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Shi Shi To Ozette River Beach Travelway

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Shi Shi To Ozette River Beach Travelway, Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches, Cape Alava, Sand Point — Jun 15, 2010 — LEG PWR
Multi-night backpack
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes
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Jim and I decided to take advantage of the extreme low tides, by doing a beach hike. We chose the s...
Jim and I decided to take advantage of the extreme low tides, by doing a beach hike. We chose the section between Shi Shi Beach and Sand Point. I knew from doing this hike ten years ago that mileages are deceptive when hiking the wilderness coast. Most sections can be hiked only at low tide, and then at a much slower pace than you might expect. We also wanted to devote one low tide to exploring North Shi Shi Beach. So we planned for a five day trip, including travel and car shuttle times.

Should we hike southbound with the sun in our face, and likely the wind? We looked at a tide table and concluded that southbound would be best. We could cross the Ozette River in late morning and continue hiking south, whereas northbound we wouldn't be able to go very far past the Ozette. It ended up being a good decision. A layer of marine clouds filtered the sun most of the time we were walking anyway, and the wind was at our back on day 4, when we had the most exposure.

We left one vehicle at Ozette Lake then drove the other to Neah Bay. After obtaining a Makah Recreation Permit, we drove to a private parking lot near the Shi Shi Beach trailhead, and set out.

Although very wet and muddy looking, the trail wasn't as bad as I feared. You could often step in a gooey looking spot without sinking in. Trekking poles were very helpful for probing.

When we reached the beach after 2 miles, the tide was medium and receding. We had an easy walk on sand 1.5 miles to Petroleum Creek, where we set up camp. The creek is most easily crossed on the drift log jam above the high tide mark. A bald eagle kept us company, perching in a tree above our camp when it was not standing in Petroleum Creek near the surf.

We spent the second day exploring tidal pools and the sea caves of north Shi Shi Beach during a -1.4' tide. The jagged sea stacks made for a very photogenic foreground. Near the rusting remnants of a shipwreck was the oddest piece of beach debris I've seen since finding intact fluorescent bulbs during a beach cleanup event. On the sand was a freezer turkey with its plastic netting and weight tag still intact. (Curiously, although thawed, it did not smell.)

During the evening low tide, we walked out to Point of the Arches to scope out how low a tide we needed to get around it. Medium low looked adequate. I knew from a previous hike (northbound) that the route between the Ozette River and Point of the Arches cannot be done quickly; the route is just too gnarly.

So on day 3, we set out from Petroleum Creek a couple hours before peak low tide. We rounded Point of the Arches and the following point easily, passing a deer on the shore as we came to an overland route and our first "rope assist". This was one of two rope assists along our journey that I consider required. Others you can use if you choose to. (Generally they are helpful.) But it would be very difficult to climb (or descend) the bottom 6 feet of rock on this route without using the rope, especially while wearing a backpack. Note: All overland routes are marked by a circular sign, with alternating black and orange quarters.

Multiple ropes led us up the rock, and then the dirt path, to the top of the headland. Then it was just a matter of following the trail over the headland until it dropped down to the beach again. There were ropes at the south end too, but the dirt slope was dry enough to downclimb without needing them. We dropped into a small cove choked with drift logs and debris. We could see the telltale marker for another overland route (with rope assists) at the opposite side.

We scaled it and continue overland around Will's Point. In this section, there was one large blowdown that you must duck under or go around. Continuing south, the trail meanders through forest for awhile before beginning a steep descent that featured several rope assists.

The beach at the end of this route was a field of boulders, as noted on the Green Trails map. After negotiating the boulders, there were smaller rocks and then a sloping shore of deep course sand, leading to the final overland route of the day. This one started with an easy uphill, but finished with a treacherous downhill section - the other "required" rope assist. Put away your trekking poles before using this rope. It's long, and the narrow slick dirt path curves as you follow it. So the rope has a tendency to throw you and your pack to one side as you descend. Use this rope one person at a time, and pay attention. I tried to carry my poles in one hand and got a bloody knee for my efforts. You want both hands free and gloves are very helpful, even when the rope isn't wet or muddy. At the bottom was a drop of about 3 feet - not a big deal, except when the taut rope is snagged on turf, preventing it from hanging straight. So when you step down, you might also swing to one side. Be ready.

There was a trickle of water just south of the base of this rope assist. In a pinch, you might be able to filter from it. I used it to wash my bloody knee, and then we set off to round the next rocky point.

South of Seafield Creek (Duck Point), there were some large trees laid over into the surf. (They've been there for years.) If the tide is low enough, you can walk around the tops without difficulty. If not, some scrambling up and over obstacles on the shore may be required.

The final point of land along this stretch is just a half mile north of the Ozette River. It can be rounded at a medium tide.

There are camps in the woods on the north side of the Ozette River. It is remarkable to watch the appearance of the river crossing change over the course of several hours. At high tide, the crossing is not visible. Even at low tide, it's not obvious. The preferred crossing route is to follow an arc as close to the surf as you safely can, well away from the mouth of the river where the current is strong. The crossing is partially sandy but involves walking on a lot of rocks. I've crossed with bare feet, but my feet were sore (and cold) afterwards. Best are water shoes or sandals that are strapped to your feet. Don't rely on flip-flops; they will be promptly sucked down into the sandy bottom where the current is strong, leaving you struggling to move. (Trust me on this.)

On day 4, we crossed the Ozette one hour before a -0.2' tide. The water was about knee deep, but splashed up as we walked, easily soaking our shorts. This was after several days of no rain, and therefore lower flow. (I've also crossed at a peak low minus tide, when the water was less than a foot deep.) Just don't underestimate the potential difficulty of this crossing.

At the second cove south of the Ozette, we saw hikers climbing down from a marked overland route. This was not on my map, so after we rounded the headland, I looked back to see if there was a marker on the south side. There was. Without having done the overland route, I would guess that it should be used if you are heading north and are late getting to the Ozette. For example, we encountered a couple walking north approaching that point. They thought they had a half hour until peak low tide, but the ranger had given them the wrong day's time; it was already a half hour <i>after</i> peak low. They needed to hurry, and this overland route would help. (This is also a good time to say, <u>always</u> carry a tide table with you, and know the day and time.)

As we approached Tshawahyah Island (aka Cannonball Island), the terrain changed briefly to sand, and then to rocks and gravel covered with rotting seaweed. This type of terrain persisted past Cape Alava and beyond. At Cape Alava, seals or sea lions could be heard barking almost nonstop, but they were way out from shore. Even with a monocular, I could not see them.

South of Cape Alava, the rock and gravel surface (with intermittent seaweed) limited walking speed. There were also numerous fallen trees, stretching from the land out to the medium tide level. We were able to walk around all of the trees. Day hikers could duck under some of them, but this is not a pleasant option when you're carrying a full pack. Some trees had overland routes around them, so that might be an option too if the tide is too high. But these trees are too big to climb over.

There were markers for an overland route at Wedding Rocks, but we were able to walk around, and even cut across the bay on the south side (after photographing the petroglyphs of course).

We continued south, hurrying to beat the tide. Once we passed the final point before Sand Point, the rocks turned to sand once again, albeit still with some seaweed. But the walking was once again easy. There were also a lot of people again.

We walked past one overland route symbol (leading back to Ozette Lake) and continued toward Sand Point itself, a promontory at the end of a peninsula. We passed another overland symbol, which leads into the forest and camp sites, and clambered over drift logs to cross to the south side of Sand Point. About 0.4 mile south of the point, via the south shore or the forest path, is the water source for the area. The water looks reddish, but after filtering it into a clear plastic bottle, it has the amber color of a pilsner. (No, just the color.)

Sand Point itself has a scramble trail to the top of the hill, which affords a 360 degree view that is not to be missed. A few people took advantage of this to view the gorgeous sunset that closed out day 4.

On day 5, we followed the forest path northeast, parallel to the shore north of the Point. Where it intersected a beach access trail (the first overland route we had encountered the day before), we continued straight, arriving at Ozette Ranger Station 2.8 miles later.
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Shi Shi To Ozette River Beach Travelway,Rialto Beach,Cape Alava #32,Point of Arches — May 29, 2007 — Old Man Knees
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Mud/Rockslide | Washouts
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Interesetd in a low-level (snow- and blowdown-free) multi-day hike, I drove out to Forks where I hop...

