Seeking a bit of late-season backpacking, we set out for the extreme NW corner of Washington State. Our goal was to hike the Ozette Loop over 2 days, which you can read all about here courtesy of the National Park Service. By all accounts the hiking would be flat and easy, with the only real challenge being the slippery footing on the boardwalks. Our group of 10 included, from Seattle: Laura, Cash, Joe, Kristina, John, Leslie, and myself; from Portland: Michelle; from Vancouver: Sarah; and all the way from the Bay Area: Allison. A special thanks to everyone who came in from out of town for this trip!
The trail-head was about 5 hours of driving from Seattle, so we set out early on Saturday. We had a brush with Edmonds' finest as we tried unsuccessfully to sneak our last car onto the ferry. Alas, we split up and the caboose just drove fast to catch up...
We gathered at the trail head, filled our water containers, and eventually set off on the hike by about 3 PM, which left us plenty of daylight for the short 4 mile hike to our intended camping grounds at Wedding Rocks. Each of us carried a gallon of fresh water, since there were no streams or other sources of fresh water along the coast.
Click on any picture to see a larger version!
As we set out for the hike along the boardwalks, we were excited that the unusually nice September weather held out for one more weekend. The temperature was in the 70s during the day, and we didn't see our first clouds until Sunday afternoon. You can see from the next few pictures that the hiking along the boardwalk was easy going.
An hour into our hike, the boardwalks delivered us to the coast. We stopped to enjoy the view for a while, before heading north along the beach.
The hike along the coast was exciting and variable. Terrain changed from sand, to rocks, to fields of washed-up kelp, to stretches littered with driftwood. Surprisingly the going was slow over a lot of this section. In particular, the kelp was slippery and stinky, so we took our time.
On our maps, there were two spots which were marked as "no passage at high tide". With our 3 PM start from the trail-head, we didn't have a lot of flexibility to allow for tides. As you can probably guess, we hit the first spot just past high tide, and there wasn't a good route along the shore. The alternative was to climb up and down a steep detour route. Thankfully there were ropes strung along the steepest parts, or we'd have been waiting for the tides to change.
After another hour of hiking, we arrived at our campsite at Wedding Rocks. We really didn't have a specific plan for where to camp, and had the good fortune to find a huge campsite in the first place we investigated.
We had hoped for two things on this trip: A great sunset, and a huge campfire afterwards. The unusually dry September put a burn-ban in place so the campfire was out. The sunset more than made up for it.
As the sun set, the temperature dropped, but never much below 60 degrees. We put on our jackets and got to the business of making dinner.
We knew that Allison's birthday was on Saturday. We'd be far from home, but had to celebrate! John was the champ and packed in a surprise for her...
The next morning we broke camp about 10 am, and headed north to complete our loop. The weather was still amazing, so we took our time and explored the coast a bit.
We dropped our packs where the trail returned inland and explored the beach, hoping to find an archaeological dig site we'd seen on some maps. Alas, all we found were some great views forwards to Canada, we'll have to return someday to find the dig.
We wrapped up the trip about 2 PM at the trailhead where we started.
Overall, a fantastic trip! We had incredibly good fortune with the weather, and really enjoyed how different camping along the coast was from the typical backpacking trip.
Thanks to everyone for coming along!