Quilomene Day Trip…With A Twist

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. IMG_2588

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 downIMG_2553 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. Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.52.07 PMAfter 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. IMG_1213We 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.  IMG_2590This 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!

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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?

TAP – AEV Training February 2016

TAP – AEV Training February 2016

Team Quilomene had the amazing opportunity to participate in an excellent training session last week!

Organized by The Adventure Portal and put on by Chris Woods of AEV, this was a REALLY cool off-road training session for WOMEN ONLY, all Jeeps, in the Oregon Sand Dunes National Park in Florence, OR.

Chris is an internationally-certified off-road trainer and has travelled all over the world. His expert instruction, delivered in an easy-to-understand way (note the prop he used in the pictures), was so valuable for the lucky, awesome women who got to participate in this event.

Several trainers helped out with the session, and all remarked on how cool it was to be teaching a women’s-only class. Their favorite part? When we all cheered for each other each time we accomplished an obstacle. 🙂

Hittin’ the dirt in Washington

Hittin’ the dirt in Washington

Amy’s Team-Q Jeep Wrangler took a weekend trip up and down the hills above Lake Chelan in Eastern Washington. (At the time of writing this that area is in major crisis mode due to wildfires…the events that took place here were a few months ago before the fires started.)

Amy and her fellow Jeepers Rich and Guy met up in Wenatchee and headed for the hills. The first night was a stop at the remote campground just above Lake Chelan at Antilon Lake.

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That is a small tent, right? Yeah it felt even smaller when you can hear animals walking around outside it just before dawn….

The next day the group headed deeper into the hills. We took an amazingly scenic detour that had very dramatic elevation changes, all with a view of the giant and majestic Lake Chelan in the distance.

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We landed that night at the South Navarre campground, a lofty 6500 feet in elevation. Beautiful spot high above the lake, where you can see for miles…if you stop shivering long enough! In the heat of July, an entire group of full grown adults were hunkered down in their tents by 8pm because sleeping bags were the only way to stay warm! (There has been a fire ban all summer in Washington, as the fire danger is critically high)

The next day the group parted ways and Amy headed back over to the west side via the North Cascades Highway. If you ever have the chance to travel this road, you will not regret it. It’s only open in the summer and it goes over Washington Pass, where you will see views like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s beyond compare!

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Team Quilomene Jeep in the Quilomene

Team Quilomene Jeep in…the Quilomene

In March, Amy got the opportunity to take her “Barbie Jeep” out into the snow in the Quilomene area of eastern Washington, right where she and Naomi first met and forged a bond between women adventurers.barbie-jeep

The Quilomene is typically not even accessible in March. However, this winter has been almost record-breaking in its mildness. While that leaves us all a little nervous about the coming summer wildfires, it did give Amy the opportunity to get out on a day trip with a group from Northwest Overland.

We started the day with a small caravan from the Seattle area through a torrential rainstorm over Snoqualmie Pass. Normally packed with skiers this time of year, the ski lifts were eerily quiet, floating above hills of dry brown grass. As soon as we got over the pass and went through Cle Elum, the sunshine made a tentative appearance and pretty much stuck it out for the day.

We met the rest of the group (around 11 trucks in all) at a parking lot in Ellensburg, home of the Central Washington University Wildcats. Ellensburg is a nice gateway to so much of what eastern WA has to offer. A quick fillup (gas AND coffee!) and we were off towards Colockum Road.

We stopped as soon as the pavement ended to air down. The terrain is quite rocky and we were fairly sure there would be icy patches as well. Once everyone was ready we headed up the hill to meet up with the last few members of the group who had camped the night before.

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The day was spent traveling the forest service road trails all over the   wilderness area. It was a great time, tooling along in the mud and slushy snow. Nobody got stuck, but it was fun to grind over the icy patches with a little slip slide action. We stopped for lunch in our favorite secret campsite we call “Shangri-La” and enjoyed the sunshine while dogs and kids played.

At the end of the day, those of us not camping that night headed back down the hill via another trail into Kittitas, WA, just east of Ellensburg. A couple hours drive and we were back in Seattle, anxious for the next escape!

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