Day 9 – Epic Solo Bike Ride

Today will the most epic of all days in terms of total miles rode. I knew I’d be riding far today. But I also suspected I might jump on a bus before Bainbridge Island and shave off a dozen miles or so. As it turns out, I didn’t do that. I rode 72 total miles fully loaded today. In retrospect, I’m in a bit of awe at myself for having accomplished this without major cramps or sickness.

Starting out, I have to take a couple of miles of road to get back to the Olympic Discover Trail (ODT). And I’m immediately pondering the thought of where I’m going to end up sleeping tonight, and how far exactly I’m going to go before deciding to jump on a bus. But I’m thankful that there is still many miles of ODT that really is path to start my day out.

Olympic Discover Trail (ODT)

A slight detour from the ODT takes me over to the Oak Table Cafe in Sequim, where their breakfast menu is a three page foldout. It was good that I asked a local jogger for a place to eat.  Sequim was not directly in the path of the ODT, so knowing about the detour was good.

IMG_20140809_082000848

I fuel up, and charge up my phone, and do some quick investigating for places to stay on Bainbridge Island.  And again I come up empty handed.  I leave the Oak Tree Cafe still not knowing where I will end up tonight.  But at least I’m energized and ready to ride.

After about thirteen miles I reach Sequim Bay Park and Sequim Bay, Google’s navigator wants me to get onto the 101, but there’s no easy way to do so. The ODT seems to keep going through a park.

Sequim Bay Route Map

And I mention this only because when I reach the next bay, Discovery Bay maybe ten miles later, the exact opposite happens.  Google directs me to follow the ODT which has it’s very own bike path curving around the bay on top of the sandy beach area.  If it was possible, it would have been a fantastic route to take.  But as I looked out over the bay, I could see that the path was impassible and that the bridge out there was falling apart or undergoing construction/improvement.  You can see the gray outline of the ODT, which seems to be in disrepair. It turns out just fine as there’s a little cafe on the 101 where I stop to charge up again and eat some lunch.

Again I do some investigating for available places to sleep after eating, and *again* I come up empty handed. One sympathetic person working at a hotel says in a compelling sad voice “good luck”. I can hear it in her voice. No amount of luck is going to make a place available on Bainbridge Island at this time of year on such short notice. I leave the cafe still with no idea where I will stay this evening.

Discovery Bay Route Map

As I pass Uncas Road, I see this small little shack that looks like a coffee shop, and I find it interesting that there’s a line of about 20 people standing and waiting to be served. I almost stopped to get a coffee because I was thinking that must be some *really* freaking good coffee for a line to be that long. But then I saw the sign that read cannabis and I decide that perhaps since it’s only been legal for a short time that there are only a select few places to actually purchase the stuff in Washington. This must be one of those popular places.

Turning on to a brief stretch of the 20, I ride on a really small or non-existent shoulder next to semi trucks. This is one of the scariest sections of the entire 10 day tour. This still picture may not look very scary, but keep in mind that it is steep uphill, and notice the speed limit around the corner is 45mph.  That means that I’m going really slow, about 6 to 8 miles per hour, while the cars are pushing 40 to 50 while passing me, including this truck below. The wind from this truck sets me off balance a little.

Highway 20 close truck

And then, before I know it, I’m turning onto Eaglemount Road and away from the traffic. The Eaglemount Rockery Cotages/Motel on the corner sports a “No Vacancy” sign, reminding me once again that I have nowhere to stay this evening.  I brush it off as inconsequential.

Roughly ten miles of beautiful riding like this until I reach Beaver Valley Road (the 19). I think I can recall only one car passing me on this entire ten mile stretch. A couple of cyclists passed me going the other way, one of which wondered out loud how I had managed to find this path. Does Google navigator know something special I wonder? There was a sign at the entrance to this road saying it was going to be chipsealed in August. So perhaps I’m one of the lucky first riders post-paved on this road. Score!

