Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beach Camping

A couple weekends ago, Robin and I went out to the peninsula to go backpacking. It was my first adult trip overnight backpacking...I've family camped at State Parks with bathrooms plenty, and I've day hiked some. I went to sleepaway camp when I was younger and we did a one-night to a lake once, but that was with a big group and I don't remember much of it at all, except the backpack was heavy.

We stayed Friday night with the Sheriff's, and I got to catch up on all the goings-on at the "hostel". The yurt is just about finished (it is gorgeous!), and got to see some of Kevin's improvements to the half-pipe garage (e.g., a hand-painted Deadmau5 sign in glow-in-the-dark paint). Met Grandpa Joe, who was really quite funny, and a couple friends of their's from CA. It was a great group :) Luna and Willard made their appearances, too. We left in the morning after some more chats (Robin's next plan: mini golf course on the property, involving a gold elephant that's on the roof of an interior design store in P.A. that's going out of business) and went to the Wilderness Information Center to pick up a bear container and get our backpacking passes. Talked to a friend of the Sheriff's, who really worried me about putting everything in the container than had a scent, because of how aggressive the animals are out there.

Note: We did not see any animals on our trip, besides birds on the Cape and seastars. He freaked me out for nothing!

After the WIC was sorted out and we got food at Albertson's for the weekend, we drove out to Neah Bay to get our Makah Reservation Pass. The weekend weather was just absolutely beautiful, couldn't have gotten anything better. I've never been to Neah Bay, kinda neat. We parked at a private yard near the trailhead (the actual trailhead has no overnight parking, so it costs 10-20$/weekend to park at a private yard- good, cheap money for them!) The hike through the woods to the beach was pleasant. It is muddy, but this time of year it wasn't all that bad. Much of the first half of the hike is on boardwalks, and I enjoyed pointing out all of the plants I knew to Robin. We ate some wild red huckleberries (my favorite finds in the woods!) and later ate some Thimbleberries, which I'd never had the opportunity to taste before (like a less-sweet raspberry). The last part of the hike to Shi Shi Beach is very VERY steep, down a cliffside with switchbacks. There is no railing, and the trail is kind of crazy because so many people have made detours. I hate going down steep things, it takes me forever because I get scared and then I become paralyzed. It's even harder with a big backpack on and carrying Robin's very nice DSLR camera! But harder still I imagine trying to carry that big bear container in your hands (thanks, Robin...!) I forgot my camera on the charger at home, so here are some of Robin's shots. I think he's pretty great at this whole photography thing :)

Shi Shi Beach

We made our way a bit down the beach, happy to have reached our destination. Set up camp near a fire pit, and decided to walk to the Point of Arches. The hike in the woods is about 2.5 miles, my guess, and the hike down the beach was another 2.2 or so. It's harder on the beach, though! We got there during high tide, unfortunately, but it was still really pretty.

At Point of Arches

We got back to the tent with plenty of light and took a nap before setting about building a fire. Very exciting stuff, building a fire on the beach. I am really glad we had a pre-made pit, because supplies of wood and rock were limited in our area (picked over, no doubt). Chris's borrowed saw came in handy with some drift wood. Hey, quick shout-out to Chris for letting us borrow a ton of gear, including his tent! Thanks so much! Anyway, after many matches, trying to get lint and moss to catch fire and get hot enough to get the wood burning, I scolded myself out loud for not bringing the denatured alcohol we thought about using with the stove. We left it behind because of weight, and we were just going to cook over the fire instead of the stove. Then it dawned on me: alcohol...hand sanitizer has lots of alcohol...turns out, our brand had 65%. And it caught VERY well. I got a bit pyro with it, actually :) We cooked brats and a bread bun on the fire, and made delicious s'mores! Neither of us play beachy instruments, so I pulled out the portable iPod speakers and we played some Jack Johnson while drinking rum, etc. Good night, indeed.

In the morning, we packed up while the marine layer was still hanging heavy.

Me, looking camp-y.

It was low tide, so we went down to the exposed rocks and looked at the seastars, mussels and anemones. Purples, oranges and greens. So pretty! Maybe not as cool as the ones at Ecola State Park in Oregon, though.

We packed out of there around noon and hiked back to the car. Zoom zoomed up to Cape Flattery, the most northwest point of the State. It's another mile hike or so, but a nice one for sure. The fog was just rolling out, and we got to see Tatoosh Island and the Tatoosh Lighthouse. Very pretty. Saw lots of birds, including many juvenile bald eagles. There was a little sparrow-type bird who was not afraid of humans at all. And didn't take human food, which I thought was very good of him. He was just chillin'.

Tatoosh Island and Lighthouse

Cape Flattery birdie

On the hike back to the car, we passed this tree with a lot of fungus on it. Upon further research at home, I think I have identified it as Chicken of the Woods, aka Sulphur Shelf. I like this shot (hey, I took this one! :)

We dropped off the borrowed bear canister in P.A. and grabbed dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront. Finally got home about 11:30pm, after a long ferry wait. What an epic weekend :) Who wants to go again?!