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Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Onward into the woods

NFE in Olympic National Forest

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.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Pirate Ship in Drydock

Clearly a pirate ship here in dry dock

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.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Finn River view down Beaver Valley

The view from Finn River looking down Beaver Valley

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.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - NFE at sea

NFE in Quilcene

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.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Dosewallips River Valley

Dosewallips River Valley

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.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Dosewallips River road after a car has passed

Dosewallips River road after a car has passed

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.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Dosewallips Trail 2

Dosewallips Trail

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.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Further up Dosewallips Falls

Dosewallips Falls

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.

Olympic Mountain Dreams Day 2 - Dosewallips River Valley walls at sunset

Sun sets behind the valley walls

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.

Photos from this day: Olympic Mountain Dreams day 2
All photos from this tour: Olympic Mountain Dreams

Posted from Brinnon, Washington, United States.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1

Sunday, August 27th, 2017
Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - NFE on the stoop

NFE on the Stoop: Ready to Ride

a blue dragonfly
flies backwards down the path
watching

When a retreat that I was going to take part in fell through I suddenly found myself with five free days in mid July. Within a couple of days I worked out a trip I wanted to take that would maximally use those days and take me to a place I hadn’t been to before. I had found out that a road had washed out on the eastern side of Olympic National Park cutting off two campgrounds, but that you take your bicycle on the old road.  This was technically within a days ride, but would, I thought, be a pretty long hard day. I planned to ride to Dosewallips State Park, on hwy 101 which is around 20 miles from Dosewallips Campground, in the Olympic National Park.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Ferry terminal to BI

Ferry to Bainbridge Island coming in

My touring setup is pretty much set in stone these days, all kept in one bag in a closet. I can pull it out and be pretty much ready to tour within a couple of hours.  Buying and packing some food and selecting appropriate clothing is about the only variables not preset.  Of course I do have several options depending on length or type of tour and for this one, where I’d be camping and then day hiking in the woods, I adjusted things accordingly.  I swapped out my Rando bag for my basket and put on my old Baggins Hobo bag for the rear facing pockets.  This gave me enough space for the supplies needed for time in the woods.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - In which we leave the city behind

In which we leave the city behind

I made it to the ferry terminal by 10am which is pretty good time for the first day of one of my tours.  But I had just missed a boat and when the next one came in there was a crew change and the hauling off of a dead motorcycle.  When we finally departed it was about a quarter to eleven.  I was in the cafe buying a coffee when the woman next to me in line asked: “Is this the bar?” It’s happy hour somewhere… At one point during the crossing the boat slowed and the engines stopped. There was an announcement over the PA for a crew member to come to ‘Fan Room 2’.  Was this going to one of those trips?

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Coming up on Bainbridge

Crossing the Puget Sound

As I made the crossing I contemplated my preparations and realized I had neglected to bring my headlamp.  That a bit of food I still needed sent me to the little town of Winslow on Bainbridge Island where I also was able to get lunch.  I found my forgotten supplies and proceeded to ride across the Island a bit after noon.  Now his route is one I’ve done several times: Bainbridge to the mainland via Hood Canal.  There are several options and several highways but of course the goal is to stay on backroads.  However right after crossing Agate Pass off of Bainbridge I failed to take a turn and thinking Google Maps had just put me on a different crossing of the Kitsap Peninsula I continued on the hwy.  As I came up on Pouslbo I knew I was off route but I also knew this busy road would get me where I was going. I peeked at Maps on my phone and found an alternative backroad option that I didn’t have to backtrack to.  This road, Big Valley Road, turned out to be just top drawer country riding.  Much flatter then the normal cross Kitsap route I’ve taken, but equally low traffic and scenic.  Nice.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Waiting on the bridge

Waiting on the Hood Canal Drawbridge

Big Valley Road intersected with Hwy 3 at Four Corners and from there it wasn’t too much further to Hood Canal Bridge. As I climbed up the last hill before I’d descend to the bridge, cars were backed up — the bridge must be open.  I was able to easily wend my way down to the bridge and along the nice shoulder all the way to the barriers.  The drawbridge was indeed up, but for no discernible reason.  There are long views both north and south of the bridge and there was no sign of any boats. Even when submarines come through here — which is often — there are jamming boats along with them.  So perhaps just some sort of test or safety check.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Clouds over the Canal

Dark clouds down south

There was a stiff wind blowing south, which happily was the direction I was going. But things were dark and forbidding that way whereas the wind was blowing the clouds away from the north.  Once the bridge finally opened I continued west, mainly on Hwy 104 but taking side roads when I could.  Once you climb up from Hood Canal to the north is Beaver Valley which I’ve ridden many time to and fro Port Townsend.  All the sudden I felt a pang of desire to go to Port Townsend. It was almost cold now under dark clouds and there was even the slightest of sprinkles.  As I crossed Center Road which goes north up Beaver Valley to Chimicum and then PT and South to Quilcene where it intersects with Hwy 101 I saw a handprinted mural that read 24 miles to Brinnon. Brinnon was just outside of Doswallips State Park, my destination.  PT on the other hand was 14 miles to the north up Beaver Valley.  To the south was Walker Pass (not an epic pass, but a couple mile climb) and dark menacing clouds.  To the north it was blue skies, easy valley riding and PT with restaurants and pubs.  I went north.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - Mount Rainier looms beyond Marrowstone Island

Mount Rainier looms beyond Marrowstone Island

There are three roads that run down Beaver Valley: one on the west wall, one down the center and one at the foot of the east wall.  I was on the middle way, Center Rd. which is the easiest of the three (the west wall is the hilliest fwiw) and the valley protected me from that northerly wind. So I made good time to Chimicum and then to Fort Townsend State Park. This park sits about 5 miles south from PT proper and it is a favorite of mine to camp at. Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1 - At the PourhouseThe Hiker/Biker site is a bit away from the rest of the campground and is basically a clearing in the woods. Of the half-dozen plus times I’ve camped there only once has there been another touron there.  Once!  It is about a mile from the Olympic Discovery Trail so you can easily ride into PT which after setting up I did. I had dinner at a very busy (and just okay) Thai joint and then retired to the Pourhouse for an after dinner pint.

As I rode back to the campground, the sun had set and a light purple glow lit up the Cascade mountains far to the east.  A truly lovely evening.  It was dark in my wooded campsite when I arrived, but I only had to lock up my bicycle and retire to my tent for the evening.  I was happy to be here.

Photos from this day: Olympic Mountain Dreams day 1
All photos from this tour: Olympic Mountain Dreams

Posted from Port Townsend, Washington, United States.

April Bicycle Camping day 5

Monday, May 9th, 2016

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Cascade Falls (detail) in Moran State Park

in hazy night
stepping into water…
losing my way
-Issa

It drizzled a bit overnight but by the morning it was dry and grey. As I noted earlier the ferries weren’t really conducive to maximizing my time on Orcas and still getting to the next campground. I had the options of leaving around noon or around five. Three or so would have been ideal, but what can you do?  I was able to do one short hike in Moran State Park this morning to check out Cascade Falls.  A lovely waterfall with the smaller “Rustic Falls” along the way and if I’d been able to spend a bit more time two other cascades.  But time and ferries wait for no man and so I limited myself to the pair of ‘falls and was soon enough back on the bicycle.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Cascade Falls in Moran State Park

It was all downhill from Mountain Lake to Cascade Lake and there was a bit of a climb out of the park.  But most of the way back to Eastsound was downhill or gentle rollers.  It was a lot more effort to get out to the park!  Thus I made it into Eastsound in short order, with enough time to stop for coffee. I also visited the Coop to get some lunch supplies as I’d be on the ferry lunchtime.  Then it was back on the road again.  Once again it was less hilly then the way out, but still this is the San Juan Islands, so hilly.  The clouds were beginning to break up at this point and it was warming up.  This morning was the only time this tour I wore my leg warmers and it was only for the morning.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Rustic Falls

I made good time to the Ferry which turned out to be fortuitous as I’d misread the timetable and had missed an earlier ferry.  So I managed to catch a ferry a few minutes after arriving and this one didn’t stop at Lopez.  It was a nice relaxing ride back, now mostly clear and of course scenic. I spent most of the time indoors this time, eating lunch and just watching out the window.  We arrived at Fidalgo Island a bit after 1pm and I figured I’d do some riding on the island before heading into Anacortes.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - View from Washington Park on Fidalgo Island

