Olympic Circumnavigation Day 3
August 9, 2020
The route for day three was straightforward: Bogachiel State Park to Highway 101 – 101 to the Hoh Mainline – Hoh Mainline to 101 – 101 to Lake Quinault. I had ridden this route eight months earlier – in continual rain and mostly in the dark – this time we would ride under cool, clear blue skies.
The challenge of this day’s ride was that there would be no services between our start at Bogachiel and our end at Lake Quinault. There would be no convenience stores or gas stations, not even a house where we could refill water bottles. At 68 miles this would be the shortest day of the trip, but it was also the most remote.
The Hoh Mainline is a 30-mile respite from the rushing traffic of Highway 101. The tarmac is smooth and, with the exception of travel to and from the Olympic Corrections Facility, there is really no reason to drive this stretch of road. Traffic is minimal to say the least, I think two cars passed me, probably either visitors or employees heading to the prison.
I was in no hurry to return to 101 and rode the Mainline easy, taking time to enjoy the deserted roads and to breath in the clean air. The town, maybe it’s a town, of Clearwater had a few homes, a park a Sheriff’s office. A thirsty rider could maybe get a bottle filled at the cop shop, but we each had started with three bottles, so we rolled on past. Shortly after crossing the Queets River I could see the cars and trucks roaring past on Highway 101.
One nicety of these longer multiday trips is the ability to stop and take a lunch or snack break midway through the day. It’s good to get off of the bike and relax for half an hour or so. Maybe 100 yards before 101 we laid our bikes down beside the road and had a picnic. Steve had carried a block of cream cheese and six raisin bagels for 40 miles, and Blaine and I were more than happy to help him lighten his load.
Once back on 101 the riding degraded into a fast as possible push into the small community near Lake Quinault known as Amanda Park. Steve did have a brief gravel detour planned out, but we quickly discovered that the dotted line promised on the Gazateer hadn’t been a road for at least 10 years. Oh well it was worth a try.
Now that we had turned eastbound the wind was at our backs and the final twelve miles into Amanda Park were a head down race speed paceline.
Amanda Park Mercantile was a welcome sight, and we pulled in to grab a few bottles of Gatoraide. For the past two days we had been leapfrogging a young couple who were touring with a Burly trailer. At first blush I thought that they had simply loaded the trailer with gear, but upon close examination I noticed that they did indeed have a baby in the baby carrier. I had seen the couple leaving the state park maybe ninety minutes ahead of us that morning and they too had just arrived at the small store. They had ridden the entire day on 101 (didn’t take the Hoh Mainline) and were in surprisingly good spirits.
We grabbed pizza at Dino’s and then continued to our campsite at Willaby State Park. Now this was the campsite that we’d been dreaming of: quiet, remote and with a killer view over Lake Quinault. We set up camp, swam in the lake and then rode to Lake Quinault Lodge for second dinner.
Lake Quinault Lodge is one of those super cool CCC projects from back in the thirties. I am a firm believer that the United States should revive the CCC/WPA programs; a season of hard work in the outdoors could change countless lives. The Lodge wasn’t crowded but it was busy. Luckily, we were able to secure a table on the patio where we enjoyed takeout pot roast. The meal was good, but I could have eaten three helpings.
After dinner I filled my twelve dollar backpack with beer and snacks from Quinault Mercantile before making the shorter than expected climb back up to the campground. The campground was full to capacity but once the sun set I didn’t hear a noise until after I woke up the next morning.
Route information here: https://www.strava.com/activities/3897817736