Sunday, July 5, 2009

Neah Bay 4th of July.

Perfect 4th of July. Made it down the Shi Shi trail to the beach, on the Pacific Ocean. The trail wasn't as strenuous as we'd been led to believe. The part of the trail on the Makah nation was dry, well-maintained and delightful, right up to the carved metal marker in the trail that marked the boundary.

It was a bit muddy after leaving Makah lands, but other walkers had developed their own dry highland portages. These were narrow but interesting and added to the sense of adventure.

Once the trail makes it to the beach, there's only one way down: straight down for about 300 feet. Tree-roots and a couple of sharp switchbacks make it a bit easier. It's not far, though, and coming and going, just take your time and breathe and watch where you're putting your hands and feet.

Dan and I have a shifted perspective on hiking. The first hike we made in the Olympic National Park was the "takes-no-prisoners" Wagonwheel Lake trail. We did it in three hours, up and down, and our gray faces as we returned brought a park ranger on the run to see if we were all right. So maybe you should take all this claim of a trail being not so hard with a grain of salt.

The trip to the beach was well worth it. Clean, quiet, the kind of place you can leave your bags and shoes and take off to explore. Thieves hit cars at trailheads; they're unlikely to make it all the way down to the beach.

Got some beautiful shots once the mist cleared off. This view was taken from a narrow ridge to the right of the trail-head (looking out toward the water). The sea-stacks are the remainders of headlands, including the ridge we'd climbed. Barefoot, by the way; we're getting too old for this (yeah, right, watch us stop).

We even managed to find someone to take a shot of us (we ain't pretty, but we're having fun):

Once we scrambled back up the cliff and drove to Neah Bay, we had time to get some chili, chowder and frybread dippers, and settle down in our portable chairs with hot coffee to await the fireworks and enjoy non-professional beach fireworks. If you visit for any evening activities, be sure to bring a jacket or sweater, and some blankets; it's going to get chilly.

Next year we're not sitting so close. The attitude around here is, it's your skin, sit where you want. The couple sitting next to us had to jump in an explosion of sparks when a beach firework was tipped over by running kids. The woman's hand-made quilt was singed, and she had four black burn marks on her leg. Her partner couldn't stop laughing. It was pointed out that somebody always had to get hurt, at least a little, as a sacrifice to the Firework Gods, so nobody else got hurt, and it looked like this year she was Chosen Maiden.

Admittedly, it's a bit hazardous, but it spoils you for anybody else's celebrations. The excitement and racket is almost too much rush.

The fireworks were peculiar this year; Dan said the unpredictable, stacato bursts of bombs and fountains of painfully, heavy-duty explosions, all of one sequence of colors after another, didn't remind him so much of celebratory fireworks as of war; at one point he was doing air-M-60 with his hands. We both found it less than pleasant, but that may be because we sat so close. Next year we're sitting across the street, where the elders sit. We're supposed to get wise with age, right?


dcolb121 said...

Interesting beach scene.

Oddest looking two pieces of driftwood I've ever seen...


Susan D-L said...

What a beautiful place. As much as I love my southwest mountains and relatively cozy town, part of me yearns for foggy forests and rocky beaches and more than 6" of rain a year.

(And G would be in heaven anywhere he could set off fireworks on a beach. He'd never leave.)

Fun trumps pretty hands down.

Dorothy said...

The bro is right - odd driftwood, indeed. (pause for snickers) Lordy, but these scenes make me homesic - for the beaches, the water and, most of all, for you. Miss you much.