The 78 miles from Crescent City to Arcata, our first day on the tour entirely in the Golden State, also earned us the most feet of elevation in a single day, just about 400 feet shy of a mile.
But the rewards for all that stolid low-gear grinding were considerable: beautiful mostly empty beaches, piled high with huge silvery driftwood logs; the sounds of crashing surf and barking seals; vistas across rocky bays to distant capes and ridges; and the Del Norte redwood groves, through which we rode avenues lined with trees the length of battleships.
We paused at the world-famous Trees of Mystery to buy postcards and marvel at three visiting school groups from Portland climbing all over Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe.
Today gave us probably the roughest roads of the trip so far as well, especially along some scenic coastal drives that provided occasional relief from once-again busy Hwy 101. Coming out of Crescent City we climbed gradually but steadily more or less all the way to Klamath, sometimes with no shoulder, always with the ominous rumble, over the left shoulder, of some load-bearing rig.
After Klamath, more climbing, through one construction zone after another. One flagger sent us through, while holding up the cars, which was very peaceful until we met, simultaneously, the asphalt-laying tanks and the pilot truck and its attendant caravan. After that we descended briskly through new, sticky, hot asphalt. Had to stop to clean all the debris collected by our tacky tires.
Lunch was nuts, cheese, a pre-made packaged sandwich, and Cokes, sitting curbside in front of the Orick general store.
After, we crossed the Klamath river, climbed more, and eventually refilled water bottles in Trinidad. The coastal track past Trinidad included several gravel stretches as the price of an epic view, and the Hammond Trail from there to Arcata, a hiker-biker-horse path, surprised us with an 8% gravel climb which we triumphantly managed, high-fiving as we panted at the top.
We rolled into Arcata at 7:15 or so, met by our friends, their two little girls, and two neighborhood kids. Eventually cleaned up, deposited our bikes in the garage and our bags in the camper that would be home for a couple of days. Enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal and local microbrews with our tremendously thoughtful and hospitable hosts, Katie and Travis, Reyna and Zara, and then to bed.
Day 14: 77.9 miles, 4756′ of climbing, 7 hours and six minutes.