Pacific Coast Tour: Day 7
Day 7: Carl G Washburne Memorial State Park, Florence, OR to Bullards Beach State Park, Bandon, OR
Approximate daily mileage ~ 88 miles
Approximate total mileage ~ 614 miles
Approximate daily elevation gain ~ 4,000 feet
Approximate total elevation gain ~ 20,400 feet
The first of what became many nights of sleeping on campground picnic tables was again a cold one sleeping intermittently until 2-3 am then remaining awake awaiting sunrise and the warmth of the sun. The benefit of sleeping atop a picnic table is that it gets you up and off the even colder ground. The obvious downside is that without any sort of sleeping pad, the planks of wood don’t exactly have the same feel of your premium Tempur-Pedic sleep system. Once the first sign of daylight appeared it was time to get moving and warm up. Again, I changed in the shower shelter house. Unfortunately, this one had no hand driers to help dry and warm everything. Nevertheless, there was much for which to be thankful. I had water, sourdough bread, cheese, peanuts, all my gear, a functioning bike, and remained injury free.
Karl arose from his tent while I was getting everything systematically repacked. We talked a bit more, and he had some good suggestions for future campsites as I progressed further south into California. He also said he had a blog about his rides and took a photo of me and my bike to be included in it. My bike setup was rarely seen for going such a distance, and he was shocked at how little gear I packed in comparison to him. After that it was time to start the ride for the day.
It started out on the same quiet and smooth road where yesterday’s ride had concluded, although there was a good amount of fog now hanging in the air. The fog and damp conditions made for a chilly start. As always after a few miles, the chill wore off as my body heat increased. Through the fog were some dramatic landscapes overlooking the Pacific as I passed the picturesque Haceta Head Lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves. A kind gentleman who was driving a Corvette and taking photos of the lighthouse was stopped at an outlook and offered to take my photo for me with the lighthouse in the background through the fog. With short and steep rolling hills the ride continued and as the sun rose higher the fog dissipated giving way to warmer temps.
The ride continued smoothly although I did have some development of knee soreness – likely from inflammation from constant overuse the past week on the road. Fortunately, the smooth roads continued through Florence and Dunes City. As I rode further south on this Tuesday morning the feel was more rural with very little traffic other than people commuting to work and logging trucks whizzing past. By this time the landscape had also shifted significantly from the dramatic overlooks to smoother rolling hills and sand dunes. I ended up stopping in the town of Reedsport for lunch after about 36 miles. Reedsport is slightly inland from the coast and is situated just on the southern banks of the Umpqua River. Directly to the west is Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area which is a great place well known for off-roading with nearby dune buggy and ATV rentals available. In Reedsport I stopped and ate at a great little diner/coffee shop, Ruthie’s, where they served a delicious pulled pork sandwich and had large homemade cookies. Of course, I was sure to buy two of the enormous cookies.
After returning to the saddle, the ride continued past many more sand dunes at times with sand even partially drifted onto the shoulder of the road. I pedaled on past William M. Tugman State Park and through the tiny towns of Tenmile, Saunders Lake, and Hauser. The next larger town along the route was North Bend. There is a grand old bridge entering North Bend. By this time the wind had really picked up, and it was almost a perfect crosswind. Like many older bridges this one had no sign of a bike lane which, in combination with the wind, provided for a precarious crossing. In this situation it’s best to ride as far right as possible, and ride as fast as possible to expedite the crossing. This is exactly what I did. It was one of the few times the entire trip I was honked at, and it was by a logging truck zooming past uncomfortably close. Perhaps the honk was meant to make me aware although the distinct sound of a logging truck needs no additional warning sound. After crossing the bridge I was ready to exit Highway 101 for a while. The suggested route proceeds west to Cape Arago Highway toward the small towns of Barview and Charleston where I stopped to restock on Clif bars, peanut butter, and another quart of chocolate milk to be chugged.
There were some locals checking out my bike, and I asked them about how far it was to my intended stop for the day at Bullards Beach State Park. They said it was only 10-15 miles although they also said the road was steep and “straight up”. Perfect way to end the day J Also fitting was the name of the road, Seven Devils Road. Sure enough, it was very steep and winding. It is a narrow and meandering road through thick forests. Once near the top of the climb there are some gorgeous scenic overlooks below, and it had very little traffic. Shortly after beginning the descent back down, I saw a large creature running from the edge of the forest toward the road. I slowed slightly, and it continued running all the way across the road in plain sight. It was a big black bear just galloping across! What a treat to see! It was also at a good distance at about 30 yards away which was close enough to get a great look and far enough away for comfort.
The road continued winding all the way down and eventually back to the Oregon Coast Highway just prior to reaching Bullards Beach State Park. Here was another outstanding state park and a popular one at that. It seemed nearly at capacity with the hiker/biker site almost full as well. I had arrived at a good time to claim a spot to sleep on a nice patch of grass, and there were fire rings in this site. The campground attendant said it was the last night before a burn ban went into effect so naturally I made sure to go and purchase some wood for a fire later. This proved to be a popular choice later in the evening after the sun and temperatures both dropped. A sourdough, banana, and peanut butter sandwich was on the menu for dinner as the numerous fellow bikers shared their stories of where they had traveled and what they had encountered. With the warmth of the fire, good company, and a crystal clear night to view the spectacular stars, it was the conclusion to yet another great day on the Pacific Coast.