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Messages - Itinerant Harper

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Routes / Re: Why does the PC route bypass Olympic Peninsula?
« on: August 11, 2016, 04:11:43 pm »
It would be interesting to see why ACA chose such an inland routing. I have a strong feeling it's because they wanted to avoid the Astoria-Megler Bridge across the Columbia, which is daunting for some (and would probably lead to complaints at ACA.) The ACA route uses the Westport Ferry instead, which is cool, but that section of US 30 from Westport west to Astoria is busy and can be hairy.

I bet you are right about that. There is no perfect route there, but that is often the case.  Personally what I really like to see on maps, is a lot of options.  I think it'd be nice if ACA had all of these route options on the maps (though obviously there are limitations). Like the Kirkendall and Spring they could easily have a Coastal Route and and Inland Route.  Something I hope they consider for the next edition (and hey ACA I'm available to help with WA routing - there are some better options than K/S have as well ;) )

Routes / Re: Why does the PC route bypass Olympic Peninsula?
« on: August 11, 2016, 02:41:41 pm »
The Kirkendall/Spring book goes west from Olympia to the coast, though. And the combination of SR 6 and the Willapa Hills Trail west from Chehalis is another great way to get to the coast at Raymond.

Kirkendall/Spring has both an Inland route along the Sound to Shelton (where it turns West) and a Coast route using 101 around the Peninsula.  They take 101 around Crescent Lake which as you note is among the worst sections on the the coast.  There I'd instead take 112 along the Strait of Juan de Fuca as WA Parks does.

In general there is nothing wrong with ACA's "I-5" route (though basically it's Cascade's long available STP route) and those of us who ride down there certainly ride all over that. It's just not the Pacific Coast in an area where actually riding along the Pacific Coast is an option and pretty great.

Routes / Re: Why does the PC route bypass Olympic Peninsula?
« on: August 11, 2016, 12:01:45 pm »
Yeah I think it's ridiculous that the ACA route doesn't actually include the WA Pacific Coast.  I've lived in WA for 40 years and have been out in the peninsula throughout that time and just can't agree that there has been major changes there that has suddenly made it "tourable". The services have remained the same (if towns have grown of course) and are pretty reasonably space out.  The WA coast is a far more rugged and wild coast then the tame (though wonderful) OR Coast. Only very Northern CA coast compares and is of course different.  And while there are plenty of places where the route ducks in from the coast it's not like you are riding on the beach the whole time on any stretch of the coast.  Not to mention there is a distinct difference between the northern and southern stretches of the coast and on the southern end you are pretty close to the water for long stretches if you use 105, 109 as well as 101. 

Finally even if you want to take the inland route along the Sound and Hood Canal at the very least the Coast Route should from Elma (where WA Parks inexplicably starts) take the back roads and 105 to the Coast at Twin Harbors State park and down the coast and along the bays to Cape Disappointment.  There is great views, great parks and great riding on this stretch and this isn't part of WA Parks, so no way to do all of the WA coast on ACA rates...  Why anyone would want to take the inland route near I-5 (which does have some nice places, but just doesn't compare) beyond being in a real hurry, is bizarre to me.

In my opinion you haven't "ridden the Pacific Coast" if you don't do the WA section and I always recommend people to use the Kirkendall and Spring book along with the ACA maps for this reason.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Overnight Parking for Iron Horse Trail
« on: August 03, 2016, 05:17:50 pm »
So there is parking for the Iron Horse Trail at Rattlesnake Lake. There is specific parking for the trailhead with a pay station at it past the parking for the the lake.  There are several other trailheads where one can pay to park and then get up to the IHT.

Additionally it wouldn't be hard to find parking in North Bend where you could leave your car and then ride the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Trail to Rattlesnake Lake and the IHT.

Routes / Re: Sierra Cascades, Primitive Camping, and Bears. Oh my!
« on: June 20, 2016, 11:46:11 am »
So there is lots of wild camping opportunities on this route.  You are pretty much in National Forest Land the entire time where it is legal to camp. This is not the case in National Parks of course. So for instance I camped in the Nat'l Forest just outside of Crater Lake National Park.

As for bears they are there. I never encountered one close up though, but of course YMMV. I always hung my food up if there wasn't a bear box. My basic procedure is to take precautions but don't stress about it.

