|July 18, 2004.
After an easy start hiking the sandy beach this morning, we reach the Ozette River crossing by 8:30, to find a pair of young ladies perched over a rock, peering into the current. One of them dropped her sunglasses into a 5-foot deep pool in the river, and WrongBridge comes to the rescue, wading in deep (nearly swimming) to retrieve them. What a hero!
Cape Alava, the northern corner of the popular "Ozette Loop," is crowded this weekend. Just two miles behind us at Seafield Creek, we had the place to ourselves last night! The walk for several miles is popular and easy, and many tracks
in the sand say as much. A herd of deer feed on the shoreline, oblivious to the crowd gathering to watch. "They're too tame," WrongBridge laments. I agree. We pass lots of other backpackers, most out for the night, and most equipped with 50+ pounds of equipment dangling off their packs like a Christmas Tree. It's amusing, and we both reminisce to a time past, when our own backpacks looked similar (didn't everybody's?
One notable point along the triangle is Wedding Rocks, where several sets of petroglyphs (including the famous "whale" picture seen in the guidebooks) stand out on the sides of the rocks, decorating an impressive headland. The Ozette Indians (whose tribe no longer exists... the last of the Ozettes died decades ago, but their reservation remains) used to hold marriage ceremonies at this regal place, and I cannot think of a better place for such an occasion. The surrounding rocks are scarred with pitiful "copycat" carvings by visiting tourists, but the original petroglyphs still stand clearly, stunning and (relatively) untouched.
Past Sand Point (the southern point of the Ozette Loop), we come upon a research team sifting through sand in a bucket. They appear to be digging core samples, and are tediously counting some life form in their plastic buckets. We smile and nod, and continue south. Soon, a safe distance beyond the Ozette triangle, the crowds predictably thin out. Solitude is ours once again!
By early afternoon we reach Yellow Banks, a beautiful stretch of light-orange sandstone cliffs. It's high tide, and we're stranded at a headland (it's become a daily ordeal!). We have a decision to make... we can either camp here and call it a day, or wait several hours (for the ebb tide) and continue south another five miles to the Norwegian Memorial. There are no water sources in-between. We opt to push ahead, waiting out the surf in the afternoon sun.
The last 5 miles are hard. Long stretches of rocky beach (think bowling-ball to car-sized rocks, all considered "ankle breakers") take time
and sustained concentration
to traverse, and after a long day we're short on both. WrongBridge takes off
, as if on a mission... I cannot catch him no matter how I try! We're tired and hungry when we reach the Memorial (a 15.3 mile day, a long
stretch of beach), and take a site across the creek from a gaggle of college students. Seagulls congregate at the mouth of the creek, just above surfline, scavenging for salmon fry and other debris pouring from the creek. I spend my evening chasing the gulls and exploring the tide pools for hermit crabs & sea stars. Clouds looks threatening tonight, so we pitch our shelters and sack in early.
July 19, 2004.
Rain showers keep WrongBridge & I pinned comfortably under our tarps until the late hours of the morning. By 10:30, we're packed and ready to go. High tide predictably strands us just in front of Cape Johnson (yet another impassable headland... you get used to these!) for several hours. It would be a pleasant place to stay, but alas, we're surrounded by approximately 7.3 billion little "sand fleas" (or "beach hoppers") blanketing the beach in all directions. It's impossible to lie down without having hoards of 1" crustations (they're actually not fleas at all, more like "dry jumping shrimp") hopping on your arms, legs, and face. They leap several feet at a time... not even the tallest driftwood pile is safe from their reach! By late afternoon, the pounding surf abates, and we're eager to be moving again.
As evening approaches, we needle our way through the Hole-in-the-Wall. Although I've seen pictures, I'm surprised by its size and stunning features! Once through the hole, we're only a couple miles from the Mora road, and we begin to see wide-eyed tourists once again.
One dubiously misinformed woman asks WrongBridge if he knows where they can go to "see all the scenery." WrongBridge, in a moment of exacerbated exhaustion, waves his arm at the off-shore sea stacks and exclaims "Scenery?!? F*****g look around, lady!" She stands for a moment, agape with a look of astonished embarrassment. Perhaps it wasn't his best P.R. moment
, but I can't help but laugh when he relays the story to me later.
Tomorrow we'll pick up a shuttle to take us around the mighty Quillayute River. Tonight we set up camp by Ellen Creek, just a mile short of the Mora Road. A strong wind is carrying dubious clouds onshore, and I spend considerable time tying my tarp taut on the sand with guylines and rocks... lots and lots (and lots) of rocks. We eat dinner over a pleasant campfire of abundant driftwood, and WrongBridge & I laugh the night away as we sit on the sand and watch storms roll in from the mighty Pacific.