Monday, 1 June 2015

Introducing Mount Doom

Location: Port Angeles, WA, USA
We left Anacortes and headed south for our first ferry of the trip to get over to the Olympic Peninsula. The narrow winding roads were really busy and really not much fun to ride along but before long we were viewing some stunning scenery and enjoying a break on a low wall looking over the water. Our next task was to race over the narrow bridge at Deception Pass where we were lucky to find a rare break in the traffic so we didn't feel like we were holding up any vehicles. This is where we bumped into two other cycle tourists that had just started their trip down to Mexico from the Canadian border. We traveled together for a few miles but couldn't really chat because of the road situation and before long went our separate ways. We carried on down to the Coupeville ferry (that in fact leaves from Keystone) and boarded without any fuss and headed across the water over to the peninsula.

We had scheduled a pretty short day so when we arrived in Port Townsend we had some food in a little diner and watched the boats in the harbor before heading up to our host for the evening, Lys. Lys, and her husband Dan, had co-organised the first TransAmerican cycle in 1976, the bikecentennial, with the folks from the Adventure Cycling Association (Greg and June). Lys and her brother Dan showed us around their amazing garden that was producing a huge amount of fruit and vegetables. Dan, her husband, was working away but there was another cycle tourist staying for the night, an American called Peter. He had started in Boston, MA and had cycles down the East coast, west across Texas and had headed north along the Pacific Coast. We traded war stories regarding climbs, mechanical issues and the dreaded wind and since we were all heading across Canada starting in Vancouver we got contact details and said goodnight.

In the morning we left just after Peter and aimed for the main highway towards Port Angeles. Again it was a short day in the saddle for us because we wanted to pick me up a new waterproof jacket since the one I came away with had pretty much given up the ghost and needed to stock up on food because we had planned 5 nights of camping. The highway down to Blyn was fine, as far as highways go. A wide shoulder and no steep climbs. Once we got to Blyn, Lys had told us about the Olympic Discovery Trail that was pretty much completely paved all the way to Port Angeles. The trail was good but when you join at Blyn it is fairly wiggly with some short, sharp climbs but this is soon tamed and it's a gentle cycle in Sequim. While cycling through Sequim we were told that there was road works on a bridge and that we needed to get back on the main highway to Port Angeles. This we did and just outside of Port Angeles and we met a cyclist out for a ride that helped us rejoin with the trail.

In Port Angeles we decided to go to the supermarket first to have some lunch and buy the food for the coming days.  While we were loading our bikes with the newly bought sustenance a woman came over to say "I saw you guys earlier and I just wanted to shake your hands and wish you luck.  It'll get better", this took us completely by surprise because the riding had been really quite easy, the sun was out.  It took a couple of seconds to realise that she thought that we were homeless, which we are but out of choice.  It took us back a bit and didn't quite know what to say, maybe I do need to start shaving again?  From here we found me a nice new, blue waterproof jacket, however this does mean that Sophie and I are pretty much in matching kit if it rains.  With food and clothing purchased we started our climb up to the Heart of the Hills campground at the foot of the climb to Hurricane Ridge.

If you had asked us 3 months ago if we wanted to do a 17 mile climb to a summit 3,573 feet above us just to have a look around and then ride back down we would have probably just laughed, but here we were planning just that to climb up to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park.  We decided to spend the night in the campground at the base of the climb so that we could leave early and get it done.  We managed to find a nice site that had some free firewood so got to lighting a fire.  This was also the first opportunity to play with the new MSR Whisperlite that Chris had been unable to get to work.  After a good few moments fiddling on and a few more cleaning with the "pokey thing" we managed to get a roaring blue flame.  It was really exciting to get this to work after wanting one for such a long time and being insanely lucky to have met some amazing people that have gifted us one.  With the roaring, temperamental flame who's settings seem to be 'volcanic hot' or 'fire's of Hell hot', quickly boiling any liquid we throw on top of it in a bubbling, spluttering fury we decide to nick name the device "Mount Doom".  


  1. Boys and their toys..remember what they say about playing with fire. Mr P x

    1. Mount Doom hasn't burnt me yet. It's a great bit of kit and it's has been really useful so far