PNW Bikepacking--Part 2
Day Four, Lake Crescent to Hoh Rainforest
Today I was DREADING the ride. Despite my awesome guardian angel experience the previous night, within the first five minutes on the road I wanted to cry. I had to start walking my bike after about a minute--no joke. I seriously looked at Google Maps to see how long it would take to walk. Nine hours. I resigned myself to walking all the uphills and riding down the downhills. I wanted to quit so bad. Why did I pack so much? Stupid backpack!
After walking up the longest hill EVER (well, today anyways) I started riding downhill and the roads just turned into normal roads....and I kept riding. I just kept going! I only stopped to take pictures (there is a town named Beaver in every state I am convinced!) and for a few minor hills.
Whaaatttt???!!! I hit my goal of 30 miles in about three hours!!!! But Forks is straight up ug town (trust me there was nothing else for Bella to do here but perseverate on Edward) and it was only noon so I decided to ride 6 more miles to a nearby campground. But when I arrived it was only 12:55. Well what was I going to do with the rest of my day? Naturally, I decided to go my next days mileage--all the way to Hoh Rainforest--another 26 miles. Now for cycling pros that's not a lot of mileage but for Huffnpuff and her iron carriage, it was a Christmas miracle!!! This was all the joy my body could demonstrate but inside I was reveling in the cycling street cred I earned (insert Pinocchio shouting "I'm a real boy!"...only cyclist...girl cyclist...just to clarify).
By the time I reached the campground I was pretty beat and bugs were everywhere! It was a gorgeous campground though. The rainforest reminds me of Florida but without the gator warning signs. I could hear running water from my site and made may over to a river where I laid down on a warm rock and soaked my feet. It reminded me of home. I miss warm rocks and dry air!
Day Five, Hoh Rainforest to Kalaloch Beach
One of the reasons I initially wanted to come to Hoh rainforest was to hike and take photos. But I was so anxious about the road back to the 101. The road the day before had a lot of hills and a very narrow shoulder. For a moment I considered skipping the hike and getting started on the road. But then I remembered why I came here to begin with. I told myself to quit worrying about getting to the next place and just be present. Enjoy this! I wanted to come here for this!
Oh and I’m so glad I stayed. It was so peaceful. A blissful silence in a mossy fairy land. The greenery was unreal. And how cool is this, while walking I met this adorable New Zealander who is doing the working holiday in the US. It was fun to exchange suggestions of where to go and what to see in our home countries. We parted ways and I returned to where I had secured my bike.
Now here was a moment of decision. I really, really, REALLY did NOT want to do Hoh road again. My knees and my butt hurt pretty bad from yesterday. I was worried about injuring my knees by pushing too hard today. I also don’t love approaching people or asking for favors. However, the thought of walking up all of those hills was a powerful motivator to get over myself and my fears. Rip off that bandaid girl. I saw a pick-up starting to back up and before I could talk myself out of it I made eye contact and approached. I explained my situation and asked for a ride back to the 101. The driver was an older gentlemen who was accompanied by his son. He said he had some stuff in the back but lets see what we could do. I realized then that he had a cover over the truck bed and the bed was full of their gear. I felt like a ding dong because he had to totally move stuff around and into the cab and then secure my bike and the cover with bungee cords and straps. It took about 10-15 minutes. Inside I was berating myself for being such an inconvenience. Then I told my inner voices to shut the hell up. He was being nice and I needed to practice accepting nice.
So instead I chatted it up with son Ted and Dr Eye Surgeon. I ended up with a free eye surgery consult and recommendations for best treatment. I shared my prescription and the fact that that number can shock an eye professional is pretty impressive. Tragic for me but it's one of the few games of one upping I can win. Ted and Dr. Eye Surgeon were on a three week trip together visiting different national parks. Per usual I pimped out Zion as a must-see. Dr. Eye Surgeon was pretty quiet but Ted reported his mom is a nurse so we all laughed and bonded over deranged medical humor and inappropriate dinner conversations.
When we reached the 101, I was relieved and felt capable of finishing the rest of the miles for the day to Kalaloch. Dr. Eye Surgeon helped me get my bike out. He looked at me, sighed and said “Good luck out there and be safe. You sure are an intrepid lady.” I think that is one of the best compliments I have ever received! I thanked them both and wished them best of luck on their trip.
One of the park rangers at Hoh mentioned that Kalaloch (my next campsite) was often full. I decided to call about availability and I’m so glad I did. I talked to Ranger Zach who was kind to reserve me a campsite (something they don’t usually do but I think he felt bad for me as a cyclist…and it was starting to rain).
Kalaloch was a very pretty, foggy beach with dark sand. The effect was quite ethereal. I walked the shores and saw the amazing Tree of Life, a tree that is suspended by roots gripping the split ground below it.
Thankfully Ranger Zach charged me up and gave me some pointers and info about tomorrow’s destination, Lake Quinault. No matter how much you read online, nothing beats a local’s info. I spent some time at a lodge nearby to charge up my batteries and phone and then headed to bed feeling better about my plan for tomorrow.
Day Six, Kalaloch to Lake Quinault
Not to be melodramatic but this is been the worst day so far! I cried while biking and then when I was riding to my campground the final leg was two miles downhill off the 101. Sounds great, right? Wrong! That means tomorrow's longest mileage begins with walking uphill for two miles. But there was nothing else close enough to ride to today. And tomorrow is 44 miles. I sobbed the whole time setting up my tent. I was tired and sore and cramping (I started my period a week early!) and my forehead has a plague of bug bites running all across and into my hair. My butt hurts like crazy.
I am by the most beautiful lake and everything is stunning. I get a shower and wifi and some nice people invited me to play games later. But all I can think of is how hard tomorrow is going to be and I feel so overwhelmed and full of dread. I just keep crying! And I know part of it is PMS but I don't know that I can do tomorrow. Also can I just say I miss the sun and dry air and warm? Nothing ever dries here!!!! You sweat and then you are wet and cold the REST OF YOUR LIFE because it never dries!!!!. And I feel bad for complaining. It really is incredibly beautiful at this lake. It looks like a lodge in Aspen or Park City. It just got so hard today.
At the end of the day post shower I am feeling better. At least I don't have any more emotions to spend out. I spent about 45 min in the shower crying. Then was totally clean and dry. My clothes were fresh and unworn. I sat in the warm lodge in a big leather sofa chair and made plans for the next few days. I found a room on Air BnB so that will be my motivation for completing 44 miles tomorrow since I couldn’t find a campground near Aberdeen.
Later in the evening, I went for a walk and met an very nice English couple. They are headed to NZ as well later this year. I hung out with the young college kids in camp next door, watched the sunset by the lake, spoke to this nice lady who reminded me of my grandma. She told me that tomorrow’s road was pretty flat. I gave myself a little pep talk and determined to get up really early tomorrow to give myself plenty of time to get to Aberdeen.