Vancouver to Portland
July 16 / August 5, 1992

Michael J. Ferguson

Les Publications INRS-Télécommunications, Montréal

Journal Index


1  Thursday, July 16, Montreal & Dorval
2  Friday, July 17, Richmond
3  Saturday, July 18, Sidney
4  Sunday, July 19, Fairholm, Lake Crescent
5  Monday, July 20, Kalaloch
6  Tuesday, July 21, Westport
7  Wednesday, July 22, Fort Canby, Ilwaco
8  Thursday, July 23, Mt. St. Helens
9  Friday, July 24, Mt. St. Helens
10  Saturday, July 25 to Friday July 31, Portland
11  Friday, July 31, Portland
12  Saturday, August 1, Swift Lake
13  Sunday, August 2, Iron Creek - near Randle
14  Monday, August 3, Kopachuck State Park - sort of near Tacoma
15  Tuesday, August 4, Sidney
16  Wednesday, August 5, Richmond
17  Maps

1  Thursday, July 16, Montreal & Dorval

I am on my way to Portland, Oregon via Vancouver, BC - Vancouver, WA is just across the Columbia from Portland - to attend a TEX Users Group Board of Directors meeting that is being held in conjunction with the annual meeting. One of the reasons for going via Vancouver, other than the fact that the air ticket is less than direct to Portland, is to visit my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Ed who are now living in Sidney, BC. I would have liked to fly early in the morning and then make my way over to Vancouver Island in the afternoon but the only flights in the morning were via Toronto - (occasionally) RapidAir. It was a three hour late RapidAir flight that Peggy took for her connection to Frankfurt. She ended up missing her connection and arrived almost a day late. My neighbour has similar horror stories about trying to make connections. I am settling for a non-stop that leaves at 7:00pm and arrives in Vancouver 9:30pm. Six years ago I stayed in a campground just across the river from the airport. I am hoping it is still there.

I arrived very early at the airport - Virginia gave me a ride. My bike will fit inside the Tercel with no trouble so it is quite easy to auto it. The traffic was quite easy so we made it with about two hours to spare.

Air Canada has a very nice single queue for their 15 agents so you never get stuck in a slow line. The queue seemed long but went quite fast. I checked in and discovered that since this was not an International flight, I would have to pay $40.00 for my bicycle. This meant standing in another listed as being for ``Tickets for Today's Flights''. It meant that you were supposed to purchase tickets for today's flights, not just check in. Several people were upset at being in the wrong line. I warned three different groups that came behind me. When it was my turn, I asked why, when my bike folded up into a relatively small package, it had to be considered like a ``real'' bike. After a discussion with the supervisor, it was deemed acceptable as a second bag and let through without additional charge. I trust that it will make it ok. We shall see what happens on the way back.

I have been watching the plane to see if my bike is being loaded but I think that it is so small now that it fits easily inside the baggage pallets. I won't know until we land.

We made it to Vancouver just at sunset, 9:30 at 49 degrees north. However, by the time I put my bike back together it was quite dark. At about 11:30 I started out to look for the campground that I remembered from 1986 but was not on my map. I crossed a bridge, saw the road I wanted (River Road - now I know) but couldn't get down to it. I hadn't gotten out my map so I promptly got quite lost. After exploring Richmond at midnight, and after some friendly directions, I found the Richmond RV Park. It was well beyond any normal office times so I put up my tent under a full moon, had a shower, and went to sleep.

2  Friday, July 17, Richmond

First light was about 4:30am and the moon was still full. It is a beautiful day but I am woefully unorganized. I keep trying to bring less but I always seem to be overloaded - and I keep forgetting things. This time it was my glasses. I didn't forget them to save weight.

I managed to leave by 7:00am - an incredibly long time to get organized. It is probably unimportant because tonight I shall be staying with Aunt Margaret and Uncle Ed in Sidney, right at the end of the Victoria ferry.

It is too early to find a drugstore to buy new glasses, but McDonald's is open so I can have my second ``real?'' breakfast. Perhaps I shouldn't have stopped. I missed the 8:00am bicycle shuttle through the George Massey tunnel by 3 minutes. The next one is in 3 hours at 11:00am.

At 8:45am the lady and the shuttle reappears and confirms that the next run is at 11:00. However, she offered to take me over now if I am willing to pay. The scheduled shuttles are free. I asked her how much - $5.00 : so I said ``yes'' and off we went. She dropped me off on the other side on BC17 that went to the Tsawwassen ferries. The last time I came this way I avoided BC17 because it looked like a big four lane highway. It is, but it has a wide paved shoulder that is an ideal bicycle path - this is certainly the preferred route. It took about a half hour from the tunnel to the ferry. I easily made the 10:00am departure and am now cooling off on deck.

