Ozette Backpacking 2020

Backpacking Washingtons Wilderness Coast part 2|3

Day 3 – Yellow Banks to Norwegian Memorial

I awoke to a sunny morning high on the Yellow Banks. The soothing sound of the sea in its continuous restless motion had brought on a good nights sleep.  This would prove to be of great value as this was the most difficult day of hiking of this trip.  I broke camp and loaded up my backpack finally really getting everything optimally sorted with my pack.  I strapped my tent on below the food canister which freed up a lot of space inside. With this configuration this pack could suffice for an even longer trip.  A larger pack so that I could keep the bear canister inside would still be preferred though.  Packed up I slipped and slide my way down the bluff and onto the shore where the tide was well out.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 3
The tide is out at Yellow Banks

As noted in the previous entry, the crux of coastal hiking is the tides and rounding these rocky points.  The roughly 6 mile stretch I hiked from Yellow Banks to Norwegian Memorial was almost entirely on a series of these points. Only the initial section was handpicked sand, the rest was over rock that ranged from marble sized to full on boulders.  There were several stretches where the rocks of the hillside stretched well into the water and you were clamoring directly over rock amidst the tide pools.  All of these surfaces were very hard on the feet, ankles and knees. No sure footing, always twisting below you. If you walked where the tide had been it was covered in seaweed, slippery, wet.  There was a stretch of bouldering, where rocks had slide off the cliff and you had to climb over, around and on top of this massive rocks.  It was slow going and the tide was coming in fast. I did several stretches, right at the base of the cliffside with water lapping at my feet. There were points where I thought I’d have to wait out the tide on the narrowest stretch of beach. But always there was just enough of a path, clearly above the tide line that I was able to make it. If I’d set out any later I would have had to wait it out.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 3
Hazy post sunset glow

It was a hard day of strenuous and stressful hiking.  I was glad when I finally made it to the Norwegian Memorial.  I walked well past the memorial to where a little creek ran out the woods and there was camping in the woods.  There was a very large tent setup on the beach and I suspect those campers had takne the trail that runs from Norwegian Memorial to some logging roads. They were there when I arrived and still there when I hiked back three days later.  I found a nice isolated campsite in the woods with decent access to the creek. There were only three or four groups of campers along this mile long stretch of beach and no one else in this part of the woods.  This was far enough down the coast and difficult enough to hike that no casual trekkers came this far.

This days photos: Day 3 photos.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 4
Rounding the point between sea stacks

Day 4 – Norwegian Memorial to Cedar Creek

Most days was a continuous mix of sun and clouds, with haze and fog rolling in and clearing throughout the day.  Over the course of being on the shore all day the tide slowly came in and rolled out and that slow pattern became part of your routine. You adapt yourself to these natural rhythms.  This day was the shortest day of hiking, just around a mile around one rocky point to Cedar Creek. The day began sunny and with streaky white clouds as I walked around a point between a large seastack.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 4
Fog rolling in at Cedar Creek

This first point I rounded came to a small rocky beach and then it was around a second point, right over rocks. This was all while the tide was well out and fairly straightforward. After a few days one gets used to this kind of terrain and take it slow where it demands and stay focused.  But soon enough I was around the points and a the beach where Cedar Creek came out of the woods at a huge jumble of driftwood. There was one other encampment there at a low grassy stretch right above the beach. At this beech the high tide had pushed up a wall of rocks and just past it was the woods. No place for beach camping here.  Near the creek on a small bluff above the beach was a completely empty stretch of woods, well away from the other campers. I setup camp here and had most of the rest of the day to explore the beach at my leisure.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 4
Clear skies and low tide at Cedar Creek

This days photos: Day 4 photos.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 5
Rainy day at Cedar Creek

Day 5 – Cedar Creek

I had planned this trip with this short hike to Cedar Creek so that I could spend nearly two days there.  These trips are for me pilgrimage where I go out into the natural world for contemplation and perspective.  Walking along the beaches with the constant pattern of the waves and the rhythms of the tides our sense of self is greatly diminished. Sitting outside just gazing out at the horizon the constant chatter of our thoughts fade away.  This is how I approach all of my travels and always make the space for times of greater contemplation.

Day five was to for me a day of meditation and immersion in my surroundings. It ended up just pouring rain all day. The rain lightened enough at strategic times I was able to put on my rain gear and cook meals.  I only took a handful of photos all very much like the one above. I spent the day in meditation and reading in the tent. It was a rewarding and valuable experience. Listening to the wind and rain in the tent with the constant background wash of the ocean was a calm and yet invigorating experience.  This really had been my plan for the day and while I would also have undertaken walks and periods of gazing out into the ocean this was a wonderful day of relaxation and contemplation.

This days photos: Day 5 photos.


Trip Photos: Ozette Backpacking Trip photo album

Leave a Reply