Ozette Backpacking 2020

Backpacking Washingtons Wilderness Coast part 3|3

Day 6 – Cedar Creek to Yellow Banks

It rained all night and was still steadily coming down when I arose. I packed up and cooked breakfast in the rain.  I slipped and slide my way down the bluff in the rain. I began my return journey up the beach in the rain.  The tide was well out at this point and since this was to be the longest days hike, over what I knew was the most difficult terrain I made sure I set out with plenty of time.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 6
Hiking from Cedar Creek to Yellow Banks

Once off the sand beach at Cedar Creek it was around a point between the sea stacks  back to Norwegian Monument. It rained that whole way but as I walked up the beach at Norwegian Monument it began to clear. It would rain off an on during that long five mile stretch of rocky, beaches and headlands as I made my way back to Yellow Banks. I knew this was the most difficult stretch on the trip but was hoping that it would be made easier with the  tide out.  For the most part this was the case, as I wasn’t hugging cliff walls as I rounded points  or right on the driftwood line in the narrow coves. It often would turn out to be easier to walk among the wet rocks and tide pools well down the beach than on the rocky shores where the small to large rocks were so hard on ones feet and ankles.  I had set out early enough that I had no fear of the tide even with the slow going this stretch demanded.  The tide was coming in as I rounded the last point to Yellow Banks but it was still a long way off and until right at the  very end I could go out  as far as I  felt was helpful.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 6
Driftwood at Yellow Banks

The kids who had arrived on my second  day at Cedar Creek had left about an hour before I did. I arrived at Yellow Banks now in warm sun to find them at the most southern camping spot hanging up their tent and other gear too dry.  I continued on about halfway up this beach to a bluff site that I’d wanted to camp at last time. I had found this spot then, but as I went back to get my backpack that I’d left further up the beach someone else claimed it.  So this time I went right there and found it empty. With all the rain the little creeks were all much bigger and there were many new water runoffs from the forest. The dirt path up the bluff, where you need support yourself with ropes at times was muddy and slick. So a bit more difficult to climb, but worth it.  The camp spot up here was small but with amazing views.  I had arrived around 1pm, so I setup, put things out to dry and made lunch.  I was then able to spend the rest of the afternoon in contemplation, walking on the beach and taking care of things.  This, my last night out, rewarded me with the most stunning sunset of the trip.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 6
Sunset at Yellow Banks

This days photos: Day 6 photos.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 7
Blue skies and low tide as I hike to South Sand Point

Day 7 – Yellow Banks to Lake Ozette

My final day at the ocean, was the fairly straightforward hike from Yellow Banks to Lake Ozette. I wasn’t in any rush as my ferry wouldn’t leave Port Townsend until 6:45 in the evening. I could leave as late as 3pm and still be on time for the boat. I didn’t rush in the morning and took my time walking back. It was a lovely day with blue skies and mists rolling in now and again. I saw the only boat out on the ocean (two actually!) that I had seen this trip. The first point that I had to round was the one that I had done at about the last possible moment scrambling along the edge of the bluff. This time I walked well below the edge and it was a different landscape and experience.   There was a small  rock cove from there and then another rocky point that I had to round, clamoring  amongst the tide pools. The it was the long beach leading up to South Sand Point and finally Sand Point where the trail back to  Lake Ozette was.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 7
Typical day at the ocean shore: sunny then fog, then clouds, then sun &c

When I first hiked out here, I didn’t go right out to the beach but stuck with the path in the woods and hiked to the creek at South Sand Point to load up on water. I tried to find that entrance and ended up bushwhacking in the woods for a while. It’s just not a hiking trip without a little bit of bushwacking!  I encountered a buck in the woods at this time, magically lit up in the filtered sunlight. I went back out to the beach and hiked all the way up to the official Sand Point Trail Head. This was Saturday and there were a lot more people arriving now. On the beach hike I had encountered three or four south bound groups one of them about eight people.  Walking the boardwalks back to Lake Ozette I encountered many more.  Plenty of groups with young folks. Most people responsibly masked and stepping off the trail when they could,  of course I would step off where there was a wide spot. I was happy though to get back to Lake Ozette where there were throngs of people.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 7
Buck in the woods

At Lake Ozette I made a cup of coffee and then set out. I drove straight through to Port Townsend arriving mid-afternoon. I bought some supplies at the Coop there and ate lunch/dinner on a fairly empty stretch of beach. I drove through PT and many businesses had spilled out into the sidewalks and there was the usual crowd of tourists.  I wasn’t really comfortable being in that crowd so I spent a little more time at an empty stretch of the shore before heading to the ferry. The it was the sailing across, the drive up Whidbey Island to the monastery and my trip was concluded.

This days photos: Day 7 photos.

Ozette Backpacking Trip day 7
Dinner on the shore in Port Townsend. Looking out into the Salish Sea

This was my first backpacking trip in many decades, but it won’t be my last. I’ve always looked at my bicycle trips as pilgrimage, a communing with the outdoors and a putting myself out there directly. It is a practice.  Hiking puts you out there even more directly. Off of roads, even dirt roads, you walk shoulder to shoulder with the trees. The boundaries ease, there is less concern for things, less reliance upon equipment. Camping right in the woods in these small spaces, you are right there. I’ll always bike tour as that speaks to my heart, especially the bikepacking that is closer to the essentials. But the wandering life on foot is not to be missed.

Trip Photos: Ozette Backpacking Trip photo album

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