Friday, December 18, 2020

Day 86: To the Pacific!

September 3: I had a relatively easy day planned--only about 13 or 14 miles, and all of it was road walk. Quiet, gravel roads. An easy day for sure, but probably a boring one too.

So I took my time waking up. The condensation during the night had been terrible. I threw my tarp over me like a blanket, but it was soaking wet. I had set up camp under some trees that hung over the road which I had hoped would protect me from condensation from the night, but this particular species seemed to absorb water like a sponge then drip it down onto me making it sound like it was actually raining! I didn't know what kind of trees these were, but I made a mental note to not camp under them anymore. The usual pine trees I'm around weren't dripping water like it was raining.

I filled up with water at Goodman Creek before starting the day's hike.

I hoped the sun would rise high enough to dry some of it before hitting the trail, but I largely failed in that regard. By 8:30, I was ready to hit the trail again and my tarp was just as sopping wet as when I first woke up. I'd have to stop at some point during the day to dry it out. Which wouldn't be a problem given how few miles I had to complete.

I filled up with water from Goodman Creek before hitting the trail. There would be water sources today, but they weren't water sources that I particularly liked. These creeks were running through farms and other civilization. I scanned my map looking for creeks that appeared to be short and hopefully less contaminated, limiting which water sources I could drink from. But at the same time, Goodman Creek was one of the bigger water sources through this area with a source that went off my map. Some of the smaller creeks could be dry. So I filled up with water, but dropped some iodine tablets in the water just in case. But I intended to dump out the water and replace it with better stuff if I could find some further up the trail.

I walked for a couple of hours before taking my first break. I laid out my tarp and groundsheet in the sun while I rested in the shade of nearby trees. I read my Kindle for a couple of hours before packing up and continuing.

I took another hour-plus break just before Oil City Road. On my map, that road looked a bit bigger and perhaps busier than the ones I had been walking, so I took another extended break before then while the breaking was good.

Oil City Road followed more-or-less parallel to the Hoh River on its journey to the Pacific Ocean. 

Oil City Road followed more-or-less parallel
to the Hoh River on its way to the Pacific Ocean.

And now, I needed to find a place to camp. I had a permit to camp at Mosquito Creek Camp tonight in Olympic National Park--which was several miles away and would be easy to reach under normal circumstances, but the beach just before it wasn't passable except at low tides, which happened about the time I left camp this morning. Basically, it was physically impossible for me to reach my campsite before dark. Maybe after dark when the other low tide for the day happened, but I had no intention of hiking at night--and I wasn't even sure if the evening tide would be low enough for me to pass. (The morning low tides were lower than the evening low tides.)

So I definitely wasn't going to make my designated campsite, but I had to camp somewhere!

I had hoped to find a campsite just outside of the park boundaries, along the logging roads I had been walking along all day. Perfectly legal and official. Except.... as I got near the boundary, I started seeing civilization. Houses. Actual houses! Out here in the middle of what I thought was nowhere! I even saw an older woman going for a walk, and the property on both sides of the road were often lined with "trespassers will be shot" type of signs--definitely not areas I wanted to be camping in.

I pushed onward, eventually reaching the boundary of Olympic National Park. I figured I may as well just camp within the park boundaries. Technically, it would be illegal since camping was only allowed at designated campsites with a permit. Not only were there no campsites nearby, but even if there were, my permit was only good for the Mosquito Creek Camp ahead.

But this was a quiet trailhead with a small parking lot and no sign of rangers. It didn't seem like it would be a big problem if I set up camp late in the afternoon and left first thing in the morning. Nobody would ever even know I was there.

At the trailhead, a real hiking trail meandered through the forest, and I followed it further until it eventually led to a beach at the mouth of the Hoh River where it drained into the wide-open Pacific Ocean. I could see and hear the waves crashing on shore and sea stacks rise in the distance. I had reached the Pacific! I did it! From the Continental Divide to the Pacific! I could quit now! Just kidding.... Although I had reached the Pacific, I hadn't yet reached the end of the trail. The actual end of the trail was something like 40 miles north up the coast at Caep Alava and the western-most point of land of the contiguous United States.

This was the view from camp at the mouth of the Hoh River where it drains into the Pacific Ocean. I could even see the waves on the Pacific!

People, when I told them I was hiking the PNT, would often ask where it started and ended, and it was a little amusing how my answers have changed. At first I would tell them it ended at the "Olympics." But when I reached the Olympic Peninsula, that didn't seem like an adequate answer--I was already there! So then I started telling people that I was heading to the "Pacific Ocean!" But now I had reached it. It would seem odd to people asking where the trail ended if I answered the Pacific Ocean. So I decided I'd have to start answering Cape Alava. Very specific, and if they didn't know where that was, I'd just say it was a little ways up the coast.

Anyhow, looking around the beach, I decided that the beach was a bad place to camp. I didn't know for certain how high the tide might get during the night and I wanted to make sure I stayed well above the high tide line. Instead, I backtracked a bit to the trail along the Hoh River and set up camp on a small cliff over the river edge. It was a nice location, and I could still see the Pacific Ocean in the distance and listen to the waves crashing. It was a nice campsite.

And hopefully, no ranger would come by during the night to bust me, or at least if they did, they'd be understanding about why I was camped on this side of the beach instead of the Mosquito Creek side.

Nearly the whole day was walking through areas set off for logging, passing through areas of clear-cut to mature trees that could be logged at any time... and at varying stages between those extremes.

The dust ahead was kicked up by a vehicle that had just passed by. (There was, on average, about one vehicle passing by each hour.)

I'm still convinced that there's a PNT hiker ahead of me on the trail doing this to rocks. Who else would be hiking out on these logging roads?!

I didn't see any livestock, but I know they're out there!

Really? Is this sign a joke? =)

My first view of the Pacific!

1 comment:

Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

I think Paul Bunyan and his ox have been setting out those balanced rocks along the trail. See that "sea stack" in your last photo? That's one of his trail markers also.