Fog swirls through the cedar trees in the fading light of dusk as frogs croak somewhere near the flowing river in the darkness beyond. I’m in Olympic National Park nestled in the Sol Duc valley anticipating the next days mixed terrain ride. An early spring adventure to mark the return of soft light giving way to vibrant sunshine that had retreated to the South for the winter.
Warmed against the 34F morning with eggs, bagel and coffee I pedal over a bridge spanning the Sol Duc river. A sleepy two-lane road winds along the river descending under the canopy of moss and trees of the temperate rainforest. Although I’m vaguely aware that this thrilling winding and rolling descent will be a climb on my return I laugh it off with a whoop and pedal harder.
Black tarmac with a double yellow stripe yields to brown squishy soil littered with decayed leaves, yellow green lichen and derailleur grabbing broken branches. I pedal on the shoulder of Lake Crescent. With a 40c tire on my Evergreen S the varied terrain is a great match. Only the creek crossings, downed trees, and a rock slide prompt me to hike.
Time passes on the trail among ancient trees and flowing waters. Salt crystals on my cheeks remind me of the summer rides to come. For now the gentle spring rain begins to needle down upon my helmet and drip off the brim of my hat. My ride is complete except for the rest I take falling back into the soft moss bed below a tree in the forest.