(2006) New Years Day

New Years Day – a Long Ride Around the Olympic Peninsula

January 1, 2006
Total Miles: 350 miles or so
Map Link

For as long as I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest (10 years) I’ve wanted to see the Pacific when it was anything but “pacific”. I wanted to see wind! Waves! Weasels! Ok, maybe not weasels. But I wanted to see an angry ocean, not the placid sea of blue that usually greets me on trips in the northwest. So when I heard that the weather forecast for New Year’s Day included lots rain and high winds I decide that now was the time!

A riding friend of mine commented that he was up for a ride and while I didn’t want to make this a group ride I figured that another rider would be fun to have along. Silly me though that I might actually get some pictures of me if there was someone else to hold the camera. After staying up to watch the New Year roll in (yay) the alarm went off way too early so that I could catch the 8:35 ferry and meet Dave at Denny’s. Or Shari’s. Or someplace that served food 24 hours a day. We met, we ate and we headed west.

While I had initially planned on heading north and doing the loop counter-clockwise, Dave took the lead and led us south through Purdy, Shelton, McCleary and into Aberdeen. Dave had hoped to head south on 107 towards Long Beach but the road was closed (something about a “large crack” in the pavement across the road). So instead we would do the Peninsula clockwise. But first we had to take care of someone’s feet…

Dave’s boots gave up quickly in this trip, it having only rained from, well, since the beginning of our ride and here it was only a couple of hours later. I will confess that we had some serious rains! And the wind blew us sideways and made sure that the rain covered us thoroughly. Fortunately for us, the local Liberty 76 station carries socks! Who knew??

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Gas, beer and socks – they have it all

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Here’s Dave and I marveling at the selection of socks

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The helpful clerk offering Dave a plastic bag to go over his new socks

From Aberdeen we headed north, still enjoying the variable rains and the gusty winds. Dave said that he saw winds up to 60mph forecasted, and I think that the weather people were right for once. Numerous times we passed through debris-riddled areas full of bits and pieces that trees were shedding in the wind. I was reminded of the news story some years back of a young couple who were killed in their SUV at Mt Rainier when a tree fell on them. Not a pleasant thought.

I had never been to Lake Quinalt off 101 and felt that today was as good a day as any to check it out. I thought that the road circumnavigated the lake but according to my handy GPS, I was wrong. So after a few miles of pouring rain and the lake well behind us, I pulled over to turn around. And found us conveniently next to a beautiful waterfall. We both took the opportunity to take some pictures.

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Posing in the Northwest

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Looking back towards Lake Quinalt – it was still raining

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An unexpected waterfall

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Soggy on the outside, warm and dry on the inside!

After turning around we stopped at a store near the Lodge at Lake Quinalt. The power had been out all day in the area, but the generators allowed for minimal operations. Some fries and coffee gave us an excuse to sit inside for a while and admire Dave’s soaked gloves. It also gave us shelter from the hailstorm that blew through – big stuff! I should mention that the highest temperature I saw during the course of the day was 46 degrees and never expected to see any hail during the ride.

Of course we eventually caught up to the hail storm and it pummeled us sufficiently. This is when my boots failed and Dave’s plastic bags failed. My gloves were also soaked (but still heated!) but other than our extremities, we were both comfortable and happy to be riding. Going north on 101 was beautiful, with the ravages of recent clear cuts softened by the rain and low clouds. The rain danced across the road and the wind blew us around a bit, but it wasn’t anything that we couldn’t handle. Heck, we were still waiting for snow and fog to make the day complete!

There’s a (closed) campground just as 101 punches through the inland forests to follow the shoreline for a few miles. Dave thought that it would be much more fun to ride down the beach access road than to walk, so he weaseled (see! I did see one!) his bike around the gate and to the parking lot below. I walked down to take some pictures:

Now that we were done being blown about by the super wind on the shore Dave had to get his bike back past the gate. Easier said than done. The mud was deep and the tires wouldn’t grab hold. I tried pushing (somehow avoiding a mud bath) before I pointed out that he could try getting around the other side of the gate. It was much narrower but at least it had grass for traction. Sure enough, he got his bike close enough to walk it through the smaller opening. We were off again!

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It was a dark and stormy day…

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High tide , lots of rain and heavy winds

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Dave attempting to get out from where he shouldn’t be

No trip is complete without stopping by the BIG CEDAR TREE. It was a short side road that lead to, believe it or not, a big cedar tree. I’ll admit that it was pretty darn big. No pictures though… We took turns with the camera trying to get some “action shots” but the poor lighting really took its toll on the camera’s ability to get clear shots.

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Having a blast on the GS

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Sasquatch drive-by

Let’s see… we skipped the Hoh Rainforest and it was 4:30 and getting dark by the time we hit Forks. Not to be daunted, Dave refused the offer of holeing up in a motel for the night and enjoying the rest of the ride home in the daylight. Instead we encountered some more rain, the grooved pavement of the curves on Lake Crescent and more fallen branches. Did I mention the falling branches and trees? They were everywhere! Dave almost got nailed by a bough and at one point a small limb (ok, so it was just a twig) fell in front of me. Huge trees had been cut up and moved off the road, leaving lots of debris in their wake. It was an exciting ride, let me tell you!

Right around Sequim I started to get very tired and didn’t wnat to keep my eyes open. All of that focusing while riding really takes a toll. But I tried to distract myself with Orions Belt, for now the skies were clear and I could see the stars. The trip across the Hood Canal bridge certainly woke me up, as the steel grating was very slippery, the wind was pushing the bike around and the waves were crashing over the sides. It was also raining again. At Poulsbo our route split up, with Dave heading south while I was off to wait for the Bainbridge ferry. At Bainbridge it continued to rain and did so until I pulled into my garage at 9pm. Only about 350 miles that day, but they were long ones. What a great way to start out the New Year!

Tell me what you think! I want to know!