So I'd go North to South. First off the maps are setup that way and while ACA always makes a token effort to do the opposite direction the maps are just not as useful the other way (for instance the elevation charts only have the distances from left to the right in the "preferred" direction. They easily could put at the top of the chart the distances in the opposite direction but they chose not to).  Secondly the mountains and passes get higher and higher from North to South.  Just starting out before you get acclimatized to climbing a pass every day (and you will, sometimes more than one) it is better to have the lower climbs. Thirdly the heat.  It gets really hot in SoCal (record temps right now for instance) so it's better to start in the north where its cooler. It does depend on the time of year and such you are doing it.  When I rode it, I was often hitting 90 - 100 degree (F) days in the San Joaquin. I chose not to ride the final map (starts in the Mojave pretty much) due to the heat and reports I'd gotten that a number of the campgrounds had no water.  All the locals recommended spring or autumn for riding the Mojave/Joshua Tree area not August/Sept. which is when I was there.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Iron Horse Trail conditions?
« on: January 15, 2016, 11:24:17 am »
I rode North Bend to Cle Elum on 38s. There is at least one section where it's pretty soft but I just took it slower. Personally I wouldn't ride it on 28s, but I wouldn't ride pavement on 28s either, but I'm sure you could make do. It'd be more pleasant on something 35 and up though.

Routes / Re: Three weeks - Pacific Coast or Sierra Cascades
« on: January 08, 2016, 12:05:45 pm »
Having done both of those routes, I offer the following. In three weeks I rode from Seattle to SF on the Pacific Coast with two rest days and a few days in SF.  So pushing it you could go further.  But worth taking time off on the OR Coast, the Redwoods and SF in my opinion.  On the Sierra Cascades from Portland I made it to Lake Tahoe in 3 weeks. In those three weeks I took one day off at Crater Lake (worth doing that IMO).  The Sierra Cascades in that stretch, if you are riding 50+ miles a day, includes a pass or a summit every day.  I'm sure someone could (and have) blasted through that faster but it's a tough route.  That section also includes several long stretches with minimal services. You want to have a water filter. It definitely is more wilderness riding than the coast, but coming into CA there is a long stretch on pretty busy roads.

The other issue I'd really think about is the weather. In May it'll be rainy on the coasts and there will still be snow in the mountains. The mountains will also be rainy where it isn't snowing.

Given your time constrains I'd personally do the Pacific Coast. Its a beautiful ride and there is lots to see and do. Many little towns and such will provide comfort and entertainment even on rainy days.  Lots of options for camping and for those days when you want a break from the rain hotels, hostels, etc.

Routes / Re: Anyone ride on 101 along Lake Crescent in Washington
« on: September 14, 2015, 11:34:12 am »
I've ridden 101 around Lake Crescent and also 113/112. I'd definitely do 113/112 eastbound for sure. I personally enjoyed that ride a lot - in the woods, on the coast with many tantalizing glimpses of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Nice country riding as you come into Port Angeles.  It is more up and down as you go around inlets and river egresses but that's great riding IMO.  Lake Crescent on the other hand is a beautiful lake but you need to spend a lot of time looking at the road and especially the traffic coming up behind (mirror recommended).  Going westbound the lake is on your right (beyond a wooden barrier most of the time) but felt safer. Going eastbound, which is also slightly uphill the bulk of the way) there are shear rock walls most of the time.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Good routes from Bremerton to Astoria?
« on: May 17, 2015, 11:50:29 am »
One thing I should add about the above route, is that 101 between Cosmopolis and Raymond isn't the most ideal. Definitely fine if you need  a more direct route (the person I put that route together for originally needed a shorter route) but it won't be the most scenic and logging truck free. So this route which takes 105 to the coast and around the peninsula to Raymond adds some miles but is more scenic and gets to the Pacific Ocean.

Since I was editing the maps I removed Seattle and added Astoria so you can see the whole route. At 200 miles this could easily be a nice 3-4 day trip, preferably 4. Don't miss Cape Disappointment State Park and the endless beaches up around Twin Harbors or Grayland Beach State Parks. There are definitely a few cutoffs and options if you want to shave off a few miles, but they often will have more logging traffic and/or worse roads. Most of them are fine though in my experience. This is definitely the most scenic route between Seattle and Astoria.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Good routes from Bremerton to Astoria?
« on: May 16, 2015, 02:30:32 pm »
Here’s a link to a Google Map with my preferred route from Bremerton to Long Beach:

This has some great riding along Hood Canal, through the woods and small little towns and is still pretty direct. I’ve done it in two-three days, staying in Shelton (slightly off the route) or camping at Potlatch State park. I’d personally do it over three days staying at Potlatch, then Lake Sylvia and finally Long Beach. With a lighter load you can definitely do this route in two days.  From Long Beach it's just 101 to Astoria (across the harrowing Astoria Bridge) and 101 down the coast in OR as far as you want to go. Pick up the Cycling OR map which has tons of great resources on it.

Food Talk / Re: vegetarian trek on the transamerica?
« on: December 09, 2014, 11:23:25 am »
Yeah I should say I've had to turn down offered food which I always feel a bit bad about. Also because of that I never stay with Warm Showers hosts or anything like that.

