Day 47-48 Fort Bragg to Bodega Beach, CA

A beautiful view while climbing back up from one of the many descents for one of the many estuaries on this route
Beauty at the price of several hundred feet vertical of steep climbing ;-}

Once again, after a night camping, I'm doing a two day webpage/ride report. This time I wasn't camping in a biker/hiker camp site but in the woods at a state park - Salt Point - that was supposed to have hiker-biker sites, but didn't. This was 20 miles after trying to camp at a regional park that was supposed to have hiker sites and didn't ;-{.

Ocean view near Mendocino

I waited till it stopped drizzling to leave in Fort Bragg. I left about 9:45AM, heading south, in the fog, on a busy two lane 'freeway.' It was OK riding since I had a shoulder to ride on and was wearing appropriate clothing for winter touring ;-{. A few miles south of Fort Bragg, I waved and smiled at a recumbent rider coming north who responded with a big wave and a smile. I think it was Douglas Coulter(!). He was riding, slowly, in a, very recumbent, delta trike - I think - with a wicker basket and a hoop to mount a flasher on behind the rider. He was very friendly, but there was too much high speed traffic between us for me to get over to his side of the road and confirm that it was the GimpRider.

Traffic on 101 was very bursty south of Mendicino

Elk is where the nastiest climb up from an estuary occurs, Port Arena is where I hope to eat

Another pretty estuary

And part of the climb after it

There were half a dozen estuaries - places were river or creeks flow into the ocean - in the first ten miles south for Fort Bragg. Then there were just lots of hills until after Mendocino. Estuaries account for the majority of steep climbing on this route since the 'coast' is mostly two or three hundred feet above the water - gets up to 700 feet down past Fort Ross - and each estuary require a trip down to neat sea leve and, of course, back up again. Zoom down, crank - in a granny gear - back up. At Elk, 101 climbs back up from 30 feet to 280 feet with a sustained 12 grade peaking at 15 % on the switch backs.

I met an american guy riding a tour easy with his younger, female, canadian cousin on a regular touring bike one estuary before Elk. We road down together, and he rode up at about twice the speed I rode up. I was impressed. I got ahead of them before Elk and wait (and snacked) at the top. He came up that difficult hill with a smile on his face at twice the speed when I came up. While I was waiting, a young woman, Megan, came up almost as fast, also smiling. Later her friend came up grimacing. Both of them were riding loaded old road bikes with road triple cranks and old five speed road cogs. We had a nice visit and met again several times in the next couple of hours.I last saw Megan - zooming past at I was eating lunch/supper in Port Arena.

Part of the climb at Elk

Looking back at the top of the climb
Pretty, but hard climbing

Heading south from Fort Bragg, I thought I would stop at Port Arena or, better, Gulala. My problem was that I didn't really want to spend a lot of money and there were no inexpensive places to stay in that area. I thought my problem was solved when a woman I met at the place I ate in Port Arena said her group was going to stop at the regional park in Gulala. The weather had improved - it was actually sunny with a north wind! - so that sounded perfect. I rode on 15 miles and several estuaries from Port Arena to to Gulala.

The Gulal Reginonal Park is on top of the next hill after Gulala. The camping area is actually down near the river. I rode up, cranked down, saw that the camp was full, rode through the camp looking for any sign of hiker/biker sites, and found nothing despite the fact that this camp is listed as having hiker/biker sites. There was no one there to ask, and I didn't feel like going back to Gulala and spending $100 plus for a room, so I check the time, just after 6 PM, and the distance, 21 miles to hiker/biker camping at Salt Point State Park, and decided to go for it.

Heading south at 7 PM or so

The wind swept coast was mostly pretty fast riding

Clouds moved inland to block the sun, but it was still shining on the water offshore

I cranked on down the coast, hoping to get to the park with enough light to set up my tent, etc. Riding conditions were near ideal, my body was working well and I was pushing it hard. Going to Salt Point meant this day would be about 80 miles with 7000 feet of climbing. Riding got much slower in the park which is quite hilly, but I cranked into the camping area with 30 minutes to spare.

No one was a the entry kiosk and there was no map showing the hiker/biker area, but it was on the fee list - at $6 instead of the $5 I'd paid at the last two places. There was one sign indicating a direction for hiker/biker, but there was only a closed fire road in that area. So I rode on up a long hill, to the main camping area. Some drunks were have a very loud party in there, so I rode on, uphill all the way, to another section. I saw a fellow in a truck and asked him about hiker/biker sites. He said he thought they were in the, closed, walk in camping area and I should go there.

I did, and half a mile later, found an empty area with no obvious campsite and locked bathrooms. It was quiet and pretty, so I wild camped there. I had some issues with finding a good place of the tent and then getting pegs into the ground - I ended up using a large branch, which I found nearby, instead of one of the pegs. I managed to get the tent up, well enough, as it getting fully dark. During the night, my thermarest leaked - but my site was on leaves and pine needles so it wasn't too much of a problem, and in the morning I had an accident with my pee bottle inside the tent at 6 AM ;-{, but I managed. In the morning, the fog was heavy as I rode back to the day use restrooms and cleaned up a bit. Then I rode on toward Fort Ross and Jenner over the biggest hills on this coast in moderate to heavy fog. I stopped to eat an apple, a banana and a bagel before the big climb. I'm glad I'd ridden over those hills before since I can remember how pretty it was without the fog.

Entering the section that has the most beautiful long range views, in the fog ;-{

I could barely see the water from a few hundred feet up
The climb goes up to 700 feet and the views down the coast are wonderful when it isn't foggy

A bit nerve wracking with, usually, no shoulder and limited visibility

When I got to Jenner, I got coffee and some hot food and then rode on to Bodega Bay. There is a good tourist info place here and they helped me get the cheapest room available in town at $90. I'm lucky I checked in really early - and then waited half an hour for the room to be cleaned - because there was no vacancy here by the time I actually got into the room. My room is small and kinky - it is in a fake water tower ;-} - but I the folks here and, with ear plugs, I expect to get a good nights sleep. I've already had two short naps today...

My motel 'room' in Bodega Beach

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