Since I was right there I decided I’d ride around Washington Park. This park is where the campground I’ve stayed at a few times recently is where I of course spent many hours in my youth.  It is of an age where of course they’d have to build a road around the whole thing so that it can be driven. The road though is about as wide as a modern bicycle path and at least on this day there wasn’t much traffic. Being right on the edge of the island there was of course plenty of great views. It was a bit windy but warming up and I spent a good amount of time at several lookouts.  Even did a short hike to the memorial for T.H. Havacost who dedicated the land for the park. I’m Sure I’ve seen this before but can’t really recall it.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Looking toward Skyline on Fidalgo Island

Eventually I left the park and it still being fairly early took a longer meandering route back to Anacortes. Always interesting for me to ride on the island and see all the further development.  Sad at times, what with overdevelopment, but some really nice changes as well. The whole preservation and development of the Anacortes Community Forest lands is truly a great thing. Anyway I made my way into town as school was getting out and feeling a bit burned by the sun made my way to the library where I enjoyed the cool air and the wifi.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Looking South along Swinomish Channel

I had dinner in town and thus with no need to cook in camp my my way in the setting toward the mainland.   I took the Tommy Thompson Parkway out of town across the trestle and to March Point. From there it was a pretty much due east to the Twin Bridges then down to the Skagit Flats. Its a flat couple of miles to Bayview State Park would I would camp on this evening. There was a decent amount of RV-ers there, but its a good sized park, recently expanded and the back loop was empty. I was able to find a nice secluded “economy” site which can be used as hiker/biker sites and quickly setup. I made my way to the beach to catch the last of the sunset. That night a chorus of frogs serenaded me to sleep.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Sun setting behind the islands

diffused by thin clouds
the full moon

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 5
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

Posted from Mount Vernon, Washington, United States.

April Bicycle Camping day 4

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Ferry, islands and Mount Baker

 

even for the meadow
butterflies…
the day is long
-Issa

The plan is to go to Orcas Island and spend some time at Moran State Park.  The ferries aren’t really amenable to maximizing ones time on an island. That is I wanted to go over early this morning and return mid afternoon tomorrow. That’d maximize my time on Orcas. But the ferry was either super early, or late morning.  I opted for late morning.

Orcas Island

Another beautiful day, hot already by 10am when I bordered the ferry. Reall,lovely sailing between the islands, checking out the boats and most tempting to me the houses on the islands not served by ferries. We arrived at Orcas around noon and I set off immediately. Orcas is the hillist of the San Juans and it of course immediately climbed up from the ferry.  Soon after I climbed up Uff Da hill.  Then it was allies and rolling hills to Eastsound.

NFE on Orcas

I had a picnic lunch along the way and there was many tantalizing views of the water, coves and a magnificent large piece of kinetic art.  I didn’t linger in Eastsound, stopping only to get some supplies. I shortly set off for Moran and man was there some good hills on the way out to the park The longest of which was over 2 kilometers.

Kinetic Art on Orcas

I arrived at the park around 3pm and made my way to the primitive campground.  This seemed to be free but was perhaps too primitive. It had a nice shelter, but no water and no water even close by. I thought perhaps there might be another primitively area or at least some nearby water so I continued up the hill.  Once I reached the next campground, Mountain Lake, which appeared to be the closest water supply, I decided t just stay there.  There was only a few sites there and only a few people and the sites were on this spit in the lake. Very scenic.  I set up camp and with my bicycle now unloaded I rode up Mt. Constitution.

Great blue heron

This was a good four mile climb (already having done an additional mile) fairly steep and with numerous switchbacks. Mostly in the trees there were few scenic overlooks with increasingly stunning views. Once you reach ‘Little Summit’ at 2200′ things flatten out with one final climb to the total 2404′. At the top is a tower which once you climb it you are presented with a three quarters view from Canada to the north, Bellingham to the east and the Cascades, San Juan Islands and the sound to he south. Great views.  There was while I was there a couple teenagers smoking and making out.  While I was there taking pics they retired to the lookout cabin for some privacy. All rather uncomfortable really.

