Day 2-Capetown to Mendocino

I woke up on Day 2 feeling pretty stiff from a long day on the bike the day before. Things weren’t about to get much better in terms of pure hours sitting on the bike although I was really excited for the day on the Lost Coast. We set out from Capetown into what must have been a high pressure pocket sitting on top of the ridge because there was fog to the east and definitely fog over the ocean. We were hoping to be able to access Cape Mendocino which is the westernmost point in California but, again, we were thwarted by private land.

The stretch of the road that ran along the coast was beautiful and I really enjoyed seeing cows on the sand. It was just such a funny thing to see. From there we headed inland to Petrolia, where the first oil drilling in California took place. After a short detour out to Mattole Beach we cruised on to Honeydew and headed south onto Kings Mountain Road. I have to admit that the initial decent onto Kings Mountain Road had me gripping the boxes and desperately wanting to close my eyes until it was over…those were some tight switchbacks!

At the end of Kings Mountain Road we headed down into Shelter Cove to get something for brunch. We were figuring that with such a resort community there would certainly be somewhere to get food but that didn’t seem to be the case. We ended up in a little coffee shop that specialized in microwaving food with a talkative barista from Maui who is doing the coffee shop thing to wait out the real estate market so he can sell all his properties in Shelter Cove. After getting nice and warm we headed up the hill again bound for Chemise Mountain Road. It was a really nice pretty road that was paved once we reached the Mendocino County line (which started “Mendocino County Line” by Lee Anne Womack and Willie Nelson running through both of our heads except neither of us could remember the words).

At Four Corners we decided to take a sidetrip down Briceland Road to see some more of the coast. We were still being thwarted by fog but it was a pretty drive anyway. I fell in love with the ranger station near Needle Rock–the grey weathered siding with smoke coming from the chimney all in view of the ocean accessible by a long winding dirt road. We stashed the tank bag and helmets at the end of the road for the quarter mile ramble to Bear Harbor. What a neat place to camp! Beautiful beach, cute little stream, close to the car for comfortable camping but really remote…awesome!

After retracing our path back to Four Corners we set out on Usal Road. It deserves its reputation as pretty gnarly–there were ruts everywhere and twenty miles has never felt so long! I felt bad for Forrest as he fought the addition of my weight on the really rutted road but I think he had a damn good time anyway. We ran into a guy with an Explorer at the southern end of the wilderness state park headed north who was concerned about how bad had been to that point and wanted our opinion about continuing. We told him it was probably not a good idea and when we saw how NOT bad the rest of the road (it was steep but actually pretty well graded) was we decided that was definitely the right decision.

Going 55mph on Highway 1 felt so fast after spending all day on dirt! Twisty and beautiful. Forrest was loving the 20 mph corners and I was glued to the view of the coast. Before we knew it we’d found ourselves as far south as Fort Bragg and needed to start looking for a place to spend the night. We postponed the looking long enough to walk around downtown and have a small beer sampler at North Coast Brewing.

After a frustrating search for a camping spot in a variety of California State Parks (full signs and $35/night fees!) that lead us through the cute town of Mendocino (again, going to have to go back someday!) we found a place to camp near the airport in Little River where we got to relax and have a campfire.

Day 2: 155 miles

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

California Adventure-Day 1, Philomath to Capetown

Forrest and I left Philomath on Sunday, August 16th for points south. We headed south on I-5 bound for Grants Pass. It was a gorgeous morning–perfect for starting an adventure! We stopped briefly in Oakland, Oregon–a very cute town a mile or so off the freeway, a little touristy but cute all the same.

At Grants Pass we gassed up and headed down US 199, also known as “Redwood Highway.” At O’Brien we decided to take a dirt “shortcut” and headed down Lone Mountain Rd. through Rouge River-Siskiyou National Forest. It was a welcome change of pace after pounding our way down the freeway in the morning. At Patrick Creek we rejoined 199 and rode down along the Middle Fork of the Smith River. The water was such a beautiful emerald green–we found ourselves climbing down an embankment to check it out more closely…it was much more difficult climbing back up than it was heading down! Not long after this pitstop we came to Howland Hill Road, a nice dirt road through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The drive itself was really nice even if all the vegetation next to the road was coated in a thick coat of dust. We stopped for a quick hike through the Stout Grove and found ourselves experiencing a little blasé about the big trees. We had to quell the Northwesterner pride in our trees to admit that it was impressive that there were so many big trees so close together…

We continued down Howland Hill to Crescent City where we headed south on US 101. It was great to see the ocean and driving through the Redwoods was beautiful although it wasn’t long before we were reminded that 101 isn’t a beautiful scenic drive–it’s a freeway. We took the scenic Newton B. Drury Parkway through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park as a distraction. A stop at the National Park visitors center near Orick confirmed that there really aren’t any roads through Redwoods National Park so we continued south past some glimpses of scenery on our way to Eureka (should of stopped for beers at Lost Coast Brewery although Forrest did indulge me in driving by the Carson Mansion).

After Eureka we headed for the Lost Coast–we left 101 to head for Ferndale. Ferndale was a really cute town that I’d love to have a chance to poke around sometime. From Ferndale we headed out on Mattole Road. As it climbed up the hill outside of town the pavement got worse and worse but our spirits soared. The landscape started to open up into ranch land palpably close to the ocean.

We expected to find some public land to camp on along this road but we were unpleasantly surprised to find that there was none. The wind was whipping and we knew that it would be a pretty miserable and cold night if we waited to reach the ocean before camping so when we arrived in Capetown it wasn’t long before we found ourselves under a bridge over the Bear River setting up our tent after kicking dried cowpies aside. As we ate a granola bar before going to bed I heard a rustling behind me which I found kind of unnerving until I realized it was a cow (a “moo-cow” as I foolishly told Forrest…I’ll never hear the end of it).

And little did I know how much of a moo-cow it was. We’d gotten between it and the rest of herd and it was too scared of us to walk on its normal path and get to them so every couple of hours it would bellow to let us know that it was upset. Ohhh silly cow.

Day 1: ~387 miles