June 27, 2018.
As we awoke the next morning, everyone was well rested and happy that we'd gotten only a short burst of light rain; and that the morning was shaping up to be a beautiful one - hopefully indicative of the entire day ahead.
The first order of business was something that @mini.turbodb had been asking for since we arrived in this "not the best camp site" - go explore the narrow trail that headed up the downhill side of the saddle. This of course was the motorcycle route of the WABDR, but that meant little to her - she was sure that there could be untold treasure at the end of the path.
Unfortunately, we didn't find it. But we did have a good time exploring!
Eventually we returned, @mrs.turbodb having gotten started putting the ground tent away, and our kiddo happy to play with her counterpart while breakfast was made for her.
The spicy sausages the night before delicious, we decided it was a good morning for the last of our breakfast burritos - eggs, spicy sausage, cheese and of course salsa wrapped up in a crispy flour tortilla. @mrs.turbodb got to work on that while I broke down the remainder of camp.
In good time we were all ready to go; the first order of business being to suit up @mini.turbodb for a fun (but cold) ride in the back of the truck.
Then, we retraced our steps back to the top of Chumstick mountain, and started down the north side - grand views expanding all around.
We continued north, ultimately glad to have stopped in the sheltered saddle - no better camp sites presenting themselves as we made our way down the mountain.
And then we had a decision to make - left on a side trip to Sugarloaf Lookout, or right - maintaining the trail, making good time early in the day. Of course, for me it wasn't a hard decision.
We went left.
When on an adventure, I've learned that it's important to understand where you are in the journey (if there are deadlines), but not to let that drive all decision making. After all, getting to the end is nice, but there's a reason we explore during daylight hours - it's so we can see the amazing things along the way!
An eight-mile out-and-back, the road to Sugarloaf Lookout was a fun drive, and we took most of it at speed - stopping for a few photos along the way, naturally.
The final quarter mile of the trail got a bit steeper and a little more technical - but not much and who cares when you reach the end where you're treated to not only amazing views, but a lookout perched at the very edge of a rocky outcrop?!
This would be a great place to stay. I think I could sit here for hours.
As seemed to be the case throughout the trip, the wind chill was brutal at the lookout and the adults all donned jackets to take a look. Both kids opted to stay in the warm trucks - perhaps smarter than they looked - the view there was pretty sweet as well. 🙂
On our way back to the main trail, Joe came over the radio to inform us that his family had never been to a lookout before - something we could scarcely believe, given the sheer number of lookouts at the end of hikes in Washington state. It made us even more glad we'd taken the 45-minute detour - not that we weren't already reveling in it ourselves.
After Sugarloaf Lookout we wound our way east and then north - through burned forests and under power lines - the scenery pretty, but mostly territorial at this point. Perhaps the highlight (or most surprising) element here was running across a shepherd, with a flock of sheep grazing in the forest!
Strange. (But not as strange as goats, I guess.)
Eventually we wound our way up again, through those same burned forests, to our second lookout of the morning - Steliko Lookout. Unlike Sugarloaf, the shudders were up on this one - allowing us to peer inside, witness to the major renovation under way.
Lots of poses were struck.
By the time we finished exploring on and around the lookout, availing ourselves of the outhouse, and getting the 16-month old's diaper changed twice, it was nearly noon - so we decide we'd head down the mountain and look for a nice place to eat lunch, which we eventually found in the shade on the side of the road.
We lingered longer than we'd planned, but probably in-line with our normal lunch stops - Joe and Daisy with several questions about what gear they should get next for their 4Runner, @mrs.turbodb and I doing our best to understand what they wanted rather than just telling them what we thought they should get.
Eventually, I put an end to it all - "Ask the next question on the radio," I said and we got packed up and back on the road. Turns out the next question was an easy one, which was good - chatter over the radio always a fun addition to a trip.
We made our way up Baldy Mountain and to Slide Ridge, where we got our first views of Lake Chelan in the distance - sprawling and large, it was still deceptive - more than half the lake still hidden behind the mountain! It was here that we also ran into a couple of motorcycles making a quick repair to one of the bikes - nothing we needed to stop for, they assured us. We'd see them later in the day as well, glad to know that they'd gotten everything squared away.
Having crested Baldy Mountain, we had a decision to make - due to fires and tight trails, the "normal" route down to Lake Chelan had been re-routed around for the last couple years - but we'd heard that it was passable this year, and was a fun road known as "The Jungle." Ultimately we decided that it would be our route down - through the burn and overgrowth.
It was worth it, a fun section of trail with great views, a bit more technical driving (but nothing extreme - really it was just a bit narrow for a 5th gen 4Runner), and steep drops to the downhill side!
Eventually we made it down to the shores of Lake Chelan where we stumbled across some old logging equipment and an 45+ drive from one end of the lake to the other, our dirt path continuing on the other side.
Even at highway speeds - that took a while and when we finally pulled out of Chelan after fueling up, it was time to find a place to camp for the evening - it'd already been a long day, and we we'd reached the landmark we were shooting for to stay "on schedule." As we made our way up the hills to the north, we eventually came upon a faint, abandoned road that was level and provided a bit of shelter from the wind.
Of course, we'd find the next morning that if we'd continued just another 1 mile, there was an amazing camp near the top of the ridge; but such is life, and we had an enjoyable night so who can complain? 🙂
We got setup for the evening, ate dinner and roasted marshmellows around the campfire. As the sun set in the west, a variety of clouds danced across the sky - another beautiful display of color against the vibrant blue canvas.
It wasn't long before the kiddos went to bed - late(r than normal) once again, but having had a blast playing with each other before climbing into their tents.
And it wasn't long after that when the adults too started yawning. We held it together around the fire as long as we could - not long it turns out - before heading off to bed ourselves.
It had been another full day and little did we know that the next would be the most exciting of the trip!