Food Talk / Re: vegetarian trek on the transamerica?
« on: November 16, 2014, 06:17:01 pm »
I didn't.  Rice takes a long time to cook on an alcohol stove.  But sitting in the city park in a town that only has hairdressers, a gas station and maybe a bar I had time.  I used dehydrated beans which are faster. Another tip for people who want to cook real food is that ziplock bags are your friend. Get the double locking freezer bags and then you can buy jars and cans of food and put them in those bags and discard the heavy, bulk packaging.

On my last long tour I switched from rice to a 'whole grain mix' made up of quonia, millet and amaranth. I'd top it off whenever I'd find a Coop with a bulk section.  That cooks much faster and substitutes for rice in most anything I made.

Food Talk / Re: vegetarian trek on the transamerica?
« on: November 16, 2014, 04:37:28 pm »
I'm vegetarian and rode cross country on the Northern Tier a couple years ago.  My basic advice is be prepared to carry more food.  I had a four pannier setup on that tour but I normally just use two front panniers and a saddlebag so I had a lot more space. I devoted the main compartment of my front pannier to food which let me carry a decent amount so I could stock up. I found, with only a few exceptions (East Montana for instance), there would be something close to a supermarket every four days or so. So I would stock up on my basics plus a few things for the next couple of days and then use the small town stores to supplement with more perishable things like cheese, fruit and vegetables (if available).  I carried dried things like rice and beans, but I like to spend time cooking each evening  (especially when you are camping at city parks and such where there isn't too much else to do)  so I carried staples that in a pinch could serve as a meal and supplement it with what I could find. This all could be done vegan I think, many of my meals pretty much were.

In the midwest on the Northern Tier, which I imagine will be similar to the Midwest on the TransAm in the tiny town stores it'd often be pretty hard to find much vegetables. So worth carrying more of those when you can find them.  I also found that even things like vegetable soup would usually be the kind with beef broth. You always can find bread, peanut butter and cheese of varying quality.  Tortillas are usually pretty available and less bulky then bread. Mac and Cheese is usually available.  Plenty of eggs if you are willing to eat those.  The other problem I had was finding veggies in small quantities, even the big stores in the midwest would only sell things like carrots and such in big bags.  Often I'd get those bags of pre sliced things so you could get less. Getting things like Tofu I could only really do in towns with a coop as if a big store even had it, it be some huge package.

At restaurants I think vegan would be harder.  Grilled Cheese can be had if you ignore what it's going to be grilled on. Pancakes, waffles, fried potatoes likewise.  That old standby salad is harder to find in the midwest and will usually be iceberg lettuce based. That being said I was occasionally surprised by some little town being hipper than you'd have suspected, or some random looking diner having a sautéed veggie sandwich, or a good coffee shop that might make pannis or some such.  But you can't bank on that at all.

So I did sections 1 through 4 of the Sierra-Cascades this summer (ending at Lake Isabella), I've ridden the Northern Tier and I've done the Pacific Coaset so I can answer any questions on those routes. The Sierra-Cascades was plenty tough and I wouldn't want to do it for my first tour. It's always hard to judge but the South to North seemed harder to me. For example the climb out of Yosemite in that direction with the extensive traffic would no fun IMO. Going downhill in that section was stressful enough.  I on average did much shorter days than I've done on other tours and even then you crossed a pass or summit nearly every day. Several thousand feet of climbing most days with some days far more then that. All that being said the scenery is pretty much unparalleled. Mountains the whole way, views into real wilderness, riding on narrow forest roads where you'd see one or two cars a day, huge descents into wide valleys, streams, rivers, creeks, seven national parks/monuments, USFS land most of the time and on and on.  I really loved it.

The Washington part of the Northern Tier is the hardest section of the NT but by the time you get there you should be ready for it. You can do five passes in four days if you so chose. This is easier East to West as you'll already be at 2000' or so. Great scenery here as well as you are in the mountains and there is Glacier at one end and North Cascades National Park at the other end. When you reach Anacortes take the time to ride in the San Juan Islands. In fact I recommend riding the islands, ferrying to Sidney BC, riding to Victoria and taking the Coho ferry to Port Angles. Take 112 from Port Angeles instead of 101 around Lake Crescent. Definitely ride around the Olympic Peninsula. If you have the time ride into the Hoh Rainforest and spend a few days there.  The Peninsula is rolling hills and is generally pleasant riding. Be prepared for rain, though it can absolutely not happen.

The Astoria Bridge will be the last thing on your route and while not a great time isn't that big of a deal. 

Pacific Northwest / Re: Bears on Pacific Coast Ride?
« on: June 15, 2014, 12:18:06 pm »
There's bears on the Olympic Peninsula, pretty much the only part of the route you'd have the privilege of seeing them. Being well into the summer at your start date I wouldn't worry much about it. Most of the campgrounds will be pretty occupied and especially if you follow the ACA inland route you won't be going through the more wild parts of the peninsula.  Most Washington State campgrounds that have had issues with bears have bear boxes to put your food etc. into. If they have those, use them!

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