Theodore Winthrop, a world traveler who descended from some of the earliest American families, visited the Puget Sound area in 1853. [Not a valid template]
During his time in what was then the most distant outpost of American settlement, a bold group of pioneers made the very first transit of the then unexplored and foreboding Cascade Mountains. He would later say about this group:
“…that emigrants of this summer (1853) might find their way into Washington Territory direct…. Such an enterprise was an epoch in progress. It was the first effort of an infant community to assert its individuality and emancipate itself from the tutelage of Oregon.”
Winthrop would later go on to write several books before gaining wider fame as being the first Union officer to be killed in the Civil War in 1861. When he referred to the “emigrants of the epoch enterprise,” he was speaking of the Longmire Wagon Train. In 1953, a group of local Jeepers took a handful of Army surplus flat-fender Jeeps and traced the original Naches Wagon trail for the 100th anniversary of the Longmire expedition. The trail has remained active in the intervening years, thanks to the upkeep of local off-road clubs.
It was these hallowed footsteps that our group of seven Jeeps sought to follow. We left the Seattle area on a Friday afternoon on back roads to avoid the now overwhelming congestion of the Puget Sound region. Once we got far enough away from Seattle, though, it was easier to put ourselves in the minds of those brave enough to strike out with James Longmire. The area they went through is now part of Mt. Rainier National Park, so a lot of the terrain is pretty much how it was in 1853.
We got to the trailhead much later than we thought (see Seattle congestion) and aired down our tires. It was interesting to see the variety of tools used for this; some had Staun deflators, others were pulling the valve core out and some were using the tried and true method of using a small stick to depress the core. The quickest by far were my Rimrock Supply Rapid Air Deflators (RAD); it’s nice to kick back and relax while everyone else is still crouched worshiping their pressure gauges.