Learning from our previous mapping lessons, Travis asked a ranger about a "bike trail" that would bypass a gnarly high-traffic hill on 101. This is where we learned a new lesson: people who don't ride bikes don't always give good bike route advice.
The ranger said that there were some tough switchbacks at first, but eventually it levels out, following the path of the old Pacific Coast Highways. It was only five miles anyway, and he was definitely recommended the route instead of the dangerous 101 section.
The trail started off nicely graveled, following close to the coast cliffs. Aaaaaaaand then it took a turn straight up a dry, rocky cliff creek bed. Like straight up. Like impossible-to-ride-so-you-better-push-your-damn-bike-and-all-your-gear up. At one point I asked Travis if he thought this was a 45 degree angle, and he said, "No, that would be impossible, because then with each step we'd be going forward and up at the same rate."
I'm pretty sure we were pushing our bikes a 45 degree angle up a cliff. Turns out the easiest way for me to do it was to bend at the waist, press my chest into the handlebars and push with my whole body with each step. I chanted in my head, 'I'm very strong. I'm very strong. I'm very strong.'
I called it "bi-hiking".
Eventually we reached the ridge, and were able to ride again. I'll tell you what, there's nothing like bi-hiking to make you appreciate the relative ease of riding a bicycle instead of pushing it, even if it is on a steep hiking path.
And then, suddenly, I noticed the pavement.
The path had leveled off, but it was still cutting straight through an ancient Redwood grove, overgrown with Redwood sorrel in the margins and flanked with sword ferns. Yet there were the white lane lines marking where cars had driven on this pavement before the 1950s, back when the old Pacific Coast Highway ushered sightseers along this scenic route.
The forest had done a magnificent job of reclaiming this human intrusion, and it was utterly surreal to be riding on smooth, level road through this isolated grove without the presence of cars, or anyone else for that matter.
This was my favorite campsite so far. We just set up the tent in the middle of the road. It was by a little creek and it was flat. We had the Redwoods all to ourselves.