26 March 2016, DES reporting.
So, the hammock camping advice out there in the interwebs tells you all about making sure you don’t hang too taut. But, I haven’t seen anything about hanging too loose. Nada. Nothing. My advice: don’t do it.
After some seriously substandard sleep in hammocks slung between trees too close together, we were both a wee bit grumpy in the morning. It’s too bad since Birch Bay was such a nice site. Enjoying nice is still tough even after a good cup of coffee when you haven’t slept well the night before. But there was some good that came from it. NMBL cut a length of twine for a minimum hang distance for the hammocks and tarps. We’re calling it N’s Hang Calculator. It’s not trademarked so you can go ahead and use it.
So we breakfasted, caffeinated, struck camp, and packed the bikes, with our journey taking us South along some back roads to Bellingham. We had a small goal of avoiding the I5 as much as possible and, while we did get out on it briefly (it’s a terrible hunk of concrete to ride) we got off it again as soon as we could to get some joy back into our ride. We got into Bellingham and decided to take a slight detour by heading into REI. Oh REI, how I love your outdoors equipment-y goodness so very much. We came out of there with some freeze-dried meals, a bit more gear, and a wool based fleece zip sweater for me. We lost an hour with that and the coffee stop but the retail therapy it offered was spectacular!
NMBL had suggested that we head South along Chuckanut Drive to get to Route 20 and the ferry from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. I had never been along Chuckanut Drive but was game for anything but I didn’t expect it to be that beautiful! I really don’t have the words to describe this ride. Some that did come to mind were; joyful, ephemeral (it went by way too quickly), grin inducing, fun, and even numinous. This stretch of asphalt was by far the best experience of the entire trip. It was like the Italian roads you see in a Bond movie with the crazy car chases: narrow and curvy, a rock face on one side and a cliff on the other, the ocean spread out to the west, and trees leaning over the roadway creating a cathedral-like feeling. Except in our movie, the trees were Arbutus and even more striking with their red, barkless flesh exposed. It was one of the most exhilarating rides I have ever experienced. It would have been great to have a GoPro to give a hint to the wonder of this ride.
With the visions of Chuckanut still dancing in our heads we made our way to Route 20 and Whidbey Island. It’s a shame that the speed limit was a up there on this stretch of the trip. Whidbey Island is very pretty but it just can’t be enjoyed at high speeds. Still, it was a good ride, even with the wind and buffeting we were experiencing. We both do like riding fast but with cross-winds and loaded bikes you start to feel like you’ve got a sail out there pulling you around. Things settled down again once we got down towards the ferry at Coupeville.
One thing I like about ferries: motorcycles get on first! It’s nice to feel special. Anyway, the trip to the Olympic Peninsula was nice. Calm waters and a warm day made for a nice crossing. And so did the price. It was less than $10 US for both of us… that’s total. Compare that to $45 a piece to get to the Sunshine Coast from Horseshoe Bay, a comparable trip. One has to wonder what the heck is up with BC Ferries when Washington State Ferries can offer their service for a fraction of the price. From my experience it has a lot to do with how they perceive themselves. WSF is a bus system and it knows it. BCF is a bus system that has aspirations of being a cruise line. OK, that’s enough of the rant for now.
We got to Port Townsend at around 5:15pm (first off the boat) and trekked off to Route 101, the Pacific Hwy, and on to Sequim State Park. We did take a few detours off the highway looking for places to hang our hammocks that were a little more guerilla. There were some neat things out there on the North end of the Peninsula, including a spot call Troll Haven. We didn’t go in but it looks really cool! We also saw a lot of POSTED (private property; we will shoot you) signs which discouraged us from getting creative with finding a place to stay. So, Sequim State Park was our best and, it turns out, a fantastic choice!
We got into the campground, picked our spot, set up camp and busted out that great Biolite stove again. This time we hooked up the camp light to it. That little sucker is bright! In setting up our hammocks we used N’s Hang Calculator for a MUCH better sleep. Check out the pictures in the Photo Gallery.