Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Day 88: The Detour around La Push

September 5: I woke up and hit the trail at a relatively early 7:00am to take advantage of the low tides. Taylor and Jeremy were still in their tent when I left, but I heard movement inside and knew they were awake so I said goodbye on my way out.

The sky was overcast and cloudy--perfect vampire weather--but was expected to clear up later in the afternoon. I hoped that would be true. I didn't want to be ambushed by a vampire later.

The trail followed the shoreline to Scott Creek--the campsite where I was supposed to camp last night. Then it went inland for a bit before returning to the shore at Third Creek. For the most part, the walk was easy and fast but there were hoards of people camped on the beach. Many of them were still in their campsites, warming by fires or eating breakfast. Some, undoubtedly, were still in their tents and hidden from view. This was definitely a more crowded part of the park!

At Third Beach, the PNT headed inland again to a trailhead where the hoards of campers had originated and the trailhead was packed with people and vehicles. It was such a zoo, there was even a ranger to keep the peace and direct traffic--the first ranger I had seen in the Olympics.

I took a seat on a nice sitting rock at the edge of the parking lot for a quick snack break--the last decent place for me to sit for miles that wasn't along a busy road walk. The ranger asked if I was leaving--not that he was anxious to get rid of me, but rather, he explained, that the line of cars at the edge of the parking lot were people waiting for a place to park. They had permits to camp to Third Beach, but the parking lot was full. And, in fact, several vehicles had already parked illegally, their vehicles hanging out in the road that went by. They had parked there before the ranger arrived and told them not to.

I explained that yes, I'd be leaving, but unfortunately it wasn't going to make a parking spot available since I had no car. I think the line of people waiting for a legal place to park were disappointed when they realized that my arrival wasn't going to move them up in line! (On the other hand, I hadn't been contributing to the parking problem in the first place!)

The line of cars on the right were waiting their turns for a legal parking spot to open up.

The ranger seemed sympathetic toward the people waiting to park, and even sympathetic toward the people who had already parked illegally saying that it was really the park's fault for issuing more permits than the trailhead could handle, but that they just couldn't allow people to park where it would impede traffic along the road.

I had, in fact, received an email from the park service when I was in Forks saying that people should not park along the road at this trailhead and that illegally parked vehicles would be towed. They sent it to me since their records showed that I had a permit to camp near it for Labor Day weekend (today was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend)--an automated message which didn't apply to me since I didn't have a car.

Anyhow, I finished my snack and then continued onto the road walk. And it was a miserable road walk, along a busy highway with almost no shoulder on Labor Day weekend. There's absolutely nothing good I could say about this road walk except that I knew it would be the last road walk of the entire trail. Woo-who!

The primary PNT headed west along the road toward the town of La Push, but I veered eastward toward Forks along a longer alternate route. La Push was part of the Quileute Indian Reservation, and they decided to close their borders to non-tribal members when the pandemic started. The primary PNT route was officially closed to me, so I headed around on the miserable 8.8 mile alternate road walk instead.

A half hour later, I saw a tow truck heading in the opposite direction toward the Third Beach trailhead and wondered if they were starting to tow the illegally parked vehicles. Someone I passed who was camped at Third Beach wasn't going to be a happy camper when they got back to the trailhead!

About 20 minutes after that, I saw the same tow truck heading back toward Forks--this time, towing a vehicle. I don't know for certain that the vehicle came from the Third Beach trailhead, but if I could place my bets, I'd say it was.

The route around the Indian reservation actually left Olympic National Park, but I would re-enter the park near the end of the road walk.

