Saddle Mountains 19Feb2024

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Saddle Mountains 19Feb2024

Postby tobyw » Thu Feb 22, 2024 8:14 am

We somehow ended up with President's Day off this year, which presented the opportunity for some light WABDRing on an otherwise typical Monday... After reviewing the options and the weather, OG and I decided to explore an area that has been driven by countless times but never paid much attention to: the Saddle Mountain area just North of Mattawa. We rolled out from the West Richland Maverik sometime around 0800 under very gloomy skies, and made our way Northwest via Hwy 240 around the Hanford site and over the Vernita Bridge:

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We pulled into the staging area and aired down:

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The main road made a quick ascent toward the top of the bluffs, and provided us with some really neat views to the South and our first glimpse at the Columbia River to the West:

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As we approached the bevvy of radio tower installations at the summit, we noticed a two-track that led out in what appeared to be a literal road to nowhere, and the obvious option was to see exactly where it did, or didn't, lead to. All I can say is WOW:

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From here, our pre-charted course had us heading due East along the ridgetop toward Sentinel Peak and beyond, so we headed off in that direction:

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Whilst milling about up top, my wife found a USGS marker:

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We pushed further East along our route, but ended up at a locked gate that had a sign with a phone number to gain entry:

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We made the call, but Fred denied us access so we were forced to re-think our plans, as the route we intended to take would have continued along the ridgetop for some 20+ miles before finally dropping us back on pavement near the metropolis of Smyrna... Such is the life of the intrepid explorer :? The decision was made to backtrack over to the radio tower installations and look out over the Columbia River for a bit and further access the options:

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Sitting amongst the towers reviewing the maps, we found a trail that led down the Northerly face of the dirtpile and let out in the dune area that is accessible just off of Hwy 243. On paper this looked perfect, as it avoided backtracking and would dump us out right on the highway for the eventual roadtrip back home. We set off, and quickly found ourselves traversing a pretty legit shelf road, complete with switchbacks that something akin to an F-250 crew-cab truly had no business being on:

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Overall the trail down was good clean fun, but the aforementioned knife that had been brought to the gun fight did provide for some entertainment on one switchback:

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With most of the seat leather still accounted for, we made our way the rest of the way down and out to the highway to air up:

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From here we made the decision to push North and then take Lower Crab Creek Road back East to see if we could find what should have been our terminus for the day near Smyrna, and that section of road in itself was fantastic as it turned from pavement to gravel and we simply ate up the miles with the valley to the North and significant cliff faces to the South. Eventually we landed in Othello and then turned South over Radar Hill, Basin City, Ringold, and eventually Pasco. To say the day had been amazing would be a gross understatement, as we had little idea of what to expect and were simply blown away by what we found, right in our back yard. WABDR!!!! 8)
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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Re: Saddle Mountains 19Feb2024

Postby OldGreen » Thu Feb 22, 2024 8:21 am

If only we could find some better weather.....

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Re: Saddle Mountains 19Feb2024

Postby Roman » Sat Feb 24, 2024 1:08 pm

Thats part of the BDR?

Is it around the Nike missle site?

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Re: Saddle Mountains 19Feb2024

Postby Roman » Sat Feb 24, 2024 1:12 pm

(Google before asking...)
Looks like it is right in the neighborhood, I was wondering if the was a way down the north side of the ridge.

Wheeling the big truck? How's the ride?

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Re: Saddle Mountains 19Feb2024

Postby tobyw » Mon Feb 26, 2024 8:34 am

Roman wrote:Thats part of the BDR?

It is not part of the BDR. We have simply adopted WABDR as the official terminology of all things off-road. It's just fun to say... WABDR... :lol2

Roman wrote:Wheeling the big truck? How's the ride?

Similar to asking anyone that drives a Jeep, the response is: it's rides great, for a 3/4-ton truck... The area up there was surprisingly well maintained and clearly sees a lot of use, so it wasn't like traversing Manastash area trails that are full of chop and cobble, but overall it actually does ride pretty well for what it is. I've had a number of these 17+ Super Duties and this Tremor package really is much more compliant and plush, but it's certainly not a cushy 4-coil Wrangler/Gladiator or IFS 6G Bronco :?
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