I’ve been on 3 big adventures in the last 3 months. August saw me in the Nevada desert for the annual Burning Man festival. I took a little break for love after that, and from the love I took a break to spend 10 days trekking California’s Lost Coast. That was September and the combined experience taught me a lot about urushiol rashes (vis-à-vis poison ivy) and Santa Cruz girls (they’re the friendliest I’ve met yet, but don’t blame them if they change their mind at the drop off a hat!) Adventure number 3 spanned Halloween like my Sykes trip last year and found me floating around Willet Hot Spring on my Thermarest in the drought-stricken Sespe Wilderness where I had my clothes stolen and again had a urushiol encounter, this time in a ravine full of dormant poison oak. Do you know what dead poison oak looks like? Me neither.Dormant plants are no less ‘poisonous’ however, and in fact this encounter was far more severe in part because it was so closely timed with the previous exposure.
Now, rain patters away on the thin vinyl top of my convertible. This is the beginning of a fourth big adventure. I am on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. I sit tucked away in the tiny passenger compartment, cozily planning my lonely trek along 78 miles of the country’s most remote coastline. For the next few days I will base my life around the tides, sleeping at high rise and hiking, day or night, when the tide is low. I practiced this on the Lost Coast. Hiking on packed low tide sand to a setting full moon is an amazing thing, on par with the desert sunrise over Black Rock or a commune with the Earth in Hot Springs Canyon. For me, this is the perfect life. Just the right balance of raw danger, logistical uncertainty, and quiet comfort that maximizes excitement and relaxation.
This trek will be more demanding than any of the last three adventures. Unlike the Lost Coast, the beach here is rock, not sand, so it doesn’t pack down hard like sand, requiring more exertion and showing travel considerably. The drift wood is larger and plentiful to the point of being a slippery nuisance at best and a deadly ocean-powered projectile at worst. There are also more ‘tricky’ spots (terrain traps is what I would call them) that if improperly timed can leave a hiker trapped by the rising tide. There are also ladders, ropes and stairs that must be used to gain the benchland in places where the coast is entirely impassable. To top it all off I will have wet November weather to endure. My goal is to make it 25 miles north to the westernmost point in the continental United States, then turn around and hike south 50 miles or so to the other end of this remote coastline, resupplying along the way. My tour of the harrowed hinterland complete I will turn around and hike back to my car and go find a hot spring that isn’t snowed it. Sheesh, its only November.
The rain lets up, on and off as you’d expect in the Pacific Northwest, and I sneak out to setup my tent on the stoney beach. I can’t do another night in the passenger seat no matter how many benadryl I take. I am praying that this tent is waterproof, unlike the one I made for the Lost Coast. Actually, I bet on it by moving my sleeping bag inside and returning to my car to write. The rain doesn’t let up when I need to pee and in 60 seconds I’m doused, reminding me of the importance of staying dry in an environment where things get wet and stay wet.
My theme song for this adventure is a Moby track that I just discovered, The Perfect Life. I know I’ve heard it before but listening to it today is when I realized how really perfect this all is. Close your eyes. In the perfect life, life is all you need.