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I think I said after my last trip to the Olympic Peninsula that it was likely I'd now start doing some of the same hikes and activities that I'd already done, because in fact I'd already done pretty much everything I could think of doing out there. This trip proved that out to a certain extent, but the theme became doing the same things except going one step further. In some cases that further step revealed even *further* steps I can explore in the future. I also discovered some new areas I want to explore. I was okay with the prospect of repeating steps I'd taken before, because as Eno says, repetition is a form of change, but maybe there are new tricks for this old dog to learn after all.

2015-02-23 Astoria
View from the top of the Astoria Column

Certainly the scope of my routine is expanding. As I'd done the last two trips, I started off in Astoria, Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia River. Astoria has become a part of the trip because of the beer, but it's starting to open out in other directions too. The further step in Astoria was to try Buoy Beer Co, which had just opened when I was out there a year ago. Excellent riverside location, and a very interesting selection of beer, with a slight emphasis on German styles. I had a Schwarzbier, which was great. Then it was on to the two places I've been to before, Wet Dog Cafe (which serves Astoria Brewing beer) and Fort George Brewery. Excellent marionberry wheat beer at the former, and two excellent stouts at the latter (it was stout month), of which my favorite was Voluptas. I had a small growler filled with that.

Future thoughts for Astoria are that I need to get down there earlier in the day so I can visit the Maritime Museum and/or the Film Museum. Possibly I need to go a day earlier, because the problem with going on Sunday is that the Fort George taproom isn't open. That's where they serve some of their more offbeat stuff. Although honestly I couldn't complain about what was on offer in the main pub.

2015-02-23 Oysterland
Along Willapa Bay

On Monday I had a breakfast of oysters and eggs at Stephanie's Cabin, which is an old school "family restaurant" where old farts gather to have breakfast and gossip about their failing health on a Monday morning. It's the kind of place my dad would hang out at. I visited the Astoria Column, with its breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape, got some smoked salmon at Josephson's Smokehouse, and headed north back into Washington. From Astoria I like to drive up along Willapa Bay (aka Oysterland) with its estuaries and sloughs and swamps. Because it was a sunny day and the forecast was for rain the rest of the week, I didn't stop to eat lunch at Breakwater Seafoods & Chowder House in Aberdeen as usual, but just grabbed a container of chowder to go and sped on toward La Push. Well, I did divert myself off 101 to head out through Moclips and then up the Moclips Highway back to 101, just because it's more scenic drive. I got to Ruby Beach just after 1pm, and discovered that at low tide you can reach a further beach at the south end -- the "one step further" moment for the day. I ate the chowder there, enjoying the sunny warmth on the beach. As I headed back up the beach, I passed some teen boys crouched in a cave, where they were no doubt set to drink and/or get high. The cave would soon be cut off from the world by the rising tide, so it was a prime party spot.

2015-02-23 Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach

From my usual basecamp at the Quileute Oceanside Resort in La Push, the next day I headed up to Ozette Lake to do the Ozette Triangle or Ozette Loop, which I had previously hiked I think two years ago. This takes you through forest for just over three miles, then down the beach for three miles, then back through the forest for another three miles. The first time I didn't know what I was doing and had some anxious moments of thinking I was lost, but this time it all went according to plan. The "one step further" on this hike was to cross over Sand Point, which is the southern terminus of the beach part of the Triangle, to take a gander at the sand beaches on the other side. Those look like they'd be worth further exploration, and maybe next time I'll skip the first two legs of the triangle, and just head out to those beaches, spend some time on them, then head back on the same trail. Another possible expansion of the Triangle itself would be to spend some time checking out whether there are any good tidepools further out from shore, since it's best to hike the beach part at low tide.

2015-02-24 Ozette Lake
Ozette Lake

Usually Wednesday is a day when I take it easy to recover from whatever strenuous hike I did on Tuesday. (I try to get in at least one six-mile hike every weekend in Seattle, and I could feel it when I got to the third leg of the Triangle. Those last three miles were pushing it for me.) However, I actually felt great when I got up, so I decided to go tidepooling up Rialto Beach rather than just the short hike to Second Beach. The tidepooling at the headland just north of Hole-in-the-Wall on Rialto was the most spectacular I'd encountered out there, and I was eager to check it out again. However, unlike the last time I'd done it, when I got to the headland I wasn't already feeling tired, so I decided to push on -- one step further -- and check out the beach I'd spotted from a distance previously. It was a beautiful, secluded beach, and I settled down to eat my lunch. I'm not sure exactly, but I think that was at least close to three miles up the beach. (Hole-in-the-Wall is at 1.5 miles.) There's quite a bit of scrabbling over rocks after Hole-in-the-Wall, so it's not easy hiking, but I think next time I'll push around the next headland and check out the next beach. At low tide I had plenty of time (at high tide you can't get around the headlands), and it appears I'm now in better shape for this kind of hiking. With that thought in mind I returned to the tidepools, which were just as spectacular as I remembered. They were just crawling with anemones, sea urchins, mussels, barnacles, oysters, and crabs. I thought at first that all the sea stars had been wiped out in the recent die off, but then I spotted a few.

