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Rockwood State Forest-The Sequel


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About nine years ago I made a bike overnight camping trip to Rockwood State Forest.  As my summer list included at least one bike overnight trip, I planned a return trip there.  Anticipating a 3-1/2 to 4 hour ride, the ‘plan’ was to pack most everything the day before, take a half day vacation, and head out about 2 in the afternoon.  Unforeseen circumstances trashed the plan, so I was leaving about 3:30.  That meant I’d be wandering around the trails of the State Forest in the dark, looking for the state-designated primitive campsite.  That’s not something a sensible person would do, so I got on the bike and headed out anyway.

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First stop – the bridge over the Mohawk River.  Arrowhead Campground and Marina on the right bank; a nice campground if you’re in the area.

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A good part of the ride followed the Mohawk on the Erie Canal Bike Trail.  All the segments on this trip were paved in the past few years.  A typical lock:

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Just about the midpoint in the ride I stopped on a bridge over the Schoharie Creek to eat a bit.  A kayaker paddled out from under the bridge and upstream.  In the distance is the Thruway bridge that replaced the one that collapsed in 1987.

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The route continued to Fultonville, where I left the Bike Trail to cross back over the River and into Fonda.  The Mohawk River looking east:

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Leaving Fonda meant leaving the river valley, and the climbing started.  The road followed the Cayudutta Creek, making the climb gradual.  I did stop at the Cayudutta Creek Falls:

Upper:

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And lower:

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I didn’t climb down the bank to get a photo of the lower from downstream.  There was a 20 foot drop down to the stream bed and the bank was densely overgrown, so I took the pictures from the bridge over the falls.

One of my favorite roads:

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As you might readily guess the road used to lead to a hydroelectric plant.  The ruins of the dam, long since abandoned, still sit in the creek bed.

Just after this I turned away from the creek and the climbing became more serious.  I could tell I would lose the race against the sunset.  With nothing else for it I just kept pedaling. The worst grade of the climb, 7-1/2%, occurred about 3 miles from the State Forest.  Mercifully the section was only about 200 feet before it started to level off.

On the second to last hill I checked my mirror for traffic, saw this, and then stopped to take a picture:

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I started down the other side and there being no traffic I let the speed roll up to, I figure, about 20 mph.  Then I noticed an animal waddling off the shoulder and into the road.  It looked like it had black sides, and as I got closer it looked like it was raising white or off white along its back.

As quick as I dared with the trailer, I swerved over to the double line and was by in an instant.  I couldn’t tell if it was a porcupine or a skunk, but I wasn’t going back to check.

Soon after I arrived at the State Forest.  I took out the trail map, held it up to the bike headlight, and began guessing how to get to the campsite.  None of the trails were marked.  Apparently I made several lucky guesses, because after walking 1/2 mile on the trails I found the campsite.

It was now truly dark, and the temperature was dropping.  OK, new plan.  Start the stove, boil the water, and let the freeze dried dinner ‘cook’ while I set up the tent.

I lit the stove, it runs for a couple seconds and FOOMP!, it goes out.  Try again – no luck.  It became clear that no amount of matches combined with unkind language would get the stove lit. 

After the tent was set up and everything was stowed away, I took the stove apart with what meager tools I had.  I figured it had to be the regulator, the one part I couldn’t remove.  So, for supper I ate some Keebler ‘toast and peanut butter’ crackers, drank some water, and turned in.

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The forest was exceedingly quiet.  During the last visit I’d heard coyotes or wild dogs howling all around the forest in the distance.  This time, nothing, dead silence except for the far away sounds of the occasional car on the road.  Well, if all the animals fled because of Sasquatch, I’d be ok because I didn’t have any real food to give him anyway.

At 4:30 in the morning, nature called – in the form of a crow sitting in the tree above the tent.  CAW!  CAW!  CAW-CAW!  CAW! CAW!  CAW- CAW-CAW!  Over and over just long enough to wake me up.  Then he flew off! 

I woke up about 7 and started packing up.  For breakfast I had some Keebler ‘toast and cheese’ crackers I’d saved from last night, and for good measure I directed some more unkind language at the stove.

It now being light, I took a photo of the campsite”

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Once packed up I started to find my way out back to the road, hopefully with less guesswork than the night before.  The trail:

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I rode this trail nearly all the way out to the road.  Amazing how clear things become with a bit of sunlight.

The good part about today’s ride was the trip back down into the river valley.  Yesterday climbing up out of the valley the BOB trailer felt like an anchor.  Today it felt like a booster rocket!  I had to remember my braking distance increased significantly at higher speeds with all the inertia from the BOB.

