Day 12: Respect the Constitution 

Monday’s objective was to take the ferry to Orcas Island and climb to the peak of the island, called Mount Constitution, situated in the center of Moran State Park. The ferry from Fidalgo Island, where we are stationed, to Orcas Island left at 7 am. (We almost entitled this post “Make it to the ferry on time, Part II”).

View from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal on Fifalgo Island

Upon arrival at Orcas Island, we cycled north along the Horseshoe Highway (so named for the shape of the Island) and then opted for an alternative route that would take us through more views, more hills, more miles, but less traffic. The ride was lovely: large pastures, family farms, baby goats and sheep, cattle, green of every shade, and two harbors. By 10:30 am, we had arrived to East Sound downtown, where we stocked up on stove fuel, soap, postcards, and a much needed extra pair of socks for Steve. We took an hour to eat baked goods and bananas and rest. We really had no idea how much we would need it.

Our plan was to ride halfway up the mountain and hike the rest. From what we’d been told, the 2500 foot elevation gain would be more than Daisy could take. Thanks again to Owen, we headed up the steep inclines almost exclusively in our granny gear. At 1100 feet we arrived at Mountain Lake, where we found the trailhead for the hike to the summit. It was straight uphill and continued that way for the better part of 3 miles. We were astounded by the greenness of it all. Emerald moss covered everything. Had we stayed too long in one place, surely it would have begun to creep up our legs. 

We pressed on and with jelly-muscles we finally sumitted at 3 pm. The view at the top was immense. Under a cloud filled sky, you could see Mount Baker to the East and the Olympic Mountains to the South, and countless islands and mountains in between.

The ferry back to Fidalgo was set to leave at 5:15. The next wouldn’t depart till 8:45. With a major gravity assist, we rolled down Mount Constitution with Steve holding both brake levers the entire time. Even so, we descended in 20 minutes the same distance it had taken us two hours to climb. (Sometimes one asks themself, “What’s the point?” We must each find the answer, a wise woman once said.) 

For you bicycle tech minded people, Daisy has a rear drum brake, which can tolerate a lot of continuous heat along with regular caliper breaks on the front and rear. The extra set of brakes were exceedingly useful on this descent.

Arriving at East Sound at 4:30, we abandoned hope of making the 5:15 ferry. There was just no way. We sat down on a rock, slightly dejected, and chewed on a not-so-tasty-but-full-of-nutrition-very-dry-kale-coconut-date-bar. Our legs were rubber and we resolved to spin as slowly as we could to conserve energy during our 10 mile ride back to the ferry port. As we spun up a particularly large hill, Jackie exclaimed, “Wait! This is the last hill! I remember it!” Steve said, “Don’t get my hopes up, dear.” But it was! The very last hill! And what’s that? The ferry is still docked? The man is saying to ride right on? The traffic officer shouts, “No tickets necessary for you”? Could it be?

We rode down the hill and onto the ferry, faces lit with wonder, eyes brimming with gratitude, hearts beating with joy, and they closed the gate behind us. Yet again, we made it to the ferry on time.

(Forgive us for waxing so dramatic, but it really did feel like magic).

Back at camp, a warm shower, a warmer fire, and a hot meal. We hit the sleeping sacks, satisfied.


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