I stated the Women Who Dare project on a warm, sunny day east of Berkeley. As I biked over the delta toward the bay, birds were chirping and the bright green leaves of spring were starting to give way to their dark, summer-green selves. Having skied the previous day, I thought it wonderful to be warm, but was also a little sad to have missed the changing of the season.
I should not have feared, for I spent the next five weeks catching up with spring as I moved north. Sometimes, I even mistakenly found a bit of winter. Here’s a brief retelling of my ride from the Bay Area to Puget Sound in terms of the progress of the seasons:
Along Route 1 up the California coast, I was treated to beautiful vistas and strong headwinds. A bookstore owner in Mendocino told me such views and wind are only available in be spring (April) and fall (September and October). The rest of the time, they have wet and/or fog.
In northern California’s various redwood groves I found no particular season. Only cool, damp, woods air and majestic old trees.
At Crescent City, I turned east to climb into Oregon along the Smith River. While I have no photos to share of this beautiful place, the river was running high and clear cold from snowmelt. If you’re into fishing, this is a great place to check out. One of the last undammed rivers in California!
Once I reached Oregon, I finally smelled my first spring blossoms. If I told you they were cherry blossoms, I would be dead wrong. But in my mind, it was just like being in D.C. when all the cherry trees blossom at once.
After finding this touch of spring, I took a leap back toward winter. From Ashland over the Cascades to Bend I found snow banks along the road and frost on my tent. (For more on this daunting passage, read this.)
Fortunately, this chilly spell was dry and didn’t last too long. I spent a couple days soaking in the high-desert spring time before crossing back over the Cascades to Eugene.
For about a week, from when I was headed into Eugene until I left Portland, I found myself caught in what locals called “winter-style weather.” With wind from the south and a fair amount of chilly rain still hanging on in May, some locals told me they thought seasons had shifted a bit. The winter came later (end of October, perhaps, not September) and stayed longer (until May, clearly, not April).
In fact, as I was preparing to leave Portland, I learned that the storm that we’d been getting was hammering the Cascades with snow. Good thing I made my two crossings when I did!
Finally, along the four day ride from Portland to the Puget Sound, I found a spring that felt like home on the coast of Maine. Forsythia were still in their full yellow explosions and many trees were still sporting bright green leaves.
Now, after four 80+ degree days in Montana, I’d say I’ve left spring all together and have found summer. Though, from the looks of things I’ll still see snow in the mountain passes between Missoula and Yellowstone.