Eaglemount Road

A few miles later I hit the 104 for some high speed downhill descending toward Squamish Harbor. And though my ride is only about 60% complete for the day, I have a sense of nearing my destination as I turn off onto Shine Road along Squamish Harbor. You wouldn’t know it from this picture below, but trust me, Mt Rainier is peeking its head above the other side of the harbor. A likely contributor to my feeling of nearing the end of the journey.

Squamish Harbor, Mt Rainier

And then there’s the excitement of crossing the Hood Canal Floating Bridge. I’m totally feeling accomplished here, almost as if I’ve completed the ride already.

Hood Canal Floating Bridge

And so, shortly after, I stop off for a treat in Port Gamble.

Port Gamble Coffee Treat

Not too long after this treat, I’m thinking that I’m either on “the island”, or that I will soon be on “the island”. And I’m referring to Bainbridge Island when I’m thinking about the Island.

Bainbridge Island Port Gamble Route Map

And then I’m remembering that originally, back in the early days of planning that I had considered stopping off at a friend of the families for coffee or dinner. Back in the planning phase, the trip just didn’t seem like it was going to take me anywhere near his place of business. It just didn’t seem like a reasonable possibility during planning. But then I found myself overly excited about a possibility. Maybe this family friend knew of a place I could stay on the island. Maybe he would have a idea for me.

And so I pull over and search the maps for his business. At first I’m wondering if it was *another* island further north that his business is on, and perhaps I won’t see his business at all on this Island. And then it pops up. His business is four blocks from the ferry that goes into Seattle, and suddenly I have this surge of hope. The thought that maybe, just maybe I’ll find a solution to where I’m going to stay tonight. Keeping in mind that I haven’t spoke to Mike in maybe two to three years and I’m not even sure I have his phone number, I find his profile on Facebook. The “Call” button is glaring at me and so I press it without thought. I know that sometimes those numbers can be old and very wrong, and the voicemail message I receive isn’t exactly encouraging, but I leave a message anyway explaining my predicament and asking if he knows of any options for me. And then I Facebook message him a similar message in case the number is wrong. And then I text my dad asking to confirm if I’ve got the right number for him from Facebook.

Okay, I’ve tried three methods for trying to reach Mike at this point, of which I have no idea how they will turn out. So I jump back on my bike and continue riding the last 15-ish miles of the trip. Not sure why I told Mike I’d be at his place of business in one hour. It took more like two hours to get there in my state of tiredness and slowness. It was a long slow trek into Bainbridge.

Bainbridge Island Agate Pass Bridge

The Agate Pass Bridge into Bainbridge has a tiny little sidewalk that I choose to ride on instead of riding in the road. And the wind from the cars are blowing me and making me feel a little unstable riding in. But I’m still really excited at this point. It’s “The Island”.  Yay!

Four blocks from the ferry, I arrive at Mike’s business and ask for him or his wife. I’m informed that they are usually in on the weekday mornings, and not usually around on the weekends. It’s been nearly two hours since I left those messages and texted my dad. And I’ve not got a response from any one of the three messages I had put out there.

So I sit and rest on the bench in front of the building where I thought I might see Mike or Alexa, pondering my next move. And as I’m packing up, my cell phone rings with a call from Mike. He lives just four miles from the business and he says he’d be happy to take me in for the evening. Get me a shower, let me use their washer and dryer, and crash on their fold out bed.  HA HA!  I’m so elated, and feeling a little guilty that I might be imposing on him. And so when he calls me back to arrange meeting I let him know this. But he’s insistent that he won’t turn me away, and he’d be happy to have me.

And so I pack up and head the four miles over to his place, which brings my total miles for the day to 72 miles! And here is the view from the house I’m so fortunate to sleep at on my last evening of the Epic Solo Bike Ride. I am in heaven and full of good fortune.

