Life has been more than just a little intense lately, and it became apparent to me that I was long overdue for a solo backpacking trip out on the coast. (like two years overdue as was evidenced by the cheese and beef jerky in various stages of decomposition/creating new life in my bear cannister)
I decided that my only chance to get away (with good weather no less) was to leave the market (a ten hour work day) as soon as the vendor envelopes were turned in at 3:00 PM and run like heck to the coast.
Everything was packed up and by my front door ready to go, all I had to do was get out of there, get home, grab the cold/frozen stuff out of fridge/freezer and hit the road. The only glitch was that I could not find my titanium spork. I love that spork and it’s just not the same going without it.
I was on Hwy 16 at 3:30 PM.
It was smooth sailing all the way to Port Angeles where I stopped to get my backcountry permit at the WIC (Wilderness Information Center) I knew I could self register at Mora, but that would require taking a different fork in the last road and then back tracking, so I opted for the stop in Port Angeles.
I was in and out of there in record time and was on the LaPush Road entering the Quileute Reservation on final approach for the trail at 7:30 PM. Sunset was at 9:00 PM, so I still had plenty of time to make final pack adjustments and get down the (luckily, very short) trail and get my tent set up before sunset.
One of the advantages of having been a backcountry ranger and a river guide is that I don’t mess around when it comes to setting up/tearing down camp-I learned to become extremely efficient, even more so when there’s no one around trying to “help”. I figure the faster I can do it, the faster I can get to the very serious task of relaxing.
This is the scene at 8:30 PM; one half hour before sunset.
I was too tired between the five hours of sleep I got the night before, the long work day and the long drive to worry about a fire, so I dined on smoked salmon, cheese, crackers and kalmata olives with a small glass (and by glass, I mean my purple titanium mug of red wine.
I slept through the low tide the next morning (4:05 AM) which is just fine with me and spent the day walking up and down the beach and reading real paper books.
I managed to finish “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister” and “The Hunger Games”
I spent the afternoon collecting firewood, which can be a real chore on a popular beach at this time of the year when the best bits are picked over, but I managed to gather enough to build a fine fire on which to cook dinner. One of the great joys of staying over on Sunday night is that when others leave, you can often find extra wood around their sites. Not so at this time of year as everyone had burned what they had. I’m not certain the energy expenditure versus calorie intake was a fair exchange on this one, but it was worth it to have a lovely fire and grilled seafood for dinner.
Once I knew I would be able to cook dinner (shrimp and scallops frozen in half strength marinade) I headed out to do some tidal pool exploring since the afternoon low tide had arrived.
This is considered “social hour” among coastal backpackers. We tend to give each other space when in camp. Even on a busy Saturday night like the night before, you feel very much at peace and alone due to the courtesy given. On one of these more crowded beaches we share with day users (I prefer ShiShi or Toleak for solitude, but didn’t have time to get out there this trip) all you need to do is hike away from where the trailhead spills out to set up your camp.
At low tide, everyone converges on the best rock formations/pools and searches for sea stars, urchins, crabs and other critters. Lots of shouts of “Hey, check out this crab” or “Look at the color of this starfish” are often heard.
While it wasn’t a minus tide, there were plenty of critters to enjoy observing.
After that, it was time to wander back and cook dinner now that the fire had burned down to a proper bed of coal.
Since I froze the seafood in marinade, wrapped it tightly and kept the bear canister in the shade, it was still nice, cool and safe. I didn’t want to rush and try to cook it the first night as I wanted to relax and really enjoy it. (it was still frozen when I arrived anyway)
Dinner was shrimp, scallops, sweet onions and bell peppers grilled over a driftwood fire.
With the obligatory s’mores for dessert.
and a cup of wine of course
After dinner and securing food/smelly trash from bears, cougars, raccoons, etc… (thankfully the bear and cougar population seems to be thinner here than at Ozette, the raccoons are not german shepherd size like at Rialto and there were none of the infamous Sand Point ROUS in evidence, that aspect of the trip was uneventful.) it was time for more sunset photography.
I wasn’t the only one with that idea an I had to giggle at this poor guy (who reminded me a bit of Kevin Freitas) dancing around on one foot as the tide was coming in at him.
After another wonderful night of sleeping on the beach, being lulled to sleep by the sound of the crashing waves, I awoke to another beautiful morning.
There was even a rainbow out over the water.
Sadly, it was time to leave and return to the working world, but it was a wonderful, relaxing journey.
It was time well spent, as I did a lot of thinking, reading, dreaming and feel like myself again.
I even encountered a potential “hot wolf boy” (for those of you who have been sheltered from popular culture, it’s a Twilight reference and I was on the reservation side of the “treaty line”) that I always joke about wanting to find out there, but never do.
While the attention and effort to talk to me were appreciated, upon closer inspection, he was too young for my tastes, so I had to leave him be. Oh well… I hear they don’t house train properly and tend to not behave well if you take them home, so it’s all for the best
Here are the rest of the photos in a slide show…
If your reader or browser doesn’t support the slide show, the photos can be viewed by making with the clicky clicky here…
Oh yeah… I’d better hit up backcountry.com and order another spork.