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Metatropo Computer Products |
Ozette Lake to Shi Shi Beach Backpacking, Olympic Peninsula, Washington
|We call...||ourselves...||"door cats"|
The 3 miles from Ozette to Capa Alava is almost completely board walk. It's an easy way to get our hiking legs.
|Joan||Russ, nearing the beach|
When the trail reaches Cape Alava the sun breaks through the clouds and it is glorious ! Plus it never feels like a beach hike until my feet are in the sand.
|Celia & Joan||Russ||Gang|
|Ozette Island||Chris S nearing the beach||Joan, Celia, Chris S, Chris M|
|Chris M||Everyone celebrates the sun...||... in their own way|
We find some nice inland campsites not too far south next to several small water sources. Joan and I are setting up our tent when two deer practically walk into our camp and stop to chew on the bushes. After a while we're all mostly set up, starting to think about cooking... Chris S is walking back to her tent on the beach and discovers a bear rooting around !!! I run for my camera but by the time I get back it has wandered up the hill and is gone! GAK. I have never seen a bear during a hike. Fortunately it hasn't caused any damage and just seems to be passing through.
First dinner is always a little special: Wine, fresh veggies. For desert the
stars come out and the liquor flows. We have a little bit of food that doesn't
fit in the bear cans and we hang it... yah, yah, I know. My bad. Russ
and Celia report raccoon eyes staring back from the woods but the food bag
survives the night.
|"Hey Boo Boo"||Rocky Raccoon|
8/31/08 Sunday, Day 2
We get a (bit too) leisurely start at 10:15. We pass Cape Alava - it's a popular
spot amongst the folks who hike the boardwalk and then plant themselves for a
couple days. A bit farther we pass Tskawahyah Island island and get our first
view of our destination - Point of Arches - in the distance.
|In and||around||Cape Alava|
A beautiful crescent beach continues north. Near the end, high on the gravelly beach where you might not notice is an odd pile of faded yellow fiberglass... maybe a wrecked boat, I'm thinking, but once I get close I realize it's a dead whale.
The crescent beach ends in a point and here we find that we've cornered two more deer... though after a moment we discover that they have two fawn with them. None of them seem very concerned about us.
The point might be passable but there's a short trail aided by a rope over the saddle. It looks faster so we go that way. Here a series of pocket coves leads eventually to the Ozette River. Each one has it's only little point that is more or less awash. We skirt the slippery rocks but eventually decide the easier route is to take off our boots and wade. In the last cove, two fathers and their four sons are camping. They tell us the water is too deep to cross the Ozette right now but we have to see for ourselves.
Uh... er... They are pretty much right.... pretty much.
|Farwn||Joan on the inland passage||Approaching the Ozette R|
|The mouth of the Ozette... somewhere in this picture||Waiting for the tide to change|
This fellow visited us by the river side while we were waiting.
The river here, looks to be at least chest deep... so we try some advanced strategies: We explored up river looking for a place to cross but find nothing. We find some rope and think about setting up a zip line. We try to build a raft. Russ maintains our spirits by cooking quesadillas for everyone. We wade repeatedly into the river only to turned back by the depth or the current. Finally the tide turns but it still takes another two hours for the backed up water to drain. When we finally cross, the current is still rippin' and makes everyone nervous. One of the campers we passed earlier has joined us and hovers close by to catch us if we fall. We never get his name but we are very thankful. Finally we're on our way again.
|Tired of waitin' and I'm goin' for it||On our way againg|
|somewhere||between||Ozette and Seafield|
By the time we reach Seafield creek it's getting dusky. We decide to stop.
Officially, there's only one campsite here, on top of the bluff... with a great
view... It's late and no one is there so we decide to... take it. Alas, after
we've set up tents and are starting dinner, just at sunset the party arrives
who's site we have poached. We offer to move but they are gracious and let us
stay and there is after all plenty of room. They are a family: Dad, mom and son
(13) and daughter (12) who have just come 14 miles (!!!) from Norwegian
Memorial. Talk about hard core. They eat pretty quickly and once the kids are in
bed the parents join us by the fire. We share our liquor with them. We owe 'em.
They tell us that the rangers have given them conflicting stories about the Ozette River campgrounds, saying they are either full or are closed due to lack of water ??
There are cabins here - private residences that have been enveloped by the park. In the dark we can see the glow of lights from the windows of one on the other side of the creek valley.
|Joan and Jeff hard at work||View from Seafield camp spot||Camping on grass!|
9/1/08 Monday, Day 3
After yesterday's tide fiasco we decide to get up early (for us) at 6 and are
hiking at about 8 AM. There's a big headland between us and Shi Shi beach. It is
supposed to be full of big rocks, tide problems and be pretty slow going and
difficult. But right now, the tide is way out and we have sidewalk sand
interspersed with tide pools for a mile and a half.
|Approaching the headlands south of Point of Arches||Chris S and Joan|
At the headland, there's about a quarter mile of big (BIG) boulders. The going here isn't to bad if you're comfortable rock hopping 12 feet off the ground, otherwise you're left with winding between the boulders on slippery seaweed. Eventually the boulders give way to a couple cove beaches and monolithic rocky points that were much easier to cross. There's an inland passage that we didn't use because the tide was out but in hind site it might have been faster. One of the beaches ends at "the sign" where our trial goes inland - following multiple ropes pretty much straight up the bluff for 250 feet. If this had been muddy and slippery it would have been treacherous. Today it is merely steep.
|Navigating the rocks||From whence we came|
|Chris S||Chris M||Chris S|
|More rocks...||Survived the rocks||Trail goes up|
At the top of the bluff the trail descends gradually to the north through pleasant forest.