We arrived just a couple of minutes late and I discovered that my bike had a very flat back tire. Apparently I ran over a 3/4 inch nail inside the ferry. I had trouble finding the hole, which was surprising since the tube was very flat. After fixing the leak, I discovered the tube was still flat. Time for a new tube - I carry several. This whole operation took over an hour.

Onwards and upwards (slightly) towards Sidney. It took 3 tries but I finally found a gas station with a high pressure air pump and finished pumping up my tire.


After a short visit in downtown Sidney, I found Ed and Margaret's place. The fuschia and clematis are in full bloom - much pleasanter than in December when I was last here. It has been cool and sunny all day. Ed claims this is just a usual day. I wonder though. The comment from several other people that I met today was ``You sure picked a good day to ride.''

Sidney is being rechristened Sidney by the Sea. There has been much development, most quite tasteful, in the two years since my last visit. The major work has been a new marina. Port Sidney has ``dockominiums'' for sale, a customs office, four very nice restaurants, a bakery, and a collection of large cabin cruisers - no sailboats. Most of the boats have little (16/20 foot) outboards on deck with an onboard crane to lift them up and down out of the water. One boat had two of them. These outboards were not rubber boats and would have been more than acceptable on a Laurentian lake. However these paled beside the boat that Ed told me about. Several weeks ago there were two cruisers each with an airplane on their deck. I am sorry they had disappeared. I would have liked to discovered how they worked.

3  Saturday, July 18, Sidney

On our walk last night, we passed a drugstore that had ``quality reading glasses'' for half price. I think I shall stop by on my way in to Victoria this morning. I will aim for the 3:00pm ferry to Port Angeles - the two earlier ones 6:00am and 10:00am are a little too early to make gracefully. The 3:00pm is too early to allow for afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel so I suppose I shall just have to suffer.

The 3:00pm ferry is full - apparently it filled up at 8:00am this morning. However, it is not full if you are riding a bicycle. I left my bike at the entrance. It is a beautiful, sunny, cool day, and not too crowded. A perfect day to sit on bench in the harbour and eat the banana, grapes, and apple that Aunt Margaret packed for me.

The ferry left on time - almost without me. I showed the US immigration lady my passport and she then asked for some evidence of Canadian residency. I made the mistake of inquiring why and tripped her suspicion button. I was stopped for secondary investigation and it was clear that they didn't care whether you made the ferry. After everyone had left, I hauled out my driver's license and business card, told her I was a professor and very gently humoured the system. She retrieved my passport from secondary investigation and I rolled my bike on board. The other couple under investigation did not make the ferry.

There were four of us with bicycles. One was a dilettante with an empty bike. Nicole Meia, from Hamburg, was on her way to Mexico, and Peter Loock, from Darmstadt, was out for a weekend trip from his base in Victoria. Peter1 just arrived on May 1 to do a PhD in Physical Chemistry at Univ. of Victoria. I am not certain where Nicole started but the crossing was not too good for her - seasick and sunstroked when we landed. She opted for the campground at the County Fairgrounds in Port Angeles. Peter went off to buy some food and I looked for a map.

Port Angeles was having a craft fair on a couple of streets near the ferry. The Saint Vincent de Paul Society was selling German sausage. It was good bratwurst and unexciting hotdog buns. Desert was a homemade nutty chocolate ice cream bar from the SorOptimists.

I met Peter again when I reprovisioned at Safeway. We decided to try to make it the 25 miles to the Fairholm national park campground, or stop sooner if possible. The ridges rose 1000 feet on both sides, very heavily wooded, and occasionally shaved. I was quite glad that we went in between. The road rose slowly and rolled a bit. The private campgrounds we saw were uniformly depressing. At about 8:00pm we reached the eastern end of Lake Crescent. Our destination was 8 miles away at the other end. The road hugged the shore of the lake and the sun mercifully dropped below the ridges. It was a very pleasant 8 miles.

We arrived at about 9:00pm and of course the campground was full. This does not worry intrepid bicyclists. You can usually find some small spot. All the campsites by the lake were ``walk-in'' and we dropped down to see what we could find. A pair of families from Chicago invited us for some supper and said I could pitch my tent in a small area near there site. Peter didn't use a tent. He carried a hammock and found two trees near a second group of kids from Seattle. As is usual in National Park Campgrounds, there were no showers. But the lake was very pleasant and refreshing - except for the rocks that mauled the feet. I pitched the tent in complete darkness in the midst of the firs and cedars. Very pleasant.

Today I went 45 miles and climbed 2000 feet.

4  Sunday, July 19, Fairholm, Lake Crescent

It is another beautiful day. I am off to somewhere before Peter or my neighbours get up. I stopped at the Fairholm Store to look for flashlight bulbs and perhaps a map. I found neither.

