Crescent City to Garberville
Boy oh boy did the route go from awesome to epic. This segment may very easily go down as the best, most epic, difficult, and rewarding segment along 1800 miles of beautiful and scenic coastline. Going on a recommendation from some Warmshowers hosts in Crescent City, I decided to take an alternate route leaving town as I approached some of the bigger climbs, biggest trees, and breathtaking views of the north coast of California.
First up was the Last Chance Trail which enters Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park on the north entrance and climbs impossibly steep singletrack for a good 800 ft. before letting up to steep but rideable trail. Sweating profusely, cursing, slipping, and falling trying to push my bike up a 10% grade slippery, rocky, and rutted trail was entirely worth it once I leveled out and started riding again. Transitioning between overgrown vegetated trail to wide duff covered, clover lined magic carpet this last chance trail took me up and down and through some of the biggest, oldest redwoods I've ever seen and transported me to a forested wonderscape. Nearly two hours and 10 miles later I was spat out of an otherwise unmarked hole in the forest back onto 101 for a little bit of smooth pavement reprieve. I was covered in loam, had ferns sticking out of my socks, and I had a smile on my face that couldn't be swiped off. At this point I had only ridden 20 miles for the day in more than four hours since I had taken off and I had a long way to go before my next stop...but it didn't deter me from taking the next available dirt alternative.
I pushed along 101 until I crossed the Klamath River where I once again followed my curiosity toward the quiet coast and ascended onto what appeared to be the old coast highway. Eroded hillside, decomposed pavement, and years of fallen leaf litter made for a mostly fire road exploration along the tops of several hundred foot cliffs heading south in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. An undulating trail finally took on a more permanent "sunken grade" and I flew down through the redwoods before once again being spat out onto Newton Drury Scenic Parkway. At this point it was mid-afternoon and I had 50 more miles to cover before my next host was expecting me. No big sacrifice was made riding along this scenic parkway, but somewhere between where the pavement ended and ocean began lie another 10 plus miles of singletrack and gravel road to take the dirt seeking adventure cyclists. Next time...
As I made my way into Arcata, the summer fog rolled in and painted the landscape grey, muffling any small sounds that could have been coming from the sparsely pastured areas as I rode through to a small farmstead for the night. The contrast between camping and staying with people along the way feels integral to having the intimate experience with nature and culture and breathes more life into the running narrative of any bike tour. I stayed with a mother and daughter on the outskirts of Arcata. The mother Cris, owns and runs a local restaurant Folie Douce and raises poultry for eggs and vegetables for her restaurant. Emily goes to art school in North Carolina and her boyfriend is currently riding the TransAm across the country, using Warmshowers as he goes. Sympathy goes a long way, and it turns out Emily and Cris wanted to extend the same warmth and hospitality as Emily's boyfriend has been receiving on his trip.
Before leaving town I stopped by Revolution Bicycles to replace my chain and pick up some emergency new tires after shredding mine the day before. As if this segment could get any better, I rode onto Avenue of the Giants and rode with redwoods towering over me for 35 miles. It was hot enough to stop several times along the day to swim in the Eel River, which has suffered from several years of low rain and high temperatures. This time of year it’s hard to find a swimming hole that isn't covered by toxic green algae, but the spots that are open are simply golden!
After two days of few people and rolling through the redwoods, Garberville provided some unique cultural experience and an awesome natural foods store to load up on jerky and coconut water for the big haul of Legget Hill.
- Pacific Coast Milestones -
- FROM: Bonny Doon, CA
- DOB: 1999-11-30
- OCCUPATION: Adventurers
Genesis Moment and Inspiration for your Trip?
We have biked the entire Pacific Coast already, and it may seem odd that we are doing it again. Along the last journey we met a screen printer and fellow bike tourist named Justin who had ridden the Pacific Coast route over five times. When we first heard this we thought he was crazy – there is so much out there to explore! But he went on to explain, and ultimately convince us – that not only is the ride experience different every time due to weather, new companions, older selves, etc; but traveling known roads you can come back to the places that really impacted you, and try the alternate routes you had to pass over last time. The ride just gets better and better because your relationship to the trail is what frees you to explore more deeply. When you know that there is a taqueria and clean water only ten miles away you are more likely to actually stop and jump in the roadside lake that otherwise remains unexplored….
Have you Traveled by bike in the past?
Matt and I live in a Tiny Home deep in the mountains above the town where we work and our daily commute requires a year round touring set up. At every moment we have to have everything we need for the day – heavy bags full of produce, a down jacket, bike shoes and sandals, water for the day and a lunch, the list goes on. We have a daily relationship with loaded bike travel!
Matt has been bike touring since he was 17, and set off on a very aggressive pedal across the country on ACA’s Sierra Cascade Route and Northern Tier Route attempting 5,000 miles in two months. After making it all the way to the ACA headquarters in Missoula, Montana and earning his ice cream he was hit by an SUV just east of Missoula and heli-evacuated to the nearest hospital. That accident, which snapped his leg in half and exploded his bicycle is what “saved his life,” as he says. Through the long recovery process he learned to slow down and his relationship to bicycle touring, which had formerly been focused on mileage and destination, is now more focused on the slow and simple pleasures of the road.
Kate has been biking to different ice cream parlors all over California her whole life but didn’t start her first multi-day bike travel until she met Matt. They have been on two bike tours together, one big, one small. On the first one, she had a small heart failure in the mountains of Big Sur and had to bike eight miles of steep uphill to get to cell service. She learned that she has a mild heart condition, and biking is good for it. That “adventure” has been a similar inspiration in her relationship to biking and using her body as a means of excursion – a long journey in patience and thankfulness for the incredible feats that a body can perform!
What is your goal for the route?
Sunshine, lakes, ice cream, back country, rain forest, hot springs, tacos, aged cheeses, and so much laughter.
What do you hope to get out of this journey?
A more intimate understanding of and connection to the Pacific Coast. An opportunity to reconnect to the folks we have met along the way – a real rarity of this type of travel! A relationship to the brands that we use and care about – knowing the people who are making what we are using. We want to live each day 100% fully.
What’s in my bag? List four things that you could not live without (take a photo of each on a neutral background)
Little journals Kate made, Book of poems by Mary Oliver,Our friend’s homemade Organic sunscreen, Rechargeable boom box for pumping James Brown on the climbs
- Pacific Coast Milestones -