Day 22: (2016-09-17) ~ 70 miles from McKinleyville to Burlington Campground, Avenue of the Giants, CA. Mixed conditions.
Well, today was our first day riding as travel companions and I am happy to report it went very well. It’s hard to know how things will go given that most of the time people who end a relationship don’t spend the next week in close quarters, but if today is any indication it should be a good week. Wohoo!
After some discussion we settled on shooting to get all the way to the Avenue of the Giants knowing it would be over 60 miles. We could have stayed somewhere along the way but our AirBnB stay had us in a weird spot which would make for either a very short or very long day. And it’s the Avenue of the Giants! So we set off for a long day at least knowing that the last 10+ miles would be quite, peaceful, and low traffic.
The morning started with fruit and eggs… man, was it good to have some eggs in the morning! Rick offered us their chicken eggs so I fried up a bunch of fresh eggs, added salt and pepper, and topped it with hot sauce. It sure beat muesli! I needed more calories though, so I also ate my second packet of pop tarts. Brown-sugar cinnamon, of course. Classy. The boys were up early and I got to banter with then a bit while I was in the kitchen. You can probably guess which words they used in their ad-libs book…poop and turds came up a few times.
By the time we finally hit the road it was 10:30 but we made good time out of McKinleyville. we followed the Hammond Coast trail again for a while, took a few country roads, then hopped on 101 and enjoyed many miles of flat riding. So rare! We passed through Arcata, home to Humboldt State University, but didn’t stop as it was only a few miles in and we had a lot of ground to cover. Eureka’s old town business district appealed to us with its quaint charm but otherwise Eureka sucked. There was a lot of traffic, much inconsiderate, and plenty of big fuck-off trucks.
Plus, in the half hour we were in the grocery store someone stole our bike lights and my multi-tool. Foolish thieves, why not steal the tent worth $$$!? Your loss, our panic attacked averted. Whew. DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING UNATTENDED IN EUREKA! Over the next week we shared this story with others and were surprised how many other people’s gear went missing! Supposedly thieves in Eureka often steal things like lights, which can be easily sold for drugs.
That aside, it was a pretty good day. We kept a decent pace all the way through Eureka and on to Ferndale, the cutest little town. It was adorned with a mix of old West style stores and very well-preserved Victorian homes. The library was open and we stopped for bathrooms and water. They had a couple of shelves of books for sale but nothing small enough that looked interesting. I think one day I am going to do a trip, by car, and just hop from library to library reading books and stocking my own library from books they’re selling.
I’m really liking this area of California and I definitely plan to come back here. I really wanted to ride the Lost Coast alternate route but it would not be happening this time. It adds an extra 70 miles or so and has some serious climbing. The beauty though is in its remoteness – the area earned its name after major population decline in the 1930s’ left the area almost completely unpopulated. Very little development has happened in the area and, although CalTrans planned to continue highway 1 through here, there is currently no major road. Land access for the tiny towns is limited to a few old mountain roads and I’m sure most supplies come in by ship. I’d love to do this route one day! And I still think this whole coastal trip so far would be the perfect road trip with my mom, if only I can get her to do it.
Leaving Ferndale we rode on quiet country roads for a while, including a nice, flat, sunny (and warm!) stretch of road through farmland that reminded me a lot of Pennsylvania. A lot of this section of California is like PA. Eventually we got into more forested areas and climbed a bit but traffic continued to be light all the way past Scotia where we reconnected with 101. We trudged into camp around 19:00 to remarks at our late arrival from fellow bike travelers. I know, I know!
Late arrival aside, the last 15 miles were beautiful.I t was along the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic route paralleling 101 that winds about 30 miles through beautiful redwood forest. Except for the occasional car is wonderfully quiet and the area is so lush. Plus, there is something about these trees that seems so much more wild than the forest I’m use to. I think it is part the knowledge of their age – some of these trees were here well before Europeans came to America. They can live as long as about 2000 years! The other piece is their size. Sure, you’ve seen a lot of tall things. But until you’ve stood below a 350′ tall tree that could tell you what actually happened back in the time of the whole Jesus on a cross thing…well, let’s just say it’s a spiritual moment.
Tonight we shared space with Barry, Ryan, and Mary-Lynn. Barry and Ryan work at Huckleberry Bikes in San Francisco and just came up to Eureka to do a week-long trip back to San Fran. Mary-Lynn is another Canadian in for the long hall down to San Diego. When we arrived Lindsey and I were very set on food and setting up camp but we had time to chit-chat and hang out around the fire. They’re a pretty cool bunch.
P.S. At 70 miles, this is officially my longest day of loaded touring, ever. I’ve hit 111 without my gear but training for this ride I hit about 65 on my trip to Gig Harbor via Tacoma. Today set a new record!
Day 23 (2016-09-18): Rest Day at Burlington Campground in the Avenue of the Giants.
We woke this morning about the same time as usual and hung around eating breakfast and chatting with the folks from last night. I went over to the visitor’s center to grab my contacts and learned there was a nature hike happening in just a couple of minutes.I ran back to camp, got Lindsey, quickly cleaned up, and we made it just in time!
The walk was led by a young naturalist named Jake who told us all about redwood life. From burls to fire to the inner dead wood, we got a whole new appreciation for these giant wonders. We also got some suggestions for day hikes, so after the tour we returned to camp, ate lunch, and hit the road for a shirt ride to a day hike.
The walk-hike was about 9 miles in total, starting with an easy meandering walk through the Rockefeller Grove. These are old growth trees and they are absolutely huge! The average tree height is something like 340′ – only about 40 feet shy of the tallest trees accessible to the general public. What a grand sight!
The hike was a mixed bag. Unlike in the Cascades, there was very little elevation gain, no water, and not much variation in scenery. Absolutely no vistas to reward your climb. By the time we got about 3/4 of the way through I was pretty over it and it didn’t help that both of us had wanted to have our own time but were stuck together all day. Whoops! And the maps they gave us were terrible for navigation, which slowed us down as we tried to make sure we were going the right direction.
Dinner tonight was a bit on the mediocre side, but after the hike I was hungry and it got the job done. Lindsey climbed into the tent to do her thing but I stayed up and chatted with Becca for an hour or two about all kinds of stuff. She’s got a front rack/frame bag setup and it really inspired me to think about changing my ride come San Fran/LA. I also told her about my gourmet bike kitchen website idea, which she liked. After I finally went to bed I lay awake for hours researching bike bags and thinking about Bikekitchen.com!
Time: 10-15 minutes
- 1 pouch Uncle Ben’s microwaveable spanish rice
- Several tortillas
- 1 can refried beans
- 1 tomato
- Greens, peppers, or other toppings as available
Instructions: heat and serve. About as easy as it gets. The beans are heavy to carry, but everything else is pretty light.