Lake Crescent is in a deep valley with a three mile long hill that starts the day. Peter passed me at about the 1/2 mile point. At the 7/10 mile point, I found some most unusual trash in the ditch - a Sony video camera. It was considerably banged up and was missing its lens. I found that about three feet away. I carried it for about 20 miles until I was able to flag down a Washington State Patroller. Since I had found it in the Olympic National Park, he said he would turn it over to the Park Rangers. I wonder what will happen to it. I was hoping if they did not find the owner, it would be sent to me. The policeman said this was unlikely. Apparently they auction off such found goods.2

Logging started in earnest a few miles beyond the campground. The lumber companies took pains to tell us that these were managed forests. One was planted in 1936 and was due to be harvested in 1996. The trees looked at least 100 feet high. Another stand, much shorter, said that it had been harvested in 1984, burned in 1985 and replanted the same year.

Olympic National Park comes in many separate pieces. One section is on the Pacific Coast and the road appears, on the map, to go right by the shore. It does, but you only get glimpses of the Pacific. There is a narrow opaque forest barrier.

I stopped for the night at Kalaloch - an over organized national park campground on the ocean. The slots are nice but small and precise. It is impossible to graciously double up as I did last night at Fairholm. I finally found an empty slot, right by the Cooks, Grants, and Charettes who had come together for a family reunion. There was much joy and singing and Karen, a six year old, fed me a smore. The name has not changed in 40 years, at least in the west. I rescued the couple north of me with my stove. They were from Moscow, Idaho, and had the misfortune of a failed pump in their Coleman stove, and of having bought isopropyl alcohol for a methanol stove. Ethan, their 6 month old was happy to get something warm.

This campground has an ocean but no lake ... and no showers ... ugh!

Today I went a short, but tiring 60 miles and climbed only 2000 feet. I stopped early. The next campground was 40 miles away. The one only five miles away was unknown to me at the time, five extra miles did not really mean anything.

Today - 66 miles and 2000 feet of up (107km and 610m).

5  Monday, July 20, Kalaloch

The Hoh Rain Forest is not unique. It poured last night and is still dribbling this (late) morning. Unfortunately it is not really raining hard enough to compensate for the lack of showers. I get to try out some of my rain gear and pack up a soggy tent.

I went 30 miles this morning through the Quinault seeing lots of clear cutting, the occasional saw mill - a wonderful smell, burning cedar sawdust - huge praying-mantis-like log pickers cleaning a newly cut section, but not much more. I stopped for breakfast at JJ's Diner just north of Lake Quinault. The local postman was complaining about his dried up spring and the cost of $22/foot for drilling water wells. Yesterday he had to haul in water to pour into the toilets. For some reason he felt that this was not an optimal way to run a household. Although it wasn't on the menu. the diner had a sign : Spotted Owl tastes like chicken and I love Spotted Owl fried in Exon Oil - liability problems?

The postman said it was all downhill to Aberdeen - 45 miles all down hill; I sort of doubt it. Well maybe it was - almost. It was only 750 feet of vertical, and it was the full 45 miles. I don't know if the scenery was spectacular. There was continual rain drizzle, and low clouds. I did see several ridges disappear into them.

Aberdeen does not have the charm of its Scottish namesake. It shows much evidence of a depressed economy. The storefronts have a I need paint drabness. The visitor center is quite nice, though, and there seems to be enough strength to support the new, large South Shore Mall.

Eighteen miles later I arrived at Twin Harbors State Park. The state of Washington is very nice to bicyclists. They put you up in their primitive sites for only $4.00 a night. There also are showers.

There were four other groups of cyclists already there. Most had been there all day - no fun riding in the rain. Emanuelle Grenier was one of them. She is from Paris and is one her way to Mexico City - in two months. She might make it. She says that she is able to cycle 90 miles a day and would like someday to compete in the Hawaiian Ironman. She had a North Face Tadpole tent that she had bought in Paris and was very sad that she had not known about Mountain Equipment Coop where she could have bought it at half what she paid in Paris. One of the other cyclists had the solution to an overloaded bike; he had a bicycle trailer.

It has pleasantly stopped raining and is supposed to be merely overcast tomorrow.

Today: 94 miles and 2000 feet up (150km and 610m).

6  Tuesday, July 21, Westport

It rained again during the night but has now stopped and is partly cloudy (sunny?). Today I am just going a short distance down the coast towards Fort Canby, a Lewis and Clark historical center.

A Memorial near Raymond, WA.

The Keil Colony arrived here Nov. 1, 1855. Organized in Pittsburgh, Penn. The group migrated to Bethel Missouri where they stayed for two years. Willie Keil, who died at Bethel and whose body was brought to the coast in a lead casket filled with alcohol, was buried here Nov. 26, 1855.

