By Connor Ciment
Riding out of Crescent City, we had only a few miles of warm up before we came to a big climb into Del Norte Coasts Redwoods State Park. It was a cool and cloudy morning as we began to climb, one pedal stroke after another, and we began to warm up. Some folks stopped to take off layers and have a photo op at the Redwoods National and State Parks signs. I stopped to take a break, and ended up in a selfie of Dan’s at the sign.
My favorite part of the day was climbing to the top of the hill when it was still kinda hazy, but mostly sunlight. We had climbed up and out of the fog layer that coated the coast. As we neared the top of the hill, the fog began to give way to the clear day present at the top. In that transition phase, there were glorious views of redwood trees being pierced by sunlight, with majestic rays of light cutting shining silhouettes of the giant trees, and casting their shadows on the winding road ahead.
On the way down, we descended back into the fog, needing windshield-wipers on our glasses to see where we were going. I do not have my windshield wipers with me on this trip, so I had to pull off once on the way down to wipe clean the water layer that was blurring the foggy and windy road racing towards me.
After the rest stop at the bottom of the hill, we had another impromptu rest stop at Paul’s Smoked Salmon shop. He graciously offered us delicious samples, and I got to carry a nice haul of smoked salmon purchased by Ky and Brandon, along with a hefty ice pack, to the campground. Not long after, the skies cleared, and we were in for a treat of a sunny day. That sunshine illuminated the rest of the day, and shone so brightly off of the golden bear on the side of the road that I needed to take a photo on it. For the record, I rode it for more than six seconds.
In the second half of the day we got to ride Newton B Drury Parkway, a great road snaking through old growth redwood groves, with plenty of places to explore. I remember taking a number of side trails in 2017 when I rode the West Coast, and again took a spin down the flowy track of the Ah Pah Interpretive Trail. It is right at the top of the last hill of the day, and a nice refreshing respite from the tough climb. While I was riding the trail, I did think about the possibility of a bear finding me particularly interesting seeing as I was loaded up with very fragrant smoked salmon. I decided if I saw a bear, I was going to open a pack of salmon, and toss it as far away from me as possible before speeding off. Just one of the handful of times on this trip that I thought I could hear my mom’s concerned voice in my head…sorry mom.
After my mountain biking fix was satisfied for the day, I rode the gradual and easy descent into the campground, taking my time, and soaking in the scenery, thick on both sides of the road.
At the campground, I delivered the smoked salmon, and was tipped nicely in hefty morsels upon delivering the package safely.
That afternoon I had a nap for the first time on the trip, and read some of my book. It was a relaxing night, with some five star camp food: hot chili heated on an open fire, and masterfully pureed by Scott and his stirring stick. We got to savor that campfire into the night, and had a great evening in anticipation of our first off day.