Exploring Umtanum ridge and highway 821

Decided I deserved an overnight camping trip…so off I went to Manatash Ridge/Umtanum Ridge area. Heading south from Ellensburg, WA I ventured off the beaten path by taking Old Durr Road south into the LT Murray Wildlife area. Conditions where a sunny 58 degrees with a few clouds. Perfect, couldn’t ask for more in early March. Eventually making it to the sound garden at 46.849640, -120.577324. Noticing that the temperature had dropped dramatically at this altitude I decided to head further down the WA BDR trail to the southwest to find a suitable camping spot.

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Well, The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. I had planned on camping somewhere with a decent view so I could capture some dusk photos but the rapidly dropping temperature and increasing gusts prompted me to find a more sheltered campsite at a lower elevation with some wind breaks. I took Bell Telephone road further down the hill.

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I stumbled across several shooting pits, which is cool. What’s not so cool is all the trash and debris that knuckleheads leave behind. Ammo boxes, brass, expended targets, shot clays, beer bottles, water bottles and so on littered these spots. Just as much as the next guy I like to go shooting in the wilds as it allows a more realistic hunting training environment. Thing is that the powers that be will close down much of this land if people can’t be grown up enough to “pack it in-pack it out’. Practice Leave No Trace principles, people.

I finally found a suitable campsite at a lower elevation. It was surrounded by low hills on all sides which significantly cut the wind chill. Even so, it got plenty cold once the sun disappeared behind a dark cold front.

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My fire kept me warm as did my old Columbia jacket.

It was my hope to capture some decent astrophotography but the cloud cover was thick enough to block most of the view. One of the few shots to turn out well enough: Dusk Venus.

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The next morning I packed everything up and headed for another wander-about. This time I ventured up highway 821, Yakima Canyon. This a very scenic drive with curvy, narrow 2 lane blacktop that winds it’s way along the Yakima River. The hills directly to each side tower over the road, sometimes even overhanging it. Frequent rock slides are evident by the pockmarked pavement and road crews constantly working against the entropy. There are several small parks that one can visit along the highway, some being Washington states and others being BLM land.

After 821 I headed west again on I-90. I made a half-hearted attempt to visit the windmills north of Ellensburg but that wasn’t to be. Maybe next time.

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