Here are some pictures I took when Mike and I hiked the northern
Olympic National Park coast from Lake Ozette...
Our original intention
was to hike up to Cloudy Peak in the eastern Olympics to spend a couple days
ridge walking. Much to our disappointment, we ran into a fairly fresh slide on the
road about 2 miles from the Dungeness trailhead. Since we'd have to park
another couple miles back, we decided to bail, and get out of the snow
altogether. So we went up to the Hurricane Ridge visitor center, checked
out availability on the coast, and registered for one night at Shi-Shi, and the
other at Father And Son... After renting the required bear can (we didn't
see anything, they must have been still hibernating), we made the additional 2 hour drive
out to Ozette.
The trail starts at the Ozette ranger station on the north shore of Lake
Ozette, about 3 miles from the coast. Called the Boardwalk, it is
literally 3 miles of boards placed edge to edge, much of it elevated, in order
to preserve the delicate coastal ecosystem. It travels through two coastal
prairies, and under some thick canopy before dropping down to the expansive
ocean beach. A 9 mile triangle allows hikers to travel out on one
boardwalk, walk the beach to the south, and then come back on another. Our
interests lay north however, across the Ozette river.
Click this link to view a profile
of the trail on a topographic map.
Click on the thumbnails in order to view the pictures full size.
So what is a snow scene doing
associated with a coastal hike you ask? We wanted to do some
climbing in the Olympics, but this slide prevented us from getting
in. So before moving on to Plan B, I took this shot of Mike in
a moment of disappointment. This was around 7:30 am...
Turned back by the slide, we went to the ranger station at the Hurricane Ridge entrance
to the park. Talking over some alternatives, we decided to do
the coastal hike. So prepared with a tide table we drive out
to Lake Ozette. The high tide was at around 9:30, we hit the
trail at about 11:45, and get down to the beach at around
12:30. Once on the beach, I took this shot of Mike entertaining
himself by swinging on a rope on a tree.
Fording the Ozette...
We get to the mouth of the Ozette at around 1:30, about 3 hours before
the peak low tide. We figure the route across was okay, so we
decided to ford then in order to make Shi-Shi before it got to
Safely across, Mike took these really cool shots of me as I made my way over:
Once I made it
over, Mike tells me that the level and current are too high, and
that he thought we should bail! Oh well - I asked him "Do you want to
go back?" Anyway, I wore my hiking boots with no
socks... They filled up with small rocks that were agony by
the time I got across, but still better than going barefoot!
The next stretch of beach is
long and lonely, as evidenced by the constant watch by nesting
pairs of Bald Eagles. They were very tolerant of us as we
strolled by. I took this shot of an adult pair with a large
juvenile hanging out.
On the way out, we saw two more.
first was of an adult
, while the
second was a juvenile.
Along this beach, we did
come across some nice rocks on which to scramble on. Mike
took this shot of me...
I reciprocated by taking this cool shot of Mike...
And Son at dusk...
the slog past the Ozette, we came to the first headwall near
Father And Son. A series of fixed ropes are placed to
assist hikers up the very steep trails. Once up on the
headwall, about another mile puts you at the Father And Son
lookout. We get there about 10 minutes before the sun
touches the horizon in a nice sunset.
around 7:00 pm, we made our way through the Point of Arches,
and on to the beach at Shi-Shi. Mike, having been here
before 7 or 8 years ago, looks for a site with
amenities. A few hundred yards down the beach, we find
our place and set up. A warm dinner, and then hour or
two of Pitch concludes a nice day of hiking. We wake up
in the morning to a frozen beach, but to pancakes and spectacular
scenery. Mike took this shot of me as I manage the stove...
the warm breakfast, we button up our camp, and head out to
explore the north end of the beach and beyond. Along the
way is heavy surf, numerous views of the rock formations, and
the endless pound of the surf. We both shot tons of film:
When we got
back to camp, we decided to hike back to the Ozette river after
sunset, instead of Father And Son. The next low tide was
going to be at 5:30 in the morning, and it wasn't going to be
very low, only a +2.5. We wanted to be in a position to
cross safely, and leave a comfortable margin to get home that
day. So we packed up and broke camp after an early
dinner. We'd explore the arches during the current low
tide, and then take off afterwards.
Part of the fun in exploring the shoreline is trying to figure
out what the various rock formations look like. It's
sort of like cloud gazing... For instance, the rock in
the thumbnail to the right looks like an elephant's head and
trunk to me. But move around the rock a bit, and it
like a pterodactyl
! And then while we were up at the very
north end of Shi-Shi, we saw these
that looked like a snail, and a cougar on a ridge
And while exploring the arches,
found this dinosaur's leg
on which to scramble...
But the kicker was this picture that Mike took of me - it had
to be a
portal from an old Star Trek show
Exploring Point Of Arches...
After our early dinner, we headed out to explore the Point Of
Arches during the -0.5 low tide. The arches, coves and
caverns were accessible all the way out to the end! I
took this shot on the right of a cove which was backlit with
some very calming yellow light. The
were dominated by
orange and purple
starfish and green anemones
. The pools were so
teaming with life, it resembled a
around many of the crannies, including this hole in the wall
asked me to tape
. Given enough time, these
coves would make some interesting scrambling.
of Arches at dusk...
we concluded our exploration of the arches and coves, we
focused on the impending sunset. The weather was shaping
up to provide some good views initially, but a bank of clouds
was moving in to spoil the horizon shots. But still, I
was able to take these
great silhouette shots against the
. Following these shots, we figured
the show was over, so we headed back to pick up our packs, and
take off. But when I headed down the beach, I managed to
shot showing some pink
! I hollered to Mike so he
could get it also, but by the time he got out his camera, it
The hike back to the Ozette
under headlamp was a long one. The tide was always
moving in, stealing the prime areas of the beach in which to
hike. Many times we were forced on to the rocky portions
which made for slow going. Route finding on the head
walls was tricky, as the trails aren't well traveled. None the less, we got to the
river at about 10:30, set up the tent and immediately dove in
with the alarm set for 5:00 am. The roar of the river
pretty much drowned out the surf, made sleeping somewhat elusive...
Moonset at dawn...
next morning, we reluctantly headed over to the river, and
didn't like what we saw. At Mike's suggestion, we
decided to simu-cross it with one person leading, and the
other walking directly behind, matching the leader's steps,
and keeping constant pressure down on him to aid in his
footing. While the water made it up to our wastes, we
managed to cross without problems, except for our
nerves! Once across, I glanced over and saw the full
moon as it was ready to set, and snapped this shot.
The scene was immediately calming, and very
unforgettable! And then, I tried to look back at the
river we just crossed.
the boardwalk... -
the early river crossing, we made it back to the boardwalk
by around 8:00 am. Only three miles to go, and by
ditching breakfast, we were getting hungry. Instead of
stopping, I insisted we stop for pancakes once on the
road. That kept us going, but not before we able to take
the following photos of this unique trail... which opened up
into one of the prairies. Back at the car by a little
after nine, we packed up and headed out for some real pancakes
Back to Tom in the mountains...