September 5th, 2004 – by: Kramerdude
Heading out to the shore/coast/beach/whatever on the boardwalk trail!
So yesterday I was in the mountains and on what is referred to as the "rain shadow" that the Olympics cast and prevents much rain from falling on the eastern flank of the mountains (typically around 20 inches per year). Today I was heading for the western coast, a sliver of land along the Pacific that belongs to the Park System. Here a much wetter climate persists and in some areas a temperate rain forest exists that receives around 160-200 inches a year. The distance between the two areas is only on the order of 80 miles. Unfortunately on this trip I didn't get to the actual rain forest proper along the Hoh River, but I did get to see some signs on my walk to the beach.
I drove to Ozette Ranger Station in the morning to walk the Ozette-Cape Alava-SandPoint Triangle.
Cape Alava and Ozette Island - Westernmost point of the continental United States (excluding Alaska)
The trail starts at the ranger station and heads into the forest. A good portion of the 3 mile trail actually consists of boardwalk do the typically wet conditions here although today was bright and sunny. Unfortunately I couldn't stop and admire much of the view through this section of the trail as I was pressed somewhat for time for reasons I will explain later.
Finally popped out onto the beach at Cape Alava. The Cape is known as the westernmost point in the contiguous 48 states of the continental US. From here all the remainder of the country was off to my east. I wandered around the tide pools for a little bit as the tide was out but would be starting to come in shortly. A very rocky shoreline shaped by the powerful waves that batter the shore.
Driftwood. Wonder where that tree came from?
As I started south for the next 3 mile segment along the coast to Sand Point, I knew that this leg would take a while as most of the footing was rough. Very few places had any sand beach per se, and in those places that did it was extremely narrow. Driftwood and kelp (sea algae) littered the beach areas as well (some of the kelp that had washed ashore and been in the sun really smelled). Needless to say it was slow going. But the views were amazing. The variety of the sea stacks near shore and further out in the ocean, smaller islands (bigger than the stacks but not by much). Looking for signs of life in the tide pools that had been created by the retreating tide. It was amazing fun. There were several other individuals and groups making the trek as well, and since we were all bound to the same schedule, everyone slowly moved along.
Small rocks and stacks.
Provided people to chat with as opposed to the previous days more isolated adventure.
But progress had to be made. I had left my hotel in the morning to make sure that I had enough time to get to Sand Point before high tide rolled in. The reason is that at high tide there are headlands where the tide brings water all the way up to the edge of the small cliffs in those areas. There are supposedly some inland trails just in case, but it was much more fun to scramble on the rocks. I passed the second headland area probably with 30 minutes to spare or so before I would have been forced inland by the tides.
Sand Point was not much past the second headland and I arrived to find a pretty good crowd already there. The point is simply amazing with a large rocky outcropping 25-30 feet high sitting right at the edge.
I composited this photo from several that I shot standing on the edge of Sand Point. Leaves a bit to be desired and I may try to work on it a bit, but considering this came from a handheld disposable camera, I was happy with the result.
Those daring enough could climb to the top and admire the view (or snap some pictures which is where I took the composite panorama picture included). From the point it was a three mile hike back to the ranger station. I was in no hurry and basked in the sun on the beach watching the tide roll in. Some backpackers came in from the south and began setting up camp in the afternoon. Eventually I knew I had to head back, so trekked the boardwalk trail back to my car. Drove back to Port Angeles
to rest my tired legs that had just put in 21 miles or so over the past 2 days.