A Sampling of the Coast
The Olympic Coast and Third Beach
We thought that it might be nice to sample more than just the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, and so we decided the first destination would be the rugged Olympic coast for a short beach hike. So, from Vancouver, we headed down to Bellingham (where we picked up our stove and fuel from a friend) and then from there out to Whidby island in the strait of Juan de Fuca.
It is a very pleasant drive, through farmland, next to misty ocean shores and across the scenic Deception Pass, where ocean currents are squeezed between two rocky headlands. The drive finally ends at a ferry that crosses over to the Olympic peninsula.
After the ferry crossing, the route winds through the lush Olympic peninsula, past scenic Crescent lake (see pictures), and on to the Pacific coast near the town of Mora. Our destination was the trailhead for "Third Beach", reportedly a very scenic spot. Today there was a gloomy coastal fog (which is fairly typical).
The Third Beach hike was a short (5km or so) hike. It goes along mostly on the level, over an excellent flat and smooth trail, and then at the coast drops down steeply to the beach. The setting and view is grand: a gently curving beach, piled with driftwood, and framed by rocky headlands.
The real show-getter, though, is a crazy crooked maze of rocky sea-stacks known as the "graveyard of the giants" which is visible just to south. Obviously others think this is a great short hike as well - there are many hikers about, sitting around on driftwood or on a boulder, soaking up the ambiance of the area. Markus, myself and Peter do the same.
This short hike can be extended southward into a multi-day coastal backpack. We stop at the first headland (called Taylor point), rest, and then head back. In any case, the tide is high and the coastal walk around the headland is only possible at low tide.
Next, we're off to something more mountainous - Mount Saint Helens