Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Details of a Dead Whale

I'm going to try to do more justice to the end of my journey now.

Leaving Forks I had to do a 9 milish roadwalk to get out to the scam that was and is Oil City. I got a lift from an Indian man out of town and began walking on the busiest section of active logging that I've seen yet. At least 50 dumptrucks and logging trucks flew by me as I walked along, but it didn't bother me since I knew the ocean was drawing closer with each step. When I was nearly to the end of this roadwalk, I was blown away with an unexpected advantage of all of these trucks flying by: odd natural sepia tones. The road was primarily dirt and gravel, and when the trucks flew by creating clouds of dust of this material, it would settle on the surrounding foliage. This made for fantastic photography as I tried to get the odd brown look of all of the plants that should have been green, and oftentimes a bright yellow flower would be transposed over top to give a truly surreal appearance to the scene.

Finally I got to the ocean. I've already written about what an experience seeing the ocean was for the first time. What I forgot to include was how odd the sound of the ocean was. The sea was at low tide, which I was unaware of at the time, and emmited a constant low rumble. I couldn't really make out the sound of each individual wave, but instead there was just the steady sound of brown noise that the sea churned out. Very odd when coupled with the monotone visuals of the area and unreal amount of driftwood brought out by the river. Later I found out that this area gets psychotic storms in December, oftentimes with winds over 100 mph! That knocks down absurd amnts of old trees, evidenced by the washouts I saw in many valleys, the rivers bring them out to sea, and the sea brings them back to the beach. It was also fun to hear about how much the beach changes each year near the river areas as the sand is always shifting. This environment is truly alive.

The first 3 days were very fun while getting used to the seastacks out at sea. Sometimes the walking would be on sand freshly packed by a retreated high-tide, the other times would be on very very slippery rocks that covered the beach. A few days into the trip, I had to do a 3 mile roadwalk into the town of La Push to pick up care packages that a few friend sent to me. On the way into town I met two guys finishing a cycling trip from Seattle to La Push, and it was really inspiring to see them doing it 'outlaw style' with mountain bikes and huge army backpacks, obviously doing it on a shoestring budget. They were also having a great time.

Although I had planned to try to offer someone $20 at the marina for a ride across the unfordable river, I instead took the .75 bus and then a 5 mile roadwalk to get to the coast on the other side. This is when high tide was in full form and I saw how massive the waves could get out here, which isn't something I had seen before. I was actually a bit scared by how large the waves were, and could finally understand how surfers were able to surf out here on these dangerous seas littered with underwater seastacks. The tide was high enough to force me onto driftwood to stay out of the water. After doing this painfully slow hiking on driftwood, balancing above a few creeks draining into the sea, I decided to hike on the ocean side of the driftwood. This meant hiking when the waves would receed into the ocean, hopping up onto a log as a waved crashed in to stay dry, and repeat. This took me to a large cliff where water was lapping right up to the side of the cliff, a few feet deep. I could have waited and stared at the seastacks, rare blue sky, and waves, or I could try to dash around the cliff when the water was right. Naturally I chose the latter. It was fun getting around that headland without slipping on the descent from the partial climb of the cliff, and not getting soaked by the waves. A trip highlight for sure.

Next I got to a headland that was impossible to get around until the tide dropped another 2 feet, an hour later. I waited with 4 guys from Seattle and 3 others from Vancouver. Fun times. Finally the water was shallow enough to wade through a foot of water around the cliff and made it to camp with an hour of daylight. Keep in mind that i was hiking 10 to 12 mile days, so things were relaxed nearly all day.

The next 2 days were all cloudy, with not much social interaction. The next to last day I camped in the woods since pitching a tarp was very very tricky in the loose sand. I drank my 22 oz budweiser, slept under a slight drizzle, and hiked my last day to the little island. There was the dead whale on the island and the sea lions at sea as I described before. A couple of deer stalking campsites for food, and my photo taken by two guys returning from Shi Shi Beach.

Yesterday I spent the day primarily bouncing from bus to bus to get a package shipped from my parents of normal clothing to wear on the AK ferry, in AK, and any future travels before returning to ATL. I met a woman who just finished a cycling trip on the peninsula, again more inspiration for a cycling trip! Sleeping in the bunker was surprisingly warm last night, and I know that I've found a great spot to sleep in for the next 3 nights. It was a really nice 40 minute walk during surnise through sleepy P.T. streets to grab some coffee at the record store slash espresso joint and pick up a couple of used books to read while I'm here. I'm really starting to feel at home in this small town.

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