One of the more unique directional signposts I’ve seen, made from sawmill blades:

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A view down into the river valley:

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As you can see there wasn’t much of a shoulder.  I hit a max speed of 31 going back to Fonda.  There were a few scenes I thought would make great pictures, and normally I’d take those shots while pedaling by.  But I kept my hands on the bars because the bike handles rather differently at speed when towing a trailer.

I re-crossed the Mohawk River back to Fultonville and back to the Bike Trail.  Just off the Bike Trail, near where I’d stopped the day before, I came to Karen’s Produce and Ice Cream Stand.

They have pie.  Apple pie.

So I ordered a slice of apple pie, sat down at one of their picnic benches, and had breakfast!

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A short ride from Karen’s I stopped at the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site.  Aptly named, because the Erie Canal crossed the Schoharie Creek at that point.  The aqueduct carried canal boats above and across the Schoharie Creek, starting in 1841.  The Schoharie Creek and intentional demolition (to prevent ice jams and flooding) removed much of the aqueduct.

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A wider shot, for perspective on how long the aqueduct used to be:

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The Yankee Lock and Putnam’s store are just downriver from the Crossing.  The large boat basin led into the two side-by-side locks.  Canal boat crews often fought each other to get to the locks first and get through. 

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The lock going east/downriver:

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The last stop I made was the Armory in South Amsterdam.  It was built in the 1890’s, but is now a private residence and bed and breakfast.  It has a tank garage.  It must be pretty cool to park your car in your very own tank garage!

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From here, on to home!  Despite the late start, floundering around on the trails in the dark, and the stove malfunction (which I fixed, once home) I felt it was a pretty good trip.  To close, here’s the profile from the ride:

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Sounds like a great trip.  It's been in the 30s at night here, how could was it sleeping in a tent?  Sorry about the stove, but that wouldn't have been for heat, would it?

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Awesome trip and report. Next time try a pedal wrench on your stove. It's unlikely to fix the problem, but it will solve a problem.

It's been a while so here are some waterfall pictures for you.

Hidden Falls in GTNP

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YNP

vZGYZKgNgrIFUGen71Q28XwAL6VE6GcXi0yPSqOkFJK-6SoZghBvJ4rkjCJGEyA8csyDrjThgBrOhsMom4a8QUAhTIbQq41KyTH50h1H-Ipw8Z9Mcw-tehrINz2sUbKT-X0Rnwm7GrCFp-Fd6vzNkeZWxtn7NC8VHhR5UybIWud0aMuQYBbQOJ4NXGTsQ2dsLjRssQAijXISLppE3jwbosPrmPGhwEDVmqtnjF5rneLrsfCfRHNHMDArSe08lpWXDYhI6xUEiKgdDQpMOszthPfL-1GV1uSnSew0ye6YhuvZqqWOHkf18q4k9-28sHFDLnnrWRc8fM56KE4dGj463uj9OkgA7i86uLP-TW5QH0S9e2HoYGb78EPNin-77FyHC4rCfvVsW3-Uui3jn8ONW0h-NH-ef-RsOT_wGb44GdTlhofJxCUY9d7WbWY3CzO2eegyazkIoub5Fytm4FB-6w1fAf_JSsmPdPJpOyEq0cCJpqJPYU_nx7XNW1kE7b9ZjoyF1kb88R878F-zvU7MF0YbBuCJcIWzUlqheoitgAilBi9vCo2kMDQd7EBQzLUCrIPttIETm4yvz7OpDlEcBe6dYugLpypFepBBUQuvuTTrp8fdTWPgrdEdKiIdNHwo1g2VCtFL7Uejxu7GQ4cXncwqPaaMH8-RfRpTi7INpV3vyGY37hmZjrhamkv5=w1298-h730-no?authuser=0

 

Mesa Falls in Idaho

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The forecast for that evening and following morning in the suburbs was mid-30's.  Rockwood State Forest is near the Adirondack State Park.  I'd guess if the forecasters were somewhat accurate the temperatures would have been low- to mid-30's.  It wasn't too bad. I'd learned from sorry experience that if it's going to be cold you put the next day's clothes in the sleeping bag when you go to sleep to start the next day a bit warmer.

 

Dennis, those waterfalls are magnificent!  One of the best parts about the waterfalls out your way is they haven't been industrialized like many around here and the areas surrounding them remain pristine.  It was kind of you to post the pictures - I appreciate it!

