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Olympic Mountain Dreams day 5

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 5 - Olympic Mountains Reflections

The last day of this all too short tour was another perfect summer day.  Blue skies, streak with thin white clouds, the temperatures warm but not too hot.  It was going to be a pretty short day, so there wasn’t much of a need to rush. However I wanted to be in Bremerton for lunch so while I didn’t rush I didn’t linger too long either. My companion in the hiker-biker site hadn’t caused any trouble and we only exchanged pleasantries before he rode off for the day. He had told the ranger yesterday that he’d pay for another night after returning from town today.  I never asked but I can’t deny some curiosity as to what this guys story was.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 5 - Looking back up Hood Canal

I’ve certainly noted in these page how much I enjoy riding on Hwy 106, especially on a weekday morning when there is little traffic. Well today was one of those ideal days on this canal side highway.  Beautiful views of Hood Canal, the Tahuya hills across the water and in the distance the Olympic Mountains.  The blue sky was streaked with thin white clouds.    Things were still, there wasn’t much wind and the canal was calm, allowing for the reflections to have a high degree of fidelity to the original. Which is the original anyway?

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 5 - Seattle Ahoy!

Highway 106 ends at Belfair, of which there is nothing to write home about.  However the Old Belfair Hwy, is a nice route rolling gently through farmland and woodland all the way to Bremerton.  I was on track to get to the city by 12:30 or so, so it was able to really enjoy this ride.  Old Belfair turns into West Belfair Valley road at a certain point and then there is along descent where it is near highway 3, which is the direct route between Belfair and Bremmerton. I’ve ridden 3 as well and while there is a huge shoulder and it’s relatively flat, it is just punishing with all the traffic.  West Belfair valley is much more preferable and while I oft hit 3 for the final segment into Bremerton this time I took the Adventure Cycling route which has a punishing climb up the valley walls and into hills west of Bremerton.  From there you descend into town just past the Navy Shipyard turnoff.   I arrived in town a bit before 1pm stopped for lunch and then rode that last hill into downtown Bremerton and the ferry terminal. I caught the 1:45 ferry to Seattle.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 5 - NFE on the Ferry

This crossing was less eventful then the one that began this trip.  I mostly stayed inside and journaled, but as many times as I’ve been on the ferries I have to go outside and take in the views.  It remained a lovely day with just enough clouds to keep things interesting.  It was the end of my trip and it felt to me like it was just getting started.  I’d like to spend more time in Olympic National Park, but riding the forest roads and hiking the many trails.  This trip was a good survey of at least one part of the park. I’ve ridden all around the peninsula on several occasions and I have a good sense of the ride out to all corners.  It is past time that I begin to make forays into the interior.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 5 - Farewell to the Olympics

Photos from this day: Olympic Mountain Dreams day 5
All photos from this tour: Olympic Mountain Dreams

Posted from Seattle, Washington, United States.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - Small little waterfall

It was a lovely morning and tempting to spend another day in the Olympic’s, but it is a fairly long and rough road home. I didn’t want to just repeat the route I took here, so my return trip was going to go south and east to Bremerton and the ferry to Seattle. Thus I’ll have done a nice Hood Canal Loop in the course of this short tour. Since I didn’t have too far to ride on this day I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and time by the Dosewallips before I set out.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - Dosewallips Falls detail

When I rode up to the campground I was chasing daylight so I didn’t linger. Well on my trip out I took the opportunity to checkout the several waterfalls, explore the Elkhorn campground, take little side trails and of course capture plenty of images. The trail being mostly downhill as well as not trying to push through as quickly as I could meant it wasn’t nearly as exhausting as the trip in had been.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - The "road" is basically just a trail up here.

There were numerous other hikers returning on this day, it being the end of the weekend and all. But also as I got closer to the trailhead I encountered numerous mountain bikers just out to ride the on the old road. They still had to get past the first two (and in some cases third) major washouts but I suppose pushing a mountain bike when you only have a daypack isn’t nearly so hard. But as a there-and-back route it didn’t strike me as that exciting of a mountain bike route. Beautiful scenery of course, but not very technical.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - Beautiful little waterfall in the woods

There were two little waterfalls just off the trail that were well worth parking the bicycle and tramping off to see. This one, with it’s two free falling sections cascading down moss covered rocks was especially lovely. There is a hike off of the road to Lake Constance that is two miles in length but gains 3300 feet! It is mostly a scramble up a riverbed and I image it is like the terrain below this waterfall.  But once you get up there, there is a hike in campground with only six sites.  Would love to get up there sometime for an even more secluded Olympics experience.  A lot more to do up here; I will be back

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - Ob. NFE in the National Park

The other campground along the road, Elkhorn, features numerous sites on the river, but also a set of sites in the woods.  It seemed even more overgrown than Dosewallips Campground, perhaps it is less visited as it is pretty close in.  Just past it is the other end of the major washout. I walked down to the end of that and found that there is basically a short drop-off that one could scramble up with the help of a fixed rope, but it would have been impossible to get the loaded touring bicycle up. Glad I hadn’t tried that route.  I backtracked and once again took the steep switchbacks above the washout.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - Looking north from the big washout