Just outside of Redmond, I stopped to readjust my load and created a minor disaster. My rear derailleur (gear changer) had been giving me some trouble so I felt that now was a good time to replace the plastic idler wheels. I took them off and found that my Shimano replacements were the wrong size and that the thread on the screws holding the old ones was stripped so I couldn't put them back in. I carry odd screws and such and was able to rig up a replacement - but the screw I used was slightly short so I am afraid it might fall off. After carefully straightening everything, my derailleur still rubbed. There was nothing for thirty miles except the town of Nemah, which as far as I could tell consisted of a slightly decrepit Congregational Church.

Forty miles later, when I arrived at civilisation?, Ilwaco, everything was closed. I am down to twelve gears but still running.

Fort Canby and the Lewis and Clark interpretive center was a bit of a disappointment. The road into it was hilly enough to suggest fortifications but I saw none. The Interpretive center is open from nine to five so I shall probably miss it. Perhaps the tip of the peninsula is well named, Cape Disappointment.

Today: 85 miles and 1600 feet of vertical (137km and 500m).

7  Wednesday, July 22, Fort Canby, Ilwaco

This was the first night that I was camping alone. It was late when I arrived so there would not have been much time for socializing. It dribbled overnight again but stopped by morning. I shall have a soggy rainfly and tent again.

Today I am off to Mt. St. Helens, via the south shore of the Columbia. It is overcast and mosquitoes again this morning.

Astoria sits on a narrowing of the Columbia River flood plain with a 200 foot headland behind it. The bridge approach curves 270 degrees down the whole 200 feet. This is one of the more prosperous towns I have seen on the coast. perhaps its mix of a port, fishing, and logging reduces the recession somewhat.

The Oregon tourist office has an outstanding map for bicycling along the coast. I used its regular map for the 50 miles along the Columbia to Longview and couldn't find a single one of the towns mentioned on the crossroad signs. Highway US30 runs parallel to the Columbia all the way to Portland. For the most part it is very flat as it sits on the flood plain. There are three long hills though - each rises almost continuously 700 feet (230 metres). They are quite noticeable. I stopped on the top of the first one at Bradley State Park, on the Clatsop Summit, for a picnic lunch. The park is on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Columbia river valley, with its islands, for miles in all directions. The river looked quiet and pastoral, with only the occasional barge. Although there was no camping at Bradley, the custodian, a volunteer who normally lives in northern Washington, invited me to stay if I wished. I had mentioned that I was tired when I arrived, and he sympathised and asked if I had just come up the hill. Since the park is on the summit, it could hardly have been otherwise. When I left, I really knew what they meant. It was 650 feet (200m) continuously down at an easy 35mph (55kph).

The custodian said it was mostly downhill all the way to St. Helens. Except for the two additional 700 foot climbs by the Columbia and the 500 foot rise up to Seacrest State Park, he was essentially correct.

I stopped in Castle Rock, about 5 miles below Seacrest State Park for some supper. I decided that Waldo's, with its candlelight was not my style. The only reason I would have fit in was that it was empty. I went back to the hamburger stand I had seen earlier, dreading soggy hamburgers, but hungry. Their Shrimp Boat was a pleasant surprise. While I ate, a steady stream of locals came by to order supper.

At 7:20, I left, following the directions towards Seacrest, ``up the hill'' - rather ominous. It was only 5 miles but on the first rise I was only averaging 3.5mph. At that rate it would be 10:30 and quite dark when I arrived. After a mile the way was gentler and I made it all the way in just under an hour. It was just getting dark. The ranger sent me to a regular campsite because there was room and the primitive sites were in the mosquito swamps. This is one of the prettiest parks I have seen so far. It should be pleasant to spend two nights here.

Today was quite a workout: 95 miles and 3900 feet - 150km and 1200m. Tomorrow will be shorter.

8  Thursday, July 23, Mt. St. Helens

It is dry, and overcast. I am going to spend the day visiting the mountain. The Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center is just across the road from Seacrest. My first order of business though is to replace the rear derailleur with the new one I picked up in Astoria at the only bicycle shop that I passed in 100 miles.

The Mt. St. Helens visitor center has a 22 minute video on the explosion. I didn't realise that there was so much warning of something happening - several months of rumblings and blowouts. I guess there was no one around to remember the last time St. Helens blew - 1900. It only seems that it erupted yesterday but it was 12 years ago - May 1980. Perhaps Harry Truman was right. He didn't want to leave. The mountain and Spirit Lake had been his life. He stayed in his Lodge that is now under 120 feet of ash and 300 feet below the present surface of Spirit Lake. Spirit Lake effectively no longer exists and must be reborn.