Bainbridge Island

That evening, I have dinner with Mike and two of his boys, at the place where his third son actually works. So we’re being waiting on by one of his sons. And a friend of theirs comes up to the table and is telling interesting and hilarious stories to us while we’re waiting for our food, and even when our food arrives. We’re all sitting around the table laughing hysterically at this man who I only just met. And one of the boys friends is eating with us and celebrating that he has just had a new baby sister born the evening before.

And then Mike pulls out some old photo albums that has pictures of me back from when I was twelve years old, and we were on my dads boat over the summer. It was when Mike first started working for my dad. There were pictures from our time at Prince William Sound, and also pictures from the Alaska Peninsula. I know I was a real pain at that age and I was really annoying to others. Everyone tells me so. But for me, that summer was one of the most magical times in my life, and it was just a little euphoric to see these old pictures from thirty plus years ago.

Summer, Prince Willing Sound

Summer, Prince William Sound

Despite the fact that I didn’t get to sleep until after 10pm, and I had to wake up before 4am the next morning to get to the ferry in time, it was a very restful evening.

Here is the map for the day 9 ride.

Day 9 - Epic Solo Bike Ride Route

For a link to the full GPS detailed route, click here.

 

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Day 8 – Epic Solo Bike Ride

Last night, I ran into a mom who said her daughter had really wanted site #71, and I had explained that if all went according to plan, that I would be gone before 8am. And as it turned out, I was gone by 7:10am. My next destination, Dungeness Recreation Area was another first come first serve campground, and was getting more and more worried about not being able to find a campsite each day.

What I didn’t realize, is that the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) was available as a paved option only a hundred or so feet beyond the road to Camp David Jr Rd coming out of the campground. So for at least one mile I was riding on the road when I could have been on the nice paved path.  And it wasn’t until after I hit gravel for a while that I found a way up onto the paved ODT. Though, even that was short lived. It was only a matter of a total of three or four miles before the ODT turned into a dirt and gravel hiking path.

But I must say, this is *exactly* the kind of path I was hoping for when I had originally planned to hit the Pacific Northwest Trail. It was not meant for road biking for sure, but I managed just fine. There was not a single soul on the approximate five mile stretch from the end of Camp David Jr Rd to the north east side of the lake. Posting a lot of pictures from this section because it’s one of the most beautiful sections of my entire 10 day epic adventure.

Oregon Discovery Trail - Lake Crescent

Oregon Discovery Trail - Lake Crescent

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 Oregon Discovery Trail - Lake Crescent

 

Oregon Discovery Trail - Lake Crescent

 

Oregon Discovery Trail - Lake Crescent

And, as I reached the far side of the lake, I came to road closed sign that was reminiscent of day two of my ride. So I had to the make the choice. Do I return back five miles the way I came from? Or do I once again ignore the closed sign and just get through this latest road block.

Oregon Discovery Trail - Lake Crescent - Road Closed

It looks like the government may be considering paving this entire stretch of ODT on the north side of Lake Crescent. Because as I moved a few hundred feet past this closed sign, I came upon bulldozers and workers making the path wider. It was a little disappointing to think that they might replace this wonderful dirt and gravel path with pavement. It was just such a beautiful stretch the way it already was.

As I exited the path into the laboring dozers and workers, one of the workers joked out loud “Oh, we need to arrest this guy”.  But then of course he lead me through the rest of the way and got the dozers to stop so I could pass back on the paved road that would continue my trek for the day.

A few miles, maybe four or five, after emerging onto the roads, I come to the 112 highway, and stop for breakfast at the Blackberry Cafe to fuel up my body, and charge my phone and batteries. Before leaving, a local cyclist stops on in and chats with me for a while. And this turns out to be very good, as he explains that coming up shortly is a bridge where I should take care to go “underneath” to the biking/walking path that is the ODT. He noted that my GPS map seemed to miss that little portion of the ODT if I had simply followed my GPS map. And indeed I did ride straight across the bridge and missed the underneath bridge. I had to turn around and cross back over to get to the ODT portion of the trail I would have missed. Here’s a couple of pictures of the section I would have missed.

