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Riders Camp (Manastash) to Little Naches Ride 08-13-06 *Photos

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Last weekend I went up to the Cle Elum Ranger district to do some dirt biking with Gearbunny. Usually once a year I come up with some wild plan to do some big ride and explore some unknown terrain. Often those rides end up labeled as "survival rides," because at one point or another I start seriously contemplating whether or not we are gonna make it out alive. This just happened to be that ride of the year.

We showed up Saturday afternoon and made camp at Riders camp, which is about 20 miles into the forest off I-90 just past Cle Elum. That afternoon we did a short ride up to Manastash lake and back, a nice 11 mile mellow ride to this pretty lake. Here I am riding up to the lake:

Manastash Lake Vid Clip

Wee! Here's the lake. Like I said, it's really pretty and tranquil. It's an awesome spot to take a chill break:


The next day I woke stoked to go on a big ride. I had mapped out a route that would take us over the mountain pass from Riders Camp in the Cle Elum Ranger district to Little Naches. A nice 40 something mile loop over some of the Manastash Ridge..

Day started off easy with a short trek out of Riders camp up the 1386.1 to 1385 through Keenan Meadows. It's a rad trail that brings you out of the tree's through these meadows were you can pin it..


Gearbunny rallying Keenan Meadows.

The plan was to go up the 1207 to Manastash Ridge. I always seem to forget that the 1207 has a nice gnar rock section through a creek bed then over a bunch of boulders that wedge your back wheel. Gearbunny got stuck and I rode her bike out..


About 50 feet back before this photo was taken I flipped Gearbunny's bike wheelieing over a rock. Managed to break her fender loose. Opps. Sorry hon. Nothing a zip tye won't fix.

Once up the 1207 we rode the forest rode up Quartz Mountain to the top of the Manastash Ridge Trail 1388. The View is epic, at about 7,000 ft or so it was clear and you could see all the way to Mt. Rainer.


Me and my two sexy babes at the top of the Manastash Ridge trail.

We started heading down the mountain side into the Naches Valley and I started to recall doing these trails before.. but couldn't quite recall what it was..


This is the Manastash Ridge trail 1388.

Here I am meandering down:

Manastash Ridge Trail 1388 Vid Clip

Once down the 1388 we connected to the Naches Trail system. First trek was a seven mile down hill endless switchback line of the 948. I remembered this trail was grueling as hell to go up. Good thing we were going down..


Then as my back tire slid off on a loose dirt cliff face I got nervous and remembered down hill sucks. I'd much rather go up..


Notice the fresh dirt mark on the left bottom corner of this photo? Thats were I sketched and almost slid down the cliff face. The OldManTime mantra "When in doubt, punch it!" saved me again. Scary.

Once down in Little Naches we rode around the river, found a nice little island and stopped for lunch. On the way back out I tested the water.


A little deep and cold, just like I expected. About a mile later my bike died and wouldn't start. I instantly felt pretty screwed since we were 25 miles from camp and a truck rescue would be an ordeal due to no drivable roads that I know of between Naches and Riders.. Worst part was I managed to forget the one tool I needed to change the plug out. After much frustration trying to start it, pushing it down the road, and waiting I realized I was gonna have to find a way to pull the plug.

I pushed my bike down a random dirt road and got lucky when we saw some RV's. I managed to borrow a 10mm wrench from some couple in a RV and I pulled the plug. Once removing the plug I found my ignition coil was wet. So, I turned her over, kicked her, no water came out. Good, ignition coil was just wet. So I dried it out, installed and new plug, and with a push of the magic button we were back on our way. Sweet triumph number one for the day.

Little did I know, more trouble laid ahead. We headed out of Naches on the 949 trail. Something felt familiar about it as it got dramatically scarier with each turn. Loose skinny trails on steep slopes scare me, not sure why. Again I had my tire slip out to rack my nerves. Then we came to that rock wall with hair pin switchback after it, the best part was if you slipped off the corner you dropped off the side of the cliff. If you've never been there, well it's good times for sure. Take a look:

949 Rock face hair pin vid clip

I was freaked, chanted the mantra and punched it. Made it around the corner and remembered how this all looked familiar. Like a scary dream I had once before. Oh wait, that wasn't a dream, that was two years ago when I came down this trail and said I'd never do it again. My how soon we forget trails labeled by a number. The hardcore ones should always have a good scary name, like "top has rocky corners of death" or something.

Around another narrow corner cliff side lies this beautiful stretch of rock. A nice steep rock face with no way out. I knew there was only one way out. Up.


Well we made it to the top..


Luckily that was the last gnar part of that trail for the day. Sweet triumph number two!

When we hit the forest road a bit later Gearbunny was frazzeled and tired so we tried to opt for an easier route around using a jeep road. The idea was to take the 4W676 4x4 trail around the rest of the 949 trail. We'll that was going well until it put us in about a mile long field of boulders 12-24 inches or so in diameter. After about 30 minutes of fighting our way up, I had to help Gearbunny through another gnarly section when I flipped her bike again on top of me ripping off her fender and falling on some rather large boulders. I realized we weren't gonna make it up this route, so we turned around and headed back out. At this point we'd been riding over 40 miles, were super tired, I was almost out of water, and the sun was going down. I had some desperate moments there and thought we might actually get stuck out there.. Needless to say, we made it, manned up and fought the rest of the battle up the 949 till we made it to easy Jeep roads and took the 11 mile Manastah road back to camp just before nightfall. Round trip was just under 60 miles. I didn't check the tanks, but I'm pretty sure we were riding on fumes the last few miles..


Plus, Gearbunny's new fender mod looks pretty rad and now theres a good place to grab. Dirt biking rules.

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Cool pics and narrative. How far from Taneum Junction is Manastash Lake? I have never been there but it sounds like fun.


I think it would end up being about 20-25 miles round trip. It's about 11 miles round trip to Manastash lake from Riders/Manastash campground and I think from Taneum you can take the Frost Mountain trail (1366) which is about 4 miles each way to get to Manastash. I haven't done Frost in two years either. I seem to recall something about it being a gnarly trail too.. Hmm... Sounds like a good adventure plan for my ride up there first weekend in Sept with my buddy from CA.

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cute picture of you two with rainier in the background

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Loved the story and pictures. I really enjoyed that water crossing picture. It looked so refreshing. I'm sidelined with an injury for four months so this is as close as I am going to get to those trails. :thumbsup:

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I too always LOVE that death drop/rock stairs section on the 949 quartz creek trail! then miles later if you are making a loop from 949 back up to quartz mountain, there is a jeep trail with the steepest, rutted section anywhere to negotiate. running back down 948 after that is a cinch.


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Excellent report and great pics/video. These are some of my favorite trails. Kind of sick, huh?

Hats off to GearBunny for being a real trooper. There's lots of guys I've taken on that same route that sniveled, whined, curled up in the fetal position and cried "make it stop, make it stop!" It is a beautiful but tough area. A real winner for sticking it out.

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sweet ride report and nice pics! thx for making the office a little more enjoyable today! :thumbsup:

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