Jim's Jump Off Traditional Geocache
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Jumpoff Lookout . . . if you can stand the ride, you'll love the view!
According to the Naches Ranger District office, the 13-mile dirt road drive from Highway 12 to Jumpoff Lookout requires high clearance 4WD vehicles and takes four to six hours to complete the round trip. They’re not kidding! The road is steep, rocky, and rough. Our F350 Crew Cab 4X4 did fine but it was slow going. The road is deeply rutted in areas and, as it turned out, a chainsaw might have been handy to have with us, although our trusty hatchet served us well in its stead. So, if you choose to make the journey for this cache, take some extras and go with a sense of adventure.
From the Jumpoff Lookout informational sheet:
- 5745 Foot Elevation, (T13N, R14E, Sec. 01)
- Access: Forest Service Road #1302 / Trail 1126
- Facilities: Lookout Station constructed in 1961
How to get there:
To locate Jumpoff Lookout (the last remaining lookout in the Naches Ranger District), take Forest Road #1302 from Windy Point off of U.S. Hwy 12. High clearance vehicles are required for this 13-mile drive. Estimated trip time from U.S. Hwy 12 is four to six hours. Proceed up the ridge to the south and west passing through some private land. This road can be rough; the lower sections of the road are narrow and upper sections are rocky. Wide motorhomes are not recommended for this route. Early season blow down and snow banks can block this road as late as July 1st. Avoid roads into Cowiche Canyon with all but high centered four-wheel drive vehicles. From Jumpoff Point, there are outstanding views of Rimrock Lake, Tieton Basin, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and, on a clear day, Mt. Stuart. Old clearcuts on Pinegrass Ridge are visible from here.
More about Jumpoff Lookout:
Jumpoff Lookout is located on Jumpoff Point two miles south of the White Pass Work Center. Jumpoff Ridge is a spur ridge, which runs east off of Divide Ridge near Louey Way Gap. Jumpoff Point is a ragged basalt point with sheer sides to the east and west. The 13-mile ridgetop Jumpoff road was a wagon road as early as 1888 when John Russell homesteaded what is now the bottom of Rimrock Lake. This road was also used in the 1890s by the Tieton Cattleman’s Association for running cattle from the town of Tieton.
Because of its view into the Tieton Basin and the Rimrock/Clear Lake area, it has always been of value to local fire management efforts. In earlier days, it was used as a training station because of the roaded access. Guards who learned the system on Jumpoff would graduate to a more remote or higher station as positions opened up. While there is occasional speculation about how Jumpoff got its name, few standing at the site would raise the question.
This site has been the location of at least three different stations, with the present one constructed in 1961. One of the previous lookouts was a rock tower. The view room was apparently built over a living quarter. A spring is located 100 yards southeast of the present station and the old phone line went directly north down the knife ridge to Jumpoff Meadow. A kit garage was removed in the 1970s and the outhouse was replaced in the late 1970s with one of modern design. No garbage dump has been located, but a large accumulation of debris is evident on the rocks below the ste to the east. A plaque was placed near the lookout in 1987 to commemorate Kevin Miller who staffed Jumpoff Lookout for six years.
Jumpoff is the last remaining station in the Naches Ranger District for a number of reasons. The station was constructed in 1961 using the newer 14 x 14 regional design. This site offered excellent views into the Tieton Basin and reasonable coverage for Oak Creek and Bear Canyon. Probably as important as the fire coverage was the relatively central radio relay location, as Jumpoff monitored the Tieton Ranger District’s radio during summer months. With roaded access, good views of Divide Ridge lightning storms, and relatively snow free for its elevation, it served the Forest Service well into the “air patrol” era.
(Much of the above information is from a handout about Jumpoff Lookout provided by the Naches Ranger District.)
About the cache:
- We recommend that only high-clearance 4WD vehicles make this trek. Do not bring motorhomes, RVs, or trailers up here. Oh, and a chainsaw may be of use. We wished we had had ours for this trip.
- This cache is not meant to be difficult. After taking all that time to get here, it would be a shame if you couldn't find it!
- The terrain rating is because of the road. The actual terrain to the cache is about 150' of T=2.5.
- You're looking for an ammo can just out of sight of the lookout.
- You should have good sats here, but just to make sure everything was in order, the cache was beta-tested (by FluteFace) and all seemed in order.
- FTF prize is a small goodie we left in the cache and bragging rights.
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