Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Day 67: Hikers of the Corn

August 15: My night on Oyster Dome was wonderful! I watched the lights of Anacortes and the oil refinery next to it twinkling during the night, and watched Puget Sound slowly emerge out of the darkness as the sun rose.

Looking at the route ahead, I knew today would be a lot of miserable road walking. A lot of paved roads through civilization. Several miles away, however, was the town of Edison and I decided I would hit it up for lunch. Who knew what would be open due to the pandemic, but I decided to arrive there at around 11:00am. I figured by eleven, restaurants would be opening soon if they weren't open already. 

A beautiful view from Oyster Dome as the sun rose.

Late in the afternoon was a campground at Bayview State Park, perhaps the only legal place I might be able to camp anywhere along this stretch. Not that I really wanted to camp in a busy campground generally meant for car campers, but it was an option. And I had no assurances that there would even be campsites available. I was leaning toward finding a place to camp along a two-mile stretch of trail along the Padilla Bay Shore Trail, the only part of today's route that wasn't on a busy road. I didn't know how feasible it would be to camp there, but at the very least, I could check out Bayview SP first.

So that was my plan! But if I started hiking right away, I'd probably arrive into Edison closer to 10:00am--a full hour before my ideal arrival time, so I lingered in camp an extra hour enjoying the views.

The first day hikers started arriving by around 7:30am, and I finally hit the trail back down from Oyster Dome at about 8:00am. The sheer number of people climbing to the top was astounded me. Oh, sure, I saw lots of people the evening before, but it was still pretty early in the morning! I didn't expect so many people so early and could only imagine how crowded the trail must have been later in the morning.

Yesterday, I only shared the trail with the Oyster Dome hikers for the last half-mile or so from where the PNT intersected the Oyster Dome trail, but this morning, I'd follow the crowds all the way back to the trailhead.

And the trailhead was packed with vehicles! Cars were parked along the shoulder of Chuckanut Drive for as far as the eye could see.

Then I started the long road walk. I hiked south along the road, near the shoreline of Puget Sound, passing mostly farms with occasional structures along the way. The first couple of miles was a little hairy. Chuckanut Drive was relatively busy with traffic and there wasn't much of a shoulder to walk on, and I crossed the road several times to walk on whatever side of the road happened to have more of a shoulder to walk on.

After a couple of miles, though, the road widened a bit and the shoulders improved making the walk considerably less scary.

I arrived into Edison right on schedule and decided to stop at the Longhorn Saloon for lunch. I put on my mask and walked into the empty saloon and noticed what appeared to be a patio in the back and took a seat at a picnic table there. Large sunbrellas provided shade for each table. I really wanted shade. The road walk had almost no shade it was quite a warm day.

I sat down and took off my shoes and pulled out my solar charger to throw in the sun. It was a wonderful location, next to a small, muddy creek that appeared to be part of the tidal zone of Puget Sound. I could hear the traffic from the front of the store, but it wasn't particularly loud or obnoxious. It was a nice place just to hang out.

When the waitress arrived, I ordered a burger with fries and a Pepsi. I read my Kindle to kill the time. The waitress returned with my drink--ice cold deliciousness!--which I finished off pretty much immediately having been so hot and sweaty from the walk into town. By the time my food arrived, the waitress brought out a refill. The food was delicious! It didn't take long for me to gobble it down!

I wasn't in a particular rush to get back on the trail. My plan to was to go as far as either Bayview SP or the Padilla Bay Shore Trail, which meant I could take about 4 hours worth of rests and still make it before sunset. So after finishing lunch, I lingered at the Longhorn Saloon for another hour or so and drank another refill of Pepsi. 

I probably could have drank even more but stopped after 3. I didn't want to have to pee every five minutes along the busy roads that I would soon be walking again!

Lunch was delicious! And I loved the outdoor patio where I could rest and relax!

By the time I was ready to leave, the rest of the saloon had filled up. I was the only person there when I arrived, but every table was full by the time I left and the town was hopping with tourists. (It was a Saturday, after all.) The tables in the outdoor seating area were clearly placed with social distancing guidelines in mind which would have limited capacity and it didn't seem right that I should be taking up a table just sitting around reading my Kindle. So I finally paid my bill, used the restrooms, and hit the road again.