Halfway through the road walk, the trail reached a junction where I would change roads to one heading west back to the coast, arriving at the coast just north of La Push. But, more important, there was the Three Rivers Resort at the trail junction. It had everything! A restaurant, gas station, convenience store and lodging. The restaurant was tempting--I liked the idea of having a real meal for lunch--but this road walk was a long one and I had quite a bit of miles to cover to reach my campsite before a high tide stopped me short. I just didn't have the time. Instead, I settled for the convenience store and bought a cold Coke. While waiting in line--the gas station was packed with passing tourists--I noticed a Hostess cherry pie and grabbed one of those horrible things as well. I knew it was horrible, but I just had an urge to eat one anyhow. I couldn't help myself. This was my last few days on the trail. If I wanted to eat crap, this was my last opportunity! At least the last opportunity that I could eat such crap without feeling the guilt. =)

This is the convenience store at the Three Rivers Resort. That's my pack and trekking pole next to the bench. =)

And I liked the idea of buying a "pie and pop." I imagined a tourist walking by and asking me, "So what do you eat on the trail?" And I'd answer, "Well today? A pie and a pop." =)

That never happened, but a guy can dream....

I ate my pie and drank my pop on a bench in front of the store. Although the store and gas station were packed with passing tourists, they were all passing through in vehicles and I had the bench all to myself.

Although this wasn't in Forks, it was close enough that the resort definitely catered to Twilight fans. A large banner by the road read "Welcome Twilight Fans"--which also, apparently, marked the treaty line between the werewolves and vampires. Another large sign proclaimed "Stephanie Meyer Day" which seemingly thousands of fans had signed. Even one of the cabins by the gas station, I could see through the trees, was called "Jacob's Den." It was near the giant bigfoot wandering through the camp. As if werewolves and vampires weren't enough to worry about. ;o)

Anyhow, after finishing my pie and pop and taking a few photos, I continued the road walk--now heading west back toward Olympic National Park and the coast.

The road walk ended at Rialto Beach, but I could tell the place would be a madhouse of Labor Day crowds nearly a mile before that due to the long line of vehicles parked on the side of the road. Although the Third Beach trailhead didn't allow parking on the side of the road, that rule apparently did not apply to the Rialto Beach trailhead. It seemed like hundreds of vehicles were parked along the side of the road which I found incredibly annoying because it meant I had to walk in the road rather than along the shoulders. And did I mention how busy the road was?

Eventually I reached Rialto Beach. At least I didn't have to worry about finding a place to park. It seemed like dozens of vehicles were driving around in circles hoping for a spot near the trailhead rather than parking along the road as much as a mile away.

The trailhead at Rialto Beach was packed with vehicles driving in circles looking in vain for a place to park.

By the time I arrived at the beach, though, the tide was nearing its high point for the day and I feared my route ahead would be blocked. I was tired having taken nothing more than micro-breaks during the day. My longest break--at the Three Rivers Resort--was only about 15 minutes. I was tired and needed a break anyhow.

So I found a location near some driftwood, as far away from others as I could. Which wasn't that far--the nearest people were probably 20 feet away. The sun had finally come out and so I pulled out my umbrella for shade. I had no doubt that everyone would think I was a vampire--covered with a long shirt, pants and then an umbrella as soon as the sun came out. What else would they think?!

I wound up laying about for a couple of hours, waiting for the tide to recede. I read a lot from my Kindle to pass the time. Occasionally I looked up to watch surfers riding the waves offshore. After a couple of hours, though, it was time to hit the trail again.

The beach walk started off nice enough. It was a nice, sandy beach. Parts were covered with pebbles, but nothing particularly difficult or problematic. My biggest annoyance were the hoards of tourists on the beach.

But after passing Hole-in-the-Wall, the trail became a truly horrible experience. Large, rocky boulders blocked the route. Getting through them was like navigating a maze of wet and slippery rocks, scrambling over and around them, and often under giant driftwood. Sometimes I needed to take off my pack to get through a tight area. My progress slowed to a crawl. On the plus side, however, the day visitors basically stopped at the beach. At least the rocky area wasn't crowded with people.

I wound up meeting a few other hikers heading in my direction: Krista, Paul and Marshall. The first time I approached them across this rough terrain, I joked, "So did you lose a bet too?" Implying, of course, that nobody would voluntarily hike over such rough terrain.

