MIKE MacFERRIN'S OLYMPIC SOLO TREK....July 20, 2004


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At Ellen Creek, amidst intermittent showers, a bald eagle can be heard screeching from its nest in a nearby tree. Throughout much of the morning, we watch a show unparalleled to anything I've ever seen. Three hawks are a battling the eagle in mid-air, presumably a territorial dispute. The eagle, in a ferocious display of mid-air acrobatics, is fending the hawks away with slashes from its razor-sharp talons. The hawks persistently heckle the eagle and make for its nest, but the eagle successfully defends her young with her deadly defenses and impressive aerodynamic gymnastics. It's like watching a military dogfight among fighter jets, right in front of our face. If I've learned anything from the experience, it's not to piss-off a bald eagle with her young.

After packing up in the wet morning rain, we head the last mile towards the Mora Road, passing many tourists on our way (there is a car-camping resort a mile away). As people ask about our trip, they frequently seem surprised that we walked all the way from Shi Shi beach. So far, we've met no one else hiking the entire Olympic Coastline, and many seem almost astonished ( ) that we're doing such a thing.


After cleaning up a bit at the Public Restrooms (ahh... running water!), we wait out the rain until our ride arrives. The Quillayute River is far too wide to cross on one's own, and it's a 10-mile detour via roads to the other side. Before we know it, our ride is here, and we're parked at the Three Rivers Resort, getting a shower and eating double-helpings of burgers, fries, onion rings, fried mushrooms and milkshakes. Shortly after, clean and fat, we're headed across the river and back to the trailhead for Chapter 2 of our beach hike.

Soon after reaching Third Beach, we meet our first rope ladder, crossing over the precipitous Taylor Point. Although the trail isn't exceedingly difficult, we pay dearly for our misguided lunchtime ambitions, as bricks shuffle awkwardly in our stomachs while we clamber up the steep slopes. We're soon rewarded, however, with an outstanding viewpoint atop the cusp of a 100-foot-plus waterfall, cascading directly into the sea from the top of Taylor Point.

After what seemed like hours, we finish the 1.2 mile overland trail from Taylor point, and enjoy a dart-and-dodge game of avoiding waves at high tide on a shallow beach. Like children, we perch ourselves atop a driftwood log or rock, wait for the retreat of a promising wave, and dash madly to the next safe haven. Overall, we're successful, rarely getting splashed by an unexpected rogue wave. While clambering over a typical seaside rockfield, we can feel the waves pounding on the other side of our boulders... it is a humbling and thrilling experience.

We make an early camp at the pleasant Scott Creek, complete with open, sheltered campsites and a plethora of driftwood for campfires. We wither away the evening talking with our next-door neighbors, a fantastic middle-aged couple that shares marshmallows and fine company on a pleasant summer evening. We spot a wild osprey dancing in the thermals above, and spy on a large group of harbor seals, resting on the nearby rocks offshore. On the southern half of the Olympic Coast, our route is shorter, so we can avoid the long exhausting days we experienced along the Northern section.

While settling into our sleeping bag under the stars, a rogue spark from our small fire jumps onto OlyHiker's ground pad, melting yet another hole in his already over-ventilated gear. He is quickly growing a reputation for being a magnet for runaway sparks, but it bothers him little as we fall asleep under an unveiling blanket of stars.