Olympic Discovery Trail

Olympic Discovery Trail

Olympic Discovery Trail

After reaching my destination for the day, and grabbing the ONLY site (#25) left of all the first come first serve basis sites, and after setting up my tent and getting ready to go and pay, a camp worker stops by to explain that there are walk-in sites that are reserved ONLY for those backpacking and those on bikes. So I’m packing up my stuff again and moving. This moving after setting up seems to be a recurring thing on this trip as I’m hastily setting up my camp each evening to ensure that I at last have a spot. But I’m thankful to save a good $15 by moving the $7 walk-in/hike-in site. I find that I’m total secluded from all the other campers out at the very edge beyond site #43 on the second loop.

This campground does have showers, but they cost $0.25 for each two minutes. And if you don’t have quarters with you, good luck trying to find any with the camp hosts, who seem to a bit like volunteers who only do certain tasks, but not all tasks, as the camp hosts. This is my first shower after three evenings with none, and it is very welcome.

After getting camp setup, my phone is down below 30% power, and I know that when it reaches 20% it drops really fast and only has about 10 minutes of usage left. So I’m struggling to find a place to stay for tomorrow night, my last night that gets me over to the Amtrak at Edmonds station early in the morning on Sunday the 10th, which is where I’m planning to jump on the train back to Portland. After failing to find any vacancies on either side of the sound, I’ve finally settled on a hotel that is about 5 miles east of Edmonds Station and make a reservation. And then, not two minutes later, I’m realizing that the Amtrak is sold out for Portland as a destination until Tuesday. So now I’m disappointed that my plan to ride the Amtrak back to Portland is falling through, and I may have to once again rely on someone (Bev) driving all the way up to Seattle to pick my ass up. This just seems so ridiculous to waste such a trip and a day when the Amtrak is so close. But I call the hotel and cancel my reservation for tomorrow as it’s obviously a lost cause.

But then, I have a thought.  Maybe going out of Seattle there are available seats, so I do a quick check. Well, sure enough there are seats available going out of Seattle on Sunday. Though, they leave a couple hours earlier than from Edmonds, and it means I’ll need to ride my bike another 15 to 20 miles further to get to the train start location.

While I’m not exactly excited about the prospect of riding nearly 70 miles to the Bainbridge ferry before getting across to Seattle, I quickly reserve the seat on the Amtrak out of fear I might lose the opportunity. And then I spend another 15 minutes trying book a hotel on Bainbridge Island close the ferry, only to find that everything on the island is pretty much booked at this time of the year.  And the closest reasonably priced hotel near downtown Seattle is at least 11 miles away from the station.

My phone is dying and nearly out of power. I’m down to 1%.  So I shut it off and give up for the evening.  Not knowing exactly where I’m going to stay the night before I get on the Amtrak. Not knowing how far I’ll be riding tomorrow, or even where exactly I’m riding to. All I know is that I’ll be heading toward Bainbridge Island somewhere close the ferry so I can plan to get across to downtown Seattle at some point.

Before sleep, I hook my phone up to the solar battery pack, my last charging option available, which will get me about 50% powered for when I wake up in the morning.  A little bit of a comforting thought.

Today’s map.

Lake Crescent to Dungeness Campground

For the raw GPS map, click here.

 

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Day 7 – Epic Solo Bike Ride

Remember back on day two when I said how relaxed I was about packing up my gear in the morning? And how nice it was to not feel like you’d be left behind by your group? Well, today I got started at 8:30am. No more am I hanging out relaxing in the morning. While there’s no pressure from a group to get going, there’s a bit of pressure after realizing that all of my camping options are on a first come first serve basis. With everything being booked and full, I have a sense that I need to get moving fast, and arrive at my destination, wherever that may be, early. And in fact, I’m feeling like I should have left even earlier than this today.  8am is now a late start in my mind.

