WA and Olympic Peninsula, May 2011 – Part the First

Well, it’s still May, so if I get this out soon, I’ll still be on track to post at least once a month, though still so very far short of my desire to try and catch up with at least a post a week. Oh well. We’ve moved into our new house, and I went to California, and the weather turned amazing, which basically means we’ve been mowing the lawn. And I’ve been luxuriating in the fact that the outside has not been trying to cause me to suffer, which is really rather refreshing.

Anyway, however, let me travel briefly back in time…about three years, actually. This trip included my birthday in the Washington rain forest (next post), which was all in all not a bad place for it.

Headlands just south of Cape Flattery. We just watched for a while.

Beth and Alex invited me on this trip to go to Olympic National Park. I wasn’t able to go with them for the whole time, since I had to be in town for a few extra days for my sister’s graduation ceremony. However, I was able to fly up on the 24th, including a gorgeous flight over the snow-capped Sierras, and all the volcanos of the Cascades. Once I landed in Seattle, I took a taxi over to the car rental place (thus saving myself all the on-airport fees!), managed to get my car, and eventually started my drive over to the Park. I was very amused to see the road signs for the town of Forks, I will freely admit. It was a spectacularly lovely day out, and I had a great drive over.

Fine, this isn’t the Sierras, but Mt St Helens is also pretty impressive looking

No surface at the campground was un-grown-upon

I arrived at Three Rivers (the Quileute Indian Reservation) and cut through and continued along to the Mora Campground where I was going to meet with everybody. This is a lovely, mossy, green (like everything else) campground fairly near the coast, but enough inland that you don’t quite notice this feature of its location. After looking around, it seemed as if they weren’t my party wasn’t there yet, so I located a good campsite, nearish the river. I set up my things, and then just wandered around for a while and waited for people to arrive. Beth and Alex and Glasser showed up probably within an hour or so, and it was great to see them all roll in.

Pineapple rings are totally dinner

We set up camp, and really just spent most of the evening hanging out. They had brought all the food with them, and we had some random this and that for dinner, and just had a relaxing evening. The next morning, we got up, and headed out for a hike. We went south a bit, and ended up at the Third Beach trailhead. It was drizzling, but , well, we knew where we were, so we were mostly unfazed. This trail starts off on fire road, cutting through the (green, wet) woods, and soon turns to trail, as you keep wending your way through the forest. After about a mile, you come to a large gully, and the trail starts switchbacking down this , down to Third Beach, at about 1.3 miles. There was quite the logjam at the outflow of the creek running down this gully, and also lots of itsy bitsy pine babies growing in the fast moving water. There was also a fair amount of trash caught in the logjam, but we left that for the return trip.

Very big tree base. Everything just grows and grows and grows…

until it falls down, and turns into this logjam

Once we made it down, we clambered over the log pile, and ended up on the beach proper, overlooking Strawberry Bay. We could see the rock formations in the water known as Giants Graveyard off to our left. We turned left down the beach, and as we got closer to the end, we could see a waterfall pounding down the rocks. As we headed that way, we could see where the trail actually continued back up to the headland, marked by an orange and black reflector on a half-fallen over tree. These markers are important, because in high-tide you really don’t want to get stuck down on the beach.

The Giant’s Graveyard

Soon to disappear trail marker

We continued on to the waterfall, and clambered over the rockfield that built up as we got nearer it, maybe about a half mile down from where we entered the beach. The waterfall, of course, turned out to be farther away than we had initially anticipated, and the rock traverse grew more challenging. After getting a good bit of the way there, it just started to be kind of stupid, so we headed back to where we had started playing on the rocks, and continued up the trail which went back up onto the highland.

Getting up to the highland area, we noticed that there was a rope next to the trail,tied with some buoys. And as we kept going up, there were several wood and rope ladders to get up some steep (and of course wet) parts of the hillside. After we got up, this bit of trail meandered through the woods a bit farther, until reaching a gully. We thought we were about to get back down to the beach, but of course we were wrong , and instead the end of that gully lead to the overlook of the waterfall we had tried to approach from the beach. We got reasonably close to the edge (Alex closer than I), then continued on our way.

