It takes forever to drive out to the Washington coast, arrange cars at two trailheads, organize the backpacks, and eventually set foot on the beach. The logistics were daunting, but, with the help of cell phones, 8 people in 4 cars departing from disparate locations managed to do just that, even though Phil and Jackie missed their ferry, got stuck behind a submarine on the Hood Canal bridge, and were diverted from our restaurant by busloads of baseball players. Whew! It was sure nice to finally start trudging north on the beach with the thundering surf on the left and the full moon on the right.
Screams in the Night
After setting up camp by Ellen Creek, Rob and I were trying to spot the moons of Jupiter with his telescope when we suddenly heard shrieking noises.
“There’s a mouse! He’s RIGHT THERE. Doug, set up the tent NOW. I am NOT sleeping outside tonight!” Marylene didn’t seem to be appreciating the aesthetics of sleeping out in the open, under the stars.
I walked over to my pack to make sure I hadn’t left any food lying around, and, sure enough, a little rodent scampered away from my headlamp beam. We had some good food containers, though, and our supply went unmolested.
Our first full day began leisurely in the sunshine. We did all of our hiking in the afternoon when the tides were ebbing. The morning was spent lolling around the beach. I couldn’t resist the big ocean waves, so I waded out and splashed around a bit. I got progressively braver (i.e. stupider), and walked out further to let a couple of the monster waves smash me down and wash me ashore like a little piece of driftwood.
Blood on the Beach
I was looking at some tide pools when I noticed that Phil and Laurie had stopped to wait for the others, so I ambled over to wait with them. Approaching, I was stunned to see streams of blood running down Laurie’s forehead. She had smacked into a tree branch, and the wound was deep. Phil was scrambling to find the first-aid kit, which actually turned out to be in my pack. We fumbled through the disorganized pile of gauze, bandages, ointments, and other medical paraphernalia to find something to patch the hole in Laurie’s head.
“Should we use these alcohol things? What about Neosporin? We have something called Polysporin, is that the same thing? What about this stuff … no that’s for insect bites. Should we apply pressure … wait let’s put that flap of skin back in place first.”
Phil did the doctoring. The best I could do was hand Phil some damp toilet paper to wipe the blood from Laurie’s face (I used the bloody paper to start a fire the following morning – worked great). Laurie was very calm and patient, as we bumbled around. Soon she was up and marching down the beach with big bandage on her head and bloodstains on her shirt.
A Little Side Trip
Laurie and I got a head start on the second day (Palm Sunday), so we could do a side trip into Ozette Lake. The inland trek through the rainforest was a nice change of pace. We came to a premature halt when we couldn’t immediately find a way to cross a murky brown river without swimming. My first attempt at tight roping across on a narrow log ended in utter failure as I fell splashing into the river. Fortunately, we discovered another log that worked quite well. I just wish we would’ve spotted it sooner. Since I was already mostly wet, I completed the process by jumping into Lake Ozette. I stayed in for a grand total of about 4 seconds.
Geographers will tell you that Cape Alava is the westernmost point in the continental United States. But don’t you believe it! Just look at a map, and you will see a feature called Tskawahyah Island that sticks out further than Cape Alava, and you can walk there on dry land. Well, okay, it only works if the tide is low.
On Monday, Rob, Laurie, and I arrived a little too late for low tide, so we had to wade across a long stretch of knee-deep water to get to Tskawahyah Island. It took a bit of cajoling to convince Rob that it was worth it, and Laurie hitched a ride, so she didn’t even get her hiking boots wet.
After a few days expansive vistas, salty breezes, slimy kelp, battered driftwood, and, now, hiking boots filled with seawater, I felt at home on the ocean (and in the ocean). But I guess all things must come to an end, so it was back to soft beds and hot showers for our motley crew.
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