Speaking of destination, wherever that may be. Where exactly am I heading you ask? Well, I had done some research before this trip, with the thought that I may head all the way back to Seattle and get home to Portland via Amtrak ride. The problem was that there just wasn’t enough time to hit the entire west coast of Washington AND make it back to Seattle. However, since the coast was not a viable option anymore, I tentatively decided to head toward Seattle, and see if I could make the Amtrak ride back to Portland work. Though I hadn’t worked out all the details of each day yet, I could see on the map that it was a possibility. So I worked out this day 7 trek that would take me to the Lake Crescent campground, a first come first serve site.

Day 7 - Epic Solo Bike Ride to Lake Crescent

Also, this new trajectory would take me through many parts of the most awesomely marketed Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT). While much of the trail is not trail at all, but highways and side roads, there is a good amount of actual trails. So my tentative direction and course has been set when I wake up today, just not all the specifics.

Yesterday, the woman working at the Kalaloch Lodge market said there were supposed to be about 250 bicycle riders coming through today, on the 7th. And the moment I came out of Hoh Oxbow, I start to see these riders streaming by. And most of them were saying hello from across the highway.

cyclist group on the Washington coast

It’s about 14 miles to Forks, where I stop for breakfast and to charge my phone and batteries. Note the twilight poster in the window of the welcome center. And there are at least two stores specifically catering to twilight fans.

Forks Bella Truck

It’s another 13 or so miles before I reach the first non highway section of the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT).

Olympic Discovery Trail

Today was a fairly quick ride, as I was pretty set on getting to my destination in time to actually get a camp site that is first come first serve. I knew there was a chance I’d be scrambling. And I was so happy to arrive at Lake Crescent. This would be night number three without a shower, but the lake was just so inviting and awesome to jump into that the shower was not so missed.

The final downhill before coming to this campground was really fast! By this time I was used to the heavy weight of my fully loaded bicycle, so I was able to comfortably get up 40 miles per hour on the final downhill into Lake Crescent campground. Though it was a little nerve racking to merge into traffic at the bottom of the hill to turn left into the campground.

Lake Crescent, no camping beyond this point

I walked into the walk-in camping area to find that pretty much every single site was taken. I ended up pitching my tent on the edge of an official site on the other side of a log but on this side of the “no camping beyond this point” sign. I don’t think I was legitimate at all, but I thought maybe i’d get away with it if nobody looked too close.

Lake Crescent from the tent

Not too long after I bathed in the lake, I took a little hike up the steep embankment behind the tent, to discover an official walk-in site that was completely vacant, and absolutely one of the best sites in the entire area. The reason it was not taken was that the site leading into it had such an over sized tent that it was concealing the path to this hidden gem of a site. So I quickly migrated my stuff to the site (#71) to become official.

Lake Crescent over the tent

As it turns out, the original place where I had pitched the tent was right next to a family with three really loud young children, and I was thankful for having moved my tent, and for having the option to do so. Seriously, I don’t know how I got so lucky to get this spot when everywhere else was taken.

One thing to note about this camping area is that the walk-in sites are not reserved for people without cars. So don’t assume you’re only competing for these sites with other back backers and bike packers. People can park their cars in a lot only a hundred feet away and walk right into these awesomely placed sites. So they are obviously quickly filled.

Also, in the future, it is advisable to first go to the pay station at this camp site before wandering around looking for a randomly open site. Because there is a checkerboard signup place that may show you pretty quickly which sites are available. This can help you quickly get to such a site before someone else does. 

For the raw GPS map of today’s ride, click here.

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Day 6 – Epic Solo Bike Ride

Happy Birthday to me!

This is the day. The day that I envisioned reaching the Pacific Northwest Trail. My original look at the picture on the Wikipedia page made me feel like it a was a path I could actually get through on my bicycle. Below picture is not mine, but from Wikipedia.

