Monday, November 9, 2020

Day 69: Deception Pass

August 17: I didn't sleep particularly well during the night. The warm weather kept mosquitoes out and buzzing until well after midnight. Thus, I didn't get much sleep and woke up in the morning groggy and cranky. Stupid bugs!

Sunrise at Heart Lake

It would be another unpleasantly hot day today as well. The morning wasn't hot, but it was already much warmer than I would have preferred. The good news, however, was that most of today's hiking would actually be on real trails and surrounded by shade-providing trees.

I took a break at the Pass Lake trailhead, then had trouble finding the trail into Deception Pass SP. It took about 5 minutes, but eventually I found it hidden behind the giant Deception Pass SP sign marking the entrance to the state park.

Then I arrived at the Deception Pass bridge which crossed over to Whidbey Island. The bridge was old, narrow, very high and provided spectacular views in all directions, but the most hypnotic part of the view was just watching the tide come in. Normally, tides creep up and down slowly, imperceptible except over long periods of time, but here the tides race under the bridge like a galloping horse. The water moves so quickly, you can even see small rapids in the water. It's a very narrow channel that enormous amounts of water pour through to fill the bay on the other side. When I arrived, the tide was coming in.

There was construction going on with the bridge so one side was blocked off to pedestrians and I had to cross the busy road a couple of times--which wasn't all that easy because the road was so incredibly busy. It is, after all, the only road onto and off of Whidbey Island.

See the currents below the bridge? That's the tide coming in!

And with the commanding views and relatively easy vehicular access, it's a popular place for tourists. People were walking around everywhere! Most wore masks and I followed suit. The pedestrian walkways were all of about two feet wide--it was impossible to pass others without bumping into them. Particularly given the large pack I carried.

I only had to deal with the hoards of people for a few minutes, though, before the trail crossed over the bridge, then looped down under it and away from the hoards of people. Away from the bridge, I had the trail to myself once again.

A mile or two later, I lost the trail. Not once, but twice! The first time I followed an unmarked junction in the wrong direction, but that barely slowed me down since shortly after the trail petered out, I reconnected with the main trail a short way up an open slope.

The second time I lost the trail turned out to be more problematic. It was by an environmental center, and my guidebook explicitly said it was private property and not where the trail went. I followed one trail around it, but it kind of petered out and required a little bushwhacking so I turned back. Then I followed a second trail thinking that must be the correct way, but it started swinging around much too far around the other side of the environment center.

I finally took yet another path, but after a few minutes, it was clear that that was definitely the wrong direction. I didn't have high hopes for it, but I was running out of trails to try.

I finally went back to a trail I had already tried, the one that seemed like it was looping way too far around the environmental center which eventually did dump me out at a campground--but a campground located 0.3 miles off trail! I never did find the correct path around the environmental center, but at least I knew where I was and I could follow a paved road back to the correct path. I probably wasted the better part of an hour walking in wrong directions, though.

Then I followed a short road walk along the shore of Cornet Bay. My guidebook mentioned a general store at the marina I would pass and I was looking forward to a cold Coke. I felt like I deserved it on such a hot day and was really looking forward to it, but when I arrived, it was closed. Nooo!!!! Why? Why is it closed?! It was almost enough to bring a grown man to tears.

With a heavy heart, I continued on, glad when the trail reentered the protective shade of the woods a short while later and off the roads once again.

Cornet Bay

Throughout the day, I had been keeping in touch with Amanda who was on her way out for a visit. She really loves this area and practically demanded that I made sure to hike through on days when she could drive out. Fortunately for me, our schedules worked out fine.

Once I was back on a real trail again, there was no easy location for her to pick me up off the trail. So I told her my expected arrival time at Troxell Road, the next road walk I would reach. After that, I'd have a 15-mile road walk and she could just pick me up at whatever point she found me. It sounded like we might both reach Troxell Road at roughly the same time, though, so I probably wouldn't have to do much of the road walk today.

When I exited onto the road, I gave her another call to let her know that I was back on roads again and ready to be picked up at any time, and she said that she had just driven past Troxell Road looking for me. Just minutes earlier, but she didn't see me. 

"That would make sense," I replied. "I literally just got back on the road." But she seemed baffled how that was possible since she didn't see any trails or trailheads. She couldn't figure out where I had come out from. (She didn't actually have a map of the trail through this region--I just told her what roads to look for me on.)

I continued walking to keep getting miles in, and a few minutes later Amanda drove up.

We drove a short ways into Oak Harbor and stopped at Taco Bell for a quick lunch (and, at long last, the cold drink I had been craving!) before heading over to Wise Wanderer's house--a letterboxer we knew that lived in the area and offered her home for a place to crash.

And I finally got to clean up with a shower and change into clean clothes. I felt almost human again. =)

Wise Wanderer prepared pulled-pork sandwiches later for dinner (an excellent choice!) and we mostly chatted for the rest of the evening, although I did get away for a bit to get online and get some work done on my laptop. 

It's an old mine shaft! I don't know what they were mining here, though.

The old miner's cabin next to the mine shaft.

I took a short snack break at the Pass Lake trailhead and boat launch.

View from the top of the Deception Pass Bridge.

The bridge was the only place along the hike today that was so crowded with people that I felt wearing a mask was prudent.

Once I followed the trail under the bridge, the hoards of people were behind me. Nobody (but me) ventured away from the parking lots and bridge.

Mount Baker visible in the distance

Cornet Bay

The PNT didn't actually go to this campground which was located 0.3 miles off trail, but I got lost and ended up here anyhow.... At least I knew where I was at this point, and I knew how to get back to the trail from here!

That's the Deception Pass bridge that I used to walk onto Whidbey Island a couple of hours earlier.

This was something like the 4th or 5th set of sunglasses I had found on the trail this year. I just kept finding them every few days! For awhile, I had been hiking with 4 different pairs of sunglasses in my pack!

Troxell Road, and where I would stop for the day.


KuKu said...

Troxell Road looks like it has a nice grassy shoulder to walk on, unlike some of your other road walks.

It sure is different that you have to wear a mask sometimes and can't find a walking companion, like you have in years past.

I do love reading your adventures. You are honest, too. You are one of the most prepared hikers, yet you will sometimes lose the trail.

I bet it went through by that Center. Ah well, at least Amanda, Taco Bell and Wise Wanderer were there at the end of the day!

Anonymous said...

So, you aren't using your collection of scarves from Jordan while hiking thru Washington as a face mask?

Ryan said...

No, I carried a scarf to wear at night when it was cold, but in the middle of the day, it was much too warm and sunny! I needed a hat with a brim! =) And I only carried *one* scarf.... I didn't want the weight of a "collection" of scarves on my back!