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3 hours ago, Thaddeus Kosciuszko said:

The forecast for that evening and following morning in the suburbs was mid-30's.  Rockwood State Forest is near the Adirondack State Park.  I'd guess if the forecasters were somewhat accurate the temperatures would have been low- to mid-30's.  It wasn't too bad. I'd learned from sorry experience that if it's going to be cold you put the next day's clothes in the sleeping bag when you go to sleep to start the next day a bit warmer.

 

Dennis, those waterfalls are magnificent!  One of the best parts about the waterfalls out your way is they haven't been industrialized like many around here and the areas surrounding them remain pristine.  It was kind of you to post the pictures - I appreciate it!

I think I owe you. I still have the screwdriver set you sent me. Must have been ten years ago.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great to see a ride report (with PICTURES!!) from @Thaddeus Kosciuszko who the Cafe sorely misses.  Really neat - especially that aqueduct.  Seems like you had fun and still smelled the roses along the way.  Likewise, nice pics - as always - from @dennis

One question is about the Bob - and it is simply "why?" since I see the rack and panniers, so I would think, for the one night stay, the tent and other minimal stuff you brought could likely have fit in the panniers and along the top of the rack.  Your tent is similar to ours, and I think I could stuff it successfully in on of my panniers or at least roll and strap it to the top of the rack (but that's where the sleeping bag would naturally go). :scratchhead:

I gotta say I need to up my reporting skills and learn to stop and take some ride photos.  I usually go the simpler route of letting my Cycliq lights/cams take some video, but it is rare that a video captures anything even 1/4 as well as a good photo. 

Anyway, neat ride report!  Thanks, and hopefully, WELCOME BACK! (even if just down in the non-Cafe rooms).

Last week in paradise:

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12 hours ago, Razors Edge said:

Great to see a ride report (with PICTURES!!) from @Thaddeus Kosciuszko who the Cafe sorely misses.  Really neat - especially that aqueduct.  Seems like you had fun and still smelled the roses along the way.  Likewise, nice pics - as always - from @dennis

One question is about the Bob - and it is simply "why?" since I see the rack and panniers, so I would think, for the one night stay, the tent and other minimal stuff you brought could likely have fit in the panniers and along the top of the rack.  Your tent is similar to ours, and I think I could stuff it successfully in on of my panniers or at least roll and strap it to the top of the rack (but that's where the sleeping bag would naturally go). :scratchhead:

I gotta say I need to up my reporting skills and learn to stop and take some ride photos.  I usually go the simpler route of letting my Cycliq lights/cams take some video, but it is rare that a video captures anything even 1/4 as well as a good photo. 

Anyway, neat ride report!  Thanks, and hopefully, WELCOME BACK! (even if just down in the non-Cafe rooms).

Last week in paradise:

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I think it depends on what works for you. I've done trailer, rack and panniers, and bike bags. They all work. I like to carry my sleeping bag on the handlebar with a Salsa Anything Cradle. If I'm riding solo, I stuff my tent in the seat bag. I carry our two person tent on the rack. It all works.

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, dennis said:

I think it depends on what works for you. I've done trailer, rack and panniers, and bike bags. They all work. I like to carry my sleeping bag on the handlebar with a Salsa Anything Cradle. If I'm riding solo, I stuff my tent in the seat bag. I carry our two person tent on the rack. It all works.

 

 

 

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We have an old Burley kid carrying kind that my SiL is using with her youngest these days, but she is soon to be bumped up to tag-along status, so the Burley will come back to us (if we want it).  I imagine that's the route we (wife and I would) go for the GAP/C&O trip if we opt camping vs B&B, and as a stronger rider, it would balance the "team" so she and I would move naturally at a similar pace.  I have tested it out and it has way more capacity than we would ever need but is what we have so I wouldn't go out and buy the Bob.  I have also loosely tested out getting most of our short term gear into panniers and on the rack, and with two of us (vs TK's solo), it could likely be relatively easily done as well using just the rear rack/panniers we have.  I could add front rack or frame & bar bags, but not too interested in adding more.  Realistically, the Burley is the better & easier option for anything beyond a night or two, but it is the one night sort of event like TK's that makes me waver on best methods. Our six person tent is really not made for backpacking or bikepacking, but again, its what we have vs buying a nice two person minimalist tent which seems more suited if doing more bikepacking.

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14 hours ago, dennis said:

I think it depends on what works for you.

A most cogent observation.

When I first considered bike camping, I looked at all the ways to tote gear and it seemed to me that a trailer was the better way instead of hanging weight all over the bike.  It seemed to me that a trailer, simply because of the size and shape of the trailer bed, allowed more volume and flexibility in packing whatever I wanted to bring.