Interesetd in a low-level (snow- and blowdown-free) multi-day hike, I drove out to Forks where I hopped the La Push-bound bus at the Forks Transit Center. I got off the bus at Three Rivers and after about a mile or two of hiking was finally offered a ride out to Rialto Beach.

At Rialto Beach, I hiked north, hitting Hole in the Wall at high tide. There I used the relatively easy headlands trail to make my way to the other side and continue to proceed north.

The beach hiking from Hole in the Wall north to Chilean Memorial and Cape Johnson is relatively unpleasant. The vistas are stunning, but the beach alternates loose gravel and jagged boulders. Count on about a mile an hour, and time appropriately for the local tides.

Finally, well past Cape Johnson, you hit a very pleasant stretch of hard-packed sand (at lower tides), which continues to Cedar Creek (with one easy headlands crossing). Enjoy the beach here, but cruise to make up time for the slow-goings further back.

After a gorgeous night at Cedar Creek with me and the deer, I headed on to Norwegian Memorial, after which the beach turned once again unpleasant and stayed so until a lovely stretch of sand at Yallow Banks. After some tight headlands north of Yellow Banks, the beach cruising is very pleasant at lower tides all to the way to Sand Point.

The stretch from Sand Point to Cape Alava is very pretty, but also rather rocky with a couple of short sand strips. Don't miss the petroglyphs at Wedding Rocks. I spent my second night at the always gorgeous Cape Alava.

Day three started with a treat of a hike on actual trail through Cape Alava to the Ozette Reservation. There, the low-tide beach is lovely hard-packed sand, all the way to headlands just before the Ozette River. A bit of rock-hopping leads to the Ozette, and it's swift, waist-high (for my short legs) ford of about 15 or 20 yards. Ford when the tide is low.

The beach north quickly turns rocky yet again, and remains to all the way to Point of Arches. Just south of POA are some very tricky large-bouldered headlands that require a slow crossing. Finally you reach the point where there is no more beach, with a 200'+ climb striaght up the side of the hill. Thanks God for the ropes.

After attaining the cliffline, the trail is pleasant if not rather overgrown in spots. If you are coming north, you will want to note that the very last cove immediately before Shi Shi Beach (at POA) seems to no longer have a headlands trail. Particluarly painful as you cannot round the point at tides of greater than 3', at least not without getting very wet (which I did).

The stroll from Point of Arches along Shi Shi starts pleasantly sandy, but becomes very gravelly north of Petroleum Creek.

The final climb from the beach is steep, but manageable, and the stretch from the park boundary across the Makah Res is extremely muddy in several spots.

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Shi-Shi Beach,Rialto Beach — Dec 21, 2006 — Galiwalker
Day hike
Issues: Blowdowns | Mudholes | Water on trail
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This was more of a photography field trip than a hike. Shi-Shi Beach (North Access): Since I had a...

This was more of a photography field trip than a hike.

Shi-Shi Beach (North Access):

Since I had a full day planned, I was up at 4:00am, so that I could catch the 5:30am ferry to Bainbridge Island. The skies were full of rain, but for once I welcomed it (photographs turn out much better in crummy weather). My first port of call was Neah Bay. Since this area is on the Makah reservation, I needed to pick up my Makah nation Recreation Pass, which would allow me permission to walk on, essentially, private property. After some searching I managed to obtain one from the local gas station and was at the Shi-Shi beach trailhead in short order.

I bundled up in full rain gear and set off in drizzly conditions, which rapidly turned into heavy rain. A mile into my hike, it started to hail. About 20min or so later the hail stopped and it was back to plain-ole rain. That’s when the trail disappeared in a river of mud. I sloshed and skidded my way in ankle-deep mud (honestly, the mud oozed over my boot tops!) and was extremely thankful that my boots held up under the onslaught (rubber boots for next time!). About a mile of this and a short steep climb down to the base of the cliffs I had been walking along and I was at the beach. The rain mercifully let up for a bit and I was able to take a few photographs. Shi-Shi beach is a real stunner and I certainly picked a good day to see it. White seas, whipped to a froth by the rain and wind, crashed against the cliffs. Sea stacks stuck out of the ocean like jagged teeth, with white water foaming and seething around them. All very melodramatic.

