- Explore some of the BLM-managed Rock Creek/Escure Ranch Recreation Area
- Scout a detour for a newly-closed portion of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail
Rock Creek/Escure Ranch
John initially brought this area to my attention. He's been down there a time or two and I haven't been able to join him, but I've been intrigued enough that I'd made it a goal to get down there this Spring. Chip hadn't heard about it either, and we'd been chatting about the recently reported closure of a nearby section of the JWPT, and all it took was me mentioning it to set the plan in motion.
There's a lot to be interested in about this recreation area:
- The JWPT borders the area on the north
- The Columbia Plateau Trail borders the area on the west
- Camping is allowed in the area (camping is not officially allowed on either the JWPT or CPT)
- The area contains Towell Falls on Rock Creek and multiple lakes
- Wildlife is abundant in the area
- There are no fees or permits required for usage
I hope it is obvious to you at this point that I made the right decision.
|Chip and Pat were on a tandem MTB, which can be extremely stressful to a relationship in this type of situation. Fortunately, they are pro's, and know when to dismount and maintain a little separation.|
And #2 . . .
|Chip and Pat, harmoniously rocking their rad tandem MTB up a climb.|
Once back at the parking area, we were ready to enter the ranch proper.
There's a lot of scenery to take in on the ranch . . .
No serious adventure of this sort would be complete without an epic battle with goatheads, and so it would come to pass that we ran through a patch and punctured all four tires numerous times. I was sporting a tubeless setup on my sporty new wheels and tires, and the sealant did its job and I was largely unaffected. Chip had sealant in the tubes of both his front and rear tires, but the rear sealant had dried up and gave up the ghost under the attack.
The bulk of the cattle grazing population has not been transported in for the season, but there were still a few colorful characters hanging around.
John Wayne Pioneer Trail At Ewan
So here's the deal:
Chip has been following the drama surrounding the attempted closure of 130 miles of the eastern portion of the JWPT for several months and he has some contacts in the know, and he told me that the landowner who owns a short section of the trail just SW of Ewan on Highway 23 has decided to close his section of trail to general use. It is not yet clear to me how he intends to enforce this closure, but if he succeeds in doing so, detour options will be necessary. We scouted out a couple of these today.
The first is the north detour. In the image below, the route from mile zero to the yellow diamond is the JWPT. The rest of what is shown is the detour. As you can see, the detour is only slightly longer than the section of detoured trail. The problem with this route, though, is that you will spend 3+ miles on the shoulder of Hwy 23, which is an armpit of a place to ride, IMO. It's just a major buzzkill in the middle of a remote, off-road journey through eastern WA. With that said, everyone has their own tastes and priorities, and this may not bother you that much.
I dig the variety and diversity of rugged and remote landscape that our fine state has to offer, and it was a real treat to get out and do some exploring today. I can only hope that this sets the tone for more of this type of activity this Spring and into Summer. Both my body and soul can use it.