The Olympic Coast

To kick off National park week 2017 we headed to the Olympic Coast! Earlier this year we spent a weekend in Olympic National Park hiking to Ruby Beach and the Hoh Rain forest while camping at Railto Beach in La Push!

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We saw a lot of rain at the beach but the Hoh Rainforest receives more rain than any place in the continental US. Around 160 inches annually.

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That trip inspired another. This time to camp at Shi Shi Beach and hike to Cape Flattery! Come summer I’d be spending more time in Rainier and the North Cascades National Parks but for now it was beach time!

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From Seattle it takes around 5 hours to get to the trailhead and you’ll have to make at least two stops along the way for permits. The first is a backcountry camping permit from the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles. You’re also required to bring a bear canister to fend off raccoons. I use a BV450 which is perfect for two people and two nights. Otherwise you’re stuck with the big yellow canister pictured. The next permit is the Makah recreation pass. It’s $10 and lasts a full year. There are a few locations to pick it up including the Minimart in Neah Bay. From there we headed northwest!

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As soon as we pulled up to Cape Flattery the rain finally stopped. There’s a mile long trail with numerous spurs to different overlooks along the cape.

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At the furthest reaches of our Northwestern coast you can view Tatoosh Island and the beautiful sea stacks all around.

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When you look down over the edge of the Northwestern most point of the Continental US you may just see what we did. A foot…

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This being only a 20 minute detour it is a must stop! Now we start our backpacking trip to Shi Shi Beach! That is after parking at Donna’s house which costs another $10 a night. There is no parking at the trailhead so we added 2 miles to the hike but that turned out to be a good thing for us.

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We heard rumors of muddy trails up until the beach and the rumors were true. You start on a boardwalk but shortly after you’ll want to cover yourself in Gore-Tex and be sure to have trekking poles.

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It had rained all week and was currently raining so it made things a little tougher but we trudged through. A pair of rubber boots would be perfect. It was still very lush and pretty but we were ecstatic to reach the beach. We walked and crossed streams to get closer to the Point of the Arches where we’d set up camp. The combination of all the rain and low tide made the beach look like a mirror. No colorful sunset but this was mesmerizing.

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That night it never stopped raining but that noise along with the waves made for a soothing night sleep! With both have Enlighted Equipment Enigma sleeping quilts. It connects perfectly with our sleeping pads and can actually connect with another Enlighted Equipment quilt. It makes for a cozy sleep system and is the only bag I’ve used that keeps my feet warm below 10°. Luckily it never got that cold.

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Come morning the sun decided to come out and we were back at low tide!

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It was certainly the coolest tide pools I’ve explored with giant starfish, sea anemone and mussels everywhere!

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We also saw bald eagles in big numbers and what we think were either juvenile bald eagles or golden eagles.

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It was incredible and we didn’t stop exploring until the afternoon. At the Point of the Arches there are sea stacks everywhere and the very rocky coastline made for a lot of corners. We wanted to see what was around each corner and we did so until we had to turn around.

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The rest of the day we relaxed and had a delightful supper as we waited patiently for sunset. As you can see we ate a lot…

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The sunset colors were so vibrant and it seemed to last forever!

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Even at 10pm we could see shades of orange and pink. It was so cool and lead to another good night sleep. In the morning everything was incredibly stunning as always!

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It was time to say goodbye and cross the big creek while it was still low tide. Walking on the beach was firm which made walking easier but high winds made things interesting. By interesting I mean sandy. Before we jumped back in the mud we explored the northern end of Shi Shi Beach.  This is also a must see during low tide. I’ve never seen so many mussels in one place and the starfish have to be on steroids.

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Since we had a day and half without rain the trail wasn’t as bad but it was still challenging to keep our footing.

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We were filled with joy when we made it back to the car until we found out we left the lights on so the battery died… Lucky for us the man living at the house was able to give us a jump! I can definitely say paying for parking was worth it. We were smiling again!

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I’ve been lucky to see many beaches along the West coast but none rival Shi Shi Beach!

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