We had gone on a short recon mission the evening before, trying to locate the logging road that is shown on our map, but we couldn’t see any sign of it. It was getting dark, so we figured we’d try again in the morning.
With the new day having arrived, we set out again through the forest, looking for the way down the mountain to the river, more than a thousand feet below. We travel through the underbrush with frequent checks of the compass and after almost an hour of looking, we find it. It is not even clear at first that it is a road at all, with trees thirty feet tall growing in it and snarled bushes that match the rest of the forest floor. (That’s a picture of the “road” there on the left). It becomes obvious fairly quickly that it is a road that hasn’t been used in the last 50 years or so and that it will not serve as a way of getting us and our bikes out of the high country. It is time to go to Plan C, once we determine what that will be.
As it turns out, there is really only one choice left at this point. We load up the trailer once again and begin riding back out the way we came. Down the West Side Road to the pavement, out the main park entrance and along a busy Highway 7 through Ashford and Elbe (where we stop for a beer and a burger at the Sidetrack Tap), and take a few moments to reassess.
I will continue on, but Ned has to go. He calls his wife and arranges a pick-up and just like that, within the hour, he is gone. I get back out on the road again, around the parched remains of Alder Lake, then through Eatonville and past Ohop Lake to Kapowsin, then back to the river in the timberlands around Electron. All told, it has been a 50-mile detour by bike, pulling a trailer the whole way. I am tired. I work my way back up the river again, using the logging roads to go farther up until I find a spot to camp.
Technically, I’m not supposed to be here. There are signs that warn of dire consequences for trespassers but I go anyway. This is public land, after all, with roads built from taxpayer money and leased for pennies on the dollar to timber companies. “This land is my land,” as Woody Guthrie put it, and I’m only looking for a place to sleep. My camp is invisible from the road and I get the tarp up just as the first large raindrops start to fall.
I’ll be trading the bike for a canoe the next day, and the whole journey will change. I’m looking forward to it… as a rule, I do better on water than on land.