Olympic National Park - Ozette Loop - Day 1
Olympic National Park
May 24-26, 2003
It's three miles to sand point. Two and a half of that is board walk. Some of it new, some of it barely holding together – all of it slippery, as we walk along in the drizzle and drips. It's balmy today...the insects even seem weighted down by the moisture and warmth. Lucky for us – and lucky for the large beautifully mottled toad who lazily hops off the cedar planks in front of me, just at the last moment. I stop to admire him, greens, browns, and yellows patteren his chubby frame.
It doesn't take long for my eyes to start playing tricks on me. It's their way of complaining about the monotony of cruising along and looking at noting but the long strip of boardwalk. I have to pause to look up safely. I am not interested in slipping off this wooden path into a bog of giant skunk cabbage and rotting plant life. Occasionally the path leads into the more open meadows, scattered with stunted cedar and washed with the pink of bog rosemary in bloom.
Finally the ocean is glimpsed through the towering spruce , cedar, and hemlock. The tide is out and the sealife rich rocky pools call to be explored. But first there is the serious business of finding a camp. A place just windy enough to clear off the bugs and yet protected enough that camp chores won't be a constant battle.
First order of business is getting the tarp up and over the driftwood table that gives a touch of hominess to our chosen site. The wind laughs at Mark and me as we battle against it -and each other - to get the tarp securely in the right position. Mark and I compromise...but the wind, it just toys with us.
The next order of business, once camp is set up and dark brown tanin-rich water fetched, is to apease my growling stomach. Instant chicken noodle soup and MaryJane's organic instant mashed potatoes do the trick.
Mark offers to clean up camp and hang food, giving me the chance for a little solo time at the tidepools. I tend to have the exitement and mentality of a little kid when exploring. Tidepools bring this out more than any other place. I find myself giggling at all the darting little fish and the scurrying crabs. Some of the crabs are bold...backing up against a rock and sticking out there little claws,as if to say, “Allright you, don't try any funny business, I've got pinchers and I know how to use them!” I just nod austerely. No sence in offending the little buggers. Other crabs have special hiding places. I see one go through a veil of draping seaweed into a little cave.
I am startled by a squeek. I look up to see some birds just ahead of me. They are all black with long bright orange beaks and matching eyes. I guess they thought I wasn't paying attention to where I was going...and I suppose I wasn't. I apologize and move off in another direction.
Mark comes out to join me. I see him moving carefully across the slippery seaweed covered rock. His orange precip stands out against the bright green seaweed. When he reaches me, he tells me I was not so easy to spot. My rain jacket being the same color as my surroundings. He had to watch closely and wait for my movement to give me away.
I share a few of my discoveries with him. He smiles. I think he's more impressed with my exitement than the little crabs and orange eyed birds. I have to point out that the birds eyes and beaks are a near perfect match to his precip.
We walk south on the beach. Sometimes in a mist and sometimes in a hard wind-driven rain. Just as we are carefully crossing the creek outlet on slippery logs, a lady park ranger stomps right through the creek. She grins and tells us she's more likey to fall off those logs...so she doesn't even try. I am envious for such freedom. One of these days I will remember to re-waterproof my boots! The ranger asks if we have seen a group of backpackers with an injured member. We hadn't, but promise to pass on her message to them if we did come across them. About that time we see them coming toward us. It must be them, four guys are carrying a sling among themselves. A fifth person is in that sling. They are slowly making there way up the beach. As we pass them, we admire the well put together sling – made of drift wood and netting – it's good to see such knowledge in the backcountry. My eyes meet with the injured woman's. She is pale and in great pain, but her eyes tell a greater story of misery, they seem to scream of disapointment and anger...why her?...why the only women in the group?... She hates being the casue of the end of the trip possibly more than she hates being injured. I only hope my eyes showed her that I understood and that I wished her well.
Later the men catch up with us, they are retrieving backpacks. We talk with them for a while and find that they had just started out and were hoping to make it all the way down to rialto beach on this trip - fifteen miles south of their starting point. They are greatful though, that the accident happend sooner than later, at least they were close to an access trail and help. The women had misstepped on a rock and had ended up on the ground, her pack weight and the uneven terrain made a little accident result in a fracture.
I find myself being very careful, even without my pack, as I make my way around this small headland. I am greatful it is not me that is being travoyed out that board walk.
The beach has turned to small beautiful pebbles... so deep that I can stick my arm into them up to my elbows and still feel more below my finger tips. This is the kind of spot that I can plop down and spend hours just picking through the pretty rocks. I find the urge hard to fight. But when I do give in I learn quickly that in this weather I must keep moving to keep warm. So, I just kick them up and grin with utter delight as the scatter before me. I promise myself that I will make it back here and spend those hours examining each little pebble.
Mark and I keep walking always wondering what is around the next point. There is another couple who are heading for a camp at yellow banks. We walk near each other for a while. Mark tells me that when he glanced over he saw that they walked hand in hand when ever the terrrain allowed it. I smile at Mark...he doesn't point romantic things out all that often, so they are special when he does. I link arms with him and we walk on till we find our selves looking out to yellow banks – over two miles from camp. We wish the couple well and turn back towards camp. The wind picks up, pushing at our backs. I feel as if it is encouraging me to run or even fly. I spread my arms out and dance with it...tears welling in my eyes from the joy of playing with the wind. I love this wind...it brings me alive!
Back at camp I nearly over flow the pot that I am pumping water into. I am distracted by a beautiful doe and her adorable spotted fawn that are standing only a few feet away. The fawn's cute ears, big eyes and wiggly tail are a delight. It's a little nervouse about us...but the mother keeps licking it between bites of grass. As if to say, “yes it is ok to be so close, they aren't going to bother us, now just calm down so I can eat” The fawn decides eating is a good idea and starts nursing, right there in front of of us. Something I have never whitnessed a wild craeture do before. I can't wipe the smile off my face as I watch it eagerly drink...it's tail wagging vigorously. It's behaviour is so much like a little lamb. Even the way it bounces on all fours as the mother leads it back into the woods.
With my distraction having moved on, I come back to the present. I am sitting here in my wet boots and my puffy jacket. My precip is in need for a wash and a dry...I find this out the hard way. The rain had soaked through not only my boots, but my raincoat as well! Thank goodness for puffy jackets and hot chocolate!
Dinner is organic mac and cheese. I barely get it down without falling asleep while eating. All the exitement of the day and all the uneven beach walking have taken there toll. I crawl into my sleeping bag and wrap my arms around my purple teddy bear...a luxury item toted out to the beach by my wonderful husband.