Day Five: Bicycling From Lake Quinault to Klaloch
This is the fifth episode of a 9-part series on our 360-mile bicycle trip around Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.
Just as the forecast predicted, and to our surprised delight, the fifth day dawned clear and warm. We cooked a breakfast of oatmeal on the back stoop, loaded up the touring bicycles and rode the 3 miles back to Highway 101.
After a couple of days of rain, the 5th day dawned sunny and warm at Lake Quinault.
By midmorning it had warmed up nicely, the roads had dried out and we were well on our way to our next campsite at Klaloch. At a small grocery store, we pulled in for a second breakfast of packaged apple strudel, chocolate milk and orange juice. As with all the other stores we’d stopped at since Aberdeen, there was no fresh fruit or vegetables. For some reason, all along this hundred-mile stretch of western 101, there was a dearth of fresh produce, and both Mike and I were jonseing for an apple, an orange or a banana. As it turned out, we wouldn’t find anything fresh until we reached Forks, two days distant.
Nevertheless, the good weather had renewed our spirits and the riding along this section of 101 was fantastic. The road was smooth with good shoulders.
I remember an exhilarating few miles cruising down a steep grade on exceptionally smooth concrete. The sun was high in the sky and I could see my shadow extended out in front. Now, a touring bicycle can be a handful. On a steep uphill grind it’s a killer, but sometimes, when the conditions are just right—as they were at that moment—all that weight and mass can work in your favor. It’s pure smooth rolling hell.
Pure, smooth rolling hell on Highway 101.
There was no traffic whizzing past so I could ride out in the middle of the road. We were in a National Park so there was only the deep dark woods on either side. It was a windless day and totally quiet. The only sounds were the whirring of the chain and the hum of the tires on the cement. I glanced down at my speedometer; it read 31 miles per hour!
I know that when I take my trip around the world, there are going to be tough times; rain, bugs, hills, wind and bad food. But there are going to be fantastic moments, too, when the gods are in their heaven and all is right with the world.
At about 2:00 we began to catch glimpses of the ocean through the evergreens. By 2:30 we had descended to the beach resort of Klaloch where there’s a small store, a hotel, bar and restaurant. Our campsite was just a few miles up the road so we stocked up on provisions for the evening’s meal, along with our usual bottle of red wine, and dropped into the bar for a celebratory beer.
We went out on the deck, drank our beers and watched the swallows dart back and forth. From where we sat, there was a great view of the Pacific Ocean. For some reason, on this particular stretch of beach, there is a lot of driftwood. I’m not talking about regular 2 to 6 foot long floatsam, I’m talking about logs; big buggers, 100-foot trees that have been ripped from the land and deposited on the sand. In this part of the world they’re called beach logs.
After another beer, we headed for our campsite. The National Park at Klaloch is situated on a bluff about 400 feet above the ocean. There were designated campsites, but people were setting up their tents wherever they wanted. I scored a spot a few feet back from the edge of the bluff with a great view of the ocean. We’d ridden a modest 35 miles that day, still, the combination of sun and beer had put me in a sleepy mood and I crawled in my tent and took a nap before dinner.
When I awoke and hour or so later I found that a huge, brown motor home had parked across the road from our campsite. The words motor home don’t do this thing justice. It had to be 60 feet long and had 2 large tip-out sections. It was the beach log of RV’s. I saw that Mike was talking to the owner, so I walked over to join in the conversation.
It turned out that John, the RV’s owner, was on a quest to visit all 50 states. He and his wife and 2 kids had started out 10 months ago and had been to all but Washington State. This was the final leg of the journey. I don’t particularly like big RV’s, but John was a nice guy and he was doing something good for his kids. He was friendly, too, and offered to let us use his outlets to charge our cell phones.
Mike discusses the trip with John, the owner of the big brown RV.
After dinner, I settled into my tent. I left the doors open and the rain fly off and drifted away to the sounds of the ocean. I was awakened in the wee hours by something dripping on my face. I sat up and looked around. The tent was wet inside and out. The ocean breeze had coated everything with salt spray and the rest of the night I lie huddled down deep in my slightly soggy sleeping bag.
I’d worry about drying things out in the morning.
To be continued...