2013-10-19 47 -122
Bottom of a ravine just outside Bridgehaven subdivision (Olympic Peninsula)
This was an unexpected and spontaneous expedition! I'd originally posted vague plans-to-make-plans to Talk:Seattle, Washington on Friday. However, later that day my schedule for Saturday changed, which allowed me to join a bunch of friends who were going to hike in the east Cascades all day. So I was not thinking of geohashing at all. But then I was forced (by my prior stupidity) to stay up very late Friday night finishing a review for work, only then to have trouble sleeping. So when my alarm woke me at 7am for the hike I felt rather terrible, and reluctantly texted my friend that I would have to sleep in and ditch the group.
When I woke up a bit after noon feeling much better, my first instinct was to just take it easy. I thought of the geohash briefly, but I knew it involved a total of 56 miles (90 km) of cycling, plus two ferry rides (and two ferry waits) and a bushwack to/from the hashpoint. It seemed like too late an hour to get started, given the season.
But then it started growing on me: I have no plans all day and evening! And a fast bike! With lights! And a really cool hash location, and good weather! And the geohashers from Melbourne wouldn't think twice about this!
So in less than an hour I was off. After a half mile (800m) I had to return home to grab a sandwich I'd misplaced in the fridge, but then it was really happening. Olympic Peninsula or bust. I pushed myself hard north toward Edmonds, since I really hoped to be done with country roads (i.e. safely in Kingston on the return leg) by nightfall. Also, I didn't even know the ferry schedule.
The rolling, forested suburban landscape of Shoreline and Edmonds was nice enough, but the weather was not cooperating: it was 2pm already and the low clouds still hadn't broken out like they had the last few days of this pattern. Where I'd been expecting sunshine and views of snow-capped Olympic Mountains, there was just grey Northwest gloom. So darkness would be coming even quicker. I pedaled harder, and noticed I was losing a lot of elevation I'd have to climb back up at night on the return trip.
Soon enough I arrived at the ferry dock, and it was leaving in only 10 minutes. Excellent. I ate most of my lunch/breakfast on the boat, saving an apple for later. When the cars had all driven off at Kingston, I was pumped and ready to go, despite the overwhelming grayness of the scene.
The Kitsap peninsula was pretty, especially the long straight stretch of 104 from 307 up to Port Gamble, where there was a lot of peak fall color. But I was mainly just focused on getting the miles behind me and avoiding doing this part in the dark later. After Port Gamble the Hood Canal Bridge took longer than expected to appear... I guess it doesn't take that long in a car so I'd forgotten there was any distance there at all. But eventually the junction came, and I took the long-awaited right turn. There it was... Hood Canal, the long, low bridge, and the Olympic Peninsula looming on the other side. All very grey. I'd been here before by car on gorgeous days with forest green, sky and water blue, and high mountain white... but this was still awesome being here on a bike.
By the time I crossed the entire bridge I was getting pretty winded. Thankfully, the hill on the other side wasn't that bad, and presently I was at the junction for South Point Road, the little country blacktop that led downshore towards the hash. I could actually see the headland where the little subdivision and the hash ravine were located, about three miles down. I turned left and set off, riding a little slower now (the pavement was not nearly as good as on the state highway.)
This was really beautiful here - Hood Canal somewhat visible on the left, woods on the right, and the houses of contented people every so often. Very little traffic. Eventually the road began to climb, first gently but then very steeply as I entered the subdivision and found out it was named Bridgehaven. I was so close to the hash (and so tired), but this was steep. Finally I descended the other side, rounded a bend, the hash ravine came into view along the roadside, and I put my bike down in the ditch.
Conquering the woods
Now it was time for bushwacking... I entered the coordinates into the GPS, buttoned the heavy cotton shirt, put on the work gloves, and started walking along the roadside, watching the distance count down until it started going back up again (at around 200 ft / 60 m.) This would be my optimal entry point into the woods. Which turned out to be very steep, and somewhat overgrown - but not nearly as badly as, say, 2013-07-14 47 -122 (and with better soil, better temperature, and way less garbage and/or rotting stuff).
After some initial problems with vines I made decent progress down, especially considering that I was wearing flimsy bike shoes, not the usual running shoes. Quite soon I was near the bottom. A GPS check told me I still had about 80 ft to go (error radius in the woods was 25 ft) and that I needed to turn more left. This appeared to lead me into the swamp at the bottom of the ravine, but then I had to turn even more left, which put me back on dry but overgrown ground, saturated with massive sword-ferns. I thought I'd walked 80 (or at least 50) feet, but the gps didn't seem to think so. The going was very slow until I found what appeared to be an old deer trail, which finally led me to a tiny clearing where the gps was within error radius. It was 4:38... quite late.
I took just a few minutes to obtain proof and document the rather ordinary surroundings before starting back up. I decided to aim directly for the road / hilltop rather than retracing my steps, taking me up a steeper, more overgrown slope. But I finally hauled myself out of there. Usually I find climbing easier than descending in these conditions, but today was the other way around.
After breathing a little and eating the apple I started back. It was lighter out than I'd feared, and the first 10 miles or so back along Hood Canal, across the bridge and down the straight stretch felt wonderful. But approaching 307 it started to get quite dusky out, and I found myself riding hard again (though much less effectively than earlier.) Kingston refused to appear for a while, but finally I saw the familiar landmarks and that was it. I'd avoided riding 104 in total darkness.
I found out that I'd just missed a ferry by five minutes (I could see it steaming out of the harbor in the distance), and the next one wasn't for 45. I anticipated being hungry soon, and checked out the local food sources... a nearby bar had a fast-food / grill counter that looked decent. In 20 minutes or so darkness had fallen but I was inside eating a juicy, big, messy burger with an incredible amount of mayonnaise. The accompanying curly fries were consumed on the boat.
The ride back from the Edmonds ferry dock was better than expected, for two reasons: there was little traffic, so riding the unlit sections was not that stressful... and the climbing wasn't as steep as it had seemed descending. In an hour+ I was home and very satisfied. It was around 9pm... I'd been out geohashing for almost eight hours, but I'd finally made myself cycle to the Olympic Peninsula.
I don't get a bike geohash for this one, since I took the motorized ferry for some miles in the middle.