Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Summer 2004

The Olympic Peninsula in Washington, USA


You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Ozette Lake and Cape Alava

It's the 18th of July, so we need to march from the ranger station at Ozette Lake out a fairly incredible boardwalk path three miles to the Pacific at Cape Alava, supposedly the westernmost point in the lower-48 of the USA. More rain forest -- impassable, one would have thought, without this boardwalk.

The informative Makah Indian Museum at Neah Bay to the north, which displays artifacts and reconstructions of life in an Ozette Indian coastal village that was buried in a landslide some hundreds of years ago and excavated (and then reburied) in the 1970s and '80s, tells tales of both Indians and the first white settlers moving between the coast and the Ozette Lake taking weeks and months for the trip, but it only took us an hour and a half, thanks again to the boardwalk.

The coastal Indian tribes were formerly fisherpeople and whalers, evidently, and stuck to the sea and rivers in hollowed-out log boats rather than getting themselves all tangled up in these forests.

Descendants of the white settlers hung on around the lake well into the present century, presumably slashing their way to the outhouse once or twice a day with machetes, but eventually gave it up. The Hoko-Ozette road from Sekiu on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (the only road in the area) was laid on in recent times, and that's definitely the way to go for those of us with a hired car and promises to keep.

It's easy to see why the first white settlers might have taken so long moving their refrigerators and home entertainment centres through this mess to get set up in their new digs on Ozette Lake.

-- Enough historian's lugubrious reflections, Cape Alava is waiting.

Ozette Island off Cape Alava. The reburied archaeological site lies a half-mile to the north, but the classic walkers' route goes south, so we munch our lunch and turn left.

This is the classic Olympic coastline, all those . . . things! out there, and varying in aspect by the minute as the tide edges in and out.

The voie normale or classic route goes from Ozette out the boardwalk path three miles to Cape Alava, then three miles south along the beach to Sand Point, then three miles back to Ozette by another boardwalk path. It's brilliant, and requires only a little forethought on the timing, as a few places along the coast become tidally impassable when the waves lap right up against the treeline.

Here's Kristin walking southward along the coast, at a place marked on the maps as "Wait for low tide or use overland trail if available".

Time for a break

Cape Alava from the south

Aesthetically pleasing effects of imperfect erosion processes from a bygone era. Harbor seals play king-of-the-mountain on many of the offshore rocks, thumping each other off into the sea.

Kristin relaxing at a roadside rest stop

The way southward, Sand Point in the distance.

Kristin hikes along the rocks in her "hiking sandals", which let the feet breathe.

Tide's starting to come in now. We hasten to Sand Point and then three miles back through the forest to Ozette -- almost time for dinner in La Push!!

This is probably a line of asylum-seekers working their way around the Homeland Security Billy Bobs watching for them at the airports and train stations.

Visit to North America, July 2004
Olympic National Park, Washington, USA, July 2004
Hoh Rain Forest and the Quileute Reservation at La Push
Ozette Lake and Cape Alava
Cape Flattery, Rialto Beach, and the Hole in the Wall
Hurricane Ridge and Obstruction Point
Dungeness Spit and Whidbey Island
and then
Visit to Marlowe, Ottawa, Ontario, 2004
The Thousand Islands and Boldt Castle

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 24 September 2004, revised 27 April 2013.


Olympic National Park, 2004