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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.

Coastal Contemplations day 1

Monday, June 6th, 2016
On Hood Canal

Sunrise on Hood Canal.

larks in the sky
people in the sea…
a holiday

-Issa

 

A hot start
I’ve found myself pining for the coast and with another free space I’m back on the road. The weather is again unusually hot with a high of 90(f) on this day. I set myself a short first day, with my destination being Twanoh State Park on the Hood Canal. It was a lovely ferry ride in this warmth, being on the Sound on a moving vessel the temperatures was just right. However once in Bremerton it was quite hot. Deviating from my usual route to the coast I was off the highways more but there was some seriously stiff hills. Tough in this weather. But I was happy to be in the trees where after those hills it was basically a gentle downhill ride to Hood Canal and the State Park.

a red breasted woodpecker —
dead on the road

The day use are was packed with people out picnicking and swimming – it is that hot. The Hiker/Biker site is one of the best; literally right on the water. The only downside being the road right behind the site which was more trafficked than one would hope. After the sun set it cooled down and it was such a peaceful spot. Having gotten in pretty early I just lost myself in the interplay of the gentle surf, the blue skies and the orchestra of the soundscape.

On Hood Canal —
constant lapping of the water on shore
muted laughter from beach goers
dopplering buzz of insects
distant chugging of a motorboat
twittering birds
cars roar by the nearby highway
a splash, as something hits the water
the wake from the motorboat pounds the shore
a crow clacks its beak

Photos on Flickr: today, all days

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.