Since I went to bed with the chickens last night (well, there was a rooster who stayed up a bit longer than me), I woke up at 5:00 this morning. I didn't get up right away. I stayed in my sleeping bag until almost 6:00.
I was curious how long it would take me to get everything done and back on the road. With panniers, I can be ready in 1 1/2 hours (that's from the time I open my eyes to when I'm rolling out). With the trailer set up, it's not as efficient. Because the trailer has just one big bag, I seem to have to repack nearly the whole thing each morning. Weight needs to be distributed with heavy stuff on the bottom, so cooking stuff and fuel and food have to go in first. I usually cook breakfast last, but now I have to cook first, or at least halfway through. So, it took me about 2 hours before I was ready to go. I'll probably get faster once I settle in to the routine.
Today I would continue along Skate Creek Rd. to Packwood. Then go to Randle, take a left, and pick up FS 25. My destination was Iron Creek CG.
As I was riding up Skate Creek (yes, this morning was a fair distance of climbing), a woman drove by, then turned around up the road. When I reached her, she asked me about the Da Brim. She had tried to make something similar without success. I told her where she could get one for herself. Then she asked me where I was going, and all that. She was also wondering if the Carbon River Rd was paved (couldn't help her there). We were chatting for awhile when a park ranger vehicle went by. She decided to chase him down so she could ask him. I continued riding.
Pretty soon she came back. She didn't catch the ranger, but she had more questions for me. Her name was Cassandra and she had her dog Zorra with her. We talked for another good 20 minutes (could have gone on forever), when another park ranger truck went by. This time she flagged him down. We said our goodbyes then. It was 9:10. I had left at 7:50. After an hour and 20 minutes I had gone 3.6 miles. That was fine because I knew I would have a fair amount of downhill on the other side of Skate Creek. Plus, I didn't have as many miles today.
Morning on Skate Creek Rd (going up).
And there's the mountain again! I had actually pulled over to take the sleeves off my jacket. Looked up, and saw this.
The downhill was very nice. MC and JP handled it well, even over the rough stuff. There was only an occasional small uphill all the way into Packwood. Once I got into Packwood, I went to the library to post yesterday's blog. The library is open Tues, Wed, Fri, and Sat. Today is Thursday. But, no worries! They are kind enough to leave the wifi on, and there's even a nice bench next to the front entrance! After I finished, I was back on the road.
I was thinking, since I hadn't seen Joe and Kelly last night, I would probably cross paths with them again on Hwy 12. I was sure they'd be coming from Morton. I thought, why didn't I go to Morton, then come to Randle, instead of backtracking the 15 miles from Packwood to Randle? Oh yeah, no camping options.
I had a nasty headwind on Hwy 12 heading to Randle. Even though there was a lot of downward trend, I was still going pretty slow. I reached the Packwood Rest Stop (about 5 miles from Packwood) just before noon. I decided it was a good time for some lunch. But, before I could do that, a guy had to tell me how difficult it was to see me in the shade on the side of the road. I'm wearing a high-vis jacket, and a high-vis helmet. I have an orange flag flapping behind me on JP. I told him there wasn't much else I could do. Then, I looked out on the highway and saw Kelly! She spotted JP, and pulled in (curiously, JP was parked in the shade next to the restroom building, and Kelly was still able to see him...hmmm). Her dad was a bit behind. The guy proceeds to tell Kelly how he couldn't see her (she was wearing a bright pink shirt, and has orange pannier covers). Turns out, it wasn't me he couldn't see. I was coming from the other direction. It was Kelly. The guy had been talking like there was more than just me (of course I didn't correct him because there is more than just me. There's Mama Cass and Johnny P too!). He thought I was with Kelly and Joe. Anyway, Joe arrived, and we caught up from when we had last seen each other yesterday. They had stayed in a motel in Morton. Kelly said they are not camping that much, and they aren't carrying cooking gear. Since they didn't have much further to Packwood, and they also had an awesome tailwind, they opted to have lunch there. We talked some more about our routes. Looks like we're both going to Walla Walla. Who knows, maybe I'll see them again?
I fixed my lunch at the picnic tables. Then got back into the headwind. That last 10 miles into Randle seemed to take forever--long straight road...headwind...all sun! Finally, I made the left to head up toward Mt. St. Helens on FS 25. There was some pretty steep stuff that required super granny gear.
8 miles to Iron Creek...and the climbing begins.
Fortunately, the road flattened out some, but the best part was I now had more of a tailwind. There was even some downhill (in my mind, though, I thought, every bit of losing elevation, I will just have to regain tomorrow).
Finally the sign for Iron Creek Campground came into view. This is actually a pretty big campground. There are 4 big loops. Of course, no showers. There is water and vault toilets--yippee!
Total miles today--46.3
Here's a couple of shots from river crossings today. First the Cowlitz, then Cispus.