PNT Forks to the End at Cape Alava

The Coast at last!

8/24 13.7 miles

I took the Olympic Hiking Shuttle to the Oil City trailhead. I highly recommend this shuttle company! A father and son hiking duo had just been picked up from Third Beach and were riding back to their car at Oil City. They asked if I knew Natasha (Poppy) and said they’d camped with her last night. Must have been quite a conversation because they knew everything about her and her hike on the PNT. Fun!

I started out at 9:30 nervous about the tides and footing, there are so many dire warnings out there. The first bit was slow and slippery on rocks but then it was a long, wide sand beach which wasn’t an issue when the tide peaked at 3 pm. Also the ropes are no big deal so far. The ropes are hanging along steep little scrambles up or down from the beach or just where the trail runs inland. They’re kind of handy, and I didn’t really need them, it’s not like using the cables to get up the Half Dome granite in Yosemite NP.

Today was perfect, clear and warm. Gorgeous! I’m camped by myself at a little campsite marked on the map, not a site that requires a specific permit, about a mile from Third Beach. There are tons of people and tents camped on the beaches, yuck, not my thing to be near so many people if I can avoid it.

Scramble off the beach

8/25 11.4 miles

Why do I worry about stuff like getting a skiff ride across the river mouth? Well because if I couldn’t it’s a 9 mile road walk around. But I got to the harbor and Gene, the Harbor Master, took me across no problem. I asked what the standard donation for gas money was and I paid a bit forward for the hikers who paid nothing. And it turns out Gene and his wife have done cultural resource work in Wyoming for energy projects, like I do in Alaska, so we had that in common too.

I had a mishap today. I slipped on a piece of seaweed on wet rock and came down hard on my right hip and hand. Split open a gash on my hip and burst some capillaries. My hand is worse, think I hyperextended my pinkie and ring fingers, both the inside and outside of my hand is bruised and I can’t really use it. Hurt so bad I had to put my head between my knees a couple of times so I wouldn’t pass out. I don’t think any bones are broken though. Time will tell.

I kept going as the tide was coming back in, and found a solo campsite on a small beach that looked like high tide would not reach it. I waited out the afternoon, thinking if I really wanted to, I could start hiking again at dinner time as the tide went out to make it a bit farther. Nobody else came down my beach from either direction and I loved it there, so after the tide started out I pitched my tent. This spot is now on my list of most spiritual places to camp in the world, along with Evolution Valley at Muir Pass in the Sierra and Dzongri, Sikkim, India in the Himalayas. I’m at peace watching the sun set to the gentle sound of tiny waves lapping the sand.

Rope assistance
Perfect campsite
View from my tent

8/26 9.8 miles

Met a couple of park rangers and their group hiking towards me down the beach. He asked where my next permitted campsite was and I told him about the “stealth” sites I’d seen marked by beach debris buoys. He said they were fine and but that he’s trying to get those markers removed. Cool guy, I blathered on about how hard it would be for Search and Rescue (SAR) to get an injured hiker off this coast. I was thinking about my injured hand, hidden but puffed up and bruised all the way down my forearm now too. He laughed and said the SAR people here were US Coast Guard rescue swimmers who would rappel down from a hovering helicopter and load the hiker into a sling basket and hoist them up. To myself I thought that actually sounded like a fun way to be rescued. Dang, too late for me, I’m ambulatory.

It was hard hiking the “beach” tide again. It’s mostly rock scrambling, slower now since I can’t afford another fall on my hand which is a mess but a bit better today. Advil rules.

Anyway I found another stealth site at Yellow Banks beach, up on a bluff—3 for 3!

See my tent on the bluff to the left?

8/27 9 miles

Hiked the 6 miles remaining on the coast to Cape Alava, the end of the PNT, and joined the 3 mile trail inland to the Ozette Campground.

I saw the same rangers at the campground and they congratulated me on my hike as Dan walked up. We drove to the Winston-Edmonds Washington State Ferry and made our way to Bothell where I get to cat sit Arya, Sarah and Sam’s cat, for a few days while recovering from one hike and resetting for the next—5 or 6 days in the Sierra with Sunset, Lonesome Duck and Disco, some of the guys I did the Rae Lakes Loop in Sequoia King’s Canyon with last year.

Deer on a misty beach walk
Dead whale