Day 17: Prairie Creek to Eureka

I started the day by taking the gravel path from the hiker/biker site to the highway 101. It was really hard on my bike, and I should’ve just taken the 101 from the beginning, but I try to find alternate routes when possible. I made a stop in Orick, a small town, to grab snacks at the only general store that I would pass for awhile. I kept finding used needles everywhere: the bathroom, the parking lot, and the side of the road. I was nervous that I would run over one and it would puncture my tire, or worse, I would step on one. Clearly a lot of these small NorCal towns have big drug use issues.

As I began to cycle out of Orick, I passed over a bridge where I saw police officers doing a search of some kind near what seemed to be an encampment. They didn’t seem to like that I stopped to watch, so I pressed onward and wondered what could’ve happened. It was around this time that I began seeing a ton of missing persons fliers as well. Apparently there are a ton of illegal (and some legal) drug operations in Humbolt County, and many people who go to work up in the mountains to make extra money don’t come back. There are a good amount of kidnappings in this area, probably because of its remoteness. This both fascinate and horrifies me.

Moving forward, the 101 turned into a multiple lane highway. This stretch was terrifying, mostly because of merging vehicles. There was also another interesting twist: I had to dodge traffic and homeless encampments.

During this part of the trip, my mind was preoccupied thinking about the structure of the camps and their governance. I passed a man that had built himself a throne up on a hill that was sectioned off from everyone else. It seemed like every camp I passed had leadership and organization to some capacity.

I passed another cyclist biking, with his surfboard attached, from SoCal to NorCal. I can’t even imagine what that was like. After hours on the 101, I noticed there was a bike path along the coast. The path ended up taking me to Arcata, and I got to see a ton of seals along the way. I met Ruth and Rob at a Safeway there and we headed to a KOA in Eureka that welcomed us with a pool and hot tub!

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