Observation tower on Mount Constitution

The descent was of course crazy fast though with the serious switchbacks you couldn’t just let it go. Onc back in camp I made dinner and then wandered around  with a cup of tea. The now nearly full moon rose over the lake, it’s reflections broken up by a gentle breeze. A lovely end to the day.

moonlight in mountain lake
scattered by jumping fish

 
Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 4
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

Posted from Olga, Washington, United States.

April Bicycle Camping day 3

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

image

 “Thus, the sage performs effortless deeds and teaches wordless lessons.” – Lao-Tzu

I didn’t have too much riding planned for this day, I primarily desired to visit a few of my favorite spots on Fidalgo Island. But being at Deception Pass State Park – which I haven’t camped at in decades – I decided to explore a bit. The park features a unique dual beach, one side on Cranberry Lake the other on the Sound. From the seaside beach, which is a rare sandy beach, you can see Deception Pass Bridge. The Cranberry Lake beach is the swim area which we used to regularly visit when I was in single digits.

Swim beach at Cranberry Lake

It’s a stiff climb out of the park but once back on hwy 20, it’s a short gently slopping way to Decption Pass Bridge. I rode across to the central island where I parked my bicycle and then walked across the east side of the bridge back to Whdibey Island. Then on the west side back to my bicycle. Stunning views as always. I grew up just a few miles from here and these views just don’t get old.

Looking east from Deception Pass Bridge

There is another shorter span of the bridge and then I was on Fidalgo Island. I got off the busy hwy 20 at Pass Lake and rode the short, but uphill way to the turnoff for Rosario Beach. My favorite beach, I had decided to come here for a picnic lunch. I ate, then sat in the warm sun on the east side beach. I’d slept pretty poorly tonight before and dozing in th host sun was very welcome. I spent a bit of time on the west side beach before departing.

East beach at Rosario Beach

Once again it was a short jaunt (still up hill and steeply so to get out of Rosario) o my next destination – Sharpe Park. This park is only about a mile south of ere I grew up and it was basically built while I lived there. It more o less is a trail out to the very edge of the island. Over the years this has become more built up and easier to find ones way, but either way once you are at the headland it is just my favorite place on the island (and maybe anywhere). Right on these rocks on the edge of the Sound, you can traverse down to a bluff right on the edge of the island. There is soft grass the and I just laid in the warm sun for a good spell. No one else came down ther and I was just me, the bees, and in th distance seagulls and boats.

Looking off the edge of Fidalgo Island

From the park I took my usual, scenic, route into Anacortes. Nice riding but I was pretty beat from the cycling and poor sleep. Onice I got into town I decided I’d prefer to spend the evening in town, so I stayed at my usual hotel there.

before dawn the birds rouse –
the croaking of a lone frog

 
Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 3
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

Posted from Anacortes, Washington, United States.

April Bicycle Camping day 2

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Lake, farm and Mountain

“All through the land an unenlightend person is hard to find.”
-Lin-ji (paraphrased)

Overnight I came to the decision that I wanted to sit in cafes, on beaches, in the woods, on the sound just taking things in. This morning dawned clear and bright and was going to be another in this series of “summer in April” days. I took care of business in camp and then rode down into Port Townsend. Now due to leaving spur of the moment like I did it was inevitable that I’d forget some stuff. I did pretty well as I keep all my touring gear in one bag and just need to load up from it. But somehow I forget my backpackers towel and the one thing that isn’t in that bag, my Victorinox knife. So I had some errands to do in P.T.. But first things first: I wasn’t going to visit Port Townsend without a stop at Better Living Through Coffee.

Port Townsend with Mount Baker in the distance

I managed to complete all my errands in PT but I ended up catching the ferry to Whidbey Island petty late. I feel I lingered too long in PT as my mood turned and in the end I was reasy to leave. But things were glorious on the water and once I was riding on Whidbey things were soon sorted. I took my usual route down Whidbey: back roads to Coupeville, Madronna Dr. along Penn Cove, hilly West Beach Dr, past the Gallery Golf Course and NAS Whidbey to Hwy 20. I kept a steady pace due to it being late but did take time to enjoy West Beach.

Penn Cove

As I passed NAS Whidbey jets began flying overhead in series. Having spent my high school years on the Island I knew what was going on: touch and goes.  The navy jets ere basically practicing landing and taking off on an aircraft carrier using a mocked up deck and two or three of them doing this in series. This would continue until about ten pm the boom jets audible throughout the region.  When I was growing up here there used to be a sign that said “Please pardon our noise, it’s the sound of freedom.”

Deception Pass State Park

Amidst the pervasive  sound of the jets I made my way up Hwy 20 to Deception Pass State Park. While I went here many times in my youth this would be my first time in the hiker/biker sites. And what great sites they are! A bit above Cranberry Lake, you take a short trail into the woods and there are six or eight sites off this trail. Once again I was the only occupant so I had my pick of sites.  I setup, cooked dinner and cleaned up. By then it was dark and the waxing moon was shining through the trees as I retired.

bright moonlight
shattered by trees
shines on my tent

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 2
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

Posted from Oak Harbor, Washington, United States.

April Bicycle Camping day 1

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Port Gamble Park

 

spring comes simply
with a pale blue
sky
-Issa

No-thinking; just tour

I was heading out late Sunday morning for a ride and as I was about to board the light rail for a bit of a head start I decided that I should take advantage of the unseasonably warm stretch ahead and go out on a short tour. So I left the light rail station and went across the street to the grocery store to pick up some supplies. Then back home where I packed up, did some tinkeri get on the bicycle, printed out an initial route and headed out.
 
Sailboat & Mount Rainier
I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and it was such a fantastic day on the water: clear and windy the sailboats were out in force. Views of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the Olympics, Seattle, the Cascades &c. Stunning.  I was leaving late (of course) and I had decided that I was going to head to Port Townsend and then go from there. So I took a pretty direct route, going straight across Bainbridge. Not the most scenic route, but a good wide shoulder the whole way. But once across Bainbridge I was on backroads to Port Gamble.

Fort Towsend
I have have to say I immediately felt free and relaxed once I was on those backroads. Right into the touring mindset. I just wanted to be in the woods, on the water, lingering over coffee and just being out there. After Port Gamble it was into Beaver Valley which I’ve ridden in many times and always enjoy. Rolling hills along the farmland, it ends in Chimicum where I stopped at the farmstand for a bit of a break. But I needed to press on if I wanted to get to camp before dark. Happily from there it was less than ten miles to Fort Townsend State Park where I onc again found myself the only occupant of the hiker/biker site. I setup, cooked and cleaned up in deep gloaming. Shortly thereafter I retired, happily back on tour.

alone in the woods
half-moon shining
through tall trees

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 1
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

Posted from Port Townsend, Washington, United States.

October Overnighter

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Autumn Overnighter - Shrouded Rainier

Mount Rainier shrouded in clouds

Since returning from tour I haven’t had a lot of chances to get out in the (nearly) always beautiful PNW Autumn.  My bicycle needed a bunch of work and it took getting into a new place and emptying out my storage unit to have the necessary tools. Then a visit to family out of state took me away during prime early October weather.  On my return – just last Thursday – it looked like persistent rain had moved in early.  Well that forecast changed and it was looking to be just overcast on Saturday clearing up in the evening, with Sunday being mostly clear with temps reaching the low 70s (F).  Reading this post from Cliff Mass I saw that the lows had been unseasonably high and thus I decided an overnighter was in order.
 
Autumn Overnighter - Ready to ride.

Atlantis - ready to ride

I had decided to embark on this trip pretty late and I did have a couple of final tasks to complete on the bicycle. In the above picture you can see my Atlantis as set out. Since returning from tour I have replaced the Shifters, the pedals, the middle chainring, the chain and the rear derailleur. This morning I replaced the cassette and the rear tire and I was ready to go. Since this was just an overnighter I only needed two meals and a few pieces of off bicycle clothes, so I was able to pack as minimally as possible. In the saddlebag (a Grant Peterson top 5!) I have my sleeping back, inflatable pillow, Trangia cook set, rain gear and the off bicycle clothes. In the basket I have my air mattress and my Grab Sack (another top 5!) with my camera, journal, iPad Mini and such in it. In my Hobo Bag (best h’bar bag ever) I stuffed in my toiletries and food bag. Strapped on the back rack is my tent with the poles along the top tube. Pretty amazing how light a load camping requires for just one night.
 