My initial plan was to try and make way 2 miles south along the beach to the Point of Arches; a set of dramatic sea stacks and arches. Unfortunately, it was high tide and most of the beach was under water. Playing freeze-tag with the waves, I worked my way south, but was soon thwarted and had to regretfully turn around. Then it was back to the car after withstanding another hail storm and, of course, the mud (which seemed to have doubled).

Hole-In-The-Wall, Rialto Beach

It was around 2:30pm, so I hurried to my next destination: Rialto Beach. I had been keeping an eye on the weather rolling in off the Pacific and fancied that I was in for some better weather. As I reached Rialto Beach (about 3:30pm), the rain had actually stopped.

On intermittently sandy and pebbly terrain, I headed north along the beach. About a mile into the hike, I bulled my way through Ellen Creek cutting its way across the beach. The water was knee deep so this time I got wet. (Amazingly, I had pretty much stayed dry till now, smugly snug in my rain gear.) However, my destination was in sight barely a half-mile away and I had the bit between my teeth. A pair of conical sea stacks loomed high just before I reached the arch of Hole-in-the-Wall.

Initially, it did not look as if I could get through to the other side. Waves foamed through the arch, however, as I got closer, I noticed that the way was partially clear if I timed the waves correctly. Running now, aiming to get through to the other side before the sun set, I scuttled over the slippery rocks, and was through the passage before the next wave came boiling through. The other side was a photographer’s delight of tide pools reflecting the amazing sunset. I happily snapped away as the sun set. Then it was back through the hole (I got partially wet), through the stream (truly no mistake about how wet I got) and along the beach (another brief hail storm; nothing very exciting this time, just nature having a final chuckle). The drive home was long and tedious - I was finally back by 9:30pm.

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Shi Shi To Ozette River Beach Travelway,Seafield Creek to Shi Shi beach. — Aug 18, 2006 — D. Inscho
Day hike
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This trip was about time, about submitting to the passage of moments that bore little resemblance to...

This trip was about time, about submitting to the passage of moments that bore little resemblance to our measured day. Those fragments: hours, minutes, seconds, are woven into a seamless tapestry of transition and rhythm on this ancient shoreline.

I was thankful to share this journey with a spirited companion seeking for herself a powerful landscape. One that offers strength, yet demands it, or reveals solace in myriad sun-stars within a tide pool; or evokes mystery in the form of a leviathan bone yard.

We accessed the beach at Seafield Cr. For our first night, we bivied under the cosmos on the beach. The price of passage was paid the next day as we continued to Shi Shi. Don’t be fooled by the mere 4 miles; it is equal parts inspiration and perspiration, large helpings of each. There are two headlands that always require use of the overland trails; these steep trails are serviced by ropes that require careful deliberation. Estimate a pace of 1 mile per hour. Much of the time one is clambering over rocks as big as white appliances, again with proper care, because this rock bites back at the unwary. Tides whisper at every headland; passage is not assured.

Shi Shi is a beautiful crescent of sand, but with none of the solitude of Seafield. Here one may encounter a small representative circus of the civilized world, gaining easy access from the north. Consolation can be found in the heroic monuments of stone, still defying Pacific Power.

Our return was early on the third day, but not early enough for a returning tide; our penance was nothing more than siesta for 3 hours, dreaming in a secluded sandy cove.

Despite the uncertainty, and the blood mingled with sand, I think we left with much more than we sought. From this rugged place we carried away a renewed sense of possibility, mystery, strength, and inspiration; but most of all, a new-found appreciation for a rhythm beyond civilized cares, an inherent sense that resides in all of us, somewhere.

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Shi Shi to Oil City Olympic National Park Beach Hike — Aug 06, 2006 — Dan and Sonny Troop 36
Day hike
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Shi Shi Beach to Oil City Beach Hike: Arrive at Shi Shi trailhead and hike the easy 2 miles to the ...

