September 18, 2015 – Sun, 60 degrees
Miles Today: 57
Miles to Date: 7,096
States to Date: 24
Yesterday I tackled a 1200 vertical foot climb over 2-1/2 miles to get to the Lady Bird Johnson Redwood Grove. Today that sprint was replaced by a different challenge – a 3,000-foot rise spread over a steady grade for 35 miles.
I started my day with a hefty bag of cheese curds from Rumiano, a famous cheese factory in Crescent City. That fueled my ride from Crescent City through Jedidiah Smith State Park, Hiouchi and Gasquet along the Smith Rive Canyon is a spectacular one, but there is no relief to going up, up, up. I rarely needed my granny gear, but reaching false peak after false peak is a grueling game that gave me plenty of opportunity to witness my false perception of grade. When a 4% rise levels off to a 2% rise, the road appears to go downhill, so why am I still only logging 8 miles per hour?
All the pain was more than worth it, as the Smith Rive Canyon is a gorgeous place, the weather was perfect, and the traffic as accommodating as a cyclist can expect on such a narrow road.
I stopped in Gasquet where firefighters had set up camp in the local airport. The last two days of rain helped dampen the danger, the fire warnings slipped from ’Extreme’ to ‘High’. The firefighters are an array of National Park Service employees, National Guard, U.S. military, and contract services from all over the country. I talked with a guard from Nebraska and cook from Texas who were both preparing to go home within days.
Beyond Smith Canyon I descended into the Illinois River Valley of Oregon, a place rich in hippie vestiges. At Cave Junction I stayed with my first couchsurfing host (as opposed to warmshowers host). Meadow lives in small conservation cooperative. She invited some of her neighbors for dinner. We enjoyed crispy rice with Portobellos, green beans with almonds, and a robust salad, along with incredible raspberry cobbler, and talk about tomorrow that lasted well into the night.