On 16.09. we continued south from Portland after a 10-day break. Saying goodbye to Bruce and Carolyne, as well as Laura and Ben was emotional. Although I only spent 10 days there, I had a great connection with them. Even Chris, the immediate neighbor, still insisted on taking pictures with me and his children, as he felt I was an absolute role model and wanted to inspire his children to listen to their hearts in life.
Day 28: 16.09.
100km by bus;139km, 510M ↑ 570M↓,5h 51min.
To avoid the enormous traffic, I decided to cover part of it by bus and only continue to Salem (Oregon) by bike.
After Salem, I then biked along E99 to Fern Ridge Lake.
Day 29: 17.09.
Via Hwy 126 to the west coast to Florence.
102 km 520 M↑ 590 M↓ 5h 18 min.
That evening I met Ashley and Thomas from Colorado at the campground. They are both my age and decided earlier this year to quit their jobs and pursue their passions. Thomas worked as an engineer in the oil and gas industry earning an above average salary, but now decided to work as a climbing and hiking guide in Rocky Mountain National Park. Ashley was employed in the insurance industry and now works as an adventure educator. Despite the significantly lower salary, they both have much more enjoyment, energy for life, and freedom to take several weeks off at a time. This allows them to keep doing adventures like their Seattle to San Francisco one this year.
Day 30: 18.09.
Hwy 101 à Coos Bay
88km, 750↑ 750 M↓, 4h 50min.
Day 31: 19.09.
Hwy 101 via Bannon to Bois Cope Campe Site.
68km 590↑ 590 M↓, 3h 50min
During my time in Portland, I met a street photographer who recommended me to go to Bandon, because there were incredibly beautiful rocks on the coast. I followed this advice and was thrilled to see what special rock formations were to be seen. The Face Rock was actually very well recognizable as such. I had the feeling to see the face of a gigantic rock giant looking out of the water. It is always funny that many people approach me and want to help me. So it happened that an older man from England approached me and told me about a nearby campsite where he had been years ago. He raved about the magic that this place exuded. This campground was a little off the highway right on the coast and was an absolute insider tip. Arriving at the campground, which is located on a small freshwater lake right on the coast, the campground attendant came out of her trailer to meet me. Before I could introduce myself, she said to me, “Hi, I’m Meagan, you’re the only cyclist here today. I don’t usually do this, but today I’m treating you to a free overnight stay.” During our conversation, Meagan told me about her past life when she lived all over the world with her husband and children. After her husband was killed in a motorcycle accident in which she was also seriously injured, she decided to move back to the United States. It took her over 14 years to recover from her injuries. She proudly told me how she recently realized she had completely regained her sense of balance. Joining our conversation was another campground visitor who had a similar story to Meagan and was fighting her way back to life. Both of them were able to empathize with me very well and thought it was great that I was trying to give people hope with my story. Both said how important a story like this would have been to them in the first few years after their accidents, as they were usually not predicted a successful recovery or chance of getting better. Both felt that the world needs more role models. I try to do my part in this regard.
On my whole tour I was very spared from rain. But that night I heard rain pattering on my tent roof for the first time. In addition, it cooled down sharply within a short time. The next three days it changed quite little except for short interruptions. Thanks to the good equipment the rainy weather was no problem. Nevertheless, there are nicer things than to put the tent together in the rain in the morning and to crawl into a clammy and cold tent in the evening.
Day 32: 20.09.
Hwy 101 à Arizona Beach
41km, 420↑ 410 M↓, 2h 25min.
During my lunch break in front of a supermarket, I ran into Loraine, who invited me to camp at her campsite. Loraine is park host at a small state park that is open to day visitors. After closing her very successful candy store as she lost herself in work and struggled back to life after long traumas, she decided to follow her heart. She discovered hiking as her great passion, was able to reflect a lot on her past and as a result, united with her life change, she lost over 90kg. In the meantime, she was approached by her former therapist to give lectures for other people in such situations.
Day 33: 21.09.
Hwy 101 à Brookings
74 km, 810 M↑ 770 M↓, 4h 40min
Continuous rain at 10 C°.
Day 34: 09/22.
Hwy 101 across the California border to Cresent City.
63km 430 M↑ 450 M↓, 3h 30min
Day 35: 23.09.
Break day in Cresent City
Arriving in California, the rain clouds disappeared, the sun came out and the temperatures rose again to a pleasant 20 C°.
Crossing the California border, we entered the region of the Redwoods, (coastal redwoods) which are the tallest trees in the world at up to 115 meters. Jedediah Smith Redwood Park is the first of the redwood parks that extend to San Francisco. Seeing such trees for the first time is hard to put into words. I felt so safe and in such a peaceful, energetic environment as never before. In short: gigantic, energetic, peaceful, magical. This park was a unique experience for me and the most breathtaking nature experience on the trip so far. As I biked along, following the winding dirt road, I couldn’t get out of my jam, I felt eerily alive. For over 2000 years, some of these giants have stood here and witnessed and survived so many historical twists and turns in this world. That was very impressive.
This park has been the setting for some of the most successful Hollywood movies. Scenes from Star Wars – Return of the Jedi, Jurassic Park and ET were filmed here.