Pacific Northwest Trail

And so I’m really looking forward to beginning this part of the trek as I set out today. I was slightly hoping to reach Strawberry Point campground for my birthday, but was very careful not to specifically ask the universe for this as a birthday present. It was more about wishing for a fantastic day.

Heading north on the 101 has dozens of beautiful opening views out to the ocean to the left.

Pacific Ocean, north of Kalaloch Campground

And just before the 101 turns eastward and inland, you reach Ruby beach. It’s a rather touristy area with lots of people, but it’s an absolutely beautiful place to stop and explore.

Ruby Beach WashingtonBut I’ve got a lot of ground to cover today, as I want to hit the trail head and get into a good secluded camping area. So I only stay long enough for a quick picture or two and head on inland on the 101.

Reaching the mouth of the Hoh River was pretty exciting. I could see backpackers on the north side of the river, and there was even a bike out on the beach as I approached the mouth of the river. And I was excited even after the moment I met that local cyclist who immediately said there’s simply no way to get across the Hoh river with my bicycle. I would definitely need to return to the 101 and go to the bridge that is a good 11 miles away from the river mouth. After all, I knew this was a serious possibility. That I’d have to backtrack and take the long way to get onto the Pacific Northwest Trail. I was completely okay with having to do this.

And as I explored the mouth the Hoh River, I could see that he was indeed correct. The river crossing was extremely narrow and extremely violent/fast, and it was deep too. It poured out directly into the ocean waves, and I could tell there would be an undertow even though it wasn’t obviously visible. Crossing the river here would be extremely dangerous and foolish to even attempt it. Perhaps a few hundred yards up from the mouth it would be possible to swim across safely, but not with the bike and all my gear. It just wasn’t a reasonable possibility. The picture below does not properly illustrate how dangerous this area actually looks. The depth drops off almost immediately where you see the water in the picture below.

Mouth of the Hoh River

So I decided to take a short rest here before heading back to the 101.

Nap by Hoh River mouth

Also while resting here at the mouth of the Hoh River, I can see the backpackers across the way hiking on what appears to be the Pacific Northwest Trail. And at this point, the trail appears to be the beach coast line, and not an actual path at all. I can see that the trail is entirely impassible by bike. It’s just not anything like the Wikipedia picture of the trail. And why would it be, consider how long the tail actually stretches across Washington. This is just one little section of the trail. So I make the decision that I will alter my path entirely. I no longer plan to take this trail along the coast. I will instead head inbound and alter my path in some other direction.

Hoh River crossing at the 101

When I reach the Hoh River again, about 11 miles from the mouth, I come across the Hoh Oxbow camping area, which appears to be a first come first serve camping area. It’s now about 3:30pm, and considering that the Kalaloch campground was full and not accepting new campers, I’d better start doing a little research about where I’m going to sleep tonight before moving on from this possible stop location.

Hoh Oxbow Park EntranceWhat I discover in making phone calls to five separate hotels in the city of Forks, is that Forks is apparently a popular tourist destination. All five hotels are completely booked for the evening, and I didn’t bother calling the one with a 1.5 star rating. I wonder if the no vacancy on a Wednesday in Forks has anything to do with the popularity of the Twilight book series by Stephanie Meyer.

My last call for the evening is to the reservation system for Hoh Oxbow, which indicates it is first come first serve, and I should just see if there’s a place to camp. So I head on in.

You know how when you’re going to the bathroom where there’s a handicap stall? If all the other stalls are occupied, but there’s no one around and the handicap stall is open it’s okay to use the handicap stall? Well, at least that’s how I see such a situation. However, when you’re in a full parking lot where’s there’s an open handicap parking spot you are under no circumstances supposed to park in that handicap spot. You will be ticketed, and it’s just plain rude to park there. Well, when I first arrive at Hoh Oxbow, and noting that all sites are taken except the handicap site, I envision this like the bathroom stall and decide that I have been lucky to find the last available site at this camping area. And it’s not until my tent is setup and I’m relaxed and walking around that I suddenly see this the same way as I see the handicap parking spot, and I immediately feel like I’ve violated some law, and I’m a really rude and bad person for doing this.