Autumn Overnighter - Clearing up

clearing up

It had rained that morning but by mid-afternoon the clouds were breaking up. I had decided to camp at Fay Bainbridge Park on Bainbridge Island. This is the closest campground to Seattle and it’s really close – I rode 12 miles to the campground. This has it’s positive side – I left around 2:30 and on a day when it is dark by 6:30 that meant I was able to setup and cook while it was still light. Of course I would prefer a bit more of a ride when I have more time, but there is no reason one could ride clockwise around the Island from the ferry terminal and get in those miles. But on this day the late departure, plus the ferry trip and 7-8 miles on the island worked out just fine.
 
Autumn Overnighter - Camping in Fay Bainbridge Park

Camping at Fay Bainbridge

The campground has an upper area with walk-in camping and a lower area with sites under the hill and along the beach. There is an electronic pay station down there where I paid for the hiker/biker site, a reasonable US$7. I then proceeded to ride around for half an hour trying to find said h/b site. I never did. I did an internet search and found via Google Books a map of the park which indicated that the h/b area was in the walk in area. As there was no-one camping up there (there was about half a dozen campers on the beach) I just took a space up there. This was a good deal as I was able to utilize the covered picnic tables for cooking. I setup, cooked, and by the time I cleaned up it was pretty dark. I took a cup of green tea to the beach and sat there in the glow from Seattle listened to the gentle surf and the rumble of the passing ferries.

a creaking frog,
the bobbing glow of eyes,
this misty autumn night

 
Autumn Overnighter - Morning in Fay Bainbridge Park

Camping at Fay Bainbridge

I slept late and took my time making breakfast and packing up and then headed down to the beach. It was a lovely morning with blue skies streaked by torn up clouds. Pretty windy too, with stiff gusts of wind. Since I had left late and took the short route here my plan was to ride around the island before heading home. I’ve ridden Bainbridge plenty of times, but usually (mostly) follow the Chilly Hilly route which circles the island, staying on roads that can support 7000+ cyclists. But on this day I started following Dan Henry’s on the road in the shape of a pie and green arrows painted on the road. These routes took me on narrower roads that dove down to the water and then right back up, across the island and through Fort Ward Park.
 
Autumn Overnighter - Port Madison Bell with Atlantis

Port Madison Bell with Atlantis

It was such a lovely autumn day, with big gusts of wind blowing leaves all over the road. I finally accomplished something I wanted to do for a long time: I caught a falling leaf while riding alone. A big gust of wind blew a bunch of leaves toward me and without thought I just reached out and caught a large blowing right by me. The Dan Henry’s wended a route on and off the Chilly Hilly route so I saw the usual landmarks: Port Madison, the Bainbridge Island Frog, many views of the Puget Sound and of course mostly took me on the great Bainbridge Island side roads.
 
Autumn Overnighter - Cormorants all in a row

Cormorants all in a row.

The Dan Henry’s eventually took me on this climb up the middle of the Island and then wound down to Lynnwood which had really been built up since last I was here. I had lunch at the Treehouse Cafe there, a location where I have many times had an ice cream cone but never actually stopped for lunch. Well the food was good and while I had a sandwich it looks like they make a good pizza as well. I walked around Lynnwood a bit checking out all the new shops and restaurants before rejoining the Chilly Hilly Route for a stretch. The Dan Henry’s pretty quickly took me off the route and I ended up riding through Fort Ward – completely new territory for me. Well this former military fort, now a small park right along the edge of the island allows one to ride a bit more along the water. Especially if you continue onto South Beach road after the park.
 
Autumn Overnighter - Heading up Toe Jam Road. Painted on the road: "Good Luck"

Heading up Toe Jam Hill Road.

Riding the narrow road right on the edge of the island is quite scenic and with the wind blowing out of the south, a nice ride. Of course you do then have to ride up Toe Jam Hill which was by far the steepest hill I’ve ridden on Bainbridge. There are longer hills and plenty of pretty steep hills, but this one took the cake. As you rounded the curve pictured above painted on the road was “Good Luck”. I did make it up the steeped, cracked pavement and after a bit more time on the heavily wooded Toe Jam Road, I turned onto Country Club road which took me back to the Chilly Hilly route which I’d follow for the rest of the day.
 

