Sunday, July 10, 2011

It has begun!

Howdy y'all! I'm on the road! On a bike! Adventure has already taken place...

1. Check out the photos (click on the thumbnails above, or here). They tell more of the story.
2. Click on the "My Location" text to the left to see where I've been for the past week.
3. Checks the "Stats" window to the right if you're into numbers!

WHERE I'M HEADING NEXT: (within 2 weeks, with some confidence ) Crater Lake National Park, Bend, Corvalis, Portland, Spokane.  If you're in one of these places, I want to see you!  Let me know.

So far, the scenery has been STUNNING.  With such a wet winter, water is flowing from every crevice. Streams and rivers are everywhere, all the plants and trees are happy and green, and the flowers are amazing.  I think i set off with over 100 lbs of gear and food, which have been tough to haul over the mountains.  Today, I shed gear weight, and send things to where they need to be later on (warm clothes to where I'll be in the winter, trail mix for 2 weeks to where I'll be in 2 weeks).  Thanks for reading!

Day 1: Trinidad, CA to Prarie Creek State Park, CA
Ahead of schedule and under budget.  Today was super smooth.  I departed Trinidad at 4 pm (3 hours later than planned), but made it to my destination of Elk Prarie Campground in Prarie Creek Redwoods state park with no trouble at all.  I am carrying too much weight, and I think I will start to feel it in the mountains.
     The weather was fabulous, the views were fantastic, and biking felt good.  I met some biologists doing a survey of invasive plants at the campfire program I attended, and we had a good chat.  I also won a banana slug postcard for being the first one at the program to find a Redwood pinecone.  My naturalist training is coming in handy already!
                Looking forward to things to come.  Looking forward to draining some of my 15 lbs of trailmix.  Excited to be on the road!

Day 3: Smith River NRA to near Oregon Caves National Monument

I am having surprisingly little trouble staying present.  My main task of riding a heavy bike is taking much of my effort and energy, and is causing me to concentrate on where I am and what I am doing.  Eating, drinking, breathing hard, pedaling, pedaling, pedaling.  The bicycle is my friend, a useful and reliable tool to get me where I want to go.  It works just as hard as I'm willing to push it, and never wants to take a break before I do.
Yesterday, I rode up the 101 to Crescent City, where I said goodbye to the Pacific Ocean and headed up the 199 toward Oregon.  The 199 follows various forks of the Smith River, which is one of the most beautiful rivers I've ever seen, with water so clear I could see at least 20 feet down.  Unfortunately, most of the places where I had a good view of the river were right next to very steep cliffs, often with retaining walls, or on narrow bridges.  With constant truck traffic and my first full day of riding, I did not have time to snap very many pictures.
Today I rode from the Smith River NRA over the Oregon border, through several small towns on my way to the base of an 8 mile climb to Oregon Caves National Monument.  Tomorrow, I will stash most of my stuff in the trees, taking with me a day pack with lunch and my camera, and ride the 16 mile round trip to the caves and back, because the highway ends at the caves.  I stopped to swim in a couple of streams today, and am camped next to a swimming hole with 2 rope swings.
Some things that are easier than I expected: getting supplies (only food so far) from small markets in little towns.  Little markets are often small enough that I can leave my bike with all my stuff on it outside, and see it the whole time I'm shopping.  I stopped at a health food store in Cave Junction today, spent $5 on some fresh organic produce and lentils, and headed on my way with enough dinner for the next 2 nights.
Something that is being harder: Biking!  I'm sure it doesn't help that I started off with upwards of 12 pounds of trailmix, 3 lbs of nut butter, 20 granola bars and lots of warm clothing which I won't need for another 3 weeks, not to mention a daypack, a drybag, 2 fuel canisters and a full set of toiletries (I didn't bring any of that stuff with me to Asia).  So far, the full load is being a welcome challenge.  I have not pushed myself this hard, physically, in quite a long time.  Thankfully, my lungs and heart are quite happy to go along with whatever I can put them through, but my knees and ass are telling me that I'm getting older.
So far, everything is breathtakingly beautiful.  The Northwest is a magical place, especially this time of year.  Nothing but sunny days!  

Day 4:  Grayback Rd & Highway 46 to Oregon caves National monument and back, then to Williams, OR
Today was glorious.  It was everything I hoped this trip would be.  In the morning, I stashed most of my stuff in the woods and ascended 2200 feet in 8 miles to reach Oregon Caves National monument.  The ride was challenging, but I felt very light without most of my gear.  Surrounded by a towering green forrest, gushing creeks at every corner, I was very happy.  The monument itself left something to be desired.  I like caves, and this is a very large cave, but the formations are much less spectacular than others I've seen.  Also, because it was discovered so long ago, humans have damaged an enormous portion of the formations.  There is even a place where a University of Oregon Professor of Geology signed his name on a flow stone, only to be covered up by more minerals, preserving it forever.  He encouraged all the students who went with him to do the same.  The philosophy has changed now, but the damage is clear and annoying. 
I descended from the monument after the 90 minute tour, took a dip at the great swimming hole where I had spent the night before, and loaded up my bike to head toward my next destination.  I chose a route based on Google bike maps, and it happened to be the same route that my GPS unit liked, so I headed off.  Shortly, the road became incredibly steep, and I had to take several breaks in order to make it to the top.  At the top of the first road (Grayback Rd), the pavement ended, and I had to make a choice between either a 1.6 mile chunky gravel road, or a .7 mile rutted dirt road.  I rode on the gravel for a bit, but it was awful, so I turned around, and started pushing my bike up the steep, deeply rutted dirt road. (National Forrest Road 059).  It took all the effort I could muster to push my fully loaded bike up that hill.  Thankfully, my biking shoes are also keen sandals with deep tread, and I didn't slip nearly as much as I thought I would.  After an hour, I was at the top, back to a paved road, and on my way down a wonderful, steep, tree lined road that I had all to myself.  Tonight, I'm camping in the yard of the State Fire House in Williams, which is on a 2 acre piece of land with few neighbors.  It was getting late, and I knocked on their door.  They said no problem!

Day 5: Williams, OR to Ashland, OR

Williams is a beautiful little town with little farms sprinkled across a tree-lined valley with green mountains in the background.  Another beautiful ride today, the last 12 miles along a bike path running from Medford to Ahsland - very nice.  I'm staying with Meghan Smith, a friend from high school whom I haven't seen in nearly 10 years.  She and her boyfriend recently moved into a very cute and accommodating house here, and have welcomed me fully.  I wonder how long I'll stay?

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you have a great start on a fantastic adventure!
    Carol and John