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Oil City to Third Beach Hike (in 3 nights w/ Joan)

Click map for larger version (500KB)

GPS DATA

Click here for TOPO.EXE v3.4.3 TPO file.

Click here for MAPSOURCE.EXE v4.13 MPS file.

Click here for GPX output from MAPSOURCE.EXE v6.9.1.

Click here for MAPSOURCE.EXE text file export of waypoint, descriptions and trackpoints.

GPS data includes tracks and waypoints for water sources, inland passages, ladders, camp sites and potential campsites, toilets, trailheads, parking...

Trip Report

9/2/05 Fri

Finally 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).

9/3/05 Sat

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.



Oil City

 


Chanterelles


First surprise! while stashing my wallet and valuables in the woods, I find Chanterelle mushrooms. Yippee! We'll have to modify tonight's menu! I cut a few and add them to our load. After a little more prep we're on our way at 2:20pm. It's a bit over a 1/2 mile from the trailhead through pleasant forest, parallel to the Hoh River, until you reach the beach. We break for a late lunch and adjust our loads. It is a gloriously beautiful day, hardly a cloud, warm and sunny. We pick our way through the drift wood to the beach and finally to the rocky stretch around the point at Diamond Rock. I'd read that this was one of the hardest parts of the hike and it was a pain - picking our way through piles of barrel sized boulders to short beaches over and over and over. The max passable tide here is 5 feet and we're close. I wonder if it would be any easier at a really low tide. We finally round the last corner onto the 3/4 mile arc of Jefferson Cove. We explore. This beach has a max passable tide of 4 feet but Joan finds THE single nice camp site amidst rocks perched high above the beach (at about 5:40pm). We find water at the NW end of the beach. We're looking at 5+ more miles over Hoh Head to the next beach camping so we decide to make the first day easy and camp here.

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!

day 1 mileage 2.3 miles. With breaks for snacks, etc. we averaged about .7 mph.

9/4/05 Sun

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 covering 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 hour reading 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.

We explore for a bit - it looks like there are maybe 5 or 6 other parties sharing the area. All are camped on the beach except for one group. Joan sets up camp in a huge, vacant, camping area in the woods south of the creek with a stunning view of the beach, the ocean, sea stacks and Toleak point (?) way in the distance to the north. I go get water. Big ordeal. I want to avoid taking water from the brackish pond at the mouth but no trail leads upstream without forcing you to cross the creek. I explore but finally give in, remove my boots and wade thigh deep across the creek over painful, sharp rocks. I regain the path on the other side and eventually find moving water. I fill my water bags and begin the ordeal of re-crossing the stream. Not wanting to make multiple trips (the wise thing!) I cross With arms full of too much stuff: my boots, two water bags AND an open pot filled with water. I teeter and totter  slowly, painfully, carefully across. This could have been a 3 Stooges episode... except that there was only one of me... Amazingly I succeed in crossing without dropping anything though the whole process takes a long time and Joan is worried when I arrive back late. (some light sandals or water socks would have been useful here!)

I'm stressed, exhausted, and hungry and it's getting dusky, almost 7pm. Joan suggests some hot chocolate which is a great idea. The Chivas Regal I brought goes way nicely (another surprise for Joan). We sit overlooking the beach sipping our chocolate and Chivas. Very nice. Dinner is Mountain House brand Mexican chicken and rice (dry food) again dressed up with fresh vegetables that we've brought and tortillas fried in oil. We dine watching a beautiful red sunset behind the few clouds left over from this morning. In the dark we see in the distance to the north what must be a HUGE bonfire! The natives are restless tonight.
 

 

Sunset at Mosquito Creek

 


day 2 mileage 3.9 miles, not counting the time searching for the fork on Hoh Head, we averaged about 1 mph with stops, snacks, lunch, etc.

9/5/05 mon.

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

 


Point 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.
 


Looking north to Toleak Pt from Mosquito Creek

 


Decending to Toleak Point beach

 

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 spot.

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.

day 3 5.0 miles, traveling speed just a bit faster than 1 mph

9/6/05 Tu

Our 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!



Seaweed forest at Toleak Point

 

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...

We continue north toward and past Strawberry point - we cross 3 nice little crescent beaches. We approach the Giant's Graveyard collection of sea stacks (from the south) and add to our rock menagerie: a rabbit (with natural sea arch) and another reclining woman - well actually most of her is missing - we christen the "parts" that remain "Teton Island" - you can't miss it - two giant connected triangles. I'm wondering if the they're climbable ! The first question is whether the island is accessible at a really low tide. As we continue north it become clear that the triangles are practically two dimensional and offer really cool looking knife edge ridge routes - at least from a distance...

 

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.

 


Third Beach looking north

 


Descending from Taylor Pt.

 


Hikers on third beach

 

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...



Looking south from Third Beach

 

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.

day 4 6.5 miles, travel speed a bit faster than 1 mph.

total hike 17.7 miles not counting various optional excursions

Some afterthoughts:

We brought too much food but we ate nearly all of it and were glad for it. Our packs weighed about 17 lbs and 30 lbs at the end. I never weighed our food but subtracting fuel and water I estimate we carried about 19 lbs: A bit more than the recommended 2 lbs per person per day (12)... we DID eat well.

Most people go north to south. We did the opposite because of shuttle arrangements, which means we did the harder stuff at the start of our trip with heaviest packs ( the rocks south of Jefferson Cove and the hike across Hoh Head ). I think it's probably easier to go north to south...

Re water availability: my maps (from TOPO.EXE) show lots of little creeks and we found nearly all of them running plus a couple extra. Some are very small but would do in a pinch. So there is water available every 1.5 miles max.

Most people seem to really like camping at Toleak pt but my favorite spot was at Mosquito crk for the views and fun beaches to explore to the south. Joan's favorite camp was our first one at Jefferson Cove but I think she's letting the food and wine affect her judgment.

Critters we saw:
Bald eagles, herons, pelicans, cormorants, gulls, bunny, dead sea otter, seal, star fish, camp-robber-fast!-shrews? (at night), sea anemone, snails, limpets, crabs, hermit crabs, dead sea lion, banana slugs, regular slugs, snakes, deer, fish, barnacles, muscles

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Last modified: 01/17/11