Mt. St. Helens blew out 1 km3 of ash while Vesuvius 9 km3 in 79 AD. I don't think Pompei had a chance. Even Vesuvius was small compared to Krakatoa with 20 km3 in 1883 or Mt. Tambora, Indonesia with 80 km3 in 1815. However the biggest one was Mt. Mazama with 150 km3 in 4850 BC. I wonder how the ``experts'' know!.

I also discovered that the only way to see the devastation is to go 120 miles around to the other side. This is clearly out of the question. The road from here leads to Spirit Lake but is closed 16 miles away and about 50 more miles to the lake. It will be open Oct. 1 (maybe). Perhaps it will not be closed to bicycles - it was!

The Toutle (Tootl) River carried ash and mud the 40 miles or so to I5. The road follows the river up, not too steeply, by the Toutle and ends at a silt dam. This has to be the only dam that was specifically designed to silt up.

I spent the afternoon talking with Frederick Michael Life and his four year old son of the same name. Interestingly both were called Michael. Michael Sr. is a helicopter pilot who normally fly tourists to look at the mountain. Today the mountain was invisible behind clouds and rain and the helicopter was in Portland getting serviced.

My bicycle opened our conversation. Michael does not do much riding but he did enter a cross-state Iowa race along with 12,000 others. It went from town to town, sometimes doubling the town's population for a single night. The Life family live here at the end of the road in a mobile home with books, music and no television. They couldn't get much of anything anyway and Mikey (Michael Jr.) gets very excited whenever he gets to watch Sesame Street. Mikey regaled me with stories of monsters in the woods other imaginary beasts. He got very excited about my binoculars, the first he had seen, and kept finding flowers, birds, and houses in the woods. It was much fun to see the wonder.

I left the end of the road with the mountain still in the clouds and made my way back down by the Toutle river, and past the North Fork Survivors and their half buried A-frame.

I stopped by the Visitor Center to take another look. Michael Sr. says that on a clear day you can see the mountain. Today is not such a day. A ranger told me that they had a collection of Pacific Yews and that they were in great danger of being de-barked, for their newly discovered medicinal properties.

Today was a short day - 39 miles and 1000 feet (55km and 300m). It was not as much vertical as I had expected. I came here year too early. Next year, May 1993, the Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center will be open and you will be able to see something from this side and by bicycle. I suspect that Michael will have to find a new place to fly helicopters.

9  Friday, July 24, Mt. St. Helens

It was not raining but Mt. St. Helens was still not visible. It is approximately 75 miles to Portland, with the first 20 miles retracing my way back to Longview.

The Lewis and Clark bridge across the Columbia from Longview to Rainier was less scary this time. It is a high (150 foot) two lane bridge with narrow foot high sidewalks. I came across on the sidewalk on Wednesday and was afraid of falling off several times. The foot drop into traffic would not have been too healthy. This time I stayed on the roadway. It was ok except for the one logging truck that got a little closer than was necessary. His shock wave was quite evident. This is not a very enjoyable crossing.

The Columbia river valley towards Portland is rolling, gentle farmland, with the occasional small town. The forest has changed from spruces and cedars to birches and maples - I wonder why. The entry into Portland goes on for ten miles through an uninspired industrial tax base. Suddenly US30 turned into an entrance to I405. Only a side entry ramp gave any warning. I turned around, against traffic, and discovered, on my map, that 23rd Ave, with its ``no entry'' sign was where I should probably be. I then followed the directions given me while I was examining my map and easily found the Benson. My first order of business was to find a laundromat - I don't have a single clean piece of clothing. After much work, I found one a few blocks away - attached to a bar. It is the only bar I have been in where the bartender sold beer and soap. The draft beer came in glasses or jars (Mason jars for preserves). The soap was more conventional.

Dinner was just up the street from the Benson in a little Thai restaurant. The Hot and Sour Soup was filled with mushrooms and light vegetables - much different than any other I have tasted. I think I was the only tourist. It was very good.

Today I went about 75 miles with only about 1600 feet of vertical (120km and 450m).

For the next week in Portland, I shall be occupied with the TEX Board of Directors and Committee meetings.

10  Saturday, July 25 to Friday July 31, Portland

Portland is indeed a very pleasant city, enhanced because of beautiful weather. It calls itself the City of Roses and at this time of year it really is that.

Some Random Observations

11  Friday, July 31, Portland

We were able to have our ``wrap-up'' board meeting last night so that I shall be able to leave early this morning. This extra morning increases my margin and should make the return over the eastern passes by Mt. St. Helens much less risky. Although I have yet to see the mountain, I am assured I can see it from Portland - perhaps.

It has been a hard day - it is now 6:20pm and I am sitting in my tent staring out at Swift Lake (Reservoir). It is showing the effects of a drought. The campground marina is a pile of stumps. My neighbours estimate that the water is now down 17 feet while last week it was down only 14 feet. Swift Lake looked blue and clean when I first saw it from the road, 500 feet above the lake. The lake is slightly murky but not so much that the sweat does not rinse off. Yale Lake (Reservoir) is the lower lake in a pair. It is much the nicer - clear water and high surrounding ridges and little signs of recent logging. Swift Lake has heavily logged shores. The road rises about 1000 feet (300m) from Yale Lake to come in 500 feet above the water. The road crosses the end of the lake to end up on the northern side. It then drops slowly for 10 miles the entire 500 feet. It manages to remain just at the lower edge of the clear cut for the entire drop. The logging here is what my friend David Kellerman of Portland describes as the ``cut and run'' variety. There is no evidence of replanting. Perhaps the drought is too severe but perhaps ....

Today was a beautiful but hot day. I didn't see Mt. St. Helens until I was only 30 miles away from it. It was lost in the haze and trees. From the South side it looks like a normal, slightly flat, volcano. I suffered a bit today from terminal exhaustion. I am now only at 1000 feet (300m) and still have the three 4500 foot (1300m) passes. Even with this meagre accomplishment, it was a day of 72 miles (116km) and a climb of 3500 feet (1022m). I wonder what will happen tomorrow when I really have to go up.

As usual at this time of year, the campground was full. However, the nice lady was able to find me a spot on an ant hill overlooking the lake. Off on the ground cloth was amazingly discouraging to them.

My neighbours are permanent visitors from Vancouver, Wash. who saw Mt. St. Helens blow from their back yard in Vancouver. They said they could see the rocks in the air, estimated to be about the size of this campground. One of them, a small plane pilot, declined a request from a news reporter to fly him in for a better look. His comment, ``Do you think I'm crazy?''

Some random comments:

12  Saturday, August 1, Swift Lake

First light was very weak this morning. We have low clouds hanging on the ridge on the other side of the lake. It should burn off very early, but still hasn't started to do so at 6:10am.

I entered the clouds at about 1500 feet and continued through them until I broke out at about 2600 feet. It was mercifully cool and quiet inside the cloud with the tips of the trees disappearing above. My first glimpse of the mountain was about a half hour after ``breakout'' at about 3000 feet.

The road continued along the top of the ridge for about six miles with only the occasional glimpse of the Mt. St. Helens through the trees. It was cool and shadowed but I still managed to use up most of my water. The first really good view of Mt. St. Helens occurred as I started dropping down to Clearwater. It was preceded by a sign that suggested that the official viewpoint was still a mile away. The forest has started to come back but there are clumps of high dead ``stumps'' all over. The valley floor to the north (Clearwater Creek) looks very wide and flat - a large mud flow? It's now quiet here at the overlook; the Honda Gold Wing crowd with their stereos have just left.

Marine Car was about 100 yards from Meta Lake where there was good water. But you couldn't see Spirit Lake one of my objectives. The best vantage was Windy Ridge but it was too far - another nine miles and mostly up. A nice lady at Meta Lake suggested that I could see Spirit Lake by going up the road about a mile to Independence Pass and climbing the ridge. She was right in all but one detail - it was three miles and up to 4150 feet - a real pass.

The north end of Spirit Lake is a massive log jam. My neighbour from last night claimed that Spirit Lake is no more. When he was a kid, the water was crystal clear and the logs from the 1900 eruption were visible 50' down at the bottom of the lake. He feels it will be another fifty years before the present mess of logs sink and Spirit Lake returns.

At the moment I am sitting at the northern boundary marker of the monument. The toothpicks are laid out in nice flow lines below. The ones at the bottom of a sharp monolith look as though they have been dropped in a game of pickup sticks. I just climbed up a very narrow and steep hill - a one lane road with turnouts. It is most disconcerting to stop on a hill, exhausted, and have a passing car downshift on the grade just above your head.

We discussed my way ``home'' tonight - it should rise slightly over a nearby ridge and then drop into the slot on the horizon. If it doesn't, and insists on going over that huge ridge to the east, I am in trouble.

The road did what was expected - even the tight squiggles on the map were down, and dropped almost continuously for 2500 feet in about 8 miles. Even here, outside the monument you could see wisps of the eruption's dragon's breath with patches of trees dropped like matchsticks (new image). By the time I got to the main junction it was dark - dark enough so that it was difficult to see in the tree tunnels that made up parts of the road. There was no possible way to get to Randle (9 miles) tonight so I stopped at Iron Creek forest service campground. It was full, of course, but the superintendent directed me to the last site filled, ``A big site with two kids and a pickup - perhaps they would let you share.'' After wandering around the campground for a while, I decided that the two kids, with no tent, and accompanying rock music, were the best bet. When I arrived, it was quite dark, without music, and a large campfire. The kids were refugees from the modern world. One, from San Bernadino, was escaping the hometown riots to try to become a wilderness ranger at Mt. St. Helens. He was to start on Wednesday. He had earned his shot by practicing to be a mountain man at King's Canyon and the Ansell Adams Wilderness. I wish him luck. The other kid was just a hopeful refugee. He had his soul mortgaged to Seven-Eleven and a half dozen other part time jobs.

