Day 5 – Montesano to Shelton
The Monte Elma Road goes through the small towns/communities of Brady, Satsop and Elma, after Elma the route changes to the Elma McCleary Road en route to the town of McCleary.
McCleary is good place to grab some supplies as the route to Shelton has limited options other than a small store at Kamilche. Also, McCleary is where I changed routes and picked up WA-108 north-east to join Highway 101 once again, heading north to Shelton (Waypoint “6” on the map).
108 was a relatively quiet route also before I joined onto 101 where there was considerably more traffic to watch out for. Nevertheless, 101 had a decent shoulder on the road, which always makes riding a bit safer especially when the large transport trucks whistle by! Otherwise an uneventful ride but another spectacular sunny day.
Once I’d ridden on 101 for a while and was nearing the city, I had two options at the south end of Shelton, I could have taken WA-3 and ridden through the downtown of Shelton, which I knew was not too great a place to manoeuvre my loaded touring bike, or carry on US-101, which is what I did. My motel was at the north end of Shelton anyway, so it made sense to stay on 101.
I checked into the motel without any mishaps, cleaned up and went for the daily hunt to forage for refreshments and food. I was in an area of a fast food mecca as it was a pull off/rest area for drivers on 101, so kind of a “forage-fest” for me, but I skipped the greasier options and decided on Japanese food to be on my menu for that evening, could of been a couple of beers too!
Day 6 – Shelton to Quilcene
In the morning, another free breakfast at the motel – this motelling was sure easier that breaking down and packing my gear on my tent camping mornings! And the free breakfasts were a bonus too!
After filling my belly, I left the motel to ride onto 101 north, which was very close by to the motel. For about 15 km 101 was an easy ride, but I know from past experience that I had to ride alongside the Hood Canal (sea level) and then tackle the Mount Walker Pass to an elevation 750 feet. Highway 101 alongside the Hood Canal is a winding and narrow road in many places and certainly not flat riding with quite a few short hills. Making it more of a challenge is the fact that it is a very popular area in the Summer months, so lots of traffic to deal with; RV’s and logging trucks included! Not for the faint-hearted, but some really nice scenery if you dare take your eyes off the road on the Hood Canal section! Nevertheless, there are lots of opportunities for accomodation, camping and many places to obtain some supplies. The area is also famous for its oysters with quite a few outlets available to please your palate.
Not long after surviving the narrow stretch alongside the Hood Canal, I rode through the community of Brinnon, not much there apart from a motel that closed down quite a few years ago. A few klicks past Brinnon the highway turned away from the Hood Canal and soon I was beginning the climb to the top of the pass. Not too bad a grind in good weather and once at the top I stopped for a break during which I noticed quite a few hikers entering the trailheads there heading for the viewpoint of Mount Walker no doubt.
OK, break over to begin a nice downhill into Quilcene where I would stay for the night at the Mount Walker Inn (Waypoint “7” on the map). I knew that there was a campground in Quilcene but I was getting spoilt with all the soft beds the last few nights so to hell with it, “splash out a bit,” I said to myself!
The Inn has basic, comfortable rooms with friendly staff in a rustic atmosphere. I checked in, cleaned up and went for a wander around the village looking for an ice cream, maybe a beer chaser, or two! Quilcene is a small community but still had everything I needed without having to venture too far away – you can walk around the whole place in a half hour! I remembered the breakfast cafe there from past experience and wandered by there to check what time they opened the next morning to get my breakfast fix, the back to the digs to relax for a while.