Cascadia to Aztlan - Starting out on the Olympic PeninsulasteemCreated with Sketch.

in cyclefeed •  9 months ago  (edited)

Saturday - Cleared Officials, Less Clear Skies

After preparing our rides for the great trip at Recyclistas Bike Shop, and some last minute trips to the thrift-stores to get some gear, we were ready to cross from Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA. As much as I worried about the official side aspect, it all went quite smoothly: The immigration officer let me pass after a few general questions, and the customs agent waved me through with a smile when I admitted that I was carrying a bag of nuts. - I just can't tell a lie. Even at the post office they gave me no problems when I put my heavy, over-sized sea-sack on the scale, holding all the things I wanted to mail to my final destination in L.A. Reduced to my essential gear, I was ready to start the adventure. 

Together with my cyclist / earthshiper friend we picked up some food at the local supermarket, then headed out to the nearby Elwha river delta, to his grandmother's house. He doesn't have a grandma of his own, so he adopted an elder from the Elwha Klallam tribe, where he regularly spends time visiting her and working on projects. This time she wasn't there, but she assured us that we could camp behind her house for as long as we wanted. We weren't going to stay for too long, but for the weekend certainly. It was partially to hunker down and wait till the rain would pass. At the same time we wanted to meet up with his girlfriend Rene, who came over from Seattle to travel with us for a few days. But most of all, we wanted to enjoy the incredible scenery of the place. A few years ago the tribe removed the dam from their river, and all the accumulated silt created a huge beach right behind the land we were on. From there you could see Vancouver Island and the Olympic mountains, provided the skies were clear. During our visit, however, it offered us an even more exciting vista of moving clouds on a surreal beach littered with enormous chunks of driftwood. But then, even Vancouver Island became visible for a short while!

Monday - Lake Crescent and a Hungry Bear

After a relaxing Sunday, meeting up with Rene and an afternoon nap listening to the rain, we set out on a clear morning on the first leg of our journey. At first we followed the Olympic Discovery Trail (the ODT, yeah you know me! Riding the ODT, yeah you know ... ), but that merged with the highway 112 going through Joyce. A small road with no shoulder, but large logging trucks thundering by - not so enjoyable! Eventually we took a turn towards Piedmont, up the hill but at least without much traffic. 

Once we reached Lake Crescent, we took the Spruce Railroad Trail on the northern shore, enjoying a picturesque ride along its crystal-clear waters. One of the information sources I'm using for this trip is the book Bicycling the Pacific Coast by Tom Kirkendall and Vicky Spring. Sure, it is a bit dated, published in 1984, but it was a gift from the wonderful @ecoknowme, who came down to the Doighouse build a few days before we left. In their book Tom and Vicky recommend taking the very dangerous and stressful highway 101 on the southern shore instead of the Spruce Railroad. Riding along the narrow and rocky trail where we were forced to push our bikes at times, we soon understood why. As challenging as it was, we didn't regret a minute of it. The sun was out, and I had a chance to dry my damp tent while looking at the crazy traffic on the other side of the lake. On our side, we only came across a few hikers and two other cyclists. As for the scenery, we couldn't have asked for more. Amazing nature!

The trail continued on a gentle but steady uphill grade, passing under a thick forest canopy. Eventually we came out on the 101, just across from the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. What sounds like a sweet place had been a developed resort with tiled pools and such, even when Tom and Vicky took their trip. So neither one of us had any inclination to go there. Instead, we wanted to meet up with our "support vehicle," that is Rene in her car. It would have been simple enough, had we had cell-phone service, but since we didn't, we stuck to our plan of meeting at the next campground... in any case, not past the Hungry Bear Café. Our "next" campground turned out to be Klahowya. She wasn't there, but the camp looked nice enough, down by the Sol Duc River. So how could we get a hold of Rene? I offered to ride over to the Hungry Bear, where I expected WiFi, and give her a call. But first, I would pitch my tent and leave my stuff behind. No need to carry excessive gear.

Five miles (8 km) later, I arrived at the Bear, where a bunch of classic car lovers were having a little get-together. By now the weather had turned cool and rainy, so I was happy to warm and dry up a bit, while taking care of my on-line needs. I tried to call Rene too, but she wouldn't answer - probably no service. So eventually I got on my bike and rode back to the campground, while getting nicely soaked once more. To my delight, I encountered both of my traveling companions, with their tent set up and some food with some wine laid out. By now the rain had stopped too, so we enjoyed the evening around a warm campfire. Tomorrow we'd move on towards Forks.

If you'd like to read my bike trip in its entirety, check out the rest of my posts in the Cascadia to Aztlan series:

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WooHoo! The adventures continue! Glad to hear you too are able to dry off and find some sweet digs to lay your head. Will be following your journey south. Give a hug to your travel partner for me. Cheers


Cheers mate, and will do! At the moment I'm lucky to have both, plus some power and internet to post amazing adventures. One more to come tomorrow, then back on the road!