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Washinton 2004

In August of 2004, 18 Knickerbikers enjoyed eight days of cycling in the state of Washington, circumnavigating the Olympic Peninsula.
Jim Willis, Doug Paulson, Gail Markiewicz, Gayle Ziaskas, Ron Manherz, Marty Hambright, Pat Moore, Helmut Kiffmann, Christine Kiffmann, Gary Collins, Susie Stogsdill, Stogs Stogsdill, Helen Santospago, Jean Monfort, Nick Nicholson, Arnie Schwartz, Walter Schmitt, and Ken King are pleased to report that the scenery was spectacular, the weather ideal, the traveling companions compatible, the humor abundant, and the climbs modest.
We visited the Olympic National Park, the rugged coastline, and temperate rain forests. Our lodging ranged from “efficient” accommodations to one-of-a-kind resorts. The towns we stayed in were generally small and quaint, and because local cyclists helped to design the route, most of the time the traffic was light. Thanks, Jill and Margaret!
Rather than tackle the complexities of a support vehicle, we carried our own clothes and gear. One participant, Marty, opted not to ride, though, and she performed the invaluable services of “emergency sag wagon” and “happy hour food and beverage conveyor.” Thanks, Marty! Christine and Gary also had a van for part of the trip and provided that service as well—so thanks to them, too.
The plan was to meet in the late afternoon of August 14th in Poulsbo, arriving either by air or by car. Some drove to the end of the ride (25 miles south in Port Orchard) and then rode their bikes to Poulsbo, while a few actually rode (and ferried) from Seattle-Tacoma airport. Ahh, the resourcefulness of Knickerbikers is something to behold!
Historic downtown Poulsbo, a mile away from our digs, has quaint shops, restaurants, antique stores and the flair and color of its Scandinavian heritage, so most of us checked it out.
On August 15th we rode the 47 miles to Sequim. The first and last parts were along quiet country roads (with ripe blackberries!), but in between, we crossed over the Hood Canal bridge. While the drivers were patient, the lack of any shoulder and the continual stream of cars and trucks required more than a modest amount of cycling competence and nerve. We were all up to the task, but we were glad to reach the end!
The complete name of Sequim (pronounced Squim), today’s destination, seems to be “Sequim we are in the rain shadow.” Yes, they brag about their weather, and yes, it lived up to its reputation during our brief stay with no rain.
The next day we rode 56 miles to Sol Duc Hot Springs, deep in the rugged Olympic National Park. This place was suggested by local cyclists, and we are all grateful!
Most of us took the 12-mile “Discovery Trail” from Sequim to Port Angeles; it’s a mostly-paved “rail-to-trail” pedestrian and cycling trail. The beginning of the trail is marked by Railroad Bridge Park, which preserves the former Dungeness River crossing of the now-defunct railroad between Port Townsend and Port Angeles. What fun it was to ride without seeing any cars for an hour or two!
After reaching Port Angeles and picking up sandwiches, we headed for beautiful Lake Crescent. Rumors had reached us that this stretch of road is busy, twisty, and has no shoulder, and many cyclists avoid it by taking a shuttle or public transportation. We even heard that cyclists weren’t allowed on it! We figured that it can’t be that bad, and sure enough, the traffic was fairly light (compared to our in-town rides, anyway), and there were turn-outs every quarter-mile. The lake itself is about 11 miles long and bordered by healthy-looking conifers, so there was plenty to enjoy.
Eventually we turned off of Highway 101 unto the road to Sol Duc Hot Valley Hot Springs Resort. The last of the 56 miles (it was actually more like 60) consisted of 12 miles of rollers to the resort, but the uphills were a struggle! We were relieved when we finally arrived! Our reward was to soak in the hot outdoor pure mineral water hot pools, melting away tension and soaking in the views of the forested peaks. After a fine meal, we slept soundly in the little cabins that were spread around the grounds.
August 17th was an easy day: we cruised the 38 miles to Forks. The scenery consisted almost entirely of forests and ex-forests that were clear-cut decades ago. Forks is arguably “logging central” around here; there is even a logging museum that some of our number visited.
