Journal entry for August 7, 2010
Approximate distance hiked: 3 miles, 4.8 km
It started raining in the middle of the night. Not a strong rain, but a constant one. I packed up quickly and walked the 0.5 mile to the northern end of Shi Shi Beach, where the trail head is. On the way there, I spotted lots of starfish stuck on the rocks.
There is a recently constructed 2.5 mile trail to a parking lot by Hatchery Rd, which is the only road that goes to Shi Shi beach. The trail starts with a very steep climb, before flattening out. In many parts it was extremely muddy, but I still enjoyed hiking it. I made sure to look around and enjoy the green forest scenery. I didn’t take pictures though because I didn’t want my camera to get wet.
Unlike from Port Angeles to the start of my hike, I wasn’t able to organize a shuttle to pick me up and return to Port Angeles. No buses came to this area. The closest they go to is to Neah Bay, which is about 12 miles north, so I was hoping to hitch a ride there. When I reached the small parking lot, I only saw 3 cars. I was expecting a lot of activity with people arriving and leaving, but that was not the case. Time was very tight, since the only Saturday morning bus leaves Neah Bay at 9:50am, and it was already 9:15am. 10 minutes later I see 3 people finishing the hike and arriving at the parking lot, but they told me that they had no space in their car. I stand there in the rain for about 30 minutes, there was no traffic whatsoever, so I decided to started walking the road.
I had never hitchhiked before, except for when I finished the John Muir Trail one year before. I wouldn’t really call that one instance real hitchhiking, since it was under different circumstances (everybody at Whitney Portal were hikers leaving for Lone Pine) and I was able to get a ride within 1 minute. This day was very different. It was still raining, but the rain gear kept me dry, except for my feet. I was having fun walking through the countryside, I could see the ocean from time to time, and there were a few small houses and farms on the side of the road. I felt a real sense of adventure, walking into the unknown. I walked about 3 miles, with about 10 cars passing and ignoring me. I started to wonder if I was going to be able to get a ride at all. Finally, a gentleman named Justin picked me up in his pickup truck. He was on his way to Neah Bay. He was very nice, and told me he had lived the area his entire life. I got to Neah Bay around 10am, way too late to catch the bus.
Port Angeles was still 80 miles away. Neah Bay is a very small town, but the road that goes through it had a fair amount of traffic. I walked to the edge of the town and stuck my thumb out again. Within a minute Paul picked me up on his new-looking Range Rover. I felt bad getting his leather seats wet, but he told me he didn’t mind. Paul is originally from England, but is now living in Neah Bay working as the captain of a cruise ship that goes all the way to Alaska. He was driving to Clallam Bay, 20 miles away, to rent a couple of DVDs. There was no other closer place for him to do this, and he had no cable or TV signal where he lived. He also had hiked the previous week the same hike I had just finished.
Paul left me at Clallam Bay, where I resumed my hitchhiking adventures. I got picked up again within a minute, this time by Robert in an old pickup truck. I was starting to see the pattern: if you a single guy, only single male drivers will pick you up. Families and single female drivers will look at you with distrust, understandably. Paul is a fisherman who had just spent the previous 4 days on a fishing boat. He was nice enough to do a little detour to show me a small waterfall, the Elwha Dam, and spectacular Lake Crescent with its crystal clear water.
Robert dropped me off at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles, where I returned my bear canister. I thanked him for the huge favor he had done for me, and said good bye. I then walked the 20 blocks or so back to The Downtown Hotel, and spent the night watching TV.
I really enjoyed the Lake Ozette to Shi Shi Beach hike. It was completely different from anything I had done before, and it was more challenging and fun than I had expected. The hitchhiking was a lot of fun too, and I was lucky to meet three very nice and interesting people. I enjoyed learning about their way of life that is very different than the one I see everyday in Los Angeles.
The whole area of the Olympic Peninsula is just gorgeous. I feel that I barely scratched its surface, so I hope I’ll get another chance to return in the future.