. Once past it the rest of the route was just fine.
Most of the trails at Rimrock are steep, like this one, but free of large, hairy
obstacles like boulders or logs. And it's usually steep like this for 1/4 - 1+ mile at
At the top of the climb the trail turned 90 degrees and headed back down to cross
the valley in front of my Jeep.
Our group sets off again down the valley.
On the way down into the valley before the trail crosses in
a sharp "V" and climbs up to Narrow Neck.
It's about this steep going down as it is coming up. And yes, the Jeeps have enough
traction on the loose trail surface.
After stopping for lunch on top of the ridge at the end of one trail, we headed off on
another trail that ran along the top of the ridge. At nearly 7,000 ft of elevation
there was still some snow up there that hadn't melted yet. But it was going fast.
In another couple weeks this would probably be bare ground. The wind was strong
up here, and cold, which seem to make the decision to drop the top and leave the
doors back at camp a poor one but I put on some leather work gloves and it made
the cold much more tolerable.