Blazing Trails: Washington BDR
Winter in Washington is here which means the skies are grey, the rain is pouring, and outdoor activities start to slow down. However, we were able to sneak away for one final camping trip in 2018.
I bought the Land Rover the end of March, and with our crazy work and travel schedules, along with every day life, we hadn’t spent much time readying or modifying the LR4. But, this fall, we had time, and resources, to make some necessary upgrades. We started with new shoes. We swapped out the 32” Open Country’s with 31” DuraTracs, along with replacing the 20” Fuel rims with 18” steel wheels. With the introduction of the new tires and the smaller wheel, this provided more tire on the road, giving more capability and grip for driving off-road.
Along with the install of new wheels and tires came a CB system, antenna, and rack lights. We chose a small Cobra system with components in the handset for ease and to save space. We mounted this unit just under the push-start ignition; the perfect distance from the steeling wheel for easy access and safety. We also chose to mount four (4) Nilight’s to my BajaRack. This was my FIRST soldering project and it was so fun! It’s awesome being able to see elements come together when you’re putting in the work yourself.
The LR4 was ready for its first adventure. With the three of us having time off together for Thanksgiving (which NEVER happens…) we decided to take advantage and plan a quick excursion to the East. Nothing crazy-challenging, but something to test the rigs, get some miles on the tires, and get me familiar with my vehicle in an off-road capacity.
We chose to drive Section 4 of the Washington BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route). From viewing the maps, I knew it would be relatively clear of weather, not too far from home, and something not too challenging for me. We packed up the rigs and took off the Saturday after Thanksgiving; leaving the city, the crazy shoppers and the bright lights behind. Time to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and reconnect with ourselves and nature. Our happy place.
We began driving East on Highway 2, stopping for fuel and snacks on the other side of Sultan. The was our only stopping point until the next day. After fueling up, I prepared myself for crossing Steven’s Pass. Yeah, I know it’s not a big deal, and it was only November, but I was unfamiliar with my vehicle and how it would handle in snowy conditions. Even though I grew up in the Midwest and am very familiar with driving in snow and ice, these type of conditions vary from state to state so I was a little nervous in a “newer to me” vehicle. We crossed the pass with no issues. Conditions were actually pretty good; foggy and snowing but the roads were shockingly clear. We made it over without issue and crossed through the picturesque town of Leavenworth. Normally, I would insist on stopping, but we were heading to better things!
Just outside Wenatchee is where we hit the trail. We drove in a few miles before stopping to air down tires. And that’s where my anxieties started… Having little to no off-road driving experience, and again, in a vehicle I hadn’t taken off of the highway, I started to panic. What if I started to slip? Going uphill? Going downhill? The-drop-offs of the ridge-line, how cold it was. I was second guessing EVERYTHING. I tried to remind myself to breathe, take my time, and trust my vehicle. Tim has to talk me down and reassure me that nothing was going to happen to me and that I would stay in the middle to watch his moves and have Tate behind me to watch mine. I took a deep breath, put the LR4 into drive and began to move forward. I’m glad I did. The views were breathtaking during our drive. The snow was light on the trail, and just a few icy spots. But driving along these untouched trails with the sun glistening against the powder was truly magical. We’re making memories on these adventures. There are so few people out there who take the time to disconnect and see what Mother Nature has to offer; I’m so lucky to live this lifestyle.
We drove roughly 3-4 hours on the trail before finding a flat pullout to set up camp. There was nothing around us except cold air, clear skies and millions of stars. We cooked a hearty sausage Mac n’ cheese for dinner and sat by the fire. As the fire crackled, we shared stories of the day and what we’re looking forward to in 2019. As we sat around the fire, I thought about how far I came during the day. Starting the day so anxious about what was about to happen and feeling proud that I had completed more than 40 miles of off-road trail in mud, snow, ice and elevation. By no means was I a pro, but I was becoming more comfortable in my own skin and realizing that I could do this. Tim also made sure I knew what I had accomplished by reminding of the day’s events and keeping me grounded that it was my first time and I was doing great.
Tim and I were stoked to try our new sleeping bag! We had recently purchased the Kelty Tru Comfort 2.0 Double Sleeping Bag. This bag was rated for 20 degree temps so we were excited to test it out on this trip. Unfortunately, Tim and I ended up sleeping in the Land Rover all night. We didn’t plan accordingly and put the sleeping bag inside the FrontRunner tent too soon and it got too cold inside before we crawled in. Lesson learned! Instead, I slept in the backseat of the Land Rover, and Tim in the front seat, with the truck running, heat pumping to stay warm throughout the night.
Link to the Kelty Sleeping Bag (We love it and are not associated)
But, all that was forgotten when we woke up and saw the stunning sunrise over the peaks. I’m always in awe of the beauty we live in, that’s just in our backyard. We skipped breakfast; none of us were hungry and all were eager to get back on the road to get home and warm up. We packed up and made our way down the mountainside. Again, my nerves appeared when we started descending down, with icy conditions. But, the LR4 truly handles itself and I learned to put trust in my vehicle. A few short miles later, we were on flat ground and back on the main road! We aired up our tires and made our way to Wenatchee to fuel up, get some snacks, and get back to our home.
Ladies, listen up… Trust yourselves. Trust your vehicles. Take the time to learn how they feel in varying conditions. You CAN do this. If you’ve never driven off-road, that’s okay! Ask for help. I promise that you can do this. Work your way up to large excursions; don’t go all out on the first trip. This trail was the perfect learning experience for me, and I encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to also be involved in the process. I loved being able to help with my install so then I was more aware of what was happening with my truck and why I added the parts I did. So ladies, moral of the story - get out and explore! Trust your instinct. With every drive you’ll become more comfortable with yourself and your vehicle. Enjoy the process.
I leave you with this; Adventure is Worthwhile.
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