13  Sunday, August 2, Iron Creek - near Randle

It is overcast again today. Last night as I was coming down, the clouds were starting to form on the mountains and ridges just above my head. I guess they are now fully formed.

The sun was shining by 8:15am when I got to Randle. I would have died last night. There was one sharp pitch down to Randle in the last mile, of ten, but the first nine miles were up and down - not much, but enough.

Mt. Rainer dominates the eastern horizon but was hidden by nearby ridges and trees for most of the day.

I arrived in Tacoma at about 6:00pm, after 85 miles and my altimeter still registering 320 feet. I kept wondering when I would start down - I didn't. Downtown Tacoma is just that, literally down. I went up Tacoma Ave. to Sixth Ave. and turned out towards the sun. It seemed forever, and at times Sixth Ave. reminded me of a collapsing Tacoma Narrows bridge.

The bridge has a narrow sidewalk on both sides for bikes and people. It was a very pleasant two mile walk into the setting sun. Both sides of the bridge start from high cliffs. It was quiet, calm, and quite delightful.

My aim for tonight is Kopachuck State Park, on the far side of the peninsula. My map is not very detailed and does not show how you gracefully get anywhere. I asked two couples that I had met crossing the bridge, and they said it was a long way on the other side. Their directions were less than explicit since they didn't really know. At about 9:30, in total darkness the road came to an intersection with two dead ends. I was totally lost! I started up the only road left, and stopped at a house - one of the few with lights on - to ask directions. A little girl, about 12 came to the door and explained that the park was up the road aways, turn left at the first intersection, and continue until a crossroads - there might be signs. I sure hope she does not get into too much trouble for giving a stranger directions. She was alone, babysitting her two younger sisters.

After about 20 minutes I reached an intersection that was vaguely as she described. It was moderately busy and a family in a turning car confirmed that it was indeed the correct turn and that the park was about 3/4 mile away up a steep hill. The first hill on the road was only for practise. At 10:10 I found the park. It was closed (10:00pm curfew) but I went in anyway. There was a nice little spot near the showers. I was home. It has been too dark to see other things.

It has been a long day, and not all down hill (107 miles and 3800 feet of vertical (172km and 1200 m).

14  Monday, August 3, Kopachuck State Park - sort of near Tacoma

This is a beautiful morning, no mosquitoes, and tall cedars all around. I wonder where I shall get lost tonight.

I got lost immediately this morning when I tried to follow the map and road signs that pointed, rationally I suppose, in the wrong direction - wrong for me - they pointed towards WA16, the highway I did want but across the peninsula instead of going up the coast. I found Harborview and a charming morning look at the real Gig Harbor.

I spent most of today going through a light, but continuous island suburbia. There were signs of horses, but very little real agriculture. One of the troubles with this sort of country is that the roads are all named, change their names at a whim, and don't show named on any decently scaled map. This means that you are restricted to relatively large roads. The state of Washington allows you to ride a bike on the six to eight foot paved shoulder of most freeways and almost-freeways. WA16 was an almost-freeway, with a large grassy median, two lanes both ways, and controlled access mostly in the towns (more heavily populated sections?). Today was spent mostly on roads like this - safe but without charm. I did miss the preferred turn at Central Valley Road and Scania, and plunged down about 500 feet. I paid for the fun as Scania turned right to go straight up 200 feet - as steep as anything so far on this trip - to get me back on track on Viking Way.

The Floating Bridge goes to the Olympic Peninsula. I still didn't know where I was going today and needed some ferry information. I was told, in Bremerton, that there was information on the Olympic side of the bridge, but I found none. My decision point came about four miles up the road at the junction of the cutoff to Port Ludlow. I was getting a little worried as the intersection approached, wondering what I was going to do. Fortunately, at this intersection, with nothing for miles in any direction, there was a visitor information center with a nice lady and her little girl. I discovered that the morning ferry from Anacortes was too early (8:00am) and the next one too late, the distance from Port Townsend to Anacortes was about 40 miles with 25 more to Port Townsend - clear impossibility. This meant that I would continue the 32 miles to Sequim (pronounced Squim). I was still worried that it was too far from there to Port Angeles to catch the 8:20am ferry.