Day 36: 24.09.
Hwy 101 à Prarie Creek Redwood State Park
56km, 770 M↑ 690 M↓, 3h 25min.
Day 37: 09/25.
Hwy 101 via Eureka to Ferndale
113km, 800 M↑ 820 M↓, 6h 10min.
Typical of the Northern California coast is the enormous humidity and dense fog. Not for nothing is this area also called coastal rainforest. And this is exactly the reason why the redwoods can thrive so well here and grow so incredibly tall. So it is completely normal that in the morning the tent is wet and near the coast a dense wall of fog swallows the sunlight. Only a few kilometers away from the coast, you drive into glistening sunlight with a bright blue sky.
Day 38: 26.09.
Hwy 101 à Avenue of the Giants
60km, 762M↑ 690 M↓, 3h 15min.
On this day, I stayed in a tent in the middle of the redwoods. It was rarely as quiet at night as it was in this place. Lying among these trees, I had the feeling of being very protected and sheltered and slept more soundly than ever before.
Day 39: 27.09.
Hwy 101 à Legett Drive Thru Tree à Hwy 1 to the Pacific Coast.
116km, 1520M↑ 1560 M↓, 7h 10min.
Day 40: 09/28.
Hwy 1 à Manchester (CA)
96km, 1160M↑ 1150 M↓, 5h 8min
Day 41: 29.09.
Hwy 1 à Jenner
97km, 1150M↑ 1140 M↓ 5h
Day 42: 30.09.
Hwy 1 via Bodega Bay (The Birds) to Olema.
92km, 1200M↑ 1060 M↓, 5h 25min
This was the third night in a row I’ve wild camped in California. A few hundred yards off the road, I followed a trail and pitched my tent in a clearing. Even though I’ve camped in bear and mountain lion territory many times in Canada, I was a little tense this time too. Since there were no trees nearby other than bushes to hang my food bag in, I stashed it in the bushes and buried it under several small boulders. Exhausted from the day, I quickly fell asleep until suddenly in the night I heard coyote calls from a distance. At first it was just one, then others chimed in until after a few mints there were what felt like 100 coyotes howling around me. Probably there were only a few, but at night in the tent already the rustling of a squirrel can possibly be a huge hungry bear . As the howling grew louder and closer, I became more and more nervous and reached for my bear spray with one hand, already bracing for the worst. When I had the feeling of being surrounded by a huge pack of coyotes, it suddenly became quiet. Now I was wide awake and listened to every little sound. Every now and then there was a rustling near the tent, but after what felt like an hour of silence, I could no longer pay attention and fell asleep. The next morning I was glad that nothing had happened and packed up my things. Instead of coyotes, there were several deer in the meadow around my sleeping spot early in the morning, and they ran away startled when I slipped out of the tent. Fortunately, my food was also lying completely intact in its hiding place.
This shows again that it is often completely unfounded to have such a fear of wild camping and that most animals do not feel much desire to get too close to humans. Of course, there are always exceptions, but they usually happen only when we make a mistake or act recklessly.
Day 43: 01.10.
Hwy 1 à San Francisco
50km, 750M↑ 760 M↓, 3h 10min
On this day, I was incredibly excited to get going. In a few hours, I would cross the Golden Gate Bridge on my way to San Francisco. One of my dreams was about to come true. Unfortunately, on the way to the Golden Gate, the anticipation dampened a bit as I drove into a dense sea of fog with every mile I got closer to the bridge. The classic San Francisco fog was waiting for me. Great! But at least authentic… The road over the ridge north of the Golden Gate, was very narrow and winding. To stand out better in the fog I had my lights on and wore my high visibility vest. In spite of this, a car drove so close to me and brushed me lightly that I lost my balance, fell, and slid across the asphalt. The car driver drove on as if nothing had happened and I lay on the road in the fog. Despite the pain, I jumped up and hoisted my bike to the side of the road to survey everything. Except for a few scrapes and a bruised hand, I was fortunately fine. The bike and my equipment unfortunately suffered a bit more damage. Two oncoming cyclists noticed that the car driver was fixated on his cell phone the whole time and probably hadn’t even noticed me. Fortunately, the nearest bike shop was not far away and I was able to have the bike repaired there. Except for my bags, which I had only patched provisionally with tape so far, everything else could be repaired. 250 dollars poorer and still a bit tense from the shock I then arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog had cleared a little, but it was storming properly and was quite cold. Nevertheless, I was happy to see this bridge and took Susi in the middle of the night in Germany via live transmission over the bridge.
Since the weather forecast predicted excellent weather for the following day, I set out early the next day to ride to the bridge again and now fully enjoy the experience. Apart from a few road cyclists who were doing a sporty lap before work, there was no one on the bridge. Just in time for sunrise, I reached Hawk Hill, which offers a fantastic view of the bridge and San Francisco beyond. As cold, stormy and hazy as the last day was, this one was opposite. I felt incredibly free and full of energy. With the wonderful view of the bridge, I realized that I had come all the way from Canada on my own power and energy to fulfill one of my dreams. I was so happy, proud and grateful to be in this place.
A lifelong dream had come true.