Saturday, August 20th, 2022, 1030-1930
Port Townsend to Mt Zion Blue alt, WEBO mm 1046, Section 9 Olympic Mountains
20 miles, Gain 2400′, Loss 630′, elevation 1970′
I had a slow start in the morning. It was too much fun hanging out with all the other hikers. We reminisced and compared notes about the upcoming stretch. Everyone was trying to get their permits for Olympic National Park sorted out. I was glad to be done with mine…at least for the first stretch to Port Angeles. I’d only had to commit to one night. The rest of the nights could be figured out later. Baby steps.
I got to meet Dan in the morning…what a wonderful character. Besides riding much of the length of the Americas on bicycle with Lys, he’d also devoted his life to studying and engineering designs for safer and more pedestrian-friendly cities. He works for a firm called Blue Zones, which contracts with municipalities to improve infrastructure and programs that benefit people. What a great line of work. Speaking of dangerous urban situations, I also discussed getting a ride from him later in the day, to skip past a 6 mile section along my favorite HWY 20. I’d read some pretty negative comments about the amount of traffic and lack of a shoulder. Like HWY 9 (Day 46), there were also blind turns and guardrails for much of the stretch. I felt like I’d just slid by on that first scary highway walk, I didn’t need to tempt fate one more time. Dan agreed that it was best to skip it…and he ought to know better than anyone else. Luckily he needed to run an errand in the nearby town of Sequim, and thus was already going my way.
Dan and I arranged to meet 9 miles down trail at the Four Corners junction later in the day. I walked with Costanza to the Safeway along the route. It was nice getting to know him just a little bit and I hoped we’d overlap some more. I also ran into Wolverine at the store. We’d been following our own individual schedules since Sedro-Woolley, but I was curious what campsites she’d ended up with in the park. Wouldn’t you know it, we’d booked the same campsite, to arrive in 3 nights. We still had such similar paces.
I picked up a decent resupply along with an early lunch tray of sushi and a rice bowl. I scarfed it all quickly while I repacked my food in front of the store. Several guys that were rather down on their luck took note of our vagabond looks and had questions about where we were living. Out in the woods we said…which aside for the last 5 nights, was mostly true. I headed out alone, looking forward to my first night in the woods in nearly a week. I needed to get back to my tent.
The route took advantage of a wonderful multi-use path (probably an old railway) leading along the shore, down to the papermill, then out into the countryside south of town. Being a lovely Saturday, tons of people were out walking, running, and biking. It was great to see all the smiling faces. I went past many horse stables, some with signs warning not to feed the horses…yep, that would be directed at me.
I got to the Four Corners junction just before 3 pm and there were Quetzal and Wolverine. I told them Dan was on his way to offer a ride and Quetzal jumped onboard with the idea. But I already knew Wolverine was a no, so I didn’t say anything more about it. Dan arrived and we continued on down the highway. Looking out the window, I watched the shoulder become non-existent as the turns became tighter and tighter. Nope, I didn’t regret getting a ride through this stretch at all. My total was now 11 miles of road skipped but I think I still had miles in the bank from some of the longer alternates I’d done. I’d add all my daily totals at the end for the most accurate count. Of course, today’s mileage didn’t include the 6 in the car…I do my best to record my actual miles walked, not just going by the route mile markers.
Dan dropped us off near a cafe at Discovery Bay. For all my hard work riding in a car down the road, I ordered a blackberry milkshake. The rest of the afternoon was spent navigating a series of forest roads, some abandoned and very overgrown, to connect one blue alt to another. This was to avoid walking more miles on HWY 101. One of the first turn offs seemed like it was into a property owner’s front yard… fortunately the couple were very hiker friendly and supportive of the PNT (hence the easement). Greg and Heather were sitting on their porch and Greg came out to talk. They maintain a PNT hiker cabin just up their lane, which was very cute. But it was too early to stop, plus I wanted to be in my tent, after a long break from it.
I missed the turn from their driveway onto a very old and scant road that was overgrown with nettles. Once again I went slow, whacking at them with my poles. The notes suggested rain pants, which I didn’t have. I did get stung on my legs but not too bad and the stings seemed to go away pretty quickly. My little twig legs are good at sliding past the vegetation while deploying evasive maneuvers. More forest roads followed, some wide and well traveled, others grassy and obscure. I turned left on a major one, Snow Creek, following it for about 3 miles. This wasn’t depicted as an alternate but there were notes about it in the app. It connected to another blue alt that avoided a bushwhack on the red line. Even though I had a very late start (around noon), I’d made it to my goal for the day (much to do with the car ride). I scrambled down through some more nettles to collect water from a stream, then found a tiny tent space halfway in the trees and just off the road. I hate roadside camps (after almost being intentionally run-over by rednecks in Arizona) but didn’t have much of a choice. Three cars and a motorcycle had passed by on Snow Creek rd but the blue alt seemed pretty quiet. It was a Saturday night but I felt pretty confident it would be chill. You just never know what kind of shenanigans drunk drivers will be up to at night, though. A barred owl called as I drifted off to sleep. It wasn’t the most exciting day of hiking but got me one day closer to my goal.