Cycling the West Coast: Climbing into the Redwoods! [Day 18 & 19]

Luke Guilford | CycleCycle
Sunlight bursting through the fog. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Day 18

I woke up around 3 am to a horrific, blood-curdling scream. The person was outside the church screaming in pain and yelling for the suffering to end. What I woke up to was someone overdosing, and paramedics quickly arrived on the scene to get him to help.

I learned that the church offers aid to those battling addiction in the area. We were instructed to not let someone in if they are overdosing like he was last night. It seems this is a fairly common occurrence, and I am amazed by the patience the church has for addicts in the area. They truly seem to care for all that need help and go out of their way to make that happen.

As I mentioned earlier, today has been designated as a rest day so I can recover from my illness. I am feeling much better today, and I am hopeful I will be ready to hit the road tomorrow.

I passed the time chatting with a French family and reading books. Another great perk of staying at the church was access to a kitchen! I missed cooking so much, I went to a nearby grocery store to get some things for the day, and we “cheffed” it up. One thing I experimented with was putting honey in my eggs, and I thought it tasted great, but then again, I put honey on probably too many things.

Anyways, today passed with little excitement, and I grew anxious to hit the road tomorrow. Leaving town tomorrow marks the beginning of a long stretch of redwood forests through northern California. Redwood trees are some of my favorites, so I cannot wait to take my time cruising through the giants.

Redwood National and State Parks.
Redwood National and State Parks. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

Day 19

Another night, another overdose. It is extremely sad to see this happen to people, not only does it destroy themselves, but those who care for them.

I didn’t sleep much after the paramedics arrived, so I had an early rise and start to the day. My father and I loaded up the bikes and set off into the drizzly weather. We had a short day ahead of us, but not without some adversity in the form of two big climbs.

Up the hill and into the fog.
Up the hill and into the fog. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

The first climb was around 1,200 feet. I felt a lot better this morning, but my body was still very weak. My strength was near 50% which made the climb even more difficult. The beautiful redwood trees surrounding the road provided much-needed motivation for the climb.

My father was struggling as well, especially since it was his first day on the road… not a great route for day 1. Fueled by Nuun tablets and cliff bars, we pedaled on.

The second climb seemed easier, as it was shorter as well, I believe around 800-900 vertical feet. Halfway up the climb, a car pulled over ahead of me and a man popped out with a case of Pacifico—ice-cold Pacifico. We shared a beer and chatted as we waited for my father to pedal himself up the hill. He was a name man, a park ranger down south in San Diego who had biked a similar route years ago. He gave us a much-needed break before we finished our climb.

Mid-climb Beer.
Mid-climb beer. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

It was all downhill from there. We popped off Highway 101 and onto Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway that goes through National and State Redwood forests. I think we cruised almost seven miles without much more than a pedal or two. We gawked at the massive trees of the old-growth forests, it felt like a scene from a sci-fi movie, I still can’t believe those trees exist here on Earth.

After checking out every tree for a seven-mile stretch, we arrived at our campsite at Elk Prairie Campground, and to no surprise, there was elk in the prairie. This is a beautiful campground with massive redwoods and a nice stream flowing through the park. We prepared a dehydrated meal and called it a night.

Elk roaming at camp.
Elk roaming at camp. Photo Credit: Luke Guilford

It felt good to be back on the road again, even though I am feeling weak. I am glad my father made it through the gnarly hills, as it was a good test to see how he would do for the rest of the section. I am also excited to be back in the woods and out of the city, I missed the peace and quiet. Tomorrow we will aim for Eureka and find a campground in the area.

Stats from today:

  • 36 miles biked
  • 3,000 vertical feet climbed
  • 1 roadside beer
  • 2 big climbs
Day 19 route
Short day with plenty of vert.

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