10-Oct-1999 -- After running some errands, I decided to make
a break for my second confluence. Since I knew the area would be on the way into the
Rainier National Park, I took Liz' Jeep and left the Porsche at home.
Also, I had my laptop and some mapping software. It would be easier
to hook up all the accessories in the Jeep's roomy cabin with all its
auxillary power outlets.
I'd studied the site before driving down, of course. It was a ways
off of WA-165, which meanders into the northwest corner of the
mountain. I'd bail out on a forest service road, and then I'd be
able to hit the confluence from that very forest road or from
the other side, which was apparently some logging road. The terrian
didn't look too bad, so I figured my trip would be easy.
And it was. The sun was shining, and the weather was clear and warm.
From my home (in Redmond, Washington) I drove to Issaquah, then down
Issaquah-Hobart road. I caught WA-18, and it eventually crossed
WA-169. Another ten or 15 miles had me on WA-165. I had only been
through these towns a couple of times, back when I was far more
active with the local motorcycle clubs. The roads were just
beautiful, though even these small towns showed signs of the massive,
sustained growth spurt that's blessed the region.
Before I knew it, I was heading through Wilkeson, a little logging
town (population, about 360). A bunch of teenage girls waved to me as I
passed. There wasn't much down here, so I guess a shiny new Jeep was
cause for celebration. WA-165 became a little bit more windy just
after town, and I regretted not bringing my sports car. The Jeep was
quite sure-footed, of course, but it would be more fun to
straighten-out the bends with the Porsche.
I passed over a beautiful bridge, and vowed to take pictures of it
later. (When I got back home, I found that the bridge was brand-new;
the old one
burned-down last year!)
I pulled off and diddled with my laptop to make sure I had a
good view of the map and could work the zoom feature and track the
GPS at the same time. The hardware made it really easy to find the
coarse location of the area.
Unfortunately, that's where things stopped being easy. I bailed out
on Fairfax Forest Reserve Road, and drove along. There were beautiful
views of Mount Rainer in the waning sun. I vowed to take pictures of
it, too, on the way out.
Fairfax Forest Reserve Road meandered along for only a mile or so before I
saw the Manley Moore Road turnoff. This intersection is shown in
Photo #1. The Jeep is on Manley Moore Road, and I'm looking
north on Fairfax Forest Reserve Road. The white
sign near the Jeep says "Primitive Road No Markings". This
intersection is about a third of a mile northwest of the confluence.
The confluence lies somewhere in the crook between Manley Moore Road
and Fairfax Forest Reserve Road.
I parked the Jeep further south Fairfax Forest Reserve Road, where I
thought I might be able to hike into the woods and find the
confluence. Out on the road, I took a quick picture of the GPS at 46
degrees, 59.933 minutes north and 121 degrees, 59.937 minutes
west -- this shot is in picture #4. I was too far south and too far
east, so the confluence was up the road just a little ways.
Walking back up the road, I drifted too far west. The confluence was
in the woods someplace, and I thought I had found a great way to get
in. But when I decided to cut into the thick, I realized the old
trees and forrest land was impenetrable. Initially, I swathed through
thick ferns. But less than 15 feet off the road, there were thick
chigger bushes. Ugh! Picture #2 shows some of the miserable, dense
undergrowth. That shot is about 20 feet into the woods, looking
north-by-northeast towards an unreachable clearing. I suspect the
confluence point is about 50 yards deeper into the dense woods.
I went a little further south, back towards the Jeep, and found less
bushes. Of course, the reason there were fewer thick bushes was that
the land was soggy and marshy. An occasional stream had risen from
the ground and was flooding the area just off the road, making
passage even more difficult. I might get through and find the
confluence, but I'd be cold and sick. Picture #3 shows where I parked
the Jeep, facing north on Fairfax Forest Reserve Road. The spot
where I found the impromptu
brook is about 10 yards ahead of the truck, around the closer
lightbreak. I tried penetrating the forest just behind the truck,
too, but had similar luck. The truck is facing north.
I thought it might be easier to approach the spot from the other
side, so I drove back up FFRR to go around on Manley Moore Road.
The road abruptly ends at a gate (Picture #5), which is posted
"No Trespassing". I hopped the gate to find another signpost
further into the property, and it was decorated by lots of
intimidating signs: "No Hunting", "No Tresspassing" again, and
"Private Residence: Keep Out".
My GPS was now reading 47 degrees, 0.133 minutes north by 122
degrees, 0.005 minutes west. I just had to cut into the property and
walk south for about 100 yards to find my mark, but it didn't seem
possible. I know that, if I lived in such an idyllic setting, I
wouldn't want to come home and find a strange Jeep (and a stranger
computer programmer, toting a GPS and a camera) waltzing around my
property. Plus, the area where I expected to find the confluence
(towards the right of the driveway in Picture #5--the drive runs
roughly SSE) would have me veering off into the thick woods
None of the signs mentioned a property owner, unfortunately. Though,
I did stumble on a sign just east of the gate (to the hard left in
Picture #6, though not visible) that announced Plum Creek Timber
Company had sprayed the location with an assortment of
EPA-approved chemicals in preparation of replanting the land.
That contradiction made me wonder if the land was really a residence,
but I decided against it and called my attempt good enough.
On the way back home, I took some nice shots of Mount Rainier