May is the time to visit the desert lands in central Washington. South of Ellensburg is the Wenas Wildlife area defined by the Yakima River on the eastern side and permeated by the Umtanum and Manastash ridges. The wildflowers did not disappoint this year, but the lupine was not out in full force as it was when I rode it last year a little bit later in May. This time Grant joined me on the ride. We met many hikers along the way and it was fun to find out random trail info. One group was out to do an overnighter and hoped to find the Willow Spring for water. Another group had been out for 2 nights and reported that the Umtanum trail that follows the creek up westwards, disappears after a mile and made for some very tough bush whacking.
It was 60-70F and windy, overall pretty good trail conditions. The traverse through the sagebrush of dry Roza Creek bed and beyond was not too bad as the trail had recently been brushed, probably by the organizers of the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k run. The fastest runners do this in 5 hours, showing that biking really isn’t the most efficient way to get around. (But it sure is more fun for me.)
Here’s our route:
31 miles, 7000 ft. el., 8 hours, GPX file