Olympic National Park

Pacific Coastal Trail

August, 23-26, 2010
The crashing surf sounded like roaring thunder as we tried to sleep on our first night camping on the beach. After spending almost every night of the past two months camped by or near a river, it was lovely to smell the ocean again. We were camped at South Beach in Olympic National Park in Washington State west of Seattle. The campground was exposed to the cold northerly wind which seemed to ease as it got dark. We were on our way north to walk the Pacific Coastal Trail north from Rialto Beach and camping along the way. Driving north early the next morning to get to start of the walk we stopped at the most beautifully named Ruby Beach. The beach was just as lovely as its name.


Gorgeous sunshine on the first day walking north trying to beat the tide around the many headlands we had to cross.  The shoreline is dotted with isolated islands, many with vegetation still growing on the top. While the beaches are formed by floating tree logs pushed onshore by big seas and rolled amongst the rock shingles, with black volcanic sand lower down in the surf zone. The water is freezing cold and the headwind picked up the temperature of the water despite the sunshine. We camped at Cedar Creek and stayed there for two nights as the next day a rolling mist closed out the view almost completely.

The air was so damp that it felt like a light rain was touching everything. We walked at low tide in the mist and it was quite surreal especially when we chanced upon a deer and were further surprised to see its young and another one following it out on the rock platform. As soon as they saw us they pranced off, disappearing into the mist. As the tide began to turn we walked back to our camp coming across a seal pup snoring away protected from view from the shoreline. Our cup of happiness was full and we went back to the tent to warm up, read a book and listen to the roar of the ocean. Happily the next morning the mist had lifted, changing the look of the landscape yet again.  A magical few days and we had only touched a tiny strip of the vast Olympic National Park.