2015-02-25 Rialto Beach
Rialto Beach

Thursday, then, was my "easy" hike to Second Beach. You can walk to it from the resort, although that adds maybe a mile to the distance hiked. This time I went all the way to the south end and spotted several small beaches that you can only get to at low tide, so that was my "one step further" on this hike. Lovely little secluded beaches, although Second Beach always has more people on it, so it wasn't as isolated as I might have preferred. Still I was able to dunk myself in the water briefly, although I couldn't summon the courage to completely submerse myself. After I ate my sandwich I checked out the tidepools, which hadn't impressed me the previous time I looked, but boy was I wrong about that! I think the other time I looked it wasn't really low tide, so I couldn't get to the most fascinating tidepools. Once again, just swarming with life, but here there were tons of sea stars. If the die off affected this area, it apparently missed Second Beach. It was very encouraging to see. Some of the rocks were so thoroughly coated with life, including hundreds of small anemones, that there was no place to step. Watching the sea life swaying in the tidal surges I was filled with awe at the abundance of it. I'll be returning there again and no doubt again.

2015-0-226 Second Beach Life Swarm
Second Beach life swarm

I had been consulting my trail guide for various fine points of the hikes I'd done, and thereby I spotted something I wanted to explore on my way home on Friday. There are some trails in the rainforest by Lake Crescent, and I hiked the shorter one that goes to Marymere Falls and beyond. Beautiful forest! The trail guide says it's old growth, and the trees are truly massive. I believe the national forest land around La Push was logged before the feds acquired the land in 1937, so while some of the trees there are quite impressive, they're probably no more than a century old. You could tell the difference in the trees along Barnes Creek, where I hiked on Friday. The biggest ones were certainly bigger than the ones around La Push. Next time I might try the Mount Storm King Trail, which is quite a climb but apparently gets you to a beautiful view of Lake Crescent. So this was all new ground to me, with further new trails to explore.

2015-02-27 Lake Crescent
Lake Crescent

I stopped in Port Angeles to once again eat a crab louie at Smuggler's Landing. It's an old-fashioned coastal tourist kind of place that reminds me of family visits to the Oregon Coast. It's all well and good, but Port Angeles (which I've taken to thinking of as the Astoria of Washington) appears to have some other restaurants worth checking out. I've now got my eye on Kokopelli Grill, which had a sign out on the sidewalk advertising a Dungeness Crab & Avocado salad. Sounds good to me! I walked around downtown Port Angeles a bit, and stopped in at one of the bookstores to buy a newspaper. I was sorry to see that the Lincoln Theater -- an old movie theater -- is for sale. I guess if the old movie theaters are closing in Seattle, it's no surprise they aren't making it in Port Angeles either. On the other hand I'm always curious about how prosperous Port Angeles looks, at least compared to places like Aberdeen. It still has a functioning port, and it's probably more of a tourist destination than Aberdeen, I don't know. It seems to have a lot more hotels anyway.

So I'm already looking forward to my next trip out to the peninsula. Along with the other future ideas I've already mentioned, another thing I spotted in the trail guide was a trail in the Willapa Wilderness Refuge north of Long Beach. That's a dune forest, or something like that. I want to check it out. And I want to take one step further on the Third Beach hike, which has more beaches you can reach to the south during low tide, although that involves an arduous climb over the headland. No doubt there's much else to explore that I'm not even aware of yet -- a happy thought!

2015-02-24 Ozette Forest
Forest spirit


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 1st, 2015 10:04 pm (UTC)
All sounds fantastic.
Mar. 1st, 2015 10:07 pm (UTC)
Wow. Fabulous write-up of all those steps, and splendid photos, too. I literally gasped at the beauty of Ozette Lake. Then, OMG, the sea stars and anemones in the tide pool!
Mar. 2nd, 2015 05:29 am (UTC)
Sounds lovely, as ever. And what I love about tide pools is how they teem with life. Life is so abundant!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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