Everything is Soaked

July 15, 2019

I woke up abruptly at 6am to the sound of rain pounding on my tent. I knew immediately that the gear I’d left out last night was soaked. Shit. It was too late to do anything about it, so I fell back asleep. The rain didn’t let up and I stayed in my bag until past 9, not looking forward to the wet mess outside.

I left my tent and evaluated the damage. I was camping in a rainforest, and felt a bit dumb assuming that I wouldn’t get rained on in western Washington. My cycling shoes were soaked.

I packed up, shoved my toes into the soggy shoes, and biked out of the park, a little bit miserable and very wet. It rained all morning, and I stopped in Mossyrock for a late breakfast. The rain let up and I sorted gear behind the diner. Next stop was the post office, and I mailed 10lbs of gear to a friend’s house in Portland.

On the way out of Mossyrock, I ran into a bikepacker heading west. Nick and I chatted in the drizzle for a while and swapped contact info just in case we were crossing paths on his way down south. My mood turned around after that, mostly because I was excited to meet another adventure cyclist. It’s encouraging seeing other people roughing it out there on bikes.

I stopped in Morton for lunch and espresso at the Rivers Coffeehouse and Bistro. I ended up chatting with the owner for quite a while. Then another stop in Randle at a grocery to grab snacks and something very luxurious– vegetables. I bought a pepper, carrots, and radishes to snack on.

After Randle, I turned on 25, a long forest service road, and it immediately narrowed through the dense rainforest. I cycled up hills, intimidated by being alone this deep in the woods. I just wanted to be at camp already. Eventually I rolled into the quiet serenity of Iron Creek campground.

July 16, 2019

Today started off hard. I was in the middle of nowhere in an old growth rainforest struggling up three steep miles of climbing. The angle eased off just a little for the next 12 miles, but it never felt easier. I stopped at Iron Creek Falls for lunch, hoping food would get me stoked again. The rain never let up and I was still soaked. Frustration kept building with every pedal stroke and I cried. Releasing those feelings lifted my spirits and soon I crested the pass. I bundled up for the rainy downhill, took off, and felt like a whole new person. Two bikepackers popped out of the woods behind me and we rode together for a few minutes.

The downhill almost threw me off the bike when I hit a cracked section of road going 35mph. Adrenaline exploded through my body. I slowed down a little and the forest changed from heavy humidity to drier, warmer weather. I sighed in relief for warmth and the thought of dry clothes. I took a turn for Northwoods and plopped down on a picnic table in front of a convenience store.

Here I had to make a choice: camp in Northwoods tonight and take a steep dirt road to the Mt. St. Helens trailhead, or hitchhike. My legs were shot from the steep pass and I couldn’t imagine doing an extra 3500’ of climbing in unpaved roads that day. I ended up finding a ride with a friendly couple and their 5 kids. They were so sweet and went out of their way to take me to the campsite at the trailhead, and the kiddos wanted to be helpful too and unload my bags for me. I felt touched that these people opened themselves up to joining me on my adventure.

At camp, I set up my tent, cooked up veggies and rice, and was tucked in bed by 8:30pm for an early morning.

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