This is a continuation of a previous post detailing the first three days of my week-long bike trip through Western Washington.
Day 4: 40.4 miles
Dosewallips State Park
Hood Canal, WA
Today began on the side of a highway, hearing logging trucks roll by, engines roaring. We said our adieus to our neighbors- Jack in the Box, Vern Fonk Insurance, McDonalds, Fred Meyer, and Shell Gasoline, before heading north on Highway 101. It’s interesting, as I’ve traveled on this highway many times before…in cars while traveling in Southern California and from Portland to San Francisco and by bike from Tillamook, OR to Seaside, OR earlier this spring. It is such a diverse stretch of road, so appropriate for each setting. Southern California is populated by poppies and sun-kissed hills, Oregon’s 101 is wild, salty, and rugged, and by bike heading North in Oregon, you really feel those hills (both the thigh-screaming uphills and the God-blessed exhilaration of a downhill with the Pacific alarmingly and life-threateningly close).
Soon after we left Shelton, the road went from four lanes to just two and we descended a long, sloping hill into the valley of the Hood Canal and the Skokomish Indian Reservation, the Olympic Mountains showing us their craggy, bare tops for the first time. Absolutely stunning! Soon after we rode through the Indian Reservation, the road opened up, and there was the Canal in all its deep blue glory. I can relate the rush of excitement I felt at seeing this body of water for the first time to the feeling of satisfaction inevitable when traveling to the rim of Crater Lake: Bam! There it was, no warning: a beautiful expanse of blue. The view was stunning, unbelievable, and we stopped at a state park just a few feet down the road to take in the view.
After this, the day really started to feel like vacation. For the first ten miles, at least, the terrain was fairly flat. We coasted, enjoying our clipping pace. I tried to ignore the RVs and SUVs speeding past and instead take in the view. The terrain got steadily more hilly the further North we rode, a constant up and and down pendulum not unlike the Oregon Coast that I am used to. The smell of brine and salt and seaweed soon became ever-present and I tried to breath it in deep at every exhilarating descent.
Today was also a day filled with birds. It’s been such a joy hearing and seeing avian friends from the bike. Today we ended out journey at Dosewallips State Park, a jewel along the the Dosewallips River where it meets the canal, a salty estuarine convergence: the union of salt and fresh. Tidal marshes extend from the highway and park out into the canal, endless grasses home to fish and tiny creatures, tasty grub for the bigger players such as Great Blue Herons, Eagles, Kingfisher, and Plovers. I climbed up into the marsh observatory in awe, soaking it all in. I could see so far this way, Mt. Rainier in plain sight. Glorious.
Day 5: 43.75 miles
Fort Worden State Park
Port Townsend, WA
Today reminded me more than ever, how far we’ve come on this trip. Right now I am at Fort Worden State Park on the far Northeast edge of the Olympic Peninsula. The view from the central area of the park is sweeping: Mt. Baker directly across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the North Cascades one after another in a line South from there. And then Mt. Rainier rounding it all out with its snowcone-like rounded peak. From this vantage point, it feels like I’m on the edge of something special, a hidden gem, the ultimate crow’s nest to see everything beautiful that ever was.
Our journey here today was varied: the up and down along Hood Canal that was similar to yesterday followed by a tough, steady uphill climb into the Olympic National Forest and then an exhilarating downhill into Quilcene. Then up and down again and again and again on the road to Chimicum. Of course, we had to stop for Fritos, peaches, and trail mix before we got there. In Chimicum we stopped at a surprisingly delightful little co-op type grocery store that smelled like Dr. Bronner’s and lavender, a hippie oasis in the middle of rural Northwest Washington.
The best part of the day was finding the Larry Scott Memorial Trail, a 7.4 mile stretch of lightly packed gravel that took us right into Port Townsend. What a treat, to be able to hear ourselves talk, the only vehicles on the road. No logging trucks on this bikeway! The path ended with a one-mile stretch of trail that bordered the bay: views for miles, sailboats ahead, bluff to our left, and waving golden grass to our right. What an introduction!
Day 6: 25 miles
It was a relief to only bike 25 miles today! And to arrive at Hollis’s house, a cute little rental with a white picket fence, snacks galore, a shower, deck seating. And wine? Even better. We spent the morning at Fort Worden, making our way down to Port Townsend in time for a slice at Waterfront Pizza (recommended by a local in Chimicum) before our ferry arrived to take us across the water to Whidbey Island. After a windswept ride, our bikes safely tied to the side of the boat, we cycled our way South on the island, trying to stay off the main highway 525 and avoid hills as much as possible. We hit mile 300 (!!!) on the densely shaded and mosquito-ridden Smuggler’s Cove Road, which wound its way by waterfront properties which were hidden from us by a thick tree cover. We had snippets of a view ourselves here and there, stolen down people’s driveways. Ah! The Olympics shone in their austere navy blue silhouettes like perfect paper cutouts. And we were happy to see that though it appeared to be raining on the mountains, we had avoided any storms or precipitation during our ride along Hood Canal. It’s amazing how far we’ve come!