Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day Two Hundred Fifty-four, 091109 - Miranda, CA

Day Two Hundred Fifty-four, Date Monday, November 9, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:37
Distance for the Day: 64.12 miles From Arcata To Miranda, CA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 12,359 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 376’/201’, Highest: 431’ Accumulated: unknown
Speeds: Avg: 9.6 mph, Max: 32.1 mph
Weather: 53° light, intermittent rain throughout most of the day
Expenditures: $2

Packed my trike back up, got and gave hugs, and said my goodbyes to the 3Ps. That was the first time I’d ever visited them in Arcata, though they’ve been there for more than a decade. It’s such a nice place, I’ll definitely have to visit more often. By 8:28am I was just about ready to leave and of course, it started to rain! However, I was almost glad, because it gave me a chance to try out the new, lightweight Kokatat kayaking jacket I’d just bought. It wasn’t too bad – the rain was light and intermittent, but when it did come down, the jacket’s rubberized and Velcroed seals around my neck and wrists worked quite well to keep the water from seeping into and soaking my shirt. Of course, since the design was a zipperless, waterproof pull-over with sealed neck and cuffs, I got a little steamy underneath it from my exertions, but nothing like the soaking wet of seeping rainwater. Whenever it wasn’t raining, I’d open up the collar seal and get a bit of flow-through ventilation, which helped keep me from getting drenched by my own sweat. (I would have liked to have tested this garment further, but wouldn’t you know it: that was the last rain I would get for the rest of the trip.) The only thing I purchased this day was a soda ($2) which I saved for the evening.

Not long after leaving Arcata and Eureka, I hit the town of Fortuna, and the beginning of the Avenue of the Giants, so called because the highway runs through a forest of giant redwood trees – the largest remaining stand of virgin redwoods in the world, in fact. It was very beautiful, even in the rotten weather, even though I was seeing it from the highway – an amazing forest of gigantic trees, some more than three hundred feet high. I had plenty of time to look at them, as the route was mostly rolling hills – this being a major highway, they weren’t steep, but could be long. On the uphills, my goggles would fog up, so I just took them off – the Sun wasn’t shining, and there wasn’t any wind, to speak of. No reason to be half blind in the middle of all this natural beauty.
The day ended in a pretty heavy overcast, so I couldn’t quite tell when sunset was, but it started to get significantly darker at 5pm, so I began to look for a turnoff from the highway so I look for a stealth camp. I took an exit just past Miranda, and went up a short, steep, dead-end road. There were some semi-trashy looking houses nearby, and the road ended at a couple of gates. Nothing really great, here; the possible places to set up were exposed, and not even very level. You definitely want mostly level when sleeping on the ground – otherwise, you have this nasty tendency to slide to the downhill side of the tent. I rode back down, crossed under the highway, and headed south a few hundred yards on a side road, which then crossed a short bridge over the Eel River. I saw that most of the riverbed was dry gravel, and thought I might be able to find someplace by the river to set up. It was a good 40’ feet below me, though, and so any nearby access to it would probably be pretty steep. Right after the bridge, there was a steep (told ya) dirt and gravel road that led down to the river. Just past the entrance to the road on the side, though, was a small, level patch of grass. Hmmm! The spot was still somewhat visible from the road, and car headlights would sort of glance off me, but I don’t think anyone would notice my presence, especially once I cloaked my trike. So, at 5:10pm, in the gathering gloom of early evening, I set up on that spot (N40 13.090’ W123 48.921’), hopped inside at 5:48pm, recorded the end-of-day stats, munched trail mix, drank soda, and read my new Robin Cook book, Mutation, until 8:30pm before getting too drowsy to continue. I was pretty tired from all the late nights of blogging the past few days, so I slept quite well. There wasn’t any rain, at the moment, but the trees overhanging my tent dripped a bit – not too bad. It rained a bit more during the night, but it was light, and by the wee hours, it stopped completely, and only the drips from the trees pattered down. I was awakened by a bit of rain during the night, but it was brief, and didn’t keep me up.

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