Friday, November 6, 2020

Day 68: The Anacortes Walk-By

August 16: I slept well, but the condensation was once again absolutely terrible, and I woke up feeling like it had rained on me during the night. I would have to stop and dry out my tarp and ground sheet later in the afternoon in the sun after temperatures warmed.

Sunrise from camp

I also got a very early 6:30am start since I was camped in plain view--possibly illegally although I wasn't 100% certain of that--on the side of a popular walking and biking path. I definitely had no intention of lingering in camp this morning!

So I was up and hiking by 6:30. Despite even that early start, a few people had walked by my camp in the morning. There are definitely some early-morning risers in the town of Bay View!

I followed the dike for about a mile before it returned me to paved roads. The worst part was the section along Highway 20 because the traffic was heavy, but at least there was a wide shoulder to walk on. So although it was unpleasant, at least I didn't feel like my life was in imminent danger.

The trail crossed over a body of water over a large bridge. I'd like to call it a river because it kind of looked like a river, but the bridge actually linked to Fidalgo Island and I officially left the mainland of the United States. Now I'd be hiking on islands for the next few days.

The trail eventually veered off Highway 20, much to my relief, but continued along a paved road taking the long way around a large oil refinery just outside of Anacortes. The views were actually pretty nice looking out over Puget Sound--and while the oil refinery itself is kind of an eyesore, it was fascinating to see up close.

Puget Sound is a body of salt water that opens into the Pacific Ocean and thus it does experience tides. And although the tide was low, the trail wasn't supposed to be going below sea level!

Partway around the refinery, I saw a vehicle stopped in the mud that stretched out into Puget Sound, which seemed like an incredibly stupid place to be driving a vehicle. But as I got closer, I realized it seemed to be stuck in the mud. Not a giant surprise there! If I had to guess what happened, I think the vehicle drove out to drop off a boat. Probably thought it was fine because they had 4-wheel drive or something. But they're mudflats! There are rocky areas close to the shore which one might get away with driving, but the further out from the shore you go, the less rocks there are and the more mud  you'll find. It's utterly ridiculous to think any vehicle would have been okay to drive out there.

Now it was up to its fenders in water. Even worse, low tide had passed not long before. Not only was the tide going up, but it had a lot of room to go up. In 6 hours, that vehicle was going to be completely submerged by 5 feet of water if they didn't get it out soon. I kind of wanted to stop and watch the shenanigans, but I still had miles to do.

I continued onward. The trail looped around the oil refinery to an old railroad bridge across Fidalgo Bay that had been turned into a walking and biking path. I stopped to rest here. Or rather, I stopped to dry out my gear here. I laid out my groundsheet and tarp in the sun and took a seat in a shady spot to wait it out. It was a pleasant place to stop. It was busy with pedestrians and bicycles, but at least it wasn't along the shoulder of a road with vehicular traffic. The heat of the day seemed unbearable at the time and I desperately wanted shade to rest.

Once my gear dried, I continued hiking following the bicycle path several more miles into Anacortes.

Hiking/biking path into Anacortes

Anacortes is among the bigger cities of the region and normally would have made a great place to stop for the night. Most PNT hikers, I suspect, do stop in town to rest and resupply. I, however, veered about one block off the trail to buy a sandwich at Jimmy Johns for lunch. That would be the extent of my Anacortes explorations.

I spent an hour or two at Jimmy Johns, getting a couple refills of my drink and using the restrooms. Then I returned to the trail and continued hiking out of town. I had a friend who lived further up the trail in Oak Harbor and I'd stay with her tomorrow night, so I didn't really feel a need to stop at Anacortes tonight.

At the edge of town, the trail veered off into a network of small trails in the Anacortes Community Forest. It was a pleasant walk, away from busy roads and crowds of people. My map warned that you might hear wolves howling because a wildlife center was located adjacent to the area--and sometimes the wolves have been known to escape. Dogs and small children should be kept nearby, and if we saw a 'threatening situation', we should call 911. 

I'm all in favor of wildlife centers and all, but maybe the wolves should be kept somewhere a bit further away from a busy city?

Signs warning that there could be escaped wolves in the area.

In any case, I never saw any wolves running loose, and near the end of the day I approached Heart Lake. I felt rather confident that it was probably illegal to camp in the Anacortes Community Forest, but it was either that or on the shoulder of a busy road so I took the forest.

The lake was full of people kayaking and boating. I was a little surprised at the crowds because I didn't realize that there was a road leading up to it and people could just drive to the lake. So I found a quiet place away from the crowds of people and set up a small, unofficial camp. Except for a few boaters who happened in my direction, nobody was none the wiser.

As the sun set, the crowds faded and I eventually had the lake all to myself.

And, I knew, the lake wasn't full of ice cold snow-melt. The water in this lake was largely stagnant at a low elevation where the heat of the day could warm the water. (Not necessarily making the water warm, but to make it warmer.) And now that it was dark and nobody was around, I saw no reason not to take off my clothes and jump in.

So that's what I did! =) The water felt cold immediately upon entering it, taking my breath away, but after a few seconds I got used to it and could soak in the water comfortably. It reminded me a lot of my skinny-dipping forays along the C&O Canal in the Potomac River, but without the river current. =)

In the distance, I saw a flash of light through the clouds. Lightening. It was much too far away to hear, but it made me a little nervous about being in the water. I was about ready to get out soon anyhow, so I got out and dried myself off with a small towel I carried and called it a night.

Sunset over Heart Lake

In the morning, the tide was clearly quite low!

The trail followed Highway 20 for a few miles, and would go through both Anacortes and Whidbey Island. (But the miles I'd walk would be more than 8 and 11 respectively since the PNT takes a less direct route.)

Fun fact: Highway 20 is the same highway that goes past Ross Lake where I got back on the trail after my kark injury. This section of highway certainly looks a lot different than the part near Ross Lake, though!

This body of water kind of looks like a river, but it's part of Puget Sound and I took this photo from a bridge crossing over to Fidalgo Island.

Crab traps

Oil refinery

Fun fact: They don't clean roads before painting the lines on them. =)

I'm pretty certain that these idiots got their vehicle stuck in the mud. I hope they found a way to get it out quickly, though, because the tide is going up and if that vehicle doesn't get moved, it'll be completely underwater in a few hours.

OMG! The oil tank is about to explode! ;o)

That's the town of Anacortes on the other side of Fidalgo Bay. A real city!

An old railroad bridge converted into a walking/biking path across Fidalgo Bay.

Commercial Street in Anacortes is the main road into town. I only went off trail by a block to eat lunch at Jimmy Johns, though.

Did I mention how miserably hot it got in the afternoon? I don't actually think it was 98 degrees--it didn't feel that hot to me--but I would have guessed the high temperature was closer to 90 degrees. Still... miserably hot!

Not only were the trails in the Anacortes Community Forest away from roads, they also provided a lot of much needed shade!


KuKu said...

That plant painted into the stripe cracked me up! I'd love to see the stripe without the plant.


Anonymous said...

I saw something similar. A dead raccoon was in the middle of a highway when the crews painted stripes, and they painted right over the reacoon. -Rosmarinus

Michael Merino said...

I really need to be careful reading this when I'm hungry. Ryan keeps talking about the amazing stops at random places with quenching food. I gotta grab a bite to eat.