MIKE MacFERRIN'S OLYMPIC SOLO TREK....July 21, 2004


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We are greeted early with generous low tides, and I can't resist the urge to explore. At Strawberry Point, the minus tides have uncovered a quarter-mile-wide field of usually-submerged rocks and tide pools. As Jeremy continues down the beach, I shed my pack, grab my camera, and explore.

The rocks close to the beach have the unfortunate trait of usually being dry. They hold little marine life, and to the impatient onlooker, it would appear that this entire rockfield is little more than a boring pile of car-sized stones. But further out, almost to the edge of the retreated surf, the rocks are almost always underwater. If you're lucky enough to witness it at the right time and curious enough to explore, you're likely to see a rainbow of life that few ever experience. Nearly every inch of the pools is covered with fantastic arrays of oranges, purples, pinks, blues, and greens. Starfish, anemones, blue mussels, limpets, black chitons, cup coral, and the ever-impressive two-foot wide and fast-moving Sunflower Star are just a few of the variety of life found on these prosperous rocks. Walking becomes difficult among the thick beds of split kelp and surf-grass, and hopping from one rock to another over the pools, a new discovery is made on every bound. I feel like a kid again.

Eventually I rock-hop back to shore and walk the wide, sandy beach to Toleak (TOE-lee-ack) Point, where Jeremy has taken a perch on one of the headlands to do some writing in the mid-morning sun. Several sea lions are playing in the offshore surf, and we pass many sets of campers parked at this popular easy-access beach. While traversing a 1-mile overland trail, we explore the quaint and aptly named Falls Creek Falls, and a short time later we break for lunch before fording Goodman Creek. While drying our feet on the other side, a majestic bald (eagle) flies down the creek at eye-level, navigating its way along this natural highway through the forest, looking for fish in the river. After seeing so many bald eagles (this is at least 12 now in the past few days), I am still stricken by their quiet power and grace.

To end the day, we hike along a 2 mile stretch of wide, sandy, sun-bleached coast without seeing another soul. It's a sunbather's paradise, and we enjoy the easy walking of the South coast, as opposed to the frustrating pea-gravel so common along the northern stretches. We stop for the night at Mosquito Creek, and despite the ominous name, find a wonderfully pleasant campsite (complete with a firewood pile and surprisingly few mosquitoes) in the forest back away from the beach. It's obvious to us now that we will probably finish the coast-hike tomorrow, a day ahead of schedule.