Beach Camping

Oh, did we ever just have the weekend we needed. Larry’s hiking club does a beach clean-up on the Olympic Peninsula every Spring, and he invited us along. It was my first time seeing the Pacific coast in Washington, and my first time camping on a beach (also my first time hiking in to a camp, but that part was less magical to me – I either need a real pack, or I need to stop packing as if I’m car camping). We took the ferry across Puget Sound, then got on 101 and took it past Forks, WA to Oil City Road, and hiked a little over a mile from the trailhead to the beach. You can see a map here. (You may need to zoom out to see the pushpin).

We left later than intended on Friday – out of work a bit late, and then there was a Mariners game right next to the ferry terminal. Oops. We had an hour and a half wait for our ferry, so we went next door to Ivars for some chowder to pass the time. Delicious. The ride across was lovely as always. Rainier was semi-visible behind the stadium and shipyard cranes.

The Olympics peaked through deep clouds, doing a great Mordor impersonation. We got to the trailhead just before midnight, packed up, and hiked to the beach. We probably won’t hike at night ever again, since we managed to scare ourselves silly, but Larry showed up to meet us just as we were getting about ready to turn back and set up the tent next to the car. We were exceptionally happy to see him. Fun night, with marshmallows and a fire, shooting stars and boxed wine drunk out of mugs.

Saturday was supposed to rain, but instead was just gorgeous. It had been 38 degrees when we left the car the night before, but during the day it was several hours of t-shirt weather, and sunglasses were needed. Amazing and happy. We explored the beach at low tide,

Larry (and later Shawn and Kevin) climbed big rocks,

Shawn hunted for doubloons with his metal detector (Larry was willing to share in anything he found, but sadly, treasure was scarce on our beach) ,

and we collected two bags of trash.

Sanna and her friend Stephie drove over from Seattle Saturday morning, and joined us for the eating, vegging and wild life watching portions of the day. We saw several bald eagles (always so exciting), a hairy (or downy?) woodpecker, a pair of raccoons at the shoreline at dusk, and *many* unidentifiable creatures in the waves.

We’re guessing that they were seals (and maybe otters).

Although the sun didn’t set until after 8, the light started to get amazing around 5. The camera got taken out for some shots of the waves.

Aren’t the colors amazing?

Kevin made marshmallows over the fire while Larry boiled water on his stove for tea. (The beach was sandy, with lots of rocks brought up by the tide, and truly impressive driftwood, ranging from twigs to enormous trees, all buffeted and smooth from the sea. )

Meanwhile, Shawn and Sanna found a great piece of driftwood and a nearly round rock, and started a game of golf.

Kevin joined in. (photo credits to Larry on this one)

And the game lasted well into the twilight. Here’s Sanna celebrating a great shot.

There was pasta and sauce for dinner, more stars, and when we woke up in the morning, our tent was being drummed with rain. Between the ocean waves and the steady drops, it was such a wonderful, cozy sound. Kevin and I packed up slowly, and then enjoyed the drive back around the peninsula in the daylight. It was especially fun to drive past Crescent Lake (where we met on a camping trip in June ’02). The mountains were semi-visible, and it’s just an interesting route to drive. We decided to take the Kingston ferry back instead of the Bainbridge one, which meant that we got to have a crepe while waiting for our boat to arrive. Yum.

Moral of the story: Larry runs awesome camping trips, we should get outside more, the coast is amazing. 🙂 What a great weekend to start the summery season!

P.S. The full flickr set is here. 🙂