Pat & Kathy's 160 mile bicycle beach ride from near Hope to Homer

August 2005
written by Kathy Sarns Irwin ~ photos by Kathy and Pat Irwin

Chapter 4: Spirit Rocks and High Tides

We said good bye to John. Cloudy, overcast, pretty good beach riding, variable terrain from small rocks to hard pack sand with rocks. About 6 miles an hour. We were wearing shorts, short sleeve jerseys and sweating from the heat even though it's overcast. We saw lots of brown bear, black bear, and coyote tracks. Eagles were always over our heads. We passed by a cozy well kept set net homestead. A dog comes out of the open front door and looks at us and goes back inside like he sees bikes out here everyday. We saw an eagle nest with two young ones that are getting ready to fly. The adults whistled and landed on either side of us keeping an eagle eye on us not to disturb their young. No worries we are moving on.

We heard a 4 wheeler and see a fisherman hauling in his set nets and buoys for the winter. He has lived out here 35 years and has never seen a bike on this beach. He said his son is up the beach and would want to see our bikes. And yeah that was his dog up there protecting his house, he said that that dog doesn't get excited about much. Further up the beach we visited with his grown son who lives in Oregon and fishes with his family in the summer. He was excited about our bikes and thought beach riding was a great idea. It started to rain as we said good bye. We were still warm.

We passed another cozy looking home on the beach.

Dad, Mom and 10 year old son were standing outside in the rain smiling at us. Dad suddenly said "come see my rocks!" and was behind some bushes gesturing for us to come over. Mom and son were smiling but silent.

Standing on a beach filled with rocks we hesitated and approached slowly. We were relieved to see they did have some different rocks behind the bushes. They are called "Spirit Rocks" that are formed by glaciers and are only found in one or two places in the world according to Dad. They looked like they were carved and sanded by hand into shapes of people, animals, and strange beings. He had his self published books ready under his arm as if he had been waiting for us. We insisted that one book was plenty. The rain was getting them wet. He offered us a rock but they were too heavy to carry and we thanked them and started down the beach. The sand was turning to mud as the tide was rising. He yelled that Captain Cook Camping area is only 6 miles ahead. One hour of riding for us.

The waves came closer as the tide rose fast. We thought high tide was at 5pm but this looked really high at 3 pm. We were to find out that tide charts are a little off in these parts.

Because we knew Captain Cook Park was just ahead we kept going. We made it around a house built between 2 rocks with about 3 feet of beach to spare. We rounded a bend that had steep 200 foot sandy cliffs on our left and too big of rocks to bike over so we had to carry our bikes as incoming surf spray hit us. Pat had to come back to help me carry my bike. Each bike with all our gear is about 60 pounds and I was a shivering wet weakling. Visions of Mom's email that we could drown and be carried to sea came to mind. As we rounded this hair raising corner, soaking wet from ocean spray and rain, we could see the sign for the park ahead. After that experience we planned on reaching our other destinations at LEAST 2 hours before high tide. We camped at the campground. Built a big fire and dried out. And listened to the rain on the tent all night. Our light weight tent has no floor. We used a tarp and sleeping pads to lay our summer sleeping bags on. Today we went about 28 miles.