After another hour or two of hiking through farm country, I took another break. This time, I stopped next to a corn field that cast a bit of shade. It was the first shade I had seen since leaving Edison. 

Then I continued onward, not stopping again until I reached Bayview SP. A sign at the entrance said that the campsites were full, so that made the decision to not stop here for the night easy. =)

I did stop at the day-use area, however, for another hour or so. I went ahead and cooked dinner since I had unlimited potable water from a spigot and a picnic table to work on. Unfortunately, there was no shade to enjoy.

The day use area of Bayview SP was another nice place
to rest and relax along the brutal road walking.
My only complaint was the lack of shade.

I assumed that I might have to camp illegally up ahead, so I didn't want to actually set up camp until sunset. I wanted to time my arrival at the Padilla Bay Shore Trail with sunset and hope for the best.

I also used the state park to throw out my trash and use the bathrooms before hitting the trail again.

The trail headed through the small town of Bay View, but there didn't appear to be any useful services for hikers outside of the state park.

And a short while later, I arrived at the trailhead for the Padilla Bay Shore Trail, built on top of a dike to keep Puget Sound from swamping the farmland on the other side of the dike. It was the first time since leaving the Oyster Dome trail that I wasn't walking on a road and it was nice to escape that. Even if it would only be a temporary break of the road walk. Happily, I did not see any "no camping" signs at the trailhead. Which didn't necessarily mean that camping was allowed--but at least there wasn't any obvious sign that what I was to do was actually illegal. =)

It wasn't an ideal place for a campsite, and strong winds whipped over the dike. I noticed one small section of the trail where some brush grew on both sides of the trail which worked effectively as a windbreak and that's where I decided to camp. I would have preferred not camping near the brush--the views over Puget Sound were beautiful and I would have preferred being able to enjoy it--but the strong wind was just too problematic.

I sat on a nearby bench to watch the sun set, and shortly thereafter, I threw out my groundsheet on the shoulder of the trail and set up camp. A couple of people going for walks out of Bay View saw my campsite and, since I was cowboy camping and not in a tent, they stopped to chat. Typically on the lines of: "You have a nice little campsite there!" I kind of sensed that they were trying to figure out what I was doing there and if I should be there at all.

Watching the sunset from the Padilla Bay Shore Trail near where I camped.

I made a point of explaining that I was hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail. Just in case someone felt like calling the police on me or something, I wanted to make sure that they knew I was just passing through and not a regular homeless guy making a permanent home out of the trail. In the morning, I'd be gone!

The night continued to creep in, and eventually I headed off to sleep...hoping that nobody tried calling the police on me. =)

Prime berry-picking season! Although I didn't stop to pick these berries because there was almost no shoulder on the road and the traffic was way too busy. It really wasn't a safe place to stop for berry-picking!

The road walk went by lots of farms and very little shade.

After getting sick on the trail last year from contaminated water, I felt particularly racist against these animals. And I had no intention of drinking any surface water for the next several days! Fortunately, hiking through so much civilization, I could usually get potable water easily enough from towns.

About the only thing I know about Edison is that it was established in 1869. =)

This cafe was closed when I arrived in town....

The town was FULL of people! Just look at all the parked cars everywhere! So I left my mask on until I was back in the farmlands again. The town had really exploded with people since my arrival!

Looking back towards Mount Baker.

I took another break at this cornfield since it was the only place I could find off the road that provided a bit of shade.

I was a little astonished at how many blueberries seemed to go to waste. There were field hands picking them when I went by, but the areas I passed that had already been picked had the ground littered with berries that seemed in otherwise good condition.

The trail also passed through the small town of Leary, which--if you blink--you'll miss it! Not much to report about this town. No services available here!

Puget Sound

Padilla Bay Shore Trail trailhead

The Padilla Bay Shore Trail follows a dike built that keeps Puget Sound from flooding the farmland on the other side of the dike.

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