Crescent City, CA to Orick, CA

34.2 mi / 9.7 mph / 2536 ft. climbing
Home: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park hiker/biker campsite

Coastal California dawn.

Today’s ride began with a 1000 ft. hill right outside of Crescent City. A tall order under any circumstance, and one that we built a lot of strategy around given Rett’s recovering hip. One part of the strategy was to get on the road by 7:30am (some 2 hours earlier than our “normal” start time), in the hopes that the terrors of traffic on US101 would be lessened while we grinded up at 4.5mph.

The strategy largely worked. While there were still big trucks and a few RVs out there, the total volume was much lower than midday, so there was always plenty of space for drivers to go around us in the passing lane that generally appears on long uphill climbs like this.

Except for one driver. ‘Evil’ was the first word that came to my mind. He laid on his horn, passed within inches, and swung back to the white line right in front of us. All with an entire empty lane available to him. At 8 in the morning. The fact that I’m even writing about him makes me feel tainted, because I’m letting the terrorist win. No. It’s our road too, and you won’t scare us off it.

View back down the hill to Crescent City.

Rett did great (including the terrorist), and even though it’s the 101 again, it’s still Redwood country, so a pretty beautiful 1000 ft. breakfast hill. On the downhill, I’d read (part of the strategizing) about the Last Chance Grade, which had been under construction since a landslide took out the road in February. Passing through the one-way section (luckily on the downhill) I could glance nearly straight up the steep barren slope to my left, with still-tottering trees a couple hundred feet up at the ridge. And then a glance down to the right, where the land fell almost straight to the ocean. It suddenly made sense why the website described stabilizing the road long-term as a nearly-impossible multi-billion dollar project, likely involving building a tunnel and not being completed until 2038 (with who knows how many more landslides between now and then). It’s just a crazy place to build a road, but a critical connection, and we’re just glad it was in a relatively passable state when we were passing through.

The views on the downhill made us laugh at the beauty, and let us know that Oregon wasn’t the end of the dramatic ocean scenes.

Down from the Last Chance Grade.

Back at sea level, Rett had to stop at the post office in Klamath to pick up some bike shorts she’d ordered. It was our first time using “general delivery” (having mail addressed in your name but sent to a post office), and it worked great. Nice to know that’s another option in our bag of “how do you get mail without a home” tricks.

Rett did great on the hill, and her hip was still feeling ok, so we decided to push on over the next 800 feet of hills rather than stopping at an RV park in Klamath.

The summit reward for that second climb is perhaps the greatest of all roads in the United States: a gradual six mile roll down the nearly-empty Drury Parkway. Empty, except for the thousands of giant redwoods standing at attention on both sides of the road, observing from on high our two-person parade through the heart of their forest. If bike touring hadn’t been invented, this road (more like our own private bike path) would have been a reason to invent it.

Corkscrew Tree #1
Corkscrew Tree #2
The Drury Parkway is just miles like this.

Elk Prairie Campground, in the State Park, has hiker/biker sites next to an actual prairie between the forests, which means: sun in camp! At least briefly, before it went behind the trees at 4pm.

Elk Prairie hiker/biker campsite.

My handlebar bag has a clear plastic map case on top of it, and I’ve found that it’s an excellent dew-detector. Somehow it’s the first thing that water condenses on to. After many nights of it being dry, I was dismayed to feel it wet well before the sun even set. Time to get all our things under cover that we don’t want soaking in the morning. Unfortunately, we can’t put another cover on our tent that would keep that dry.

Moon over redwoods over van over prairie.



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