SAN JUAN ISLANDS (Part 3)
The ferry system for the San Juan Islands is pretty amazing. We boarded our ferry for Orcas Island and then proceeded to chow down on the bag lunches we had made. The weather was nice, but a bit nippy on the water, as we made our way to Orcas Island. We landed at Orcas’ Landing and thankfully walked our bikes up the first hill away from the landing. Now, after the “rolling” terrain on Fidalgo Island, we asked about the terrain on Orcas Island. “Oh, it’s a bit lumpy” was the reply. Translation: some of the hills are going to kick your ass. And they did.
After we made it to West Sound (a pretty little community), we had a killer hill and then rode up above an amazingly pretty valley. The road hugged the left side of the valley so we had some more “rolling” hills, but the view, the scenery, was just enough to take your breath away. (Especially as we were passing a dairy farm) It’s late summer up there, but there were still lots of wild flowers: daisies, dandelions, Queen Anne’s Lace, and a bluish/lavender flower that we thinkwas chickory. And both sides of the road were lined with thorny black berry bushes with berries ripening on the vine. After making our way through the center valley, we pulled into East Sound where we would stay for the next two nights at the Outlook Inn. Again, Backroads does it nice and the hotel was perfect. Nice rooms, amazing views of West Sound. Itwas just perfect. I dropped Dad off at the hotel and I decided to go for the extra loop. The extra loop took you to the beach at the north end of the island and the views there were amazing. Again the weather was ideal and we could see for miles across the straits. Now, before I decided on the extra loop, I had asked how hilly it was. “Oh, it’s mainly level, there’s maybe one little hill.” Translation: It’s flat for about a mili-second, and then it’s rolling hills, with atleast one gutbuster. The ride today was a pretty decent 32 miles. I made it back to the hotel in time to shower, change, and stroll the town for a little bit. Which is really all it took since it was pretty small. Then it was back for another amazing meal at the hotel. Take a long ride, add in some good wine and lots of good food and what do you get? Serious sleep coma.
The next day was shorter, but tougher ride. We were going to ride from EastSound to Cascade Lake (6 miles) and then those people who are truly masochists could ride up Mt. Constitution, or you could do a 4.3 mile hike. The ride to Cascade Lake was kind of brutal. I’m not a hill person and we did one hill that was a pretty decent incline that was over a mile long. I was in the granny gear for most of the way. But I did make it to the top without stopping. And then it was a killer, but chilly, decline into Cascade Lake. Here we hopped off the bikes for a bit and walked around for a bit. Then we split up into groups, the psychos and the hikers. Dad, doing his own thing as always, decided to van up to point where the hiking trail crosses the road, and then ride the last 1.3 miles up to the summit. I, on the other hand, was looking for a little cross training opportunity and thought I would do the hike instead. Ashley led the charge up the hill and pointed out a couple of interesting facts (no bears, no snakes, no poison ivy, no poison oak) and then did show us what a Stinging Nettle looks like so we could avoid it. Then she scampered back down the hill to pick up Dad and head to the way point near the summit. I had already put my MP3 player on and I kicked on the jams and started making my way up, up, up the mountain. Again, amazingly pretty. We were in old growth forest walking under hemlock, spruce, birch, and fir trees and it was gorgeous. Another awesome day weather wise and you could see streaks of daylight break through the overhead foliage and cast the odd prism of light amongst the otherwise shaded area. It was just amazing. And up we walked. I was listening to some of my dance music and I was just in the zone. I was looking at the amazing natural beauty that surrounded me and really wasn’t looking at where I was going. So I didn’t really see the large, yet loose rock that I stepped on. But I did feel it when it turned, and when my ankle popped to the side.