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Oregon-to-Canada on the WABDR (Jun 2018)

Day 1: Joe and Daisy's First Big Dirt Adventure
June 24, 2018.

It's not often that we end up on a trip in our own backyard. There are many reasons for that - there are amazing sights far and wide, adventurous friends are located states away, and of course the weather in Washington makes snow-free exploration tough much of the year.

But when Joe got a 4Runner and mentioned that he and his wife (Daisy) wanted us to get them (and their 16-month old) out on their first trip, it seemed like a great opportunity to do something a bit easier and a bit more local.

The WABDR (Washington Backcountry Discovery Route) fit that bill perfectly!

Dirt roads (mostly) from the Oregon-Washington border to the Washington-Canada border, it'd take about a week and would be relatively easy going - definitely something that Joe and Daisy could handle - I hoped!

Of course, being their first trip, they had lots of questions - so for a few weeks before the trip, @mrs.turbodb and I did our best to answer them - sharing how we travelled with @mini.turbodb but always trying to let them find their own way.

Eventually, departure day was upon us - and @mini.turbodb, @mrs.turbodb, and I all packed ourselves into the Tacoma and headed south.

By lunch time we'd met up with Joe, Daisy, and their daughter somewhere south of Tacoma, and we'd eventually reached the starting point of our journey - Cascade Locks, Oregon - @mrs.turbodb and I remarking how nice it was not to drive two days to a jumping off point!

With little kiddos in tow, we decided it'd be a good idea to eat lunch before hitting the trail, so we pulled over just before the Bridge of the Gods for sandwiches, chips, and a bit of a leg stretch before continuing on.

The "I want your lunch" look. hahahaha

By 1:00pm we'd finished lunch and headed (back) into Washington over the Bridge of the Gods, excited to start the adventure. This bridge is interesting for a couple reasons - first, the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Columbia River using this bridge; second, this bridge was originally much shorter than it's current length, and was raised and lengthened in 1940 when the Bonneville Dam was built.

We immediately entered a tree tunnel - a feature we'd see our share of over the coming week! Beautiful, but at times frustrating - the tree's blocking the grand views that would have otherwise been visible.

Soon we were on dirt - headed north towards Canada, anticipation ahead. We aired down, and @mini.turbodb climbed into the bed of the truck - she wanted the wind in her hair and bugs hitting her face - in other words, she wanted to have an absolute blast! Joe and Daisy were excited to be bouncing along on dirt - keeping close behind despite the dust, presumably a bit nervous about losing us.

It wasn't long before we were stopping for photos. The views were nice - if a bit territorial at this point - but more important was getting the new family accustomed to the pace, and the practice of taking in and enjoying the scenery around us as opposed to "just driving through" and missing the glory of the adventure!

@mini.turbodb and Daisy were clearly naturals at this.

As always, I like to look over the truck at various stops, and it was at this point that I noticed quite a few drops of oil on the bottom of my skid plates. Investigation ensued, and I was pretty sure that the front diff had burped up some oil - perhaps oil had gotten caught in the breather line, forced out by expanding air - so I wrapped a bit of toilet paper around the breather to see if it'd happen again; thus confirming my suspicion.

We continued on! Our goal really for the first day was twofold - get a few miles behind us, and find a nice campsite somewhere in the woods (hopefully with an amazing view of a big volcano).

As we ventured north into the afternoon we were making good time - so a stop at the Guler Ice Caves was definitely in order. @mini.turbodb was especially enthralled by the caves - wanting to explore deep into and through long as someone else would go with her :).

Someone is seven. Though, I think our entire family is a fan of this goofy pose.

As we'd find over the course of the week, "big view" camp sites aren't really the strong suit of the WABDR, so it took us a while before we stumbled upon the place we'd call camp for that first night. Obviously a former pit mine, we ended up at Babyshoe Ridge as the sun was setting and decided it was "good enough." Though rocky, it was flat, and the adults set about deploying camp and cooking dinner while the kiddos explored the surroundings.

Camp setup and dinner done, we got @mini.turbodb squared away in her tent, and while Joe and Daisy put their daughter to sleep in the tent for the first time, @mrs.turbodb and I decided to explore the hillside above camp a bit. The evening had gotten cloudy, mostly obscuring the view of Mt. Adams to our east.

Still, as it poked through the clouds and the moon rose, it was a breathtaking sight to it poked through at times as the last of the evening light waned in the sky.

With that, we too decided to call it a night - it was getting chilly and we'd had a long day. As we climbed into the tent, we wondered what the coming week would bring in terms of excitement and adventure, fun and views.

Little did we know that we wouldn't have to wait long to get our next taste of the amazing beauty Washington had to offer!




WABDR 2018 - The Whole Story


  1. Josh
    Josh September 12, 2018

    Excellent trip report on the adventure! - I'm hoping to soon be able to run the WABDR with the family in 2019. Gearing up our '18 4Runner a little bit better this year to prepare for the run next year. Amazing photos and words.

    - Josh

    • turbodb
      turbodb September 12, 2018

      Thanks Josh, glad you enjoyed the story and pics! You'll be fine in a stock 4Runner on the WABDR - there's nothing on the main trail that would be a blocker for you. Of course, you'll want to make sure it's snow-free before you go (but go as early as you can once it opens, to avoid smoke/fires!) Have fun!

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