The feeling doesn’t last long though. The beauty of the Hoh river washes all doubt away, and I am thankful for having a camping site without a reservation. I drape myself over the rock below and rest by the raging river for about and hour.

Hoh River resting rock

 

I post the following picture to Facebook, thanking all those for sending birthday wishes throughout the day. But I don’t take the time to read any of them. I’m mostly in disconnected mode at this point, but want to at least show where I am on my birthday, and that all is wonderful.

How Oxbow Park

Not far from the below location, I setup my little propane cooker and prepare my dehydrated backpacking food for dinner.

How Oxbow Park

 

Here is my path summary for Day 6.

Day 6 - Epic Solo Bike Trip GPS Map

For a link to the raw GPS map, click here.

 

 

 

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Day 5 – Epic Solo Bike Ride

This morning I awoke to condensation in my tent, and on my bike. Not much protection at this campsite from coastal elements.  Got everything packed up and hit the road to the local market and coffee shop at 7:21am.

Pacific Beach Bike CondensationAbout three or four blocks up is “The Best Coffee On The Beach”.  Well, that’s what it says on the sign anyway.

Pacific Beach Surf House

This is where I stock up on a couple extra bottles of water, and have a couple of those really cheap, not very good, breakfast sandwiches with sausage in them.  They’re okay, and do in a pinch, but they’re just not that great.

This is also where several people see my loaded bike and start asking questions about my trip and my plans. Where are you coming from? Where are you going to? How long have you been on the road?  And one cute young woman with short hair and a nose piercing gets pretty specific with me about my planned path north into the Quinault Indian Reservation. She explains that she works for the Natural Resources Department on the reservation. According to her, the pavement ends a bit earlier than I had thought, and she is also advocating for me NOT riding through the reservation roads as I have planned. She doesn’t outright say don’t do it, but she says she’s not sure it’s a good idea for various reasons. The primary reason being that the roads are not meant for bikes, and that they are not clearly marked. It will be easy to get lost, and no one will know to come looking for me if I do get lost.

I explain that I’m on an adventure, and that I’ve got supplies to last a few days if I do get lost. And that hey, “It can’t be any worse than day 2 of my trip.”. She laughs at this and says, “okay, just be careful.  And have fun.”

Entering Quinalt Indian Reservation 109 ends at Quinalt

 

 

 

 

 

About two and half miles north, I must make the decision to follow the advice of the short haired woman and take the Moclips highway over to the 101, or continue north to the unmarked logging roads on the reservation. But the decision was already made before I left the coffee shop. So I continue north toward the small town of Taholah, 8 miles ahead.

I pass a “Jesus” bus on the way in, which passes me and beats me to Taholah. And the driver greets me as I enter Taholah with a smile and a “Hey there biker dude”. As I enter the town, I see dogs running around the streets with no leashes or collars on, and young children picking berries on the side of the road unsupervised by anyone. Several of the yards in this place I would call a village are littered with kids toys and play structures and broken down cars and various other debris.

I arrive at the local mercantile store that sits on the road of the Quinalt River. And this place is hopping with native american’s. I’m probably the whitest person at this store. But most are chatting with perfect English, while others remind me of the Alaska Natives in my home town in Kodiak Alaska with the heavy accent of their native tongue. I count at least 20 people in this little store all chatting like they all know each other, and I’m further reminded of Kodiak Alaska where so many people know each other.

Quinalt River Quinalt Mercantile

 

 

 

 

 

One of the heavy accented elders sits next to me as I’m packing up food and water and is asking about my plans north. He says that he hasn’t been up north of the river in years, but he’s recently seen bulldozers and plows heading that way. And by recent, he means several years ago. He recalls hearing that they were widening the logging roads or something, and that perhaps it won’t be such a difficult ride for me.

