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Oil City to Third Beach Hike (in 3 nights w/ Joan)
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GPS data includes tracks and waypoints for water sources, inland passages, ladders, camp sites and potential campsites, toilets, trailheads, parking...
9/2/05 FriFinally arranging a shuttle with Windsox (www.windsox.us) all via email. Contacted them about a week ahead but it wasn't enough for this busy labor day weekend and they were booked solid for Friday PM and Saturday AM shuttles plus I wasn't at all sure I could commit to being at the trailhead from Seattle at any particular time (w/ traffic, ferry schedule, packing, road work, hood canal bridge repairs, etc.). Finally agreed that they would meet us at our exit point at 3pm on Tuesday (9/6) and do the shuttle then.
Last minute packing - This is Joan's first back packing trip and I'm recovering from being gored (an outdoor adventure from two weeks ago), 45 stitches, removed earlier today. The doc who took them out has done this hike too and he said it was ok for me to go... honest ! so anyway, we're both concerned about weight. she ends up with 31 lbs. Kind of on the high end of what I was hoping for her but she says it feels ok. I have 39 lbs. I guess we'll eat well ;-)
We leave town late, mostly because we weren't ready to go but also to avoid labor day weekend traffic and ferry crowds. We are the 2nd to last car onto the 9:20 pm Kingston ferry. Yes! we can finally relax. We're on our way. We camp in the back of the truck just off of hwy 101 on the Elwa River rd (west of Port Angeles).
On the road after a lazy breakfast that we brought with us. We stop at the ranger station in Forks for info and the ranger dissuades us from taking a fork form the trail in the middle of Hoh Head and camping on the beach. That's going to add 3 miles to our first day. hmmmm. Also... bear cans required everywhere on the coast... We reach the Oil City road turnoff south of the town of Forks at about 1pm. 10 miles of mostly gravel to the trailhead.
Mouth of the Hoh River
At Diamond Rock looking south
The "rook" from Jefferson Cove
Jefferson Cove and part of Hoh Head
We have the whole beach to our selves! Nice. We set up camp. Fix dinner: Mary
Jane's Pasta Alfredo (dry dinner) dressed up with fresh vegetables we've brought
and the chanterelle mushrooms (yes!) and some smoked salmon. Also a half liter
of Cabernet that I brought to surprise Joan. Bagels too. Very nice. Joan builds
a fire and we relax into the night. no moon. stars. warm!
Leaving Jefferson Cove and climbing onto Hoh Head
Leaving Jackson Beach
During the night it rains pretty steady but by morning it is high
overcast and dry. After a lazy (really lazy!) morning we rise and make breakfast
and then spend the morning low tide exploring our beach, the rocks to the SE,
and tide pools on the NW end. We finally break camp and hike north at 12:45pm.
High tide (7.2 feet) is at 2:16 PM and the waves are just now barely
the entire beach at the NW end. We pass w/o problem. I suspect that (at least
this season) this point is always passable if you're willing to get your feet
wet... we filter our travel water at the stream there and begin the 3.5 mile hike
over Hoh head. This begins with one of the (in)famous ladders but we both climb
without problem. About half way up is a cool very little tent site perched on
the edge of the cliff with a stupendous view looking back at our "private"
beach. The trail quickly attains the top of the head and winds through
beautiful, giant hemlocks and a forest floor covered with lush ferns. We cross
good water in a creek about 1.5 miles in the woods and then a couple good camp
sites. We break about a half mile later for lunch. I'm curious that we never saw
the fork that my map shows going down to the beach. Joan spends an
in the sunshine while I walk about a half mile back looking for the fork. I walk all
the way back to the creek in the ravine. On my return I lower my standards for
what might be a fork and explore several potential paths that were probably just
beaten by others looking for the same fork. No success. at about .4 miles N of
the creek ravine is a pretty large potential camping spot (the northern most of
two big campsites in the area). You can (almost) see
the beach from here and a little path heads that direction but peters out into
an overgrowth of ferns. This could probably be pushed the rest of the way to the
beach... I rejoin Joan and we continue on immediately passing next to a fresh
slide - mud, clay, trees akimbo apparently all the way down to the bottom.
(Maybe the missing trail is under this mess !?) About
two more miles and we reach Mosquito creek at about 6:15pm. (one of the Forest
Service "designated camping areas"). I've read reports where people complain
about the hike over Hoh head, being long and lots of up and down, but I thought
it was a beautiful stretch of trail.
Sunset at Mosquito Creek
In the morning I want to get up early to catch the low tide and
explore the beaches to the south. Joan isn't feeling well. Her face is tingly
and somewhat swollen and she thinks she's had an allergic reaction, probably to
the turmeric in the dry food dinner. She wants to stay in bed so I'm off by
myself. The maps say that the area south of Mosquito Crk requires a max .5 foot
tide to pass BUT... I discover a little trail that goes over the notch. The
other side is a really cool little cove where alas it is clear that the tide
does indeed cover the ENTIRE beach. I figure I have a good hour before that
happens and continue hiking south discovering neat coves with huge rocks, lots
of sea life and sand as smooth and firm as a skating rink to walk on. The series
of coves open onto a long beach that dwindles distantly into the north side of
Hoh Head. There isn't a single footprint save mine and I wonder if anyone ever
comes here. I continue south for about a mile exploring this beautiful beach
before turning back. Back at the point, one stretch of beach is awash in the
rising tide. I remove my boots and cross in calf deep water without problem.
