Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Day 85: The Long Ride to Nowhere....

September 2: In the morning, I looked out the window--it was overcast, dreary and perfect vampire weather. And I made a decision.... I would miss my campsite for tomorrow night. 

Tonight was an open night where I could camp more-or-less anywhere I wanted to along the trail. I was outside of Olympic National Park and didn't need a permit, but starting tomorrow night, I expected to be within the park boundaries again and subject to the permit system. Which meant in the next two days, I had to cover nearly 30 miles to keep up with my permit. That's not too bad--only 15 miles per day, and most of it was easy walking on gravel logging roads. It had been a good plan when I first worked it out. What I had not worked into my plan, however, were the tides. There was a beach at Oil City, the ranger told me, that could only be crossed when the tide was below 1 foot. Which happened early in the morning.

It was an overcast and dreary morning in Forks--perfect vampire weather!

To make it to my campsite tomorrow night, I needed to cross that beach tomorrow morning, but the beach was about 25 miles away. I'd need to do 25 miles today, then only have 4 miles to do tomorrow. That breakdown sucked. But it occurred to me that if I did that 25 miles before the beach over two days, I could catch up with my schedule by adding the last 4 miles to the next day--which seemed doable. Then I'd have about 12 to 13 miles today and tomorrow, followed by a 15-mile day on the third day. Which I liked a lot better than a 25-mile day followed by a 4-mile day followed by an 11 mile-day.

So I deliberately planned to miss my first night at Mosquito Creek Camp and camp the next two nights outside of the park. And that decision meant that I didn't have to leave first thing in the morning anymore. I could hike 10 to 15 miles today instead of the 25 miles I otherwise would have had to do to keep to my schedule. Now I could sleep in late and hang around town all morning. And while it was overcast and dreary now, the weather was expected to clear up in the afternoon. All-in-all, I liked my new plan better. =)

Checkout time at the hotel was 11:00am, so I lingered there using every last minute I could to stay in the warm, dry room--and safe from the vampires surely lurking around the town on such a dreary morning.

Once I lost my room, I got lunch across the street at Sully's Burgers. And, at that point, I figured I may as well hit the trail. There wasn't really any other reason to hang around town anymore.

But then it started sprinkling. Rain?! Really? That wasn't in the weather forecast! I ducked under an overhang of "Native to Twilight," a clothing store. There was a bench outside--probably for husbands who didn't want to shop for clothes in a Twilight-themed store--so I sat on the bench in an attempt to wait out the sprinkles. I wrote postcards and read my Kindle to kill the time.

The sprinkling stopped...mostly, but the air still felt wet and I wasn't sure if it would resume. I had to get hiking eventually, though, so I walked over to the post office and mailed the postcards, then pulled out my phone to call for an Uber. I didn't want to try hitchhiking if I didn't have to!

Except Uber reported that there were no drivers currently available. Not a huge surprise, I suppose. It's not like Forks is a huge city with lots of drivers. So then I pulled up the Lyft app and tried there, but again, they couldn't find any nearby drivers.

Well, shoot.

Before Forks became famous for vampires and werewolves, it was a big logging town.

Then I thought that maybe I could take a bus. So I walked over to the transit center to look up schedules and bus routes. There was information about one route that circled around town, but it didn't head south to Bogachiel SP where I needed to go. When a bus pulled up, I asked the driver about how to get to Bogachiel SP, but he didn't know.

Well, shoot.

I finally gave up on paying for a ride out of town and decided I'd have to hitchhike after all. I decided to walk to the south end of town and hitch from there.

I pulled up some music on my phone and listened to it while car after car passed me by.

An hour later, I was still stuck in Forks. It's like the Hotel California, I thought, which just came up on my playlist. You can check in but you can never leave.... I was sure the vampires planned it that way.

I decided to try the ride-sharing apps again, but struck out again with both. Still no drivers available. I really needed to get out of town today. I had a permit that required my camping at specific sites when I re-entered Olympic National Park, and I really needed to hit those marks. I was willing to miss that first night knowing I could catch up the next night, but I couldn't be missing two nights. I'd never catch up to my schedule then!

A bigger than life logger!

By 2:00, I had made a decision. I needed to start walking. It was 5 or so miles back to the trail from this end of town, and it would probably take nearly two hours to get back along a horrible and busy road walk, but that would still give me enough time to get the 10 to 15 miles of trail miles done before sunset. Just barely enough time, but enough. Maybe I'd get lucky and someone driving down the road would see me and take pity and pick me up. Mostly for kicks, I pulled out a twenty-dollar bill from my wallet and attached it to my pack. Maybe they'll improve the odds of someone pulling over to pick me up. I'd have happily paid $20 to get a ride to the trail, although I doubt someone driving at highway speeds would probably even notice a twenty hanging off my pack.

The road was horrible, but at least it had a fairly nice shoulder to walk on. That's the only good thing I can say about it. After an hour into the walk, I put the twenty hanging off my pack back into my wallet. I was close enough to the trail that I wasn't going to give anyone money for such a short ride. It wasn't worth $20 to me anymore.

And I finally reached the road intersection where I got off the trail yesterday at about 3:30 in the afternoon. I was still bitter about the walk back to the trail, but I was back on track and no longer dependent on others. The sky had finally cleared up as well with just a few puffy white clouds against an otherwise deep blue sky. I was safe from vampires again. Whew.

I had reached the trail, but it wasn't the end of my highway walk. The PNT continued to follow Highway 101 another 0.9 miles up the road and across the Bogachiel River before turning off onto logging roads. The logging roads led away from the highway and the noise from the traffic dissipated. Calm and happiness settled over me. This was it. This was my last bit of trail. Forks was my last resupply point. The next shower I took, if all went well, would be at home after I finished the trail.

The skies finally started clearing during the walk back to the trail.

The rest of the day, I followed logging roads. It wasn't particularly interesting or exciting. I turned from one road to another and another, each one becoming progressively less used and more overgrown. As sunset approached, it grew increasingly dark under the thick canopy and I struggled to get photos. I had to stop soon!

Then the trail dumped out on a nice, wide gravel road--clearly well-used and well-maintained--and the dark canopy disappeared. The sun was low on the horizon--sunset was imminent, but it gave me a little while more to find a place to camp.

I finally stopped when I reached Goodman Creek, setting up camp on the side of the road. I had completed almost 17 miles of walking for the day, but barely 10 of them were actually on the PNT. The rest were walking around in Forks then the walk between Forks and the trail.

But I was back on track and things were looking up!

Back on the trail and crossing the Bogachiel River over a bridge along Highway 101.

This snake was trying to hide from me under the leaf, but he didn't do a very good job of it!

The logging roads were largely boring to walk along, but at least it wasn't busy with traffic!

Sunset was near.... I needed to find a campsite soon!

This bridge crosses over Goodman Creek, and I camped on the side of the road near here.

View of the sunset from my campsite.

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