We passed each other a few times over the next couple of hours and I chatted them up every time we passed. Paul, I learned, was suffering from some horrendous blisters despite the fact that they only started their trip at Rialto Beach. Krista, I learned, was on her first backpacking trip and seemed quite excited about the opportunity. Marshall, I learned, had recently moved to Seattle from Colorado.

Late in the afternoon, I started to worry about reaching my campsite before sunset, and I tried to pick up my pace a bit. This terrain was taking me considerably more time to navigate than I had anticipated!

I arrived at the Chilean Memorial Camp, named in honor of a Chilean ship that had sunk just offshore a hundred years earlier or something. This stretch of shore, after all, wasn't called the Graveyard of the Pacific for nothing. I arrived only about 10 minutes before the sun set. Just in the nick of time!

I arrived at camp with just minutes before the sun set.

The three hikers I met arrived about 15 minutes later and I said that they were welcome to take the campsite next to mine if they wanted it, but they went further up the beach to look for other options before coming back about 5 minutes later and asking if I was sure it was okay.

"Please! I've been hiking by myself for over 40 days! I want company!"

They started setting up camp, but Marshall struggled getting his tent up. It was a borrowed tent that he had never set up before and he didn't have the directions for it. Krista came by to help, and I watched, amused, as they struggled to erect the shelter. Finally, Paul limped over to also help, and they looked at me asking if I knew how to set it up--as if with all my backpacking experience, I should know how every tent works. But I didn't--I only carried a tarp and have rarely set up actual tents.

I watched them for another 5 minutes or so, as they complained about how this was the most confusing tent they had ever seen when Paul suddenly realized what the problem was--they were setting up the rain fly! The tent was in a pile off the side. They had been setting up the rain fly rather than the tent the whole time!

I bust out laughing--a loud, hearty laugh. I couldn't help it. It was hilarious. I wasn't laughing at them per se--even they could see the humor in it. "You'll be telling this story to friends and family for years!" I told Krista. 

After getting their tents set up, they decided to make a campfire which they welcomed me to join. Before I did, though, I wanted to finish writing up my journal entry for the day so I scribbled away. Once I joined them at the campfire, I wanted to stay up as long as I wanted without anymore "camp chores" to worry about before bedtime.

After finishing my journal entry, I joined them at the campfire where we chatted and enjoyed the evening for a couple of hours before calling it a night. It had been a long, rough day, but it definitely ended on a high! And, for the first time since leaving Forks, I was actually camped at the campsite I was supposed to be camped at! I was back on schedule! =)

Can they make a trail more steep than this?!

I continued finding evidence of the PNT hikers ahead of me.

Even at low tide, an elevation of -42 feet can be problematic....

Third Beach

The park service is quite serious about no roadside parking! Some people, however, did not take the warning seriously.

Some parts of the road were even spray painted with "no parking" messages.

Along the road walk, I passed over the Bogachiel River. I last saw this river when I hiked out of Forks a few days earlier.

The Three Rivers Resort definitely had a big Twilight fan base visiting.

I didn't make it up--there really is a Stephanie Meyer Day here!

As if being attacked by werewolves and vampires weren't enough to worry about.

Crossing over the Sol Duc River, just before it merges with the Bogachiel River. (See the Bogachiel that it's merging with downstrean?)

Cars were parked on the side of the road for nearly a mile before reaching Rialto Beach!

A seemingly endless line of parked cars....

I took a long break at Rialto Beach waiting for high tide to pass.

Rialto Beach was fairly easy to walk on.

Pebble beaches were only marginally harder to walk on than the sandy beaches.

I thought this stunt was reckless and stupid. If they had fallen, it might not kill them--but it wouldn't have been pleasant either!

Tide pools!


GG said...

The things we can learn from Ryan's blog.
The latest for me, shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia:

"The name La Push is an infusion of the French la bouche, meaning "mouth", into Chinook Jargon. It describes the town's location at the mouth of the river. Instead of separating 'La Push', the band would simply combine the two into one word, 'Lapush'."

Thank you Ryan.
Thank you all who support Ryan as he entertains us.

Prairie Kittin said...

I ate at the Treaty Line a few years ago. I really love the area.