I didn't know how much I'd like bike camping or how often I'd go.  So I was reluctant to invest in the uber-compact, micro-light camping gear.  I selected more economical (OK, cheaper) equipment anticipating I'd upgrade later.  If you look close at the BOB, you'll see it has a gray frame and black fork.  That's because I bought it used (OK, cheaper) and the shop had a new long fork they couldn't sell and gave me a discount on.  It gave me extra clearance for the rear fender.

Since starting, I've found my 'more economical' gear up to the tasks.  The reasons to upgrade for saving space and weight evaporated.  I admit that on some steeper grades I'd wish for featherweight equipment, but I actually doubt I'd notice the difference.

There's a certain amount of volume one brings no matter whether one goes for a night or a week.  Essentially the change in volume amounts to more clothes and more food; the volume for equipment is pretty much fixed.  For an overnight the BOB might be overkill, but not by much for the equipment I have.  You'll note the trunk bag - I use it for carry an extra camera.  It's insulated, and the insulation acts as padding to keep the camera from the worst bumps and jostles.  Having the camera in the trunk bag keeps it handy for stopping to, as Razor says, smell the roses. 

The small day-panniers serve the same purpose.  I put in them a few extra bottles of water and other things I want to keep handy while riding. Most everything that I'll use at the campsite, the things I won't need to get to on the ride, goes in the BOB.  When I go for longer trips, I switch to larger panniers to help with the extra clothes and food.  I probably don't really need to, but it makes packing the BOB easier and, for me, easier to organize.

Perhaps some would look at this approach the same way that backpackers would look at people who use travel trailers - with air conditioners and bathrooms - when they go 'camping'.  I probably bring more than I need, but so what?  I'm not racing to get to my destination, I'm looking to enjoy the trip.  The few extra things I might pack bring a bit of convenience and comfort which would only add to the enjoyment of the trip. 

So, yup, it's what works for me.

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I tend to pack heavy too. Most of my trips are on gravel roads so I like using my bike bag set up the best since the bike handles well this way.

For our desert trip we had to carry a lot of water. We brought 340 oz. It was a three day trip and we only found water in one place, Last Chance Creek.

Our Big Agnes is a little bulky and heavy, but it gets the job done.

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59 minutes ago, Thaddeus Kosciuszko said:

Perhaps some would look at this approach the same way that backpackers would look at people who use travel trailers - with air conditioners and bathrooms - when they go 'camping'.  I probably bring more than I need, but so what?  I'm not racing to get to my destination, I'm looking to enjoy the trip.  The few extra things I might pack bring a bit of convenience and comfort which would only add to the enjoyment of the trip. 

We're in the "car camp" crowd and not the backpack camping or - yet - the trailer camping crowd, but by myself, I think I could be more spartan, but with my wife, I think the "few extra things" would be a mistake to not include and what makes the Burley a no brainer for if we get to do the GAP/C&O soon.  I think there are a lot of little things I could tweak or comfort compromises I could make, but with the difference in our cycling capabilities, I think my pulling a trailer - even half full or less - would make her ride more enjoyable and provide me a "challenge" of sorts. I'm still working the ebike angle for her (slow going), but I am at least blessed to have her like riding & camping at all, so I don't want to mess too much with a workable system.

But good points too on the using the rack for the more "go to" stuff, since I could see just loading the Burley with everything when actually doing a little pre-organizing would save time down the road.

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52 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

We're in the "car camp" crowd and not the backpack camping or - yet - the trailer camping crowd, but by myself, I think I could be more spartan, but with my wife, I think the "few extra things" would be a mistake to not include and what makes the Burley a no brainer for if we get to do the GAP/C&O soon.  I think there are a lot of little things I could tweak or comfort compromises I could make, but with the difference in our cycling capabilities, I think my pulling a trailer - even half full or less - would make her ride more enjoyable and provide me a "challenge" of sorts. I'm still working the ebike angle for her (slow going), but I am at least blessed to have her like riding & camping at all, so I don't want to mess too much with a workable system.

But good points too on the using the rack for the more "go to" stuff, since I could see just loading the Burley with everything when actually doing a little pre-organizing would save time down the road.

I had mapped out a route around the entire Olympic Peninsula. 5 days under 400 miles. We were planning to go light, just bring clothes and stay in the National Park Inns. I could ride my Casseroll and my GF could ride her Orbea e-bike. We could charge it each night. The pandemic killed that idea. Maybe next summer. 

