Washington State, Olympic Peninsula, La Push, Beach Camping Day 23

I awoke on Day 23 to the sound of trucks braking as they made the run down the highway by the rest stop.  It took me a while to remember where I was.  The rest stop had been pretty loud until midnight, but once it settled down I went into a deep sleep.  It was almost 8 AM.  Hard to believe I was able to sleep this late just a few feet from a highway.

I packed up fast and made a quick cup of coffee.  As I pulled out of the rest stop, I saw the Welcome to Washington sign and pulled over.  As touristy as it is, I had a get a picture of the bus.

I continued to search for surf, and had high hopes about the Washington coast.  I had marked a few spots on my map and set off to get back to the coast.

The forest was dense, and the the road path was circuitous.  The evidence of the logging industry was everywhere from the clear cuts to the lumber factories to the smell of pulp that hung in the air like heavy perfume.

Highway 101 winds its way around the bay and through wetlands, the logging town of Raymond, which is dominated by the Weyerhaeuser Factory (above),  and back to the Pacific at Cape Disappointment and Long Beach.  I decided to invest in a drive up the Long Beach Peninsula, which is a ten mile or so dead end.

The cape was windblown and the surf was poor.  I backtracked past Cape Disappointment, disappointed.

I hugged the coast, ditching Highway 101 and opting for 105 to Westport.  Even if the surf was small, there was a lighthouse and a good coffee shop. I drove up the peninsula to Westhaven State Park. I drove up to the jetty and was encouraged by the cars parked with surfboards on top.

Walked through deep sand dunes to the jetty hoping it would provide some protection from the wind, but no luck.  I went back to the van depressed.  Not necessarily because of the lack of surf, but it might have contributed.  Anyone who surfs almost every day knows the feeling when they are deprived for weeks at a time.  The gray skies and the blowing sand created an atmosphere non-conducive to a bright disposition.

One the way back from the park I found the Westhaven Light House.  It was a few blocks from the water, and was bordered by a housing complex run by the Department of Homeland Security.

As I walked up to the lighthouse, a girl carrying a longboard walked past me.

I drove into Westport and Tinderbox Coffee Shop.  The girl behind the counter has just had her first cappuccino the day before and was totally stoked on them.  I told her to make me one.  I shared a table with some local bees that seemed enamored with me.  I uploaded some pics and did some writing, got an Americano to go, and headed back up Highway 105, which hugs the bay until it gets to Aberdeen and rejoins 101.

I followed a car from Alaska for awhile. Since I left, I had been thinking that Alaska might be a destination on this trip.  But there was time for that thought later.

I drove through Hoquiam on 101 and stayed inland for another 5o miles or so until you get to the town of Queets, where you I rejoined the Pacific Ocian.  I stopped at a few beaches, and the waves were small, but promising.

I stopped at a campground that said it was full, but right on a fun looking surf break.  It was only 2 foot, but I was getting desperate.  I pulled over right in front of the Campground is Full sign, and watched the water. The camp host pulled up next to the bus.  I expected him to admonish me for ignoring the sign, but he told me that there might be some space available if I checked the board.  I thanked him and told him I was only looking for a spot to surf.  He told me that the best surfing in Washington was at a place called La Push, further up the peninsula.  It was one of the spots I had marked on my map, and that encouraged me to push on.  I asked him if there was any gas between here and La Push, and he said I had to go back about 10 miles or ahead about 40 miles to Forks.  I decided since I had a 5-gallon jerry can as a reserve, I would push on to La Push.

Sure enough, I ran out of gas about 5 miles before the next station.  I pulled over and drained the jerry can into the tank.  I drove the rest of the way to Forks, filled the tank and the can, and then headed west on Highway 110 to La Push.

La Push is on the reservation of the Quileute Tribe.  They’re a relatively poor Native American tribe, as they cant really build a casino to compete with many of the Pacific Northwest Tribes, due to their relatively remote location.  I noticed that all the signs are written in English as well as their native tribal language, which I found comforting.  Too many native tribes are losing their cultures, and this one was working hard to preserve it for future generations.  Some of them aren’t too fond of tourists either.

I drove to First Beach, and while the scenery was stunning, the waves were pretty small.  You needed a permit to park near the beach, so I decided the check out Second Beach, which I passed on the way into town.

Second Beach was about a one mile hike from the roadside parking lot.  As I descended to the beach, I kept thinking I should have brought my board so I wouldnt be forced to hike 4 miles back and forth twice just to surf.  Those thoughts echoed in my head all the way down to the beach.

This was the most promising surf Id seen since Oregon.  There were some submerged rocks in the waves though, and that made me a little cautious.  But as I scanned the scenery, I notice that lots of people had set up tents to camp on the beach. And that gave me an idea.

I had brought along a tent, just in case something happened to the bus and it would up in a shop for an extended stay, and I needed a place to sleep.  Luckily I hadn’t needed it, but this seemed like a great chance to take advantage of my boy-scout-like preparation.

I literally sprinted back up the trail with the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning.  I hadnt camped on the sand since attempting the Kalalau Trail along Nā Pali Coast of the island of Kauai more than 20-years ago.

I didnt have a backpack to haul what I needed, so stuffed everything in a duffle back and shoved my arms through he handles.  I packed some bars, fruit, nuts and water for food.  A pillow, tent and sleeping bag and pad.  Grabbed a headlamp, and some warm clothes, my board, wetsuit and towel (this is getting heavy), and headed back down the trail.

I picked my away across the drift wood that blocked the path and found a spot to pitch the tent.

I watched the surf for about half an hour before I dismissed the idea of paddling out.  I thought I could catch it on a better tide.  I sat on a log an meditated for about a half hour until the rain chased me inside.  I snacked on walnuts, pecans and almonds and popped a beer for dinner.  I fell asleep reading and listening to the waves break on the sand.

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