Bikepacking the Olympic Peninsula – Day One

Saturday August 8th 2020

It happens before every big trip: the packing, the repacking, the first guessing, second guessing and third guessing of gear choices, the last minute trip – make that two trips to REI.  Finally there comes a point, usually one or two days before departure, when I simply want to get going, get on the road and live with my decisions.  The circumnavigation of the Olympic Peninsula that I was about to undertake with Steve and Blaine was no different: our departure was planned for Saturday and by Thursday my bike had been packed I’d done the shakedown ride and I was ready to get rolling.

Waiting for the ferry – Photo by Steve Bleifuhs

Saturday arrived early and by six thirty I was dressed, fed, caffeinated and rolling out of the driveway.  This is a special trip in that it starts and ends at my garage.  I met Steve at seven and we rolled together towards the Seattle waterfront and the Bainbridge Island Ferry terminal.  Riding through the Pioneer Square area was depressing, a boarded up post-apocalyptic zombieland; the purpose of this trip is exchange one reality for another: urban to rural, confinement to freedom.  Steve and I were the first cyclists in line, then Blaine rolled up followed by half a dozen day trippers.

A mixture of backroads and well-shouldered highway took us from Winslow to quaint, almost movie prop looking town to Port Gamble where we were served the largest breakfast sandwiches I had ever seen – I suspect that there were a dozen eggs between our three meals.  I’ve learned from mountaineering, backpacking and trekking that you eat any and all food put in front of you, so I powered through. 

Port Gamble, WA

We crossed the Hood Canal floating bridge, turned left onto some scenic rolling terrain before returning to Highway 101 to Discovery Bay.  Finally we hit the Olympic Discovery Trail which we took through Blyn, Sequim and into Port Angeles where we stopped for dinner and a beer.  Our plan was to cook breakfast at the campsite but to eat lunch and dinner at restaurants, country store and possibly even gas stations.   Port Angeles seemed to be busy with tourist activity, but probably only a fraction of what would be considered normal.

A few more miles and some strenuous climbing took us to the Elwa Dam RV Park, my computer read 106 miles on the day.  We set up camp in the tents only area, showered, dropped our sweaty kit in the washing machine and then started up a mile long climb towards the Corner Caboose hamburger stand for second dinner.  After hamburgers and fries we grabbed a six pack at the nearby mini mart and coasted back to the campsite.

We nearly made it till nightfall but by nine o-clock we were in our sleeping bags.  An hour or so later we were all three awakened by what sounded like cast of Jersey Shore engaged in a drunken foul-mouthed argument.  Little did we know, as we dozed off, that we were in for an memorable, east meets west morning.

Route map can be found here:

Relaxing in Port Angeles – Steve Bleifuhs photo
Crossing the now free-flowing Elwa River on the Olympic Discovery Trail

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