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12 minutes ago, dennis said:

I had mapped out a route around the entire Olympic Peninsula. 5 days under 400 miles. We were planning to go light, just bring clothes and stay in the National Park Inns. I could ride my Casseroll and my GF could ride her Orbea e-bike. We could charge it each night. The pandemic killed that idea. Maybe next summer. 

It will still be there next year! Or the next...

I do think Olympic could work well with good planning.  I also wonder if you have side roads or paths mapped out on that route.  I remember a lot of timber trucks as we worked west and south from Port Townsend around to the eventually Olympia (skipping the east side route) on 101.  I see lots of unnamed roads on google, so it looks like there definitely is a system that would avoid 101 and timber trucks.

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11 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

It will still be there next year! Or the next...

I do think Olympic could work well with good planning.  I also wonder if you have side roads or paths mapped out on that route.  I remember a lot of timber trucks as we worked west and south from Port Townsend around to the eventually Olympia (skipping the east side route) on 101.  I see lots of unnamed roads on google, so it looks like there definitely is a system that would

avoid 101 and timber trucks.

 

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19 hours ago, dennis said:

 

ARGH!!! 101 the whole way!!! 

Have you been there before?  I know you're experienced riding in various conditions, but I actually found the only "bad" thing about Olympic NP was driving in Olympic NP.  It was more about drive to a spot away from the 101 - a beach or a hike in the woods or visit to Park building, so I would hesitate to do it as a bike ride versus a car trip.

BTW, the camp ground just by the Kalaloch lodge/restaurant was AWESOME. We camped right above and to the side of the "Tree of Life" and it was a great experience with the ocean right there lulling you to sleep, and easy access from the camp ground down to the beach.  Really recommend it if you choose to camp once or twice.

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Small spot, but private and all about the ocean on the other side of that hedge!

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Quinnault Lodge:

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40 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

ARGH!!! 101 the whole way!!! 

Have you been there before?  I know you're experienced riding in various conditions, but I actually found the only "bad" thing about Olympic NP was driving in Olympic NP.  It was more about drive to a spot away from the 101 - a beach or a hike in the woods or visit to Park building, so I would hesitate to do it as a bike ride versus a car trip.

BTW, the camp ground just by the Kalaloch lodge/restaurant was AWESOME. We camped right above and to the side of the "Tree of Life" and it was a great experience with the ocean right there lulling you to sleep, and easy access from the camp ground down to the beach.  Really recommend it if you choose to camp once or twice.

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Small spot, but private and all about the ocean on the other side of that hedge!

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Quinnault Lodge:

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I've been to Olympic NP probably 25 times. Did a backing trip in the Hoh. I've been to all three rainforests. 

The map is a guide to help me figure out the mileage. I would stay off 101 when possible. Sometimes, 101 is the only rd around the park. The road around Lake Crescent is the narrowest, but you can skirt the northern part of the lake on a gravel rd. I would go north of the Elma-Satsop section too. That is the busiest section, 4 lane highway. 
Right now the trip is on hold. We are planning a Moab trip in the spring and possibly San Juan hut trip in the summer.

We have completely hijacked this thread from Thaddeus.

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32 minutes ago, dennis said:

The map is a guide to help me figure out the mileage. I would stay off 101 when possible.

I figured you had it under control but that all 101 scared me a bit!  But having only driven there, I can see side roads, but didn't ever think to use them as our route since the 101 is the quickest car route.  Definitely awesome if you can pull it off in the next year or so.

34 minutes ago, dennis said:

We have completely hijacked this thread from Thaddeus.

And hopefully just giving him more ideas for his next adventure!  I have waterfall shots from Olympic NP.  Washington state is filled with waterfalls. Waterfall heaven! Oregon seems pretty good too!

I think this is Sol Duc falls a short hike from one of our campgrounds (image grab from a video):

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5 minutes ago, Razors Edge said:

I figured you had it under control but that all 101 scared me a bit!  But having only driven there, I can see side roads, but didn't ever think to use them as our route since the 101 is the quickest car route.  Definitely awesome if you can pull it off in the next year or so.

And hopefully just giving him more ideas for his next adventure!  I have waterfall shots from Olympic NP.  Washington state is filled with waterfalls. Waterfall heaven! Oregon seems pretty good too!

I think this is Sol Duc falls a short hike from one of our campgrounds (image grab from a video):

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Marymere at Lake Crescent

Waterfall on Memory Trail - Picture of Lake Crescent Lodge, Olympic  National Park - Tripadvisor

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