Most of the way down the other side of the washout I took another little side trail that give you a good overview of the washout. You can see from the above picture that basically the whole riverside just sloughed off. No sign that a road had ever been there.  From this point on it was an easy ride back to the trailhead, which of course was the first washout but wasn’t nearly so hard to bypass.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - Looking west up the Dosewallips

This day had dawned cool and overcast, but it had pretty well cleared up. But clouds and mists kept pouring over the hills and like the day before I was sure that it would cloud up again toward evening.  But as I rode out of the National Forest on Dosewallips River Road it became increasingly clear.  By the time I reached Brinnon and returned to Highway 101 it was blue skies with big pillow like white clouds.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - The Dosewallips makes it to Hood Canal

It was near lunchtime now and I pulled of at Dosewallips State Park and in the day use area had lunch. The park was right at the end of the Dosewallips River where it flowed into Hood Canal.  The wind had picked up blowing the big clouds around.  My route on 101 would wend along Hood Canal, always going up and down, with small little tourist areas in the rare flat spots.  It being the end of the weekend and all these spots were jammed with people trying to get in a last bit of recreation on their way home.  There was a line out the door at the Hoodsport Coffee Company and I’ve never seen so many people at the Union General Store.  Both times I would have stopped at those places for a break, but just too long of lines.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - Summer clouds hovering over Hood Canal

I was going to camp at Twanoh State Park, which has a very limited Hiker/Biker area but I figured Sunday evening wouldn’t be too bad.  There was a stiff wind heading East on SR106 and I was feeling the end of the day.  When I got to Twaoh there was  tent in the h/b area but no sign of it’s occupant. I’ve shared the space before so I went into the campground proper to register.  They thought it was “full” but checked their records and found that no-one was registered for tonight. This was good as the main campground was full.  I mentioned there was the tent there and they sent a couple of junior rangers down to check it out.  When we got their I began to setup and they investigated the tent.  They kind of ripped it open and reported not much inside. They said it looked abandoned and headed out.

Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4 - Sunset over Hood Canal

I finished setting up and had begun to cook dinner when the tent’s occupant arrived on a folding bicycle. He said “hi” and sat down to eat some take out food.  A bit later he checked out the tent and asked me if I’d seen anybody messing with it. I mentioned the rangers had been looking in it.  He said “Well they basically destroyed it!”. He had a beer and then set out. I ate dinner and washed up and went out to watch the sunset over Hood Canal.  I heard raised voices from camp and the ranger was there trying to talk with the guy. He accused them of destroying his tent and got pretty shirty.  There was some words from the ranger, basically noting that he wasn’t actually paid up and shouldn’t be there and such and eventually he left.  I was sitting in my tent a bit later when he retuned and squatting down at my tent entrance asked me to verify the guys story. I confirmed that the junior rangers had inspected the tent but I didn’t see them rip into it or anything.  He asked if I felt safe with the guy there. I said he seemed okay and I didn’t mind that he was there.  The ranger went and gave the guy some duct tape so he could do some field repairs and then left. The evening ended uneventfully. The guy repaired his tent the best he could and retired as did I.

Photos from this day: Olympic Mountain Dreams day 4
All photos from this tour: Olympic Mountain Dreams

Posted from Union, Washington, United States.

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 6

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - King Street Station

sunset—
tears shine in a frog’s eyes
too

-Issa

I had to be back this afternoon so I decided I’d take the morning Amtrak Cascades train back to Seattle. To maximize my time I’d chosen to camp at Bayview State Park which is only about ten miles from the train station. The train left around 9am and I wanted to be there half an hour early so I got up pretty early and rolled out of camp by 7:30 am.  It had been a nice night overnight with a chorus of frogs and the nearly full moon. At one point inexplicably there was what sounded like an air raid siren for a spell. It was overcast this morning – the stretch of unseasonably warm weather had come to an end.

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - Looking West Across Skagit Valley

I rode across farmland in the Skagit Valley ending at Hwy 20 which I rode into Mount Vernon a pretty directly to the train station.  I was a half hour early and all I had to do was print out my ticket from a vending machine. The station was increasingly occupied and the people were appropriately strange for a train station: a weird religious nut going on and on about “there is only one sin” which seemed to be negative thoughts. An older man in full native garb came in with a teenager, bought an energy drink from the vending machine and then went into the main (and quite full now) area and began chanting and playing a drum. The train was late of course but not by too much. I had to quickly remove my bags and hand it off to a porter to “roll on” to the train. I was then able to just sit back and enjoy the couple hour ride into Seattle.

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - Barn in the Skagit Valley

I sat across from a teenage who sat with his feet up on the seat next to the window the whole time, so I went up to the cafe car for most of the trip. When I first arrived there a girl who must have just been over 21 bought an Irish coffee and something like a rum and coke. Breakfast of champions! I spent most of the trip going through photos, updating the blog and looking out the window. There was some nice sections along the coast from Everett to Mukilteo and then into Seattle.  Mostly though it was to the east of I-5 in the flats before the Cascade foothills. We arrived in Seattle a bit before 11am and I got my bicycle out, put the bags back on and then rode my usual route back home. Was there before noon!

serene and still
the mountain-viewing
frog
-Issa

 

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 6
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

Posted from Seattle, 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.