Day 36: Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Stop to Stop: del Norte Park to Clam Beach Park, Mckinleyville, CA
Underway: 6:30 am Off Bike: 3:30 pm Ride Time: 6:03 hrs Stayed At: Campsite
Miles Traveled: 64.9 Total Miles: 2,605.1 Weather: Sunny, perfect
First Things First: First beach camping.
Mile to Mile: The downside to bike-in camping at Del Norte is the steep 2+ mile climb back out in the morning. The scenery inspired me upwards though as the road wound it’s way through old and new growth redwoods so dense that the early morning light had a hard time weaving its way through. It was warm and sunny as I broke out at the top but I could see down the hill that things might change. You could see the top of the fog bank below which is exactly where I needed to go. Minutes later I went from toasty warm to chilled to the bone as I raced down the hill waves of fog rolling in off the ocean below. What a way to start the day.
The fog burned off and receded back out to sea as I pedaled up and down too many hills to count traveling through some of the most beautiful groves of coastal redwoods I have ever seen. Sometimes the trees passed by right at the edge of the road having been saved by someone in the the distant past who decided the tree had more right to be there than us.
I made steady, if slow progress towards my hoped for campground miles down the road – stopping to take photos or just soak in the scenery made the miles go by slow but the new memories made it all worth it. The best was saved for last, though, as I left 101 on a hidden little scenic bypass the last stretch to Clam Beach. The road was rough, gravel in sections and, from the looks of the cracks and repairs made along the way, may not make it past the next big winter storm. I think this was the most scenic stretch of road I have ever been on. I was stopping every one of two minutes to take one breathtaking picture after another. It took me over an hour to travel 5 miles mostly downhill. And all the RV’s and campers zooming by above me on 101 had no clue what they were missing. The joys of slow travel.
The last few miles parallel the ocean and I soon reached the campgrounds where I snagged the last available campsite. Lucky since I had no other good options nearby. My tent is sitting in sand just a few hundred feet and some sand dunes to the beach. No shade but the fog will inevitably roll in blocking the sun but not the steady sound of the surf crashing on shore. I will sleep good tonight.