 
One of my favorite spots on Bainbridge Island, is this memorial park with a Tibetan Prayer Wheel. As always I stopped and spun the wheel and took in this peaceful spot. But after leaving the park I rode steadily back, along the Chilly Hilly route primarily, back to Eagle Harbor and the ferry. I needed to be back home before six and while there was still plenty of riding I could have done on Bainbridge, not to mention the quaint little town of Winslow which I’ve never really explored, I headed straight to the ferry terminal. Of course I did end up waiting a bit for the next boat, but I enjoyed the waning day and being on the water. The ride back featured stunning views of a cloud enshrouded Mt. Rainier, big fluffy clouds hovering over the Seattle cityscape and many sailboats out enjoying this windy, beautiful autumn day.
 
Autumn Overnighter - Clouds Over Seattle

Clouds Over Seattle.

 
Check out all of my pictures on Flickr: Autumn Overnighter.

Posted from Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States.

Autumn ride around the sound

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
An autumn ride around the Sound - The Mountain
The Mountain as seen from Fay Bainbridge State Park

After an unseasonable cool and rainy September the first weekend in October was one of those perfect PNW Autumn days. I’d recently gotten a new camera (a Nikon 1 J2 for you trainspotters out there) and I went out for rides on both Saturday and Sunday with picture taking as a goal but taking advantage of the beautiful weather as my primary motivation.  I’ve been wanting a bit more of a “prosumer” camera for a while with a goal of note only being able to take better photos but being somewhat forced into greater deliberation. That is I’ve done a lot of shooting “from the saddle” and I’d like to think I have a certain proficiency at it. While this allows one to easily document one’s travels it tends to generate a lot of photos and frankly I think this style of documentation just isn’t all that interesting. I’ve moved away from this style of photos in the last couple of years but I felt that having a camera where I’d have to get off the bicycle and spend time on each photo would further facilitate this.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Ferris Wheel on the Seattle Waterfront
Seattle Waterfront

I initially planned to ride down to the Seattle Waterfront and meander along Elliot Bay, perhaps into Magnolia and along the Ship Canal. But as I rode down (heavily under construction) Jackson Street and then up Alaskan Way I decided instead I’d ride around Bainbridge Island.  I turned off at the Ferry Terminal and caught the ferry ten minutes later – good timing!

An autumn ride around the Sound - Seattle from the Needle to the Smith Tower
Seattle from Space Needle to Smith Tower

It was a fantastic day out on the waters and as Seattle receded in the distance our ferry was amidst countless sailboats and other recreational watercraft.  Mount Rainer, of which I would take many pictures throughout this day, was commanding to the Southeast, particularly towering above the West Seattle Bridge. Arriving at Bainbridge Island, I quickly disembarked (always nice that bicycles are first on first off) and riding into town I quickly got onto the Chilly Hilly route which circumnavigates the island anti-clockwise.  But as I was riding I began to think that I’ve done this loop plenty of times and it would actually be more fun to strike out on a more unfamiliar routes.  I began to think that I could pretty easy cross the bridge to the mainland and ride up to Kingston and take the ferry across to Edmonds and then make my way back to Seattle.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Kite
Good kite flying weather

So I pulled over at a little store and sitting on their porch consulted Google Maps and worked out a route.  It turned out to be only 15-16 miles to Kingston from here, which seemed like a perfectly reasonable Sunday afternoon ride.  That settled I continued on to Fay Bainbridge State Park where I sat on the beach, ate a sandwich and watched the sailboats, kites and beachcombers. I didn’t linger too long as there was riding to done, but it was a pleasent break on the beach.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Sailing around Bainbridge
Sailing around Bainbridge

From Fay Bainbridge I was able to stay on nice, country roads usually deep in the woods with occasional open fields of glimpses of the water, but eventually I had to take Hwy 305 off the island.  Not a bad road as hwy’s go – big shoulder and at least on a sunday afternoon, not heavily trafficked. It crosses a nice bridge over Agate Pass after which I took an immediate right and headed north. This was a pretty busy road but again with a good shoulder and among the trees.  This road brought me to Suquamish which was right on the water. I made brief stop here primarily to take pictures and consult the map, before hitting the road again.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Totem Pole
Totem Pole in Suquamish