Shi Shi Beach to Oil City Beach Hike:

Arrive at Shi Shi trailhead and hike the easy 2 miles to the beach. Continuted to Willoughby Creek next to Point of the Arches for our first night. Five other groups spread out along the beach. Beautiful sunset with sea otters playing in the surf. Early to sleep as we begin a week of early morning minus tides which we must make to get around numerous headlands.

August 7th Point of the Arches to South Ozette River:

5:00 am minus tide, sky overcast we begin picking our way thourgh Point of the Arches. Five headlands to scramble up, over, along, down and around before the tide comes back in. The boys have no trouble using the rope assist going up and down. Trails along tops are a little brushy but easy to follow. A pile of deer bones lies on top of the first headland. The route along the beach crosses rocks of every size, pebbles, cobbles, bowling balls, to VW size. We find balancing with walking sticks the only safe way to hop from rock to rock. In addition to rocks there are several hidden coves with sandy beaches. The beaches are littered with fish floats of every color and size, lumber, a dead whale and sea lion, and rope of every type. Eagles fly overhead while seals and sea otters watch us pick our way down the beach. Lunch at Seafield creek (only a trickle)then on down the coast line in the sunshine to the Ozette River. At the Ozette River we must wait for low tide to cross knee deep.

August 8th Ozette River to Cedar Creek:

Overcast turning to rain. Good water just south of the Ozette River. Around Cape Alava stop at Wedding Rocks then on to Sand Point. Rain and wind now blowing as we battle the rocks of Rocky Reef. To make matters worse huge blow-downs block the beach making travel slow. Lunch at Yellow Banks, good water and a nice beach. More rocks and blow-downs slow our progress to Norwegian Memorial. The rain has let up a little. We continue on to camp at Cedar Creek, poor water ( better spring a mile down the beach). Ranger tent set up but empty. We find the old machinary of Starbuck Mine looking for clean water. A warm fire, full moon peaking in and out of the clouds, and the rain stops as we hit the tents.

August 9th Cedar Creek to La Push:

Another early morning rush on the rocks and sand beaches to get around Cape Johnson before the tide blocks the beach. We follow a coyote for four miles. The coyote knew where the hard sand was so we followed its lead. Rounded Cape Johnson and easily found the Chilean Memorial. Now it was a push to get to and through the Hole in the Wall ahead of the tide. The beach is now full of Sunshine and people.

August 10th 3rd Beach to Mosquito Creek:

Rain again but the walk to 3rd beach through the woods is an easy hike. 3rd Beaches firm sand lets us roll along. Up the ladder and ropes around Taylor Point back down to the beach and Scott's Creek. Because of the minus tides we were able to cruse past Strawberry Point and stop for lunch at Toleak Point. Rangers camp on North side of Point. After lunch we climb the ladders, ford Falls and Goodman Creek, wind through thick brush, then follow the overland trail to the ladder down to the beach. Mosquito Creek 2 miles down a beautiful

beach with only a few rocks and blow-downs to get over. Sunshine again and a 3 point buck walks through our tents while we are cooking.

August 11th Mosquito Creek to Oil City ( Ho River Mouth):

Up the ladders and about 2+ miles through a trail with lots of ups and downs, several blow-downs and a few muddy spots. The boys enjoy a forest trail around Ho Head. Down the last ladder ( broken rungs make it the boy's favorite) and another scramble to beat the tide. For the only time we get wet boulder hopping by Diamond Rock but round the corner and make our last camp in the driftwood at the mouth of the Ho.

August 12th Oil City Trailhead:

Hike the short trail up the Ho to the trailhead and home. The bear canisters must be working as we were never bothered by raccoons or bears. On this hike you have to get over or around the headlands when the tides allow you. For us this meant being on the move by 5:00 AM every morning. A couple times we waited out the high tide during lunch. Fires can be built in the tide zone and there is plenty of driftwood. Finding water isn't a problem it just has to be filtered or boiled. Wildlife is everywhere in the surf, woods, and in the air.

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Olympics -- Coast
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Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

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