Getting to there was harder than it looks!

Many rocks, and the great bedraggling

So let’s go up crazy ladders instead?!

As the trail rounds Taylor Point, you turn a quick corner and thus we got an ocean view again. The trail began its way down several switchbacks, and we got a great view of the ocean, with several smaller and one quite large rock, an almost smallish island during high tide, with a tree perched on it. As we got a bit closer, we could see a bald eagle just hanging out there on that tree. We continued along down this until finally we were deposited on another beach, this one with a much smaller, rockier shoreline.

As I got closer to the shoreline, I saw something white sitting there. As I got closer, I started to think it was a seal, and as I got even closer, I realized it was actually a dead seal. The sort of eaten out sock-puppet type carcass of a seal. Oh…my… As Beth came down the slope, I kind of pointed it out to her, and she definitely got a sad look on her face.


quoth JD, “EEAAAAGGGLEEE”. Or something.

We turned to the right, to an large rocky area where one of the guidebooks says there were tidepools. At first we didn’t see too much, and then we saw our first anemone, and got quite excited, and then saw a few sea stars, and got even more excited. And then as we walked out onto the rocks, in which there were in fact many pools, both round, and long furrows, and all sorts of different areas, we started to see more and more and more sea stars and anemones, and occasional other lifeforms. After our gleeful excitement at the first find, eventually we were only exclaiming when we saw ever larger groups, all tumbled one over the other.

Lone anemone

Many colored grouping

Ridiculous cluster of sealife

Eventually I’d had enough tidepools, and started walking a bit farther down the beach, towards Scotts Bluff, which marked the end of this beach section we were on. I walked about halfway there, and spent some time playing on the rocks, and picking up driftwood, and then mostly just sitting and waiting for the other kids. They decided to go on to the bluff (I think all of them?) and then they would turn around. I said I was going to start heading back, and we all so noted. This of course however meant that they thought I was going to wait for them at the base of the trail on the beach. Whereas I could see them basically the whole time, but when I got into the woods, they thought maybe I had jaunted back off to the tidepools. Whereas I was continuing on the trail, just very slowly, waiting for them to catch up. Eventually Beth and Dave got up to me, but said Alex was still poking around in the tidepools. Eventually, however, we all managed to get together again.

We made it back safely, picking up some of the trash-detritus out of the creek, and dropping it off into the convenient recycling container left there, though Alex decided to strongman his part, and carry a tire all the way back. Good job, Alex! Looking it up, it seems like we did about 7 miles total walking.

I really enjoyed this driftwood

Go Alex!

From there, I really wanted to head up to Cape Flattery, the NW most corner of the contiguous 48 states. Dave kind of wanted to be back in time for something that we totally didn’t end up back in time for (sunset?) but I think it was basically overcast anyway. It is on the Makah Reservation, and once you manage to drive up there, there is a newly reworked pleasant boardwalk + wooden trunk steps trail out to the edge. There are several viewing platforms along the way, and a final one at the end, on top of the cliff, sticking out into the water. To both the north and south, you can see the waves pounding into sea caves, and you can see the Cape Flattery Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island just off the shore. Looking north, you look across the strait of Juan de Fuca over into Canada.

End of the line. Tatoosh Island is hanging out behind me

Sea cave and bird seeking safety

The view was really spectacular, but eventually we had to go. We drove back to the campsite, failing, as I said, to catch sunset. And then the rain started picking up, and honestly, we just weren’t in the mood to sit around a super-wet campsite, so we went into Forks to get dinner. We had dinner instead at The In Place which was totally adequate diner fare. I did ask the young waiter if I could ask him a touristy question, and he was a little wary until I asked “So, why is it called Forks?”. He said he gets a lot of stupid shit, like people asking him if he is a vampire. Heh. It is, by the way, named after Forks in several nearby rivers.

The level of Twilight stuff in and around Forks (at least at the time!) is honestly kind of hilarious, though I guess good for them for trying to capitalize on their unexpected fame. Anyway, after dinner, we were pretty boring, and headed back to the campsite and to bed.

Thank you, Forks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Most Recent: