September 07, 2013, Saturday
Trees of Mystery to Patrick’s Point State Park, California
40 miles (running total = 250 miles)
As David I arise prior to sunup, it is clear that our tent flies are heavily laden with moisture. The night was totally clear, yet this odd dynamic with water presents itself. This large gravel lot was put in recently, and partly covers a ravine just next to our tents. Perhaps a stream or other water source that we did not observe while setting up the tents is nearby, causing the wetness. In any event, it’s time to do some drying. I carry a small piece of chamois cloth (9×9 inches) that I cut out of a large old chamois for my first trike trek in 2009. I wipe off the fly as best I can, wring out the chamois, and then wipe off the waterproof pannier covers on my Arkel bags. After removing the tent fly, I shake it vigorously to clear any remaining moisture, but still, it must be stowed in a less than dry condition.
My tent is new this trip. It is a NEMO (New England Mountaineering) Obi one-person tent, which I am totally loving every camp. Compared to my old two-person REI tent, this is very easy to pitch and strike, and it weighs half of the other tent I had on my first two expeditions. The Obi came in a waterproof carrying bag, suitable for easy storage in a backpack. I chose to not use that bag because when I put gear away damp like this, I do not want it tightly packed. My intuition tells me that loosely packing the gear will allow it to dry more efficiently, so, I pack it, loosely folded (not rolled) in a larger REI stuff sack, but the tent and sleeping pad I put in the sack is not stuffed at all. There is much air space surrounding all the items. Then, I place it in one of my Radical Design side seat pods, which is breathable and gets good sun during the day. The next evening when I pull it all out, there may be a little residual dampness on the fly, but it is far less than had I rolled it tightly in a tiny stuff sack.
At the Forest Cafe restaurant, we park our trikes right out front, having loaded our gear already. Immediately, folks staying at the motel start looking at them, and then stopping by our table to chat about the trip. We are the center of attention throughout our early morning eating. David orders a breakfast, and then gets right to work updating his website with all the latest PCTA news for his students at Glendora High School. Being the crazy health nut guy I am, I order hot oatmeal, to which I add my wheat bran, green veggie power, and raisins. I eat like this normally, but on a trip where diet is compromised somewhat, I find the wheat bran added to my granola each morning (3 heaping spoonfuls) keeps my pipes running clear, which is a good thing when using camp bathrooms, or facilities less than optimal from a sanitation standpoint. Quick in and out makes for a hassle-free experience.
We take our time, eating, talking with people, and tending to electronic business, then shove off down Highway 101 again in the early morning sunshine. It isn’t long at all before we have to remove light jackets as we are heating up from our pedaling. The road is pretty flat here, so we remain in high gears and knock down some miles in short order. I take a photo of David as he pedals ahead of me, with a SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT sign next to him, accentuating the mode of progress from the point of view of an overland triker. Highways 101 and 1 have several names, depending on which state and where in that state you are. Today, and for days to come, this section of 101 is called the Redwood Highway due to the huge redwood tree groves with which it dances.
Eventually, the highway begins to climb in elevation as it proceeds farther inland, away from the ocean. We arrive at a junction where the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route shows an alternate way to go, off the main highway for several miles. This is the old highway, and it goes to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, a stunningly gorgeous natural preserve of colossal redwood trees. It adds miles to the trip, but is well worth the extra distance. We stop at the offramp, discuss options, and agree that this side trip will be one well taken. Off we pedal, up the hill, and into the deep big woods with little auto traffic.
Once we arrive at the visitor center for the state park, which also includes an incredible campground facility, we chat with a couple of young gals who are on their own bicycle journey south along the Pacific Coast. They will be staying here at Prairie Creek for two nights, so this is likely the final time we shall see them. It is far too early for David and me to call it a day, especially considering his time schedule to arrive in Morro Bay by the 20th of September, so we head on out after looking around, taking a snack break, filling our water bottles with pure redwood forest water, and chatting with some other interested onlookers. Signs warn us to stay away from the elk. This is a refreshing rest from the road. Back onto the highway towards Eureka we merrily pedal.
In the tiny town of Orick, we stop at the little market to get some fresh veggies and nuts. David buys a large pack of ice to resupply his small ice cooler trunk, and then peddles the remainder to some folks in a camper truck, who happen to be from the Bend, Oregon region. I laugh at him for all his ice, and he reluctantly poses for a photo. We are having a great time together. After Orick, the road is flat, and takes us back to the ocean through agricultural lands with cows and patchy fog rolling in.
Past some large lagoons we ride, and then the road soars back upward into the hills once again. As it crests finally, we come into view of a huge body of water, which is actually called Big Lagoon, and is part of Big Lagoon Park. On the far side of this gigantic body of water is the point where we will spend the night. It is called Patrick’s Point State Park, and there is fantastic hiker/biker camping awaiting us there. Often, it is all fogged in, and the ocean is not visible in the cold foggy air, but this time of year, it is crystal clear, not a cloud in the sky, and pleasantly warm – custom made for us weary overland trikers! Patrick’s Point is one of the best overnights on the entire Pacific Coast if you hit the weather right, as we are doing today. September is my recommended month, but keep in mind, on overland trike journeys, the only certainty is uncertainty! There are absolutely no guarantees.
I take a photograph of David as he crests this hill, and then he is gone, flying down towards the lagoon, and around the water to the point. After several more miles on the Highway 101 freeway, open to cyclists legally, and very safe due to the wide shoulders, we arrive at Patrick’s Point State Park. It is still relatively early, so pitching of the camp is leisurely and easy. While setting up our night’s camp, Tim Cassese silently rides in like a phantom, and asks to share our secluded bounty overlooking the ocean on this bluff. We quickly agree, and the three of us enjoy all there is to enjoy here.
There is an impressively tall rock monolith right next to our camping area, called Lookout Rock. Being a wilderness explorer of sorts, after pitching the tent and eating dinner, I walk over to it through the trees. There is a pathway to the top! It is chiseled out of the stone, with rocks placed as necessary for foot steps. The way is narrow, steep, and precarious, but I simply must reach the top and take in the views of the grand ocean before the sun sets. I am wearing my SIDI Dominator 5 mountain bike cycling shoes, not the best thing for hiking like this, but make it to the summit anyway. Awesome vistas present themselves to my eyes and brain. I am ecstatic, and take some photographs. I return to camp, and tell David and Tim that this is a “must see” before the sun settles down into the salty water to the west. They take my suggestion and hurry on up for their own pictures and memories.
The shower facility for the hiker/biker camp is brand new. I find a shower that, while supposedly requiring quarters, operates just fine by pushing the button without money. I have made it a habit to always check first. Sometimes showers just come on, so I don’t argue. This particular park charges 50 cents for five minutes. Some charge 75 cents or a dollar for five minutes. Still, no matter what the charge, a warm shower each evening is surely a treat, especially for this overland trike nomad, who is used to an inland route along the eastern Sierra, where campgrounds and showers are virtually nonexistent.
Night finally falls. David’s tent is aglow with soft interior light from his electronic gizmos as he records the trip’s happenings and makes cell phone calls. Tim must already be bedded down. I take a couple photos of me in the NEMO Obi tent for kicks and grins, update my logbook by headlamp light, and then fall fast asleep in nothing flat. Trike pedaling all day long does that to a person. Sleeping is easy! As with many coastal camps, sounds of fog horns and/or sea lions are heard in the still and quiet night air. It is dry and warm all night, with no moisture on the fly or gear.