Day 6, Harris Beach to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, 26 miles
Yes, we have a crew! Alice, Roberta and I decided last night to ride together to Jedediah Smith, breaking up the Elk Prairie climb into two days. This will be a short ride, up the Smith River, a chance to rest and enjoy the redwoods one more day. We head into Brookings, stopping first at Fred Meyers to buy dinner provisions, planning to share a meal tonight. Fully loaded panniers, we then stop for coffee and breakfast, and a vain attempt to download US maps onto Alice’s Garmon. Too long a morning for Roberta, who rolls her eyes. She’s used to getting on the road much earlier. But she agrees a slower day will be good for her.
Turns out, a broken stay on my front rack slows us down even more, just past the California border. Quick roadside ingenuity yields a repair using a metal pen case (thanks Roberta!), a spare tent stake (thanks Alice!) a few zip ties and some electrical tape. Seems stronger than before. Alice also brings out the oil and lubes up my chain and derailleurs. Good to be riding with a crew.
Onward! Highway 101 has good shoulders, better than I remember. Part of the Recovery funding, road improvements, long overdue. Thanks Obama! We stop for lunch at a new taqueria in the town of Smith River, so new it doesn’t have a name yet. The food was good, very fresh and tasty. I’ll remember to give it a 5 star review once they name their shop and get it on Google.
A short ride further and we turn up 197, following the Smith River up to the campground. Redwoods now line the highway, so narrow in places we must swerve around the massive trees. These trees, the oldest on the planet, always bring me to a state of deep serenity and awe. Some have stood a millennia. Difficult to fathom, the changes to the earth that these trees have seen. If humans lived this long, would we be so foolish and destructive in our ways?
My companions are waiting at the last turn. The crew meets up again. We pause and I point out some poison oak on the side of the road. Good thing to avoid, and it will be plentiful. We register and set up camp. I grab a shower and write in my journal. It’s good to have the time to relax and reflect, something missing on the long ride days. Alice and Roberta return from the showers and we head down to the river. It’s low from the drought, but still flowing strongly. The surface reflects the redwoods on the far bank, the clouds and patches of blue above. We walk along the stone covered riverbank, listen to the rushing water. I pick up some stones, carry them awhile, then drop them. No more weight on my bike this tour.
We make dinner together, sharing a great salad, brie, apples, cous cows, tea, and a roaring fire. The chill has vanished, both in the air from the fire, and in the conversation between each. We are relaxing, having fun together. Turning that magic point, where strangers become friends. Has something to do with the wheels spinning beneath us, the common joy of sailing over a beloved landscape, the adventure of the novel and unexpected. i’m relaxing more and more. Becoming myself again. And this is very good.
Good night dear friends.