Not much action on the camping front this year, so I grabbed a chance to do a quick overnight (S24O) from my place in Freeland, WA up to Fort Ebey. It’s about 30 miles one way, and a great chance to try:
- Hunqapillar on singletrack
- New road exploring
- Hammock camping
This also echoes the distance of a Lake Crescent trail I want to do later this year. That gig is mostly singletrack, but I would use the same equipment.
I got underway around 4:45pm on Monday. I figured it would take 2-3 hours, so I would likely have light to set up camp. John and I had explored Fort Ebey’s mtb trails a few days earlier, so I knew where the hike/bike campsites were.
I packed light. There was a burn ban, so I didn’t bother bringing a stove. Just 2 water bottles, a toaster pastry for breakfast, and a can of salmon for dinner. Easy. I wore the clothes on my back and brought along a pair of wool long underwear for sleeping. No rain in the forecast. Other than that, just my hammock, fly, sleeping bag and roll. Oh yeah – I strapped some sandals on, in case the feet got sore, but that was just unused extra weight. I think the whole thing weighed in under 10 pounds.
The way up was stunning and uneventful. Heading north, I passed South Whidbey State Park, and Greenbank Farm. The stretch from Greenbank up to Coupville had some great hills and views, and the Navy Growlers were out practicing on the outlying field near Admirals Cove.
The long stretch across Keystone to Fort Casey yielded a few seals and many sea birds, but I saw not much traffic on a Monday night.
I searched through Fort Casey for a back route, and thought I had it following a gravel trail by the lighthouse, but it ended in a private road. I left it to chance, and wasted a few minutes, but it was worth the views.
After a short hop up to the bluff, and across an amazing open farming area, it was a quick ride to the new pavement of Madrona Way past the mussel farms in Penn Cove.
At this point, I was starting to worry about sunlight – it had taken me about 2 1/2 hrs to get this far. I hurried on into Fort Ebey State Park, and set up the hammock. There was one other person in the hike/bike spot – a Pacific Northwest Trail through hiker. After a dinner of canned salmon on the bluff overlooking the Straights of Juan de Fuca, and a great sunset, it was off to bed.
The next morning was sunny, so I geared up and chatted with the hiker to learn about his journey. He was a 65 years old Granite Falls, WA resident, and 7 weeks into the trail that started in Glacier National Park. After 8 bears (one grizzly at about 10 yds), a pack of wolves, and countless coyotes, he was just heading to the ferry to Port Townsend to have a lunch reunion with his wife before finishing the last 150 miles to Cape Alava.
After a nourishing breakfast at the same scenic overlook on the bluff and a water bottle refill, I was off to ride the Kettles trail on the loaded Hunq!
Needless to say, the Hunq made short work of the trail, and I found myself heading back south and past the barley fields to Ebey Beach.
Route out and back are here: