When we asked Pablo, the backcountry ranger at Olympic National Park, if there were any amazing beach campsites he could recommend, he pointed quickly at the map in front of us.
“Toleak Point, you must go there. Trust me. You will want to name your first gold fish after me.”
With that sort of endorsement, we didn’t hesitate to get the permit right then and there. The 6 mile hike was a bit shorter than what we were hoping for, but we figured an easy walk on the beach really couldn’t be that awful. Plus he gave us permission to have fires out there. What could be better than a beach, sunset, and a campfire?
After checking the tide tables- a couple of points in the hike are impassable when the tide is high- we started our jaunt towards the beach. Through the woods, and down to Second Beach was really nothing to write home about, but the view at the bottom was. As soon as we could see through the trees, we noticed dozens of sea stacks standing tall off the coast. Smiles lit up our faces. Sea stacks do that.
We dropped onto the beach, and put our feet in the sand. We had great sunshine- a welcome change from the previous couple of days of rain and cool weather. About a half mile down the coast, the beach runs straight into a wall, and the waves crash right up against the rocks. The trail turns left and goes straight up the head wall, so straight up that ropes are there to provide assistance in climbing the steep incline.
“This is getting awesome fast!”
We scurried our way up the muddy wall, and took in the view from the top. The cold, clear water below was just gorgeous. Behind us was a dense, dim, green forest. The real fun began here. The trail quickly turned to mud as it climbed up ladders, and ropes, and rudimentary stairs made of logs strung together with metal wire. The mud just got deeper, sloppier, and stickier as we went. It was not bad mud, but the fun kind that the 12-year-old-in-you just wants to pick up and sling around. All of this in an incredible rain forest. This 6 mile hike was quickly climbing my ‘best of all time’ hikes list.
Soon I began to feel like Indian Jones.
Given a rope to swing across, I would have gladly belted out my best Tarzan scream. As it were, I already was singing the theme song. This place was awesome!
Down from the headlands, we came back to the beach. As we turned the corner and got a view of this little slice of heaven, we were surprised by a found art sculpture. Many hikers before us had gathered various sea trash and hung it from a giant uprooted tree. Very fun.
We cruised the beach, making it safely past the last ‘high tide danger’ area with plenty of time. Toleak Point came quickly. We have found that for some reason, hiking on a flat sandy beaches means that the miles just fly by.
After we rounded the point, I was fully distracted. Three bald eagles were keeping a check on their territory. Of course I had to try to get a photo. I crawled out onto the seaweed covered rocks while still wearing my pack trying to get close enough to get the shot. All the while Barbara sat on the beach, a bit disinterested with the bald eagles. I believe she likened them to squirrels- apparently she has seen a few more bald eagles than I have.
After the photo safari was over, we selected our campsite. Nicely tucked into an alcove assembled of well worn drift wood, it was perfect. We had the tent set up and lunch made by 1 or so. It is pretty rare that we hike just 6 miles in one day on a backpacking trip, so we found ourselves with more down time than usual. Boy was it nice! Barbara found a comfortable sitting chair that a previous camper had created that was perfectly suited for reading 200 pages. I had plenty of time to explore the beach and more photos than necessary. We both basked in the sun.
As the sun finally began to get closer to the horizon, we cooked up dinner and started a fire. Fires in the backcountry are not the norm for us, so it was a nice change to enjoy the warm glow of the flames as the sun set.
Once again, when we woke up, we were in a cloud. But that was quite alright, as the sun the day before was lovely. With lots of chores to do in the afternoon, we didn’t lounge around camp too much in the morning.
Pablo was right – Toleak Point was incredible! Someday, should we become the proud owners of a goldfish, his name may certainly be Pablo…
Back at the car before lunch, we headed back into Forks to pick up some fresh food from the grocery store. After 30 days on the road, PB & J is getting a bit old. Extra sharp chedder cheese, summer sausage, and a rustic French baguette made for a great change of pace.
Forks, Washington is an interesting place. Those of you who are not teenage girls, nor parents to teenage girls, may not know of Forks. This little town is the setting for the teen-hit romantic vampire novels “Twilight” by Stephanie Meyer. This sleepy logging, hole in the wall town got quite the awakening with the release of these novels a couple of years ago. Remnants of the boom still exist with themed retail shops on many street corners, and we spotted multiple “Twilight” tour buses. Kind of an odd thing in a small, way-out-of-the-way town like Forks.
We took full advantage of the amenities to take care of some chores. First up laundry- which was long over due. And then a full clean up and sorting of the White Rascal- also long overdue. We try our best to keep the van organized, but living in 40 square feet means that every little thing out of place is noticeable. Someday we will give you all the full tour of our lovely home- that’s another post!
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