With little more than an inquiry from Kent about taking a little spin for a couple days, I was in from the start, knowing that the summer was rapidly coming to a close. Matt jumped on board while the others had commitments preventing a foray into the woods (I've been on that side enough times). The weather was cloudy and warm Sunday morning, though the NOAA forecast was less positive:
Sunday: Rain likely after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 68. South wind between 8 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Sunday Night: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 54. South wind between 5 and 8 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Monday: A 30 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 65. Calm wind becoming north northeast around 6 mph.
On the edge of being potentially epic-miserable, lesser fools might have had the sense to cancel said plan. With divine foresight, Matt said "I'll also bring a big tarp in case we're hanging out in the drizzle." Yep.
I had sort of a plan, that wasn't really a plan, to camp higher up in the Olympic Mountains and so on Sunday morning we all met up on the west side of the Hood Canal Bridge for a quick jaunt to Quilcene. The weather was good with a stiff southern wind. We met up and there was a general consensus for no hurrying - calm progress would be the order of the day.
We arrived at Logger's Landing restaurant for breakfast - tasty home-made corned beef hash and eggs, and by the time we left it was raining. We started our route up on Penny Creek Rd. to FS Rd. 27, a fairly nice old paved road which gains about 4000 ft to our overnight spot. For the next 4 hours plus we clawed our way up, "thinking pure thoughts" (ala Frank Zappa) about that next sunny morning we'd be appreciating. My idea was to get to Sink Lake below Mt. Townsend, which would require a short hike, but as adventures don't occur without a healthy dose of error, I choose the wrong trailhead turn and we ended up in basically an overgrown parking area at the dead end of a long gravel road. Oh well.
Now near 4PM and unlikely the rain would stop, we made camp. That tarp came in real handy - otherwise we'd be trapped in our bivy sacks for the next 12-14 hours. With the tarp, we had some moderate shelter from the drenching rain for heating water, eating and chatting, all very civilized. We decided two things could change this from merely miserable to horrid. Wind or cold. Either would have tipped the balance toward the less pleasant end of the outdoor experience. By 8PM we'd eaten enough, bear-bagged the food and gone to sleep. Three distinct snores were the only sounds for miles around. I woke up a few times, waiting till the last possible moment to put on my soggy cold shoes to go take a leak. (Hadn't considered the value of a few plastic bread bags until then). It stayed calm and foggy all night and kept on raining.
Sometime after 5:30AM everyone was up and the immediate decision was made to bail on the "up and over route" for the direct descent back to the Logger's Landing for hot food! There was no squabbling. I love a good fast drop in crappy conditions, so it wasn't long before we were packed and flying down. Wet road, slippery with moss and cracked pavement made it a good skill building exercise and twice Matt headed for the woods on a curve, but stayed upright! Kent was on a 60" fixed with a single front brake so he was more controlled. The Pereira did well with it's loaded lowriders and handlebar bag and I could take my hands off the bars and stretch my arms on the straight-aways. No shimmy at all.
About an hour later, we were down and biscuits and gravy hit the spot along with a few cups of coffee. The rain continued. We headed up Center Rd. north to Hwy 104 where Kent and Matt would head east, while I would continue north to PT. All in all a good effort, but much like spending 24 hours inside of Tupperware. We said our goodbyes at the bridge and I stated that without a doubt the sun would be shining in PT, and by golly, just 4 miles from my house I saw my shadow and felt the warmth. I should have brought sunglasses.
Photos by Kent here >>
Kent's blog post here >>