On August 18th, we rode another easy 35 miler to Kalaloch Lodge. Swallow that first “a” when you pronounce Kalaloch. The day was extended for those who rode into the Hoh Rainforest. Arnie rode all the way to the Visitor Center, more than 70 miles for the day for him. Most of the rest rode part-way in, checked out the 1000-year-old trees, and marveled that every surface is covered with plant life.
The last 10 miles of the ride into Kalaloch was along the ocean, and suddenly it was cool and foggy! You could hear the surf below, but it was just barely visible. The weather seemed somehow appropriate, though, as we reached Kalaloch. This wooden lodge, with its log cabins stretched along the sea bluff, is the perfect setting for a mysterious, dark tale of intrigue. Happy hour, around the fireplace in a bluff-top cabin, warmed us up and whetted our appetite for a delicious group dinner.
The August 19th ride to Lake Quinault (35 miles) was uninspiring but easy enough. One shocking scene from the highway was a recent patch of clear-cut forest with beautiful Lake Quinault beyond it in the distance.
Lake Quinault Lodge was another unique stopping place for us. Built in 1926, it’s a resort hotel in the tradition of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone. We “strolled about the grounds,” hiked, gossiped, kayaked and generally lolled around until happy hour, which was on the deck overlooking the large grass lawn and lake. Gayle thought that it only needed women in ankle-length dresses and floppy hats playing croquet to make it complete.
The next day’s 58-mile ride to Montesano was OK for the first half, but Ken’s routing, which up until now was good, took a turn for the worse. Fortunately, many people took an alternate route to Montesano that worked very well. Ken, Jim, Walter, and some others went through grim Aberdeen, over a couple of very busy and trashy bridges with no shoulders. At least the temperature, the strong tailwinds, the clear skies and the hills all cooperated!
The August 21st ride of 40 miles took us to Shelton via back roads. Shelton appears to be another important lumber town, with a railroad and what appeared to be a large sawmill. The town is small but it contained some interesting buildings.
On our final day of touring, we cycled to Port Orchard, 40 miles away. Two more problems in the route slip caused some concern. First, within the first mile of last night’s lodging, we climbed a very steep hill that we discovered later was unnecessary. Then at the top of the hill, there was no Brockdale Road or McEwan Prairie Road. Hmm. By actually asking for directions, everyone figured it out eventually.
Half-way through the day’s ride, the first rain of the trip fell, and for a half-hour it was a drenching rain. Fortunately, most of us were able to pull into a Forest Service fire station that miraculously appeared and waited it out.
Our destination, Port Orchard, was nestled on the shores of quiet Sinclair Inlet, and had a certain appealing ambiance about it. Or maybe it was just because the tour was over.
Our farewell dinner in Port Orchard was a memorable experience. Although the food was excellent, the awarding of all the gutter gifts was the highlight.
By way of background (and Knicker-lore): there is a long-standing tradition of collecting discarded objects from the roadside—other people’s trash—and awarding it to comrades at the conclusion of the journey. A story of why the gift is appropriate accompanies the award.
Some of the memorable awards, plucked at random from the 15-20 that were given, were the “hairbrush” to Arnie, the (auto) visor to Marty, eight unmatched gloves to Gary, and three pairs of underwear to Walter. For the stories that went with the gifts, ask one of the tour participants!
On the following morning, people headed for home or more vacation. Nick pulled his fifth-wheel trailer out at 0-dark hundred, and others left at various times throughout the day.
To summarize the trip, we quote the very quotable Chief Seattle, who was here when George Vancouver came to Puget Sound to map the region. Since we were in his people’s land, and since we cyclists came to the Olympic Peninsula to soak up nature, let’s reflect on these thoughts:

“The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of the pond, the smell of the wind itself cleansed by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine. The air is precious to the red man, for all things are the same breath - the animals, the trees, the man.”

“There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities, no place to hear the leaves of spring or the rustle of insects’ wings. Perhaps it is because I am a savage and do not under-stand, but the clatter only seems to insult the ears.”

Ken King