Before leaving Taholah, I decided to refresh my navigation app to see how many miles I have to go before reaching Kalaloch Campground.  In retrospect, that was a bad idea. For as long as I kept the screen up with the path marked on the map, I could zoom in and out, seeing my current location and seeing if I was on the correct path. But because there was spotty reception, instead of seeing my desired path through the reservation, I’m presented with this little beauty.

Can't Connect Navigator

Thankfully I was able to get a connection in Taholah that enabled me to get my navigation map and path back on the screen. And I committed to leaving it alone for the entire time I was on the gravel logging access roads. I get the feeling that without this navigation map, there was a good chance of getting lost on the unmarked roads north of Taholah in the Quinalt Indian Reservation. There were at least four or five times that I consulted my smart phone navigator to see which way I should be going. There were potential wrong choices to be made on this multi-mile stretch of access roads where there was no help to be found.

The pictures below illustrate the conditions and danger of this stretch of the trip. The sign indicating the way to the 101 was my last chance to take a “more traveled” path. I believe that sign indicated the way that the logging trucks currently took, whereas the way I took was onto roads that were only used by a few locals who lived out in the middle of nowhere.

Primitive Road To the 101

 

 

 

 

 

At the first turn, I decided to mark the turn with some rocks and an arrow, just in case I ended up having to back track, and lost my navigator somehow.

Marked path in Quinalt Turn East from the West Coast

 

 

 

 

 

After this first turn, I’m feeling plenty comfortable that my navigator app will get me through these old roads. So I’m relaxed and enjoying the ride in complete seclusion.

North of Taholah in Quinalt Indian Reservation

A few times, I heard the elder native american from Taholah in my head, reminding me to watch the side of the path for bears.  There were several piles of bear dropping throughout this section of path.

On this extremely rocky path at points, my average speed was dropping down to about 4 miles per hour. But I made it through without a single flat. Just completely amazing and wonderful.

Rocky Path in Quinalt Indian Reservation

 There were several really beautiful bridges on this section of the path.

When I finally reach the 101 and pavement, I have his odd urge to reach over my left shoulder and grab my seat belt to buckle up. As if suddenly I’m going to be going really fast. And the thought for safety is not unfounded, as for a mile or two throughout the rest of the day, there are a few sections where is no shoulder to ride on. There are semi trucks and RV’s passing really close, and their wind makes me feel unstable and insecure. I almost want to be back on the gravel roads. “Almost”.

North 101 above Quinalt Indian Reservation

Kalaloch Campground is a really nice place for camping. All of the campsites, while close together, are separated and covered with large trees. It just feels really pleasant. This is the only National Park in the Olympic Peninsula where a reservation is required, and absolutely recommend doing so. I watched as a few cyclists were turned way from camping where I was gladly accepted with my reservation. There are no showers however, unless you decided to stay at the Kalaloch Lodge.

Today, I ended this trip with a wonderful desert from the lodge restaurant. Yummy!

Kalaloch Lodge Restaurant Desert

After today’s ride, I’m no longer worried about anything ahead. I’ve been through some pretty difficult and uncertain situations for both day two and day five. I’ve now been through enough to feel that everything is simply going to be fine no matter where I end up. I’ve got spare water bottles, which I’ve now made use of and have had plenty more to spare. Also, I’ve picked up water tablets at the market at the Kalaloch lodge. If find myself out of water, I can use the pills to clear up creek water in a worst case scenario. Oh, and I’ve also picked up a bear whistle here.

Here was my path for today. Don’t be fooled by the 4.5 hour estimate.Total ride time was nearly 8 hours, and total elapsed road time was just over 11 hours for this day.

Day 5 Path, Epic Solo Bike Ride - Quinalt Indian Reservation

Link to the raw GPS map can be found here.

 

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