Quilomene Day Trip…With A Twist
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to lead an awesome group of people to our favorite place to get away from the pavement, while also realizing one of Team Quilomene’s first dreams.
If you’ve dutifully read through every word on this site (c’mon, what? you haven’t?), you already know the story of how Naomi and I first bonded over the overlanding life and being women who loved it. If you haven’t read that, don’t worry, I won’t wax overly poetic here. Suffice it to say that some years ago we met, in the Quilomene, and hatched a plan to get more women out off the road to experiment with an amazing sport that has traditionally been a man’s world. Last weekend was the first opportunity either of us has had to realize that dream, and it was pretty cool.
The trip was billed as an easy day trip up above Ellensburg, WA, with one caveat – if you wanted to go on the trip, there had to be a female in the car. Didn’t matter if she was of driving age or not, and if she was, it didn’t matter if she was willing to drive. All I cared about was getting women and girls out there.
After braving a frustrating construction-related traffic jam on I-90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass, we all arrived at the meetup spot in Ellensburg. After a quick driver’s meeting, we headed 6 or 7 miles to Colockum Road, the entrance to the dirt. Our little convoy was made up of two FJ Cruisers, a nearly new Jeep Rubicon, a Jeep Wrangler, Tacoma, Range Rover, bookended by my Land Cruiser (aka the Storm Trooper), and my husband Dan’s Pajero.
We stopped for a quick air down and headed up the hill to the confluence of Colockum Road, Power Line Road, and Caribou Road. A little place I like to call the “Daikini Crossroads” and if you are nerdy enough to get that, we are people. After a quick rendezvous, Dan left to head to “Shangri La” (more on that later) to set up his recovery gear class. Danielle, fellow badass overlander woman, took over as our sweeper and off we went.
For the next couple of hours, we navigated our way through the rocky, bumpy roads, witnessing some beautiful scenery, including sweeping views of the Columbia River, and so many wildflowers. We stopped a couple times for pictures and appreciation, and it was so great to start to get to know each other. That is truly my favorite thing about overlanding….the people. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is so darn cool! Unique places they’ve all come from, and it’s always fascinating to get to know one another’s stories.
Eventually we made our way back to the Crossroads. It was well past a standard lunchtime so, with bellies rumbling, we headed beyond to Shangri La. This is an area just inside the Quilomene Wildlife Refuge that is a heavily used hunter’s camp but my husband and I have been going there in the spring and summer for years. It’s a nice big sparsely wooded campground that just oozes peacefulness.
We all enjoyed a quick lunch in the sparkling (but still cool) sunshine and then Dan launched his recovery class. This was such a great bonus to the day! Dan has a great deal of expertise and a very savvy focus on safety and the right equipment and gave us a great demo of what gear to bring and how to use winches and other ways of rescuing a vehicle from imminent demise. My favorite part was when 9 year old Lily jumped at the chance to operate the winch!
As the afternoon sun began to scoot across the horizon, people trickled away to head to their various next destinations. A handful of us stayed for camping. It got quite a bit cooler once the sun was well down, but in such a beautiful locale we made do with the cold and had an enjoyable evening.
Thanks to all the people who made it out for this trip, especially the women (that includes you, Lily!). It can be daunting to get outside ones comfort zone but the rewards are great and I hope to see you all on future trips….perhaps the next we’ll just leave the men at home, eh?