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Ridiculous Sunset

April 29, 2007

I think it is abundantly clear from past blog entries that I am not much of an outdoorsman. This makes sense. I barely have the city figured out, why would I have nature? That is why when Paul and Kelli asked me to go hiking/backpacking with them, I was skeptical. Especially when they started throwing phrases out there like: “Bear canisters,” “If you see a cougar…,” “Some places make you bury your poo in the ocean,” “We’ll have dehydrated food the first night,” Don’t worry, we’ll have a rescue whistle.”

But they quelled most of those fears for me and lured me in with phrases like, “Custom made trail mix,” “Smores,” “Easy hike along boardwalk,” “Hotdogs,” “Sea caves,” and my personal favorite, “Butterfly crackers!”

So with the promise of some Pepperidge Farm Butterfly crackers, custom made trail mix and beef hotdogs, I said yes.

Before this trip, I had never been backpacking before. I never saw the appeal of hiking somewhere with all your gear, setting up camp, and hiking out with all your gear. I much preferred car camping, with its unique ability to have everything you would ever need right in the car.

P & K are experienced backpackers. They have been places where you have to poo and bury in the ocean. Where you have to filter well water before drinking it. They have even backpacked on insanely steep trails and paths in Iceland – I kid you not… they have been to fucking Iceland for a backpacking trip! I had heard these stories and I thought I could never roll with them on a trip. But they assured me that the hike to Cape Alava would be easy, mostly on boardwalk and that they have pit toilets – there would be no shitting in the ocean.

Cape Alava is simply amazing. It is located on the peninsula in the Olympic National Park. And with the power of google maps, you can even see a map of the 3.1-mile hike to ocean. From the trailhead, you hike toward the campsites and if you stand still about a mile and half in on the trail, you can hear the quiet roar of the mighty Pacific Ocean.

From the time we got to the Ferry terminal in Edmonds early Friday morning, it rained. Over the Hood Canal Bridge it lightly rained. The drive to the Port Angeles ranger station had rain. As my Honda powered through the tight corners around the beautiful Lake Crescent it continued to rain and it rained while we at lunch at the sleepy little “drive in” in Clallam Bay. But most disappointedly, it rained the hardest the final twenty-one miles to the trailhead. Weather.com had let us down. It was supposed to be cloudy with periods of showers through the entire weekend. Not a steady rain. When we got to the trailhead, it still rained lightly but we decided to press on and hope for the best. Here are a couple of photos:

Photo of me driving in my Honda on the way to Cape Alava. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 and courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Photo of me driving in my Honda on the way to Cape Alava. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 and courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Photo of us at the start of the trail at Cape Alava. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 and courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Photo of us at the start of the trail at Cape Alava. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 and courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Photo of the boardwalk trail. From the photo you can see how thick the rainforest is. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

Photo of the boardwalk trail. From the photo you can see how thick the rainforest is. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

This being my first hike I didn’t have the right gear. I didn’t have fast drying pants, I didn’t have waterproof hiking boots, and I didn’t have a completely waterproof coat. So after the three miles through the rainforest I was soaked. But the worst part was the muddy trail to the beach. The last part was filled with slick mud and steep edges. My hiking pole was the only thing from keeping me from falling. I was miserable and I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into.

We set up the tent and I quickly got in. I took off my muddy and soaking wet pants and put on my slightly damp pants. I took off my completely drenched socks and t-shirt and put on clothes that were wet from the water that seeped into my pack. My shoes were a complete muddy disaster and they sat under the rain fly to hopefully become less dry. I lay in the tent vowing not to come out until the rain stopped. And I was afraid I would be there all weekend.

I read my book for an hour and half and then I noticed something. It was quiet. The rhythmic pattering of rain against our tent had stopped and it was safe to get out. I put on my wet shoes and headed down to the beach to catch up with the group. And from that point on, it didn’t rain again on our trip. After dinner, the sun began to set and something amazing started to happen. The clouds in the sky contrasted against the setting sun and we had the most beautiful sunset. I think this was truly the most breathtaking sunsets I have ever seen. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself.

Photo of the the best sunset I have ever seen. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

Photo of the the best sunset I have ever seen. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

I couldn't believe that I actually took this photo, it was so beautiful. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

I couldn't believe that I actually took this photo, it was so beautiful. Photo taken on April 27, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA.

The next day, more friends came out and we hiked down the beach to the Ozette River where we had lunch. Along this hike, we saw bald eagles, seals, otters, starfish, sea enemies, urchins and other animals that made you think you were at the Woodland Park Zoo. Paul surprised us all later that night with a bottle of champagne and we passed around whiskey as we huddled around our driftwood fire. In hindsight, Weather.com was truly wrong…for the good. After the rain, we had three amazing beautiful days. On Sunday, the hike was easy and dry. And I was sad to leave. It was so beautiful and the trip was amazing. We missed the ferry back to Edmonds but we weren’t in a rush. It will be hard to get back to work tomorrow. I will be thinking of that ridiculous sunset Friday night. Check out my picasa album for more pictures.

Here is a photo of us looking out at the waves crashing against the rocks. Photo taken on April 28, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA. Photo Courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

Here is a photo of us looking out at the waves crashing against the rocks. Photo taken on April 28, 2007 at Cape Alava, WA. Photo Courtesy of Kelli Larsen.

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