At 6:30pm and a total of 82 miles, I arrived at Sequim State Park and discovered, as I had feared that there would be 20 miles in the morning. This seemed to be quite risky so I decided to continue into Port Angeles and catch the 9:30pm ferry. I stopped in the town of Sequim for energy refueling at Skippers, the McDonald's of fish, and started out on the remaining 16 miles at 7:30. US101 goes up and down for all these 16 miles, dropping down a sharp hill, and then forcing you up a smaller, but still noticeably high hill on the other side. It was now almost 9:00pm and the sun had just set as I passed the Port Angeles city (town?) line. At 9:15pm I arrived at the docks and immediately went into the wrong ferry office. I found the right place, the Blackball office, and got my ticket. The ferry was late and we did not get on until 10:15pm.

I phoned Uncle Ed and Aunt Margaret to warn them I was on my way and that I would see them in the morning. I slept most of the way over - it was too rough to write, and was delighted to find Uncle Ed waiting for me when I arrived. I had not been looking forward to finding a place to camp. I unloaded the bike, folded it up, and put it in his car. We were safely home at about 12:45.

Today really ended at Port Angeles after 104 miles and 4600 feet of vertical (168km and 1400m). For the most part the hills were not too steep but there were a lot of them.

15  Tuesday, August 4, Sidney

My logistical problem for today is the bicycle shuttle through the Massey tunnel. I must take an early enough ferry so I can be certain of making the last trip - I think it is 5:30. At 12:38, I left Aunt Margaret's and Uncle Ed's aiming for the 1:00pm ferry. Thirty seconds after I got on, the gangplank went up. I should have plenty of time to get to the tunnel - assuming no flat tires.

The trip along BC17 was uneventful except for the two red-tailed hawks that were resting on fence posts about 50 feet from me. They stayed for a while even when I stopped to stare. I arrived at Massey tunnel bicycle shuttle stop 3:30pm and caught it just as it was about to leave. It was really every two hours after the first 3 hour delay between 8 and 11 - or something like that.

My friend from UofT, Ian Cumming, lives in Richmond, but was away on a trip so we missed each other. His son Chris, had just returned from two months in Europe as a UBC graduation present and didn't know where his father had gone or when he would be back - sometime we shall connect.

This time I found the campground easily and set up the tent in one of their tiny tenting spots. I am beginning to think that camping is just a way to meet new people. The couple beside me were from Ottawa/Hull and had to set up their two tents just a few feet from mine. There was barely enough room for them both. I don't think it would have been very easy to set up our 13 foot ballroom on such a small spot.

At 6:00pm I ventured into Richmond for some dinner. I rejected a Mexican Cantina after I saw the menu and went in search, instead, for Chinese food. The first restaurant I found was too elegant, and the second, a real family place with menu outside was closed on Tuesdays. Then I spied the Korean Barbecue House at 100-8291 Ackroyd St. For $14.95 you could have an ``all you could eat'' buffet of marinated beef, shrimp, squid, lamb, prawns, and chicken with an assortment of Korean vegetables and a bowl of rice. It was excellent. I barbecue like this at home but I have stopped marinating the meat because it is too hard to clean the grill. I asked the waitress how they managed to clean them. She said they soak them for ten hours and then scrub very hard. It was nice not to have to scrub very hard.

Today was an easy day of only 30 miles and a vertical of 100 feet. The highest hills in Delta are the overpasses.

16  Wednesday, August 5, Richmond

I broke camp early, by about 6:30, and would have been earlier except that my stove took 3/4 hour to burn itself out. At about 7:00am, I arrived at the airport and started to put my bike together.

I had to take my bike over for special handling and was asked whether I had paid for it. I replied that, since it folded, there was no charge. This was accepted.

Some Reflections and the Distances

The entire trip was 937 miles (1500km) and a total up of 32,500 feet (9900m). This is slightly shorter than the Italian Campaign but in many ways more strenuous. The 60 miles and 6000 feet through Mt. St. Helens was the exhausting high point of the trip. This was the most interesting but I still think the 26 miles from Port Angeles to Lake Crescent the prettiest.

I saw little wildlife. Perhaps the saddest thing was my first deer, just recently hit by a car and dead at the side of the road, outside Port Angeles. Within a quarter mile of this sadness we saw a doe and then a velvet-antlered buck munching by the side of the road. The doe bounded away but the buck stayed his ground and watched us pass. There was also a raccoon, unafraid of a flashlight in its eyes, by the campfire at Fairholm Campground.

17  Maps


1Peter already had a second job. He was quite upset about the quality of bread in Victoria so he started baking his own German bread. It was so good that he sells it at the local bakery.

2It turns out they did not auction it off. In October, I wrote State Trooper Tom Anderson asking what had happened to the camera. he sent me a UPS delivery notice and a note indicating that it had been returned to its rightful owner, a lady in Vancouver BC. I wrote to the lady asking her where she thought she had lost it and giving details about where I had found it. I was also curious about where she thought she had lost it. I have heard nothing yet (Dec. 1992).

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On 12 Nov 2008, 13:42.