From here the roads became particularly fine riding. Mostly in the woods a bit away from the coast, it was just ideal riding. Winding roads, a bit of up and down, brilliant colored trees amidst the evergreens all lit by the westering sun. I left the Google Maps route , following a red Dan Henry, at Indianola Road which took me a bit in the opposite direction of Kingston for a spell but was more scenic. Once again it was just perfect riding, especially once I turned onto South Kingston Road where the climbing I’d been doing turned to descending. This route descended down Appletree Cove on twisty roads through the trees. Very nice! After Appletree Cove, there was a slight climb and I turned on West Kingston road which heads straight to the ferry terminal.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Kingston
Autumn in Kingston

However I didn’t ride straight to the ferry – it being 5pm I felt a stop at the Front Street Ale house was in order. I checked on the ferry schedule and resolved to catch the 6:10 sailing and thus spent a nice hour drinking a couple of beers and eating a couple of appetizers. Fully sated I left the pub a bit before 6 and pretty much rode right onto the ferry just before the cars began loading. It was again a beautiful trip with the sun setting behind the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier, Seattle and Edmonds all glowing in magic hour light.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Mt. Rainier in the setting sun
Mount Rainier in the gloaming

It was deep twilight as I arrived in Edmonds and I had a good 20 miles or so to get home. I’d jotted down a Google Maps route from Edmonds to the Interurban Trail while on the ferry and in the dwindling light I set out on it. There was a pretty stiff headwind now and it was definitely chillier – I wish I’d brought some socks along! Google kept me mostly on the signed bicycle route and by the time I reached Shoreline I pretty much knew my way home. I took the Interurban trail – which has a nice new cycle track along Bitter lake – and then the signed Interurban route to Fremont. From there it was a short jog on the Burke Gillman Trail to the University district and then my commute route home.

An autumn ride around the Sound - Setting sun
Sun setting behind the Olympic Mountains

I made it home by 8:45 after having ridden about 48 miles all told. It was a great Sunday afternoon ride with two ferry trips and a nice loop around a good chunk of the Puget Sound.

Check out more photos in my Flickr photoset of this ride: An autumn ride around the Sound

Posted from Bainbridge Island, Washington, United States.

Journey to the East: 30 April 2012

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Tour 2012 day 1 - Stream in Twanoh State Park

Stream in Twanoh State Park

“One right to which few intellectuals care to lay claim is the right to wander, the right to vagrancy. And yet vagrancy is emancipation, and life on the road is liberty: one day bravely to throw off the shackles with which modern life and the weakness of our heart encumber us, in a pretence of liberty; to arm oneself with the symbolic staff and bundle and run away”.

-Isabelle Eberdardt

[note: I wrote these posts for the first couple of days of the tour after completing the tour]

Forever on the way
Today I left my apartment (sorry aPodment) in Seattle where I’ve lived for the last nine months. When I lost my job last July I’d wanted to set out on this tour right then. But for various reasons that was not to be and I did the shorter tour I did last August. I spent the time in between that tour and today’s departure could be consider as preparation for this day: I lived in a tiny apartment with a bare minimum of stuff; making do with less as you do on tour. The winter was very contemplative and inward looking but by early spring I was itching to take off. A May departure was about as early as I felt I could head out (as of today Washington Pass has yet to open). So on this sunny, but chilly mid-spring day, I gave up my apartment and now homeless headed to the Olympic Peninsula.

On the Ferry

This was a route I’ve done several times – ferry to Bremerton, back roads to Belfair and up along the Hood Canal on the very enjoyable SR106. This was the most loaded I’ve been on this route with the fully loaded Atlantis and I have to say the hill in Bremerton coming up from the ferry wasn’t much of a good time. But after that and negotiating the highways I was on Old Belfair road which is great riding through the woods. It got even better as I rode past Belfair and turned onto 106 along the Hood Canal. Beautiful riding in the dwindling daylight along the water. Unlike the other times I’ve ridden this route for the first time I camped right on the water at Twanoh State Park. This early in the season the only people at the campground was the host and a couple of RV-ers. I was the only occupant across the street from the main campground at the hiker/biker/boater site right on the beach. I had a front row seat to the setting sun which painted the streaks of cloud pink and purple as I setup camp and cooked dinner.

More photos from today or the entire tour can be found on Flickr.

a fluttering moth
etched by the rising moon
this cool spring evening

Posted from Union, Washington, United States.