Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Hurricane, Crescent and Forks

Location: Forks, WA 98331, USA

Whilst making dinner and enjoying our wee campfire a couple walked past and asked if we'd brought the wood with us on our bikes or if people had been around selling it. We explained that actually it had just been left on our site.  Later on we were chatting to them again as we washed up and I made them an offer. If they would let us leave our gear with them the next day so we could ride up Hurricane Ridge unloaded, then they could have the 7 logs we had left so they could have a fire. They kindly accepted, picked up the logs and we wished them goodnight. The next morning we hauled our bags to their site and set off up the hill.  It was nice climbing unladen and we made good progress up the ascent reaching the top earlier than we'd anticipated.  The views across to the mountains are beautiful, my photos don't do it justice at all.  You can see two glaciers up by Mount Olympus, they have a sign telling you how much they've receded in the last few decades, its scary and depressing, especially as they've had so little snow this year that its only going to get worse.  We had a snack, enjoying the views over the Olympic Mountains and then watched the park service film.  Well in all honesty we watched the first 10 minutes and then the cosy darkness of the theatre worked its magic and we both dozed through the rest of it.

The ride back down took about 30 minutes including stops for views and photos so we were easily back for lunch. The couple invited is us to make use of their table and talk with them while we had our lunch.  It was then that we had realised we'd not even introduced ourselves yet!  We had a lovely time chatting with Peter and Irene, exchanging stories of travels and laughing a lot.  They then made some joke about reimbursing the Queen for lost income from America becoming independent and pushed a bunch of notes at us.  The outer one was a $20 so it was no small sum and we repeatedly refused, but Irene welled up explaining that they felt like we were continuing their adventures and that though they were in too ill health to do anything too wild these days they loved the fact there was young people, like us, choosing to get out and see the world, choosing experience over stuff.  We were really quite overwhelmed by this.  We've had a few people say that we're inspiring to them or such like, but I didn't really comprehend that us having such an amazing time would actually affect people in any really meaningful or deep way.  Its a funny thing, we've both felt like the experience so far, the incredible kindness we've been shown by so many, has made us vow to be more generous, hospitable people when we get home (wherever that ends up being), but I also now feel this responsibility that we need to be the best people we can be right now.  We can't put off being kind to when we get home, we need to live up to the expectations of these amazing people now.  And we need to stay mindful of how lucky we are, be more adventurous and squeeze every last drop of joy out of each day.  Its not expectation in an onerous, obliged sort of way, but an inspiring, being held-to-a-high-standard sort of way.  I feel like ambassadors for cycle touring and I am really keen to leave the best impression we can on everyone we meet.

We exchanged contact details with Peter and Irene and said our goodbyes and thank yous and got back on the bikes.  We rode away speechless again at how lucky we are and how wonderful the world is.  Our destination was another National Park campground on the edge of Crescent Lake and the guy in Brown's where we bought Tom's new jacket had shown us a little dirt shortcut which was great and before long we'd made it to the edge of Lake Crescent.  Road signs instructed us to read a notice for bicyclists which informed us the road was narrow and winding with little or no shoulder and limited visibility for the next 11 miles.  There was a button to press which would trigger a warning light to drivers that there was bikers on the road.  The light would flash for 1 hour, so we had to ride at 12mph (their maths obviously isn't too good) since this is a little above what we reckon our average speed is we pressed the button and went for it, pushing hard to make sure we through before our hour was up.  We'd been warned about this stretch of road, and although when RVs or trucks pass its pretty tight, it wasn't so bad.  The fact we were focussed on pedalling hard for the other end meant we didn't stop to appreciate the views, but even from the bikes it was beautiful.  The water is a totally incredible colour, not the turquoise of tropical seas, or the deep dark blue of mountain lakes, or vibrant green of some of the rivers we'd seen, but a very unique teal.  Google 'colour teal' and that is it.  Amazing.

We made it to Fairholme campground well before our hour was up.  We're getting faster!  Its all the altitude training!  We had left in glorious sunshine, but Fairholme was overcast and shortly after arriving it started spitting with rain so we hurriedly got the tent up and the bikes covered.  We had a little wander about, got dinner sorted and hit the hay.  Our aim the next day was to get to the Hoh Rainforest, just over 60 miles away, but we needed to get some wifi access to sort a place to stay in Port Angeles for our last night in the US and needed to do a load of laundry so we planned to spend a few hours in Forks to get these jobs done.  There's a long climb out of Fairholme and then we had a headwind.  I'm less affected by headwinds so I took the lead so Tom could draft the 'peloton'.  I take a little offence at being referred to as a peloton, but if it stops Tom screaming at the wind then its all good.  I always feel like I have something to prove when I'm in front (idiot) so I pedalled hard and we worked out we were rocketing along at about 15mph, against the headwind, woo me!  So we were soon in Forks and hunting out the laundromat.  It had been a fairly drizzly cold morning so we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in a diner, both ordered burgers which were great and drunk a bucket load of coffee.

We had spotted a number of shops with names like 'Native to Twilight' and a few days later a sign saying 'Treaty Line, No Vampires Past This Point' so we figured there was some link to the vampire books and films, but neither of us has read the books or seen any of the films so, we were pretty clueless.  Turns out that Forks is where the author set the books.  She googled rainiest town in contiguous United States and Forks was the answer.  Its been a big boon to Forks apparently, bringing in tons of tourists on the Twilight Tour.  Seems like a nice enough little place, the diner was good and its well located for visits to the Olympic National Park, which also benefited from the tourism boom.  And Forks now has a new accolade to add to its illustrious history - its the only place in the US that we have been to 3 times on the trip.


  1. Great prose, very reflective...as always enjoyed the photo's..Mr P

  2. Guys, you're already two of the kindest folk I know.

    1. There is always more room to be kinder and be more generous. Glad you think so though Rhys