No we are not sponsored by Sea to Summit (but hey Sea to Summit, if you're reading this... ), it's just a cool phrase to sum up the past two weeks.
From our Warmshowers host in Crescent City we set out on our journey along the Pacific Ocean. Before, we rode through the Cascade Mountains and were kind of tired of riding over hills, so naturally we were looking forward to some "easy riding" along the coast.
Well... Nope. It appears that the West Coast of the USA is pretty rugged. We soon felt like riding through the mountains again, only with a different smell and more wind. Ok, that might be a little exaggerated. But there were a lot more climbs than we expected!
It wasn't long before we rode through the first redwood forests. Instead of being mesmerized by these magnificent trees we needed to keep our eyes on the road, because the highway 101 wasn't always the nicest one to cycle. Speeding cars, narrow shoulders and angry drivers that don't know how to pass you safely don't make for the best cycling conditions. Sorry to our American readers, but this is just something that stands out when you cycle through the USA. We've been honked and yelled at a couple of times already. Of course not all drivers are like this, there are also plenty who do pass us safely and sometimes even yell encouraging words!
We did get to enjoy the redwoods on more than one occasion though. On the Avenue of the giants for example, a quite road that takes you off the highway and right through many redwood groves. Here you get to meet these giants up close and be blown away by the size of these trees!
Along the coast, we found wild camping a little harder. So we went to campgrounds instead. The good thing is, that there were a lot of Hiker-Biker campsites. Which is basically a specific section inside a normal campground dedicated to hikers and cyclists (tents only), it only costs 5 dollars for one night and the best thing of all: they have showers!!
It is on one of those Hiker-Biker campgrounds that we met Franzi, Andrew and Christina. Franzi is German, Andrew and Christina are from Canada (also special shoutout to James, Mark and Audrey from Canada as well). They met somewhere on the road and had joined forces for a couple of days. We joined them on the campground for dinner and had some lovely conversations!
We weren't that sure about our plan for the route along the coast, where we would go day by day etc. But Franzi had a book about cycling the West Coast (she called it "The Bible"), so we kind of arranged that we would end up on the same campground every day. Eventually we ended up riding together with Franzi all the way to San Francisco.
It was so nice to meet other people who you get a good connection with. So you get this sort of group feeling: making plans, cycling together, camping together,...
So when we finally reached San Francisco, the end of the trip for Andrew, Christina, James, Mark and Audrey. It was a little sad to say goodbye. That's something we've had happen a couple of times on our trip so far. We meet nice people who we have a good connection with, we hang out for a couple of days and they start to become friends. But then comes a point when we have to move on and it's always a little difficult.
It is so nice to meet new people and we definitely hope to stay in contact with some of them! But it also makes you appreciate your "permanent" friends at home more, the ones where you have infinite happy memories with.
Wow, that got kind of emo for a moment.
After San Francisco we took a bus, a train and another bus to reach one of the major highlights on our journey: Yosemite National Park. And, oh boy, we were NOT disappointed.
After having some misfortune with our bus connection, we arrived at around 8pm in the park. It was completely dark, we found a camp spot and went to sleep. The next morning was amazing, we were surrounded by beautiful mountains and a great view of Half Dome (one of the iconic mountains in the park).
We had to move our tent, because we were on a special backpackers campground with a one night limit. So we went to "Camp 4", this is basically the heart of the climbing scene in the USA. It's listed as a historical site in climbing history because in the old days all the climbers stayed there. And they still do.
Unfortunately we couldn't rent climbing gear anywhere, so we were confined to our trail shoes and backpacks. But that was ok, because there are some awesome hiking trails in Yosemite. We went up to Yosemite falls, the top of El Capitan and to Glacier Point. Words can't fully describe how breathtaking the views where (or at least the words we can think of can't). But a video might...
Our route South from Yosemite goes a little in and along the Sierra mountains. So we're back to climbing and descending long hills. We do notice how dry California is. The mountains look very orange with dried out grass and you can see the remains of rivers all over the place. Also the fact that we are cycling at 2000m elevation in the beginning of October with 25°C temperatures, tells us that the climate is definitely changing. But that's a hot topic for another blog maybe.
For now we are making our way towards Los Angeles where we might meet up with Franzi again!!