Washington- Around the Olympic Peninsula

We arrived back in our home state of Washington via the Astoria Bridge. Since John and I have both spent a bit of time in Astoria and Longbeach, we moved along to our next campsite about 100 miles farther up the coast, Pacific Beach. This was another military establishment, but it was much more a resort. Although we were camped right on a bluff over the ocean, we couldn’t see the beach through the trees, but the sites were incredibly spacious and there were a lot of amenities. While checking in we discovered clamming season was opening the following day!

After settling in we took a drive into the tiny town to find beach access, and went for a long stroll in the sand. The season didn’t open for us until the following evening, but the Native American’s were out in droves… with no limits.  I’ve never seen anyone pluck clams out of the sand so quickly! We watched in amazement, and asked a few questions on technique. John had never partaken in the “sport”, so he was soaking it all up.

At the resort we were able to rent clam guns and boots, and that evening we both got our limit. The next morning we went out again, and like most everyone else, came up a little shy.

After cleaning nearly 60 clams, we hit the road once again. This time… destination unknown.

 

Washington, USA

Pacific Beach sunset

 

Pacific Beach, Washington, USA

Clam diggers at sunset

At this point we’re heading up along the northwest corner of Olympic National Park. There are several campgrounds along our route, but none were reservable in advance… either first-come, first-serve, or closed due to road damage, or just plain closed. We pulled in and out of several… South Beach (near Queets), Cottonwood, Hoh Oxbow… but we didn’t fit in any of those that were open, and moved on. We had two specific objectives in the area; to hike Lake Ozette Loop and visit Cape Flattery. We camped where I camped last time I hiked Ozette, at Olsons Resort marina and campground in Sekiu. We had the place to ourselves.

First order of business was a drive west through Neah Bay to Cape Flattery. We found Neah Bay to be a tired looking little town, but Bald Eagles seem to like it there. We stopped to photograph several perched atop piling and old docks.

Washington, USA

Bald Eagle, Neah Bay

 

Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Bald Eagle watching the waters below

 

Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Majestic Bald Eagle

 

Neah Bay, Washington, USA

A pair of “Baldies”

 

Cape Flattery is on the Northwestern-most point in the contiguous United States, and is part of the Makah Indian Reservation. It is a stunning place to see. Unfortunately we picked a gray, rainy day for our visit.

The trail to the cape lookout area is a relatively easy 1.5 mile hike (in and out). The vistas are nothing short of incredible!. The next eight images are all shot from lookout points…

near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Cape Flattery

 

near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Rocky cove at Cape Flattery

 

Cape Flattery, near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Sea Cave

 

Cape Flattery, near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Kessiso Rocks

near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Rocky shoreline at Cape Flattery

 

Cape Flattery, near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Ocean waves churning through rock outcrops

 

near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Cape Flattery and Jones Rock

 

Cape Flattery, near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Tatoosh Island and lighthouse

 

Then we pulled out the drone. Unfortunately we barely got it in the air before the rain increased substantially, so our flight lasted only long enough to attract the attention of some curious youngsters. (Most of the images were spoiled by big raindrops, but we got a few.) We’ve made a mental note to get back there one day… with the drone.

Cape Flattery, Makah Indian Reservation, Washington, USA

Different angle from the Mavic Pro2

 

Cape Flattery, Makah Indian Reservation, Washington, USA

Cape Flattery with Mavic Pro2

 

Cape Flattery, Makah Indian Reservation, Washington, USA

With the curious kiddos

 

Before heading back to Sekiu we also drove out to Makah Bay and had a picnic lunch while watching magnificent waves breaking along the shore.

near Neah Bay, Washington, USA

Breaking waves at Makah Bay

 

And a couple stops along Highway 112 on the way back…

Washington, USA

Along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada- opposite shore

 

Rock looks like jolly old man with a long beard

Washington, USA

North facing shoreline along Highway 112, Strait of Juan de Fuca

 

near Sekiu, Washington, USA

Northern Washington shoreline, along Strait of Juan de Fuca

 

And there were two Bald Eagle waiting right across from our motorhome when we returned.

Washington, USA

View from our motorhome… Bald Eagles watching for a meal, Sekiu

 

A favorite hike of mine from way back… UW college days… Lake Ozette Loop. They call it Lake Ozette Triangle now, which is appropriate since it is pretty much a triangle. Back then it was always a backpacking trip. For one, it’s a long drive, which includes a ferry ride. In addition, to camp out along the shore listening to the surf, and take your time walking the beach and tide pools, and watch the sun set in the solitude of this remote beach is incredible experience.

I hadn’t been out there in YEARS… until a few years ago… while I was still traveling solo. I’d been dying to get back there, and had no one else to go with, so I went on my own. And I can honestly say that doing that hike the day that I did… alone… was notably one of the riskiest things I did the entire time I was traveling solo. You can read about that experience in the later half of this page… Seattle and The Olympic Peninsula.

John was game for hiking it with me again. So here we were, back in the same campground in Sekiu, a 45 minute drive to the trailhead. Its about a 9 mile hike… 1/3 forest, 1/3 coastline, 1/3 forest. But there’s so much more to it than that. (Read my other post.)

The morning of our hike we woke to a mellow sunrise, had a quick bite, walked Sadie, and headed out.

Washington, USA

Sunrise at Sekiu

 

With packs on and gear in hand we set out. It’s important to do this hike during low tide if you intend to go all the way around same day, as there are rock outcrops you can’t pass along the shore when the tide is up. Weather and light weren’t great for our hike, but a far cry better than when I’d been there before.

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Ozette Triangle Trail

 

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Cape Alava segment of Ozette Triangle Trail

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

Ozette Island, Cape Alava

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

Rugged coast at Cape Alava

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

Blacktail deer

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

John hiking the coastal section of Ozette Triangle

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

interesting rock on the shore

 

Those of you who are regular readers here have heard me mention how I see shapes and faces everywhere… clouds, rocks, bark, wall texture…  Some might think I’m crazy. Check out these few images, and tell me what you see!

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

Rock face

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

Hungry rock 🙂

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

Shocked rock?

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympia National Park, Washington, USA

Old man wood face

 

And of course no beach excursion would be complete without some shell and/or rock collecting, right?  John just shakes his head and smiles. I kid you not, I hiked a good 5 pounds of rocks off that beach, and I didn’t ask him to carry a single one of them!  He did, however, carry a bag full of trash we picked up as we hiked down the beach. It’s not hard to imagine the dangers presented by water fowl and sea life when you see the things washed up on the shoreline alone… fishing line, fishing net, long braids of nylon rope, and a huge variety of discarded plastic. Sickening. I would guess that 99 percent of what we found washed up from somewhere else.

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Shoreline at Cape Alava

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Shore of Cape Alava

 

Ozette Triangle Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Cape Alava

 

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Where the forest meets the sea, Ozette Triangle Trail

 

We made it back safe and sound, and more than a little bit tired. Three miles of the rocky shoreline is alone is tough… the rest, just a walk in the woods.

On the way back to Sekiu we were treated to some wildlife sightings. This grouse, which registered with me after we’d already passed that “plump bird” on the road, made me want to turn around. John humored me once again. I got a quick shot out the window, and a fleeting shot after I stepped from the car.

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Ruffed Grouse

 

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Ruffed Grouse takes flight

 

And then there was a huge herd of elk! Seriously, this is a small fraction of the entire herd.

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

small section of huge Elk herd

 

And that was our few days in the very northwest corner of the Northwest! We have one last section of the Olympic Peninsula to travel on our way back to Bellingham, where we’ll prepare, once again, for our summer voyage. That’s up next!

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