Cave south of Mosquito Creek
Back at camp, Joan is feeling better. We make a lazy breakfast, break camp and
are on the road again at about 1:20pm. Not wanting to repeat my fiasco from last
night, We break down and take a little water from the mosquito crk "pond" and it
seems ok. We figure we'll find more water on the way. Our destination is Toleak
point which looks impossibly far away but today will have lots of beach walking
and we're looking forward to the easy ground.
The beach north of Mosquito crk stretches on and on and makes for pleasant
walking. After about a mile we find a small stream. I make a little dam and
replenish our water supply and we continue. At about 2.5 miles north of Mosquito
creek we encounter the next headland. A trail heads up but the rocky point in
front of us has a natural arch so first we investigate. We climb into it and
pass through to the other side but we can't pass any further at least at the
current tide levels. So back to the trail that leads... up. We follow it inland.
Almost immediately a faint trail leads down to the beach on the north side of
the point we just passed... something to explore next time... eventually we
reach Goodman creek. I had read that this can be a deep crossing if the tide is
high but the inland crossing is at about 100 ft elevation and the creek where we
crossed was just a riffle. I suppose at lower tides, the previous point is
passable, and that direction might lead to a crossing at the mouth before
heading inland. My understanding is that the headlands here are not passable...
The Falls creek crossing occurs shortly after and was equally easy. The trail
ascends again and in about a half mile yields our first spectacular views
through the forest of a long, straight beach that leads to Toleak point. A
couple ladders later we're back on the beach and looking for our next camping
South side of Toleak Point
There is LOTS of beach camping where the creek exits on the south side of the
point. This appears to be a popular place but tonight there's only one other
camper. We pick a site and drop anchor (about 6:10 pm). Joan makes camp and I
look for water - I climb over the driftwood at the mouth of the creek and find a
trail that leads up stream to a spot to filter water - a pleasant surprise
compared to my adventure at Mosquito Crk. After Joan's allergic reaction to the
turmeric in the dried mexican dinner she's not interested in our last dried
dinner which is curry... so, with our remaining fresh vegetables we create a
culinary masterpiece out of two packs of Top Ramen. Joan wants to know what's
for aperitif tonight. Now isn't that just like a woman, you treat her to
something nice a couple times and she grows to expect it ;-) The top ramen was
pretty good. We dine to yet another wonderful view of the ocean, sea stacks,
beaches stretching off forever to the south, Hoh head in the far, far distance.
Have we really come that far? Inconceivable! We play a game of finding critters
hidden in the nearby sea stacks - dog, bored cat, howling dog, reclining man,
reclining woman, camel, snake, owl... We finish dinner in the dark by the fire.
No moon again tonight. The skies are clear and the stars are out and wild.
9/6/05 TuOur last day, we rise early (7:30) aware that we have a deadline today: meeting our shuttle at 3 pm at the Third Beach trailhead. Aware also that speed and efficiency have not been our strong suits. We breakfast and break camp in record time (for us) and are on the road at 9:30. Our first (planned!) stop is to take advantage of the 8:51 am low tide (0.6 feet) and explore the tide pools right here at the point. I was mostly interested in getting out to the islands and exploring but unfortunately the tide wasn't low enough to allow that. The whole area is covered in a zillion varieties of sea weed which for me detracted from finding the interesting animal life but Joan was all over it exploring. During our time here an eagle swoops in to alight in the very top of the tallest snag on the point - cool!
Bald Eagle at the top of a tall snag
The north side of Toleak point has lots of forest camping. This side is also
where the pit toilet is located. Here you would have unobstructed views of the
sunset (we were in the shade on the south side) but you wouldn't get ANY morning
sun. Also it's a long walk to water from the north side unless there's a trail
through the woods...
Giants Graveyard area looking south. "Teton Island" from the side has the double spikes
Keep an eye out for the circle sign signaling places where you can pass inland.
We reach the Scotts Bluff area which appears to have only forest camping. The tide is
above the 1 foot max so we do the relatively quick (.3 mile) inland trail around the bluff. There's a nice short beach on the other side that is maximally passable at 4 feet and we're close to that now but continue without problem. This leads to the base of Taylor point, the last headland crossing. We lunch here very quickly, estimating that we're only barely on schedule to make our 3pm shuttle. The trail over Taylor Pt passes several sets of very new looking stairs (pretty "cush"!) to reach the plateau on top. We're back in known territory now, having explored this area on a previous trip. The forest is beautiful just like I remember. We pause briefly at the top of the waterfall. (A good camp site can be found a bit later.) We enjoy some nice views of Third Beach before descending the triple set of ladders to the beach. At the creek here, we pause one last time and bask in the glorious sunshine.
We're about to start the last 1.3 miles through woods to the trailhead when I spy something no boy could pass up - huge dead critter on the beach! We have to investigate this! A recently dead, enormous, young sea lion on the sand is lying on his back, arched (in ecstasy?), sporting "wood" (?!) with huevos the size of rancheros! I guess he died with a smile on his face. Joan wasn't impressed but she has high standards ;-) I guess it was a guy thing...
The last stretch to the trailhead goes fast and we arrive with 5 minutes to
spare. Our shuttle captain (from Windsox) has just arrived and speeds us back to
our car at Oil beach (about 35 miles and $40). He is a font of information about
important indispensable information: we gorge on burgers, already reminiscing a
wonderful trip and planning the next one. On the way home, despite construction
delays on the Hood Canal bridge, we catch the 9:35pm Edmonds ferry with minutes
to spare. A perfect ending.
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