This will be a work-in-progress until I get my photo's resized and attached in the "right" manner.
Who says there aren't backpacking opportunities during the winter? You just have to pick the right place and then gamble on a weather window. With cabin fever beginning to overwhelm me, I looked to the coast of Washington to get back out on the beach, hiking a section of the Olympic N.P. that had so far eluded me. Several years ago I hiked the stretch of shore between Sand Point and La Push and planned to return some day to head north from Sand Point to Cape Alava and on to Shi Shi beach, if possible.
This is a “bear can required” area, more for the raccoons than the bears. Bring your own or obtain from the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles as you get your backcountry permit. I saw just a few raccoon tracks on the beach and none at my camps so the requirement appears to be working. No reservation quota during this time of year, not surprising, so I was able to camp where I pleased. The drive out from Port Angeles to Lake Ozette takes a bit of time so plan accordingly if you are going to make for the ocean once you arrive at the trailhead. Around three miles from the parking lot to the beach, with mixed board walk and graveled path. The board walk is in pretty good condition although it can be slippery and uneven in places.
My plan was to head out to Sand Point then continue north on the beach to Wedding Rocks for the night. The next day continue north to Cape Alava, cross the Ozette River, overnighting at Seafield Creek. Then the next morning, leaving my camp in place, head up toward Point of the Arches to see how far I could get. The tides were not in my favor so I didn’t expect to get to Shi Shi unless the overland was manageable. After the northbound hike was done, I would return to my camp at Seafield, collect my gear, then head back to the Ozette River to cross it at low tide. Last night of camping would be at Cape Alava with an easy hike out in the morning. Weather forecast looked pretty good, even with some spotty showers. Temp’s at or about freezing at night.
The trip went pretty well, no mishaps, with very few people in the area. Saw three people the entire time, on the hike out to Sand Point. Day time temperatures were comfortable hiking temps but in the shade and at night it was quite cold. Ice on the beach the last morning. I was able to find the petroglyphs north or Wedding Rocks. The crossing of the Ozette was interesting. As you might imagine the water was quite cold but it was also moving very fast, even in the shallows. It would be easy to rush the crossing and lose balance at the current flow rate. One definitely needs some sort of footwear to deal with the cobble. I didn’t see any path across where one would only encounter sand. Loads and loads of eagles along the beaches.
Here’s a link to a trip report for the headland areas around Point of the Arches. I thought I would include it because the furthest north I traveled was the Father and Son rocks. This is definitely a place where one needs the “minus tides” of the spring or summer to pull off travel around some of the headlands, as well as extended daylight.
I will be back to Point of the Arches. It’s a great area with splendid scenery and so wonderful to see it without the mobs of people that come here in the summer season. Go shoulder season to enhance the experience.