Northwest Hiking Trails

Cape Alava to Lake Ozette, ONP

Trip report by Shelley Sims-Fye

We wake up early at Cape Alava to see the ocean one more time before leaving. It's cloudy, cold, and looking as if it could soon rain. I put on a warm coat and rain hat, then go to the beach for a last look and more pictures.

Looking North through binoculars, I see Vancouver Island beyond the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Canada. A lone Sandpiper hops along the sand looking for food and an eagle is soaring on it's morning rounds. It is hard to say Good Bye to the ocean after five days of hearing the constant roar.

It is 9:15 and we have to leave soon to meet our chartered van. We eat our breakfast then pack up our belongings.

Photo:   (Above) saying good-bye to the beach after five days; (below) saying hello to civilization.

Photo Saying good-bye to Tom (and giving him our surplus coffee), we start out for the trailhead on the opposite side of the stream bridge. As we climb the hill, the ocean is still visible through the trees. I hear the bark of some seals and with the binoculars, see a pair of white seals stretched out on some exposed rocks. This is our last view of Cape Alava.

Continuing on, we quickly come to the boardwalk leading to Ozette Lake's trailhead. The boardwalk is in excellent condition having many sections with new planks. The boards are dry and not slippery, making for fast walking. (The park service is testing recycled plastic planks, maybe they will last longer and give better traction when wet.) We take a break at Ahlstroms Prairie. We observe how the prairie is slowly being taken over with trees since burning to make clearings stopped years ago.

A few drops of rain starts to fall, we prepare for a deluge, but it is a false alarm and soon stops. Pressing onward, the boards keep falling behind and we come to the fork where the Cape Alava and Sandpoint trails fork. A short downhill path leads to the bridge over Ozette River and after crossing, the trailhead kiosk. The time is about 11:40 AM. Our hiking has ended.

We immediately head for the bathrooms having the luxury of tap water and flush toilets, heaven. After a good wash-up and trading boots for sneakers, we wait for our ride. Lunch is eaten while sitting on the porch, and we talk to the Ozette Ranger. During lunch, a very hungry feral cat comes near and sneaks a piece of granola bar. The ranger tell us the cat had been abandoned in the parking lot about a month earlier. The cat lived on what it could catch and the ranger was not allowed to feed her. She said we could take the cat home with us if we wanted. We could not. We shared what remaining lunch we had with the cat and were soon left with only emergency peanuts.

The van arrived at the scheduled 1:00 PM. The van was chartered in advance from Olympic Van Tours. They also provide bus service from Sea-Tac Airport and North Seattle to Port Angles. We traded introductions with our driver, throw the packs on rear seats and buckled up in the van, and are quickly on our way.

The roads back to Rialto Beach are over 75 miles distance, passing through the towns of Sekiu, Clallam Bay, Sappho, and Beaver, but not quite entering Forks. Our driver is from Spain, was a tourist guide in exotic world mountains, and now has married and settled in Port Angles. We swap stories, wait out road construction, and arrive back at Rialto Beach at 3:30 PM. The weather has been threatening rains all day, but only a few drops have fallen. Back at the ocean, a strong southwest wind is blowing and the western horizon is solid cloud. We say good bye to our driver as he headed up the beach on a day hike and exploration.

The drive back to Seattle is uneventful The rain has started by the time we enter Sequim, and is very heavy from there to home. We have dinner of real food in Sequim. The ferry ride from Kingston to Edmonds seems unusually short. We arrive at our North Seattle home about 9:00 PM. The committee of three kissy face dogs and their sitter welcome us home. Another backpack on one of the very best beaches in a National Park has been completed.

Trip plan
Day 1:   Rialto Beach to Chilean Memorial
Day 2:   Chilean Memorial to Norwegian Creek
Day 3: Norwegian Creek to Sandpoint Camp
Day 4:   Sand Point to Cape Alava

Getting there: This trip begins at Rialto Beach, near Forks, WA.

Note :   This is backcountry wilderness travel. Any trail can become very dangerous in winter conditions. You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards and taking the necessary precautions.

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