Day 19, Crescent City to Elk Prairie Campground, 35 miles
An early call. My sweetheart back home has taken suddenly ill, and I’m torn. I want to hop the next train north, to rush to her side and support her in any way I can. And yet, Jennifer tells me to ride on. It’s good to talk with her again, hear her voice. I send as much woo woo healing energy as a optimistic nihilist can muster. I’ll be thinking about her, all day.
I pack my gear, leaving the St Paul’s church. Highly recommended Warm Shower spot. A trip to the laundromat, dry out the wet clothing, a conference with my manager back at the restaurant to work out some issues with payroll. It’s so good to have employees I can trust to take care of business while I’m away. Makes me think I could shift my responsibilities once I’m back home.
Now, I’m facing the Crescent City hills immediately south of town. A heard of Roosevelt Elk are grazing at a house just before the climb. I shift down to lowest gear and settle in to a couple hours of climbing. Road work is continual here along this wet coast. Three washouts with traffic lights. I enjoy construction zones, because they pace the traffic well for the cyclist.
The entrance to the Del Norte redwoods, I stop to admire the first giant trees of the ride. Still takes my breath away, to imagine the lives of these giants, many over 1000 years old. What historical chaos and marvels have occurred over the time scale of these ancient ones. How utterly brief our human lives. Humbling to consider my place in this world, when faced with an epic timescale.
A thrilling descent opens to a small beach with thundering surf. I stop and sit on the beach, pondering the oceanic, elemental and powerful. I catch a video to send to Jennifer, a lullaby to calm the soul. I ride on to the small town of Klamath, home of the Yurok Tribe. I stop at the Pey Mey store, next to a tribal welcome center and large casino.
The last few miles to camp include another long climb on 101, now a 4 lane highway. Traffic is light as I pedal along, now playing my cycling music to help with the long ascent. I turnoff onto the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, a steeper climb to join the old 101. The highway continues to climb, winding through towering redwoods, then at last the final descent, a gradual 5 miles through grove upon grove of ancient trees. No traffic, save the tourists, who are also driving slowly here, taking in the majesty of the primordial forest.
I stop at a favorite tree, so wide at the base, I cannot imagine its height. I place my hand on the furrowed bark, trying to fathom to eons that have passed since it was merely a tiny seedling. I recall the redwoods we planted up on our land on the watershed, just 4 years ago, some now over 10 feet tall. How long will they live, how many decades or centuries, after my brief life has ended? What human chaos or marvels will they witness? Humbling to consider my place in this world.