Day 29, Leggett Conquered: Fort Bragg to Standish Hickey Campground
We were ready for Leggett, at least as ready as it was possible to be. Our stay in Fort Bragg put us farther away from the hills than we had planned for today, but laundry and a shower was a priority yesterday so that gave us a 75km day today including many small climbs before we started ‘mini-Leggett’ and then finally climb the real Leggett hill.
Mini-Leggett is a 600ft climb which we then sail back down before starting 1800ft climb to the top. And because we’re north bound, we’re climbing from sea level to the peak, unlike those southbound who have a slow and gradual incline for a day or two before reaching the campground before they start their Leggett climb.
Even when we first got on the road at 7am there was a headwind. It pushed back at us all morning. We stopped at a scenic outlook where there were many people up and out early fishing for Abalore, since its their season. We heard about a few people who had drown in the pass day in the rough waters.
We decided to look for food in Westport, and when we arrived the general store was the only place we could get something, so we both got a bagel sandwich from there and sat in the warm sun hidden from the wind to enjoy it.
We knew the climbs were coming and were procrastinating, but eventually we had to get back and start climbing. So we went back to the road and continued along the windy coastline of rolling hills before turning inland and starting mini-Leggett. Although it was a steep climb on a narrow road without shoulders, there was very little traffic and plenty of turn-out areas, and by being on the outside of the road, not right next to the cliff, we felt more visible. And did I mention there was no wind? It was a peaceful climb and at a slow calm pace it wasn’t too difficult. Eventually we hit this peak and sailed back down to near sea level, getting a few more kilometers accomplished.
Then came time for the real climb of the day. We just went slow and steady, me slower than Jesse, however I had a bag of cherry gummies to snack on as I went. I kept looking at the kilometer reading on my bike computer.. counting down, and thinking ‘we have 6 more hours of sunlight…even if i can only go at 5km/hr it will be okay…’ and consistently adjusting this as the climb went on.
The roads were still narrow but the calm quiet of the forest meant we could hear most vehicles before they came close. At one point I was sure we were reaching the segment where the 101 and the 1 came together, and thus also then the peak, but soon I realized I was just able to hear the traffic from the 1 up ahead, since it was some loud logging trucks coming down the hill. We road for what seemed like a quite a while near the treeline, and continued climbing steadily. Eventually, with nothing to mark it, we reached the peak with only the warning sign to oncoming traffic about the grade of the descent to let us know.
We sailed down the hill quickly with only a couple cars passing as we went. Just before reaching Leggett there was a very minor climb, which felt a lot larger than it should have. The town was to our right, including the Chandelier drive through tree which we couldn’t miss. We went uphill a bit farther to get to the tree, and paid $3/each (a car is cheaper – $5 total) and we were able to ride through the tree a few times to try to get a decent picture. A worthwhile event given we had just finished Leggett, but if we were Southbound I’m not sure if I would have gone to the effort. There is a decent picnic are there but otherwise nothing of note beyond restrooms.
We continued on to the campground, and merging with the 101 we thought would mean more traffic but also decent shoulders. We were right about the traffic, wrong about the shoulders. Instantly we had large trucks passing us, but we were still on a descent so we were happy that our incline was on the quiet highway 1, not the busy 101 freeway.
Very quickly we reached the campground, setup camp and talked with another northbound tourer, then went across the street to another general store/restaurant for burgers, snacks, and then called it a night.