MIKE MacFERRIN'S OLYMPIC SOLO TREK....July 18, 2004


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After an easy start hiking the sandy beach this morning, we reach the Ozette River crossing by 8:30, to find a pair of young ladies perched over a rock, peering into the current. One of them dropped her sunglasses into a 5-foot deep pool in the river, and OlyHiker comes to the rescue, wading in deep (nearly swimming) to retrieve them. What a hero!

Cape Alava, the northern corner of the popular "Ozette Loop", is crowded this weekend. Just two miles behind us at Seafield Creek, we had the place to ourselves last night! The walk for several miles is popular and easy, and many tracks in the sand say as much. A herd of deer feed on the shoreline, oblivious to the crowd gathering to watch. "They're too tame," OlyHiker laments. I agree. We pass lots of other backpackers, most out for the night, and most equipped with 50+ pounds of equipment dangling off their packs like a Christmas tree. It's amusing, and we both reminisce to a time past, when our own backpacks looked similar (didn't everybody's? ).

One notable point along the triangle is Wedding Rocks, where several sets of petroglyphs (including the famous "whale" picture seen in the guidebooks) stand out on the sides of the rocks, decorating an impressive headland.
The Ozette Indians (whose tribe no longer exists... the last of the Ozettes died decades ago, but their reservation remains) used to hold marriage ceremonies at this regal place, and I cannot think of a better place for such an occasion. The surrounding rocks are scarred with pitiful "copycat" carvings by visiting tourists, but the original petroglyphs still stand clearly, stunning and (relatively) untouched.

Past Sand Point (the southern point of the Ozette Loop), we come upon a research team sifting through sand in a bucket. They appear to be digging core samples, and are tediously counting some life form in their plastic buckets. We smile and nod, and continue south. Soon, a safe distance beyond the Ozette triangle, the crowds predictably thin out. Solitude is ours once again!

By early afternoon we reach Yellow Banks, a beautiful stretch of light-orange sandstone cliffs. It's high tide, and we're stranded at a headland (it's become a daily ordeal!). We have a decision to make... we can either camp here and call it a day, or wait several hours (for the ebb tide) and continue south another five miles to the Norwegian Memorial. There are no water sources in between. We opt to push ahead, waiting out the surf in the afternoon sun.

The last 5 miles are hard. Long stretches of rocky beach (think bowling-ball to car-sized rocks, all considered "ankle breakers") take time and sustained concentration to traverse, and after a long day we're short on both. OlyHiker takes off, as if on a mission... I cannot catch him no matter how I try! We're tired and hungry when we reach the Memorial (a 15.3 mile day, a long stretch of beach), and take a site across the creek from a gaggle of college students. Seagulls congregate at the mouth of the creek, just above surfline, scavenging for salmon fry and other debris pouring from the creek. I spend my evening chasing the gulls and exploring the tide pools for hermit crabs & sea stars. Clouds looks threatening tonight, so we pitch our shelters and sack in early.