Backpacking the Olympic Coast Day 1: Rough Start… Really Rough

Its 2:00p.m. and I’m stuck. My pack is heavier than it should be and I’ve covered a scant 3 miles. My sleeping bag is still damp from last night’s fiasco: My tent stakes ripped out and when I got back to camp my sleeping bag had a puddle of water in the middle. I restaked the tent, dumped off the water, and climbed in raincoat and all. To my surprise I wasn’t cold and I went right to sleep. High winds and blowing rain pummeled my tent and woke me twice but I slept well. This was my first time camping in heavy rain in my homemade 8oz. shelter and I was quite pleased with it’s performance.
In the morning I dried everything out and began to pack, quickly realizing the disproportionate amount of relatively heavy bread and fruit I had to the single bag of relatively light quinoa. I packed the quinoa, 3 loaves of bread and 6 apples and hit the trail around noon, less than an hour before high tide. My shoes got soaked by a roge wave near hole in the rock and I spent an hour bushwalking to no avail in hopes of bypassing the submerged point just north of there. The tides are extreme right now because it is a full moon and we are nearing the solstice. I layed down behind a sun bleached log on the stony beach and covered up with my damp sleeping bag to wait for low tide. An avid if quirky hiker named Gary stopped to talk and told me about some great hikes in Oregon and Wyoming. “And I thought ‘You know what? These are two of the finest days I’ve ever experienced, and they’re back to back!'” He said, remembering a trip in Wyomings Wind River. We chatted for a while and at once I noticed the water was low enough to keep hiking. I bayed Gary goodbye and started packing.

From Bad to Worse
The sunset behind me was a beautiful fiery orange as I glanced back and then shifted my vision to the shadowy ground in front of me. I spotted the plummeting white head of a bald eagle starting into a headlong dive over the bay in front of me. It swooped to the waters surface and snatched a shiny fish, then pumping it’s wings it climbed toward the ridge beyond the bay. And as I walked along awe-stricken, I slipped on an algae coated rock and smacked my head on another. My teeth slammed together and I lay in the wet rocks moaning, my inadequate arms folded beneath me. I thought how lucky I was to still be conscious and to have been wearing a thick wool beanie to help lessen the blow. I stood up rubbing my head and instantly I had a throbbing headache. A giant knot slowly took shape and blood began to leave it’s tingly trickle in my eyebrow. I hiked on shakily in the cold wind, Venus’s reflection following me on the vast, wet sand, wishing very much that I had ibuprofen and a cold compress.

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