out of the dense green canopy
the sound of a lively stream
I awoke to a sunny and clear day in the woods outside of Port Townsend. On this day I planned to ride all the way to Dosewallips Campground in Olympic National Park but I also wanted to spend a little bit of time in Port Townsend. So I quickly packed up and rode down the Olympic Discovery Trail, through the marina and into downtown to my favorite PT coffee house: Better Living Through Coffee. There I enjoyed sumatra pour-over and broke my fast. I had a few more errands I wanted to take care of and so I ended up staying in PT through lunch. It was nearly 1pm by the time I finally rode out of town.
I had about fifty miles to do this day, but this included a pretty long climb into the State Park and about 16 miles on trails, so I felt I was leaving pretty late. It was also all backtracking for the first 15 miles (and then on pretty familiar roads) so I mostly just pedaled through it. I couldn’t resist a quick stop at Finn River Cidery once I was back on Center Rd. I’ve ridden past them many a time but I’ve always been pushing through to PT and never stopped. I figured on this day, with long summer nights and no riding planned for the next day, though I could spare the time.
I’m glad I stopped — good cider and a lovely locale with long views up Beaver Valley. But after leaving I knew I had it maintain a steady pace to get where I was going by nightfall. The wind was with me as I rode down Beaver Valley and through the hillier section the lies beyond the intersection with 105. There is a good climb up into hills above Quilcene followed by a long descent to the intersection with Hwy 101. I stopped in Quilcene at the market there where I bought a Blackberry Ice Cream cone where they must have put near a pint of ice cream on it.
The next stage was a stretch on Hwy 101 from Quilcene to Brinnon. This includes crossing Walker Pass, which at 741′ barely qualifies as a pass climb, but it is a gap between Mount Walker and you do climb up for most of the five miles between it and Quilcene. Once you descend there is a stretch along the coast a few ups and downs and then you come onto Brinnon. Right before you cross the Doeswallips River is the turnoff to Dosewallips River Road, which begins my journey into the National Park.
It was stretching into late evening now and I was hoping that I could make this last 16 or so miles in relatively short order. At first the road was paved and it climbed steeply nearly immediately. I was following the Dosewallips River, which was pretty active with sections of rapids, but also these beautiful coves and pools. There were houses and then farms and what kind of appeared to be a cult compound before the paved road ended and became gravel. I was in the National Forest now and after a mile or two the road ended at the washout. There were a number of cars parked here for those hiking in to the campground, day hikers and dog walkers.
I walked the bicycle through this first washout and then it was just like the gravel road had continued on. The trees were a little closer and the road was less washboarded and of course there were no cars. So pretty nice. Then I came to the second washout. This one was as if an entire hillside had washed down into the Dosewallips River. There was a goat path on it, clinging to loose rock on the hillside and also a path that steeply wound above it. I park my bicycle and explored along the hillside route first. That clearly became impossible to push bicycle through so I returned and checked out the path above. It had a series of switchbacks and was pretty steep but seemed passable. So I pushed my bicycle up which I have to say was pretty difficult. At the top it was like I was on a hiking trail for a spell until it descended in a similarly steep set of switchbacks. Then I was back on the gravel road.
Past the second washout the trail narrow and was a lot more overgrown. This was really great riding, as it was fairly flat, empty and yet deep in the woods near a rushing river. There were several more rocky washouts, but these were small and I just had to dismount and pick my way over them. But I was pretty tired and hungry now and ready to reach the campground. When I came to the Elkhorn Campground, the first of two, I was really tempted to stop. I gone a long way, it was right on the river and looked nice. But since I planned to spend the next day exploring the area I knew that the Dosewallips Campground would be better and it was my destination after all. So I pressed on.
The trail immediately began to climb at this point and was much closer to single track. Apart from the multiple washouts and a couple of bridge crossings, it pretty much was uphill the rest of the way. I could ride most of this, but I was pretty hard work. There were numerous washouts, again usually of the big rocky types. I passed a couple of hikers during this stretch, one couple commented they had passed me riding on the road a ways back. “I managed to catch up!”, I quipped. The highlight of this stretch was Doswallips Falls, which was a rock falls with a short free fall section. The road alongside was super steep and there was an old sign informing vehicles that they shouldn’t stop on this section. Apart from all the washouts it was pretty hard to imagine cars ever driving this road. I had to push the bicycle up this section and I was pretty close to bonking. It was after 8pm and I was tired and hungry. Happily it wasn’t too much further from the top of the falls and it was a flatter stretch with only a couple more washouts.
Finally I arrived at the campground which probably half a dozen of the sites — all along the river — were occupied. I pretty quickly settled into the last really viable site at the north edge of the park. The river was an all encompassing presence here and looking up above the trees, the high valley walls were golden with the magic hour light. I filtered water, cooked dinner and setup. As I was about done for the day one of the hikers I passed on my way in stopped by and told me he had forgotten a key part of his water filter. I was using my new gravity filter that I bought after my stint on the Sierra-Cascades where I found I needed to filter a lot of water so I was able to filter a gallon or so of water for him in short order. It was fully dark now, so after he departed water bags in head I retired to the tent and a well earned nights sleep.