Apr 2, 2014

Cape Flattery Hike

I wish I could remember when I first decided I needed to hike the Cape Flattery Trail in Washington. I have been back to Washington about four times in the past ten years and I think it was when I went back the second time that I happened to read about this little gem. I have always been a little afraid to attempt it on my own. Because it is such a long drive.... and so isolated. I really wanted a friend to go with me I mean long drives and isolation scream, "this is a take a friend trip." But I have not lived in Washington for many, many years and I was never quite sure how to find someone who lived there who needed to see places as much as I do. So each time I went back I would plan to do this drive and hike and then end up never having the courage. This time almost ended up that way too.

But I did a few things differently this time. I map quested the directions before I even left Massachusetts. I looked over them noting that I would need to take a ferry and noting how many hours it would take me. I am most definitely not a fly by the seat of your pants girl. Also, this trip I made sure I kept a whole day free. Which is very hard to do when people want to meet with you and have lunch or dinner and such. All my other days of this trip were broken up with big chunks of visiting and such. And last but not least I had that sure knowledge that I had learned how to face my fears and do things alone.

I confess that by the time the Sunday evening of my trip came I was pretty sure I was going to yet again flake out on my Cape Flattery adventure. There were a million reasons why I should not do it. It was not smart to go all the way out there alone being the first reason every one mentioned to me. So I determined in my mind that I would decide when I saw the weather on Monday morning.

It was a beautiful pacific northwest day. I could not get out into it fast enough. The mountains with snow on them, the greens, the blues, the sky with no clouds were all calling to me. I still had not found all 100 percent my courage so I first headed towards Deception Pass. I ALWAYS go to Deception Pass when I go to Washington. It is very necessary. It is tradition. I was taken there a lot when I was a kid. I have tons of memories of Deception Pass. It has held the favorite bridge spot in my life for many many years. I wish you could all be there with me and see the beauty that stretches in every direction. I hiked around once I got there and took loads of pictures. And just stared at the swirling water and thought. It was so inspiring and so invigorating I quickly and decisively made the decision to head to Neah Bay.

I headed down Whidbey Island to the Port Townsend/ Kingston Ferry. Because of low tide the ferry was not able to run until 11:45 and it already had five semi trucks scheduled to take spots on it. I did not fret. I paid and put my car in line and did the math and decided if I did not get on it was not meant to be. I walked out to the water and walked and walked with my hat and scarf on. So many colors of rocks along the shoreline. Someone had gathered all the driftwood and made a little shelter that was very cool. I called my parents and chatted a bit while I was walking. To make a long story short I was the last car they could fit on the ferry. I was squeezed in so tight I had to go out the passenger side door and squish and squish. The girl in the car next to me had to go out the back of her car. We giggled and giggled about that. I would not have dreamed of staying in the car. The best part of the ferry ride is being as high as you can go and in the front facing the wind......never ever miss that :)

Once I got off in Port Townsend I felt a small longing to walk around Port Townsend they do have some spectacular shopping and eating but I kept focused. I decided no matter how much I wanted to stop on the remaining three hours of my drive I would not stop. Even when I passed a pretty awesome bird store. Even when I passed food. Even when I passed a movie theater playing Divergent....which I have not seen yet. I powered across the Olympic Peninsula....not to be distracted from my goal. The road got smaller and less traveled and very very windy...not like wind but like curvy :) I had a few moments where I realized how long it had been since I had seen a house, or a store, or another car, but I swallowed and kept going. I started to catch glimpses of the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Which runs between the top of Washington and Vancouver Island, Canada. Sometimes the road ran right along the edge of the water. There were constant signs telling me to watch for mudslides on the road, curves, and rough roads.I passed through a few small, run down towns. I kept going. I finally made it to the Makah Indian Reservation. The Cape Flattery Trail is on their land. I love that part when you think you are there but you are not. It was another 5 miles past the town of Neah Bay to the trail head.

It was 3:05 when I stepped out of my car with overwhelming relief. It was much later than I had ever imagined it would be. But there was nothing I could have done about the low tide way back at the ferry...or was there something I could have done? :) I tried really hard not to even think about the long ride home in which I would need to catch another ferry in time to get back to the mainland. There were three cars in the parking lot and I was relieved I would not be alone. I grabbed my camera, my hat, and scarf and headed down the trail at a brisk pace. All the memories of the words of all the people who warned me not to go on a hike alone were swirling around me and I hoped they would say nice things about me at my funeral. I passed two groups of people coming out. Drat, that meant there was only one other group on the trail with me. The trail was well maintained. There were boardwalks in places where there was a potential for mud. The woods were so pretty. I tried not to think about crunches and creaks and cracks that I kept hearing in those pretty woods. And just kept hiking. I was not going to quit this close to the end. If you look at a map you can see that Neah Bay is not to far north of Forks, Washington and LaPush Beach where all the werewolves and vampires in the Twilight books live. Yeah, active imagination much? :)

I had some notion that I would be hiking down to a beach. I pictured myself sitting on that beach at the Northwestern most point in the contiguous United States thinking about life. Why oh why is the end of the trail never what we imagined? :) I ended up on top of rocks way up high no beach in sight. Just huge rocks with water crashing into them...all around. It was a lookout point. IT was breathtaking. Cape Flattery was named by James Cook on March 22, 1778. He wrote, "there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding a harbour...on this account I called the point of land to the north of it Cape Flattery." I climbed up the platform. And in front of me across the way was a small island with a lighthouse on it. Farther out was Vancouver Island...Canada. Yeah, my phone was not happy about that and kept warning me about roaming charges that would take my first born. The Pacific Ocean was mingling with the Straight of Juan de Fuca. There were sea stacks. There was lots and lots of water. I concentrated hard hoping to see whale. I could not have asked for a more beautiful day to have had this adventure. I wanted to stay there forever. But my airplane leaving early the next day would hear nothing of it. I am so glad I faced numerous fears and made this trip. I now do not have to wonder what it is like and how it would have happened. I know.




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