Forrest and I left Philomath on Sunday, August 16th for points south. We headed south on I-5 bound for Grants Pass. It was a gorgeous morning–perfect for starting an adventure! We stopped briefly in Oakland, Oregon–a very cute town a mile or so off the freeway, a little touristy but cute all the same.
At Grants Pass we gassed up and headed down US 199, also known as “Redwood Highway.” At O’Brien we decided to take a dirt “shortcut” and headed down Lone Mountain Rd. through Rouge River-Siskiyou National Forest. It was a welcome change of pace after pounding our way down the freeway in the morning. At Patrick Creek we rejoined 199 and rode down along the Middle Fork of the Smith River. The water was such a beautiful emerald green–we found ourselves climbing down an embankment to check it out more closely…it was much more difficult climbing back up than it was heading down! Not long after this pitstop we came to Howland Hill Road, a nice dirt road through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The drive itself was really nice even if all the vegetation next to the road was coated in a thick coat of dust. We stopped for a quick hike through the Stout Grove and found ourselves experiencing a little blasé about the big trees. We had to quell the Northwesterner pride in our trees to admit that it was impressive that there were so many big trees so close together…
We continued down Howland Hill to Crescent City where we headed south on US 101. It was great to see the ocean and driving through the Redwoods was beautiful although it wasn’t long before we were reminded that 101 isn’t a beautiful scenic drive–it’s a freeway. We took the scenic Newton B. Drury Parkway through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park as a distraction. A stop at the National Park visitors center near Orick confirmed that there really aren’t any roads through Redwoods National Park so we continued south past some glimpses of scenery on our way to Eureka (should of stopped for beers at Lost Coast Brewery although Forrest did indulge me in driving by the Carson Mansion).
After Eureka we headed for the Lost Coast–we left 101 to head for Ferndale. Ferndale was a really cute town that I’d love to have a chance to poke around sometime. From Ferndale we headed out on Mattole Road. As it climbed up the hill outside of town the pavement got worse and worse but our spirits soared. The landscape started to open up into ranch land palpably close to the ocean.
We expected to find some public land to camp on along this road but we were unpleasantly surprised to find that there was none. The wind was whipping and we knew that it would be a pretty miserable and cold night if we waited to reach the ocean before camping so when we arrived in Capetown it wasn’t long before we found ourselves under a bridge over the Bear River setting up our tent after kicking dried cowpies aside. As we ate a granola bar before going to bed I heard a rustling behind me which I found kind of unnerving until I realized it was a cow (a “moo-cow” as I foolishly told Forrest…I’ll never hear the end of it).
And little did I know how much of a moo-cow it was. We’d gotten between it and the rest of herd and it was too scared of us to walk on its normal path and get to them so every couple of hours it would bellow to let us know that it was upset. Ohhh silly cow.
Day 1: ~387 miles