Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The rugged, wild Olympic coast of Washington, from Shi Shi sea stacks to Third Beach waterfall

Several weeks ago, my PCT hiking partner, Bob, and I dropped Troop 514 Boy Scouts at Camp Parsons on the Hood Canal in Washington State. While waiting to take them home a week later, we explored the coast and the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula.

We have not hiked such a wild coast line before.  We only hiked about twenty five miles  of the available seventy three miles on the beach and forest, but indeed it was far, far different from our usual mountain terrain. We experienced continual rain and fog, with occasional sunshine. Most of the hiking needed to be at low tide, so knowing the tide tables was crucial.  At that, we had to use ropes to pull ourselves up and let ourselves down the steep trails that went up and over the headlands that jutted far enough into the ocean that beach passage, even at low tide, was impossible.

The challenge was stimulating, we enjoyed it, but we also enjoyed changing our camping routine once in a while and drying out in a motel :) The sea stacks, eroded by constant rain and wind, were dramatic from Shi Shi beach in the north at Neah Bay, to Ruby Beach in the south.  La Push, on the Quileute Indian reservation, offered up Third Beach, a delightful place we would like to return to and camp.

The photography was far different from what I was used to.  I kept hoping for spectacular sunsets.  Instead, I changed my vision to see more in black and white and accept the opportunities for simplicity that the fog offered.

Avala Beach. Bob hiking past one of the beach challenges.  Note his umbrella.

Third_Beach, La_Push

Third_Beach, La_Push

Ruby_Beach, Olympic_coast

Bob using rope to descend around a headland

Rialto_Beach, Olympic_Coast

Ruby_beach sea stacks in black and white

Ruby_Beach sea stacks in foggy color

Shi_Shi_beach, Neah_Bay

Shi_Shi_beach, Neah_Bay
Avala_beach, Olympic_coast

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