It drops down another steep
roped spot just long enough for us to cross a pocket cove and then climbs back
into the woods. Just before the last steep roped section takes us back to the
beach there is our first incredible view of (just a small subset of) the sea
stacks of point of arches. The water sparkles.
Back on the beach the going is easier... The ones in our group who are more comfortable on the rocks and the ropes have been shuttling packs for those who aren't. This improves our speed but maybe not enough. It's clear the tide has come in a lot. Chris S has gone ahead maybe half a mile or more and just managed to cross the point of arches to shi shi beach without getting her feet wet ... barely. We have 2-way radios with us and she reports back that we better move our butts.
Gateway to Point of Arches
We're moving faster on the beach but there's a ways to go. There's are several really cool pocket beaches here and an arch that you pass through... I catch up with Joan and Jeff at the actual Point of Arches which is awash. Chris S. is on the other side and we can talk via the radio. According to our "custom correct" brand map, there's supposed to be an inland passage around this point but we haven't been able to find it on our side and Chris S can't find it on the other side. So our choices are to wait out the tide or wade. Chris S thinks the water is only about mid-thigh deep so we opt to wade. I watch as Joan and Jeff cross, winding their way about 100 feet. There are small waves and the water is a bit higher than expected - it's a little scary but it works and they make it to the other side.
I can see Russ and Celia in the distance about 10 minutes behind me so I wait to
give them the beta about the crossing. We discuss the options and decide to go
for it though by now the tide has come in some more and the water at its deepest
is about up to our waists. It's scary, cold and tricky - you can't see very well
where to step,
the bottom is a mix of rock and sand... Celia has a brief moment of excitement
when right at the end she steps in a hole and almost tips over but we catch her
and then we're done.
It's Labor Day Monday afternoon and although hikers we passed on the way in said that Shi Shi had been crowded, there is no one here now. We find a spot near the south end near Willoughby Creek, unpack, and lay out gear to dry.
It is our beach. We have braved the sea, the tides, the rocks, the steep and the deep. We have been to the mountain! We have surmounted every obstacle and reached our destination. We ARE conquering heroes and we have earned our reward
Once we've settled in, we explore a bit. There's an infinite amount of beach camping and a handful of nice forest camp spots. There are signs that people before have had a lot of time on their hands and maybe civil engineering degrees... there's the "tiki lounge" and the "citidel"... engineering marvels. It's nice to have a lot of time to just hang out. Jeff hikes the trail to Willoughby Lake and reports that it is in ok condition.
|The "Tiki Lounge"||Christmas Tree||The Citadel|
At 8:30 PM the tide is lowest so at about 7:30 we are out exploring the Point
of Arches. The sea stacks are innumerable and everywhere. Chris S spies a
climbing anchor on the back of the big triangular rock. We wander out to sea
exploring the rocks as we go. From the southern approach to Shi Shi you can only
see a couple arches and from our camp site you can't actually see any... but
now, they are
everywhere. Around every turn there's another. Chris S and I follow them all,
wondering if each "cave" is going to turn a corner and come out somewhere
else... and they always do, over and over. I'm wondering if we're going to have
trouble finding our way back out ! Finally the darkness forces us back to the
main beach and the others who have been exploring their own nooks and crannies.
It is sooo cool. I could spend hours if not days playing amongst the rocks.
This evening we make a roaring fire and drink the last of our liquor. The stars shine.
9/02/08 Tuesday, Day 4
In the morning it is raining. In the tent, it always sounds a lot worse than it is. When I finally get up it's really just a sprinkle. We set up a big tarp to cover a cooking area which virtually guarantees that the rain will stop and it does. Chris S explores the point again during the morning low tide and brings back more great pictures.
Chris S and Jeff and I are going to hike out early so Jeff can catch a ride
back to Portland in time to get to a class he's taking. We hike the two mile
crescent of shi shi beach to the north end where we spend a while exploring the cool
rocks and coves and sea stacks there. As we're about to leave Chris S is looking
back in the direction of our campsite and sees a whale spout ! We watch that for
a while and then start the hike back to civilization.
|Jeff relaxing in the Citadel||Beach bootie !||Chris S, Chris M, Jeff|
|North end||of||Shi Shi|
Our last view of Point of Arches
The trail back gets a lot of bad PR for being muddy... and it is. The last mile or so is a new trail built by the Mekah tribe with boardwalks and bridges. It's pretty nice. We hike the half mile of road north where we parked the car and drive Jeff to Sekiu where he catches his ride home.
|Someone collected garbage||Jeff on the new Makah trail||Pimp my ride|
Chris S and I drive to Ozette and back to complete our shuttle and pick up the
rest of the gang
for the drive back to Seattle.
Critter List: Eagle, deer, bear, racoons, pelicans, sand pipers?, star fish, sea urchins, sea stars, whale (dead and alive), sea lion, hermit crabs, anemones, boot chitons, limpets, herons, merganser ducks, leopard slugs, barnacles, muscles, fishies, snails, snakes
Links and Resources:
My other beach hike trip reports:
Access and Information:
Tides and weather:
Our tide tables