MIKE MacFERRIN'S OLYMPIC SOLO TREK....July 17, 2004
High tide arrives just after lunch, and despite our better judgment, we proceed around several more headlands marked "Caution" on the map. Over one in particular, we scale a precipitous vertical outcrop of sharp stone and leap over the pounding surf, several yards below. (In retrospect, it would have been prudent to wait for low tide and walk around.) Eventually we hit a headland we cannot cross, and we wait, stranded by the high tide for several hours. We watch harbor seals play in the surf and a bald eagle perch itself majestically on the sea stacks (rocks sticking out of the water just offshore). A deceased sea lion is rotting on the beach nearby; it's skin hanging loosely over a rack of gaunt yellow bones, several hundred pounds of maggots squirming visibly below. OlyHiker doesn't care for it, although I find it somewhat fascinating. But the putrid smell leaves something to be desired.
A couple hours wait and the tide finally clears. We proceed southward, finally arriving at the 3-mile stretch of open beach leading to Cape Alava. We originally planned to walk all the way down to the Cape tonight, but it's late already, and we're tired, so we elect to stay at the nearby Seafield Creek. My sleeping bag is nearly dry now, having been draped over my pack in the sun all day.
This beach walking takes a lot out of you! Progress through pea-gravel is slower than on a groomed trail, and negotiating endless boulder fields and headlands under a glaring sun quickly drains your reserves. However, the wildlife is sensationally unique, with endless varieties of sea stars, hermit crabs, snails, clams, otters, seals, sea lions, eagles, gulls and falcons among just a few of the huge variety of coastal life found here. We'll see what tomorrow brings!