Summertime is upon us, and the time was right for Tommy and I to do our annual tune-up hike in preparation for the bigger Memorial Day one. This time around we chose to head up north of Harper’s Ferry, WV to a shelter we’d passed by a few years ago: the Ed Garvey Shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The one-way distance was just a little over 6 miles and the elevation gain moderate. Paired with the perfect weather - mid 60s during the day, upper 40s during the night - the scene was set for a great time.
We started off by dropping the dog off at a friend’s place in Chantilly, then went straight up Rt. 15 to Harper’s Ferry. After fumbling around looking for a parking spot for a few minutes, we lucked out and nabbed a free spot right near the park. We waved goodbye to my Corolla and started across the bridge to Maryland around noon. We trod along the smooth, flat C&O towpath for three miles, noting the tons of turtles out on their respective logs to our left. To our right the Potomac flowed rapidly off the rocks.
We crossed over the railroad and began our ascent, bringing forth the first sweat of the day. Fortunately the breeze was abundant and overall the hike was really pleasant. The rocks underfoot were the only annoyance, forcing us to keep a keen eye downwards instead of on our surroundings. We were also a bit disappointed with the huge amount of noise pollution coming from the semis and Harleys whizzing by on Rt 340 nearby. We shrugged it off with jokes from South Park about Harley owners.
After a little over two miles of hiking up the mountain we came to our first side trail to Weverton Cliff. We were impressed with the site, which offers commanding views of the entire area. We hung out there for over an hour, taking pictures and chatting with some folks up there for the day. As always for Tommy and I, the hike wouldn’t have been complete without running into a Boy Scout troop somewhere along the line. We found ours hanging out at the cliff with all sorts of heavy equipment.
Having downed a protein bar for lunch, we made our way further north to the Ed Garvey Shelter. It was just as we remembered it - impressive. It sports two stories and an upper “apartment” area, both of which are pretty rare as AT shelters go. Already there were two guys out for the weekend with their dog Oreo, who had a large bell attached to his collar. We decided to take a breather by bundling up in our sleeping bags for a snooze in the lower area. When we awoke the guys and their dog were gone, and we decided to double back to Weverton Cliff to spend the night.
We arrived at Weverton at about 6:30, where we promptly cooked our couscous with olive oil. This was a huge improvement over previous attempts without the oil, so that’s something I’ll have to continue in the future - it was delicious. With each of us full, we waited for the sunset and grabbed our sleeping bags from our camp about 100 feet behind us.
The sun dipped below the horizon slowly, and we watched people come and go to see the sight. I grabbed as many panoramas as I could of the scene, hoping to catch a good one. Soon the time came for us both to head into our hammocks for some sleep. We each had fitful nights for different reasons. Tommy was cold because he forgot his sleeping pad, and I was shifting from my left side to my right because of my allergies bothering my nose. Par for the course in sleeping in the woods, I suppose. I think both of us tallied about 6 hours of sleep, so not too bad.
We woke at about seven in the morning and went straight down the mountain with little fanfare. The going was quick and the breeze was stiff, but the sights kept us going. We also discussed plans of doing a four-state challenge (41 miles from the PA line to the VA line in one day) instead our normal Memorial Day hike, so we talked around all of the issues we could think of. By the time we reached the bottom we had it all figured out. We hopped back in the car and back down Rt 9 towards home, stopping at Stonybrook Farm along the way for some coffee. We arrived back at my place just before noon for a glorious showers, each having had a good time.
Here are the rest of the pictures I took during the trip if you're interested.
I was cleaning out my basement guest room when I found my notes from my Seattle Trip in April last year. Cool! Since this is such a great discovery and also a good supplement to my vivid memory of this trip, I figure that I should flush out the rest of my memories of this experience to text before they fade into the ether. Here goes.
We started off day three of the trip at 8:30, heading out in the Jeep towards Olympic National Park (nestled all the way in the upper-left side of Washington state). It's very sunny but also extremely cold. Unfortunately I've caught some 24-hour bug that is driving me crazy, so at the first available stop along the way I pick up some medicine to fend off the ick – there's no way I'm going to let a headache ruin this once-in-a-lifetime experience! After 20 minutes of zoning out in the car, I'm good to go.
We start up Hurricane Ridge towards the visitor's center at the top. We're at an elevation of 5,242 feet and the wind is blistering. The snow is thick and packed, towering 12 feet over the car on either side of the road. It's enough to make a person feel small. Fortunately the visibility is fantastic, and we can see Mt. Olympus in the far distance when a clearing appears. We linger around a bit in the visitor's center, taking in the views while enjoying the warmth of being inside. As we head back down, we spot a bobcat casually crossing the road.
We pass by Lake Crescent, which is still clear and glass-calm. It makes for a great reflection of the surrounding mountain ranges. As we're stopping to admire the view, a strange but well-meaning guy tries to sell us a biography of his “grand-pappy” that he'd written. We politely decline and scamper back into the Jeep.
We make our way to Ozette – our destination – and take the beautiful 3 mile hike out to Sand Point. The wind still carries a stiff chill with it, but we don't mind. Each of us has at least a 10 degree down bag to keep us warm through the night, which we plan to spend just a few dozen feet away from the Pacific ocean. We each have also brought hammocks as well, meaning that we would have a much bigger selection of spots to call home for the night. We scope out the area and quickly find a spot where all three of us can string up comfortably. It's a spot right off the beach, but mostly protected from the wind.
Near our decided camping location was a point jutting out into into the ocean. We walked over there with a little light left in the day to check out the view.
It didn't disappoint! I must have taken 100 pictures easily from the top of the outcrop with my jaw hanging open the whole time. It was just stunning – not something I'll ever forget. If you look closely in these pictures you can see our camping spot way off to the left, nestled in the crescent and away from the wind.
As we're walking back from the outcrop we spot a bald eagle cruising out just past the point. It was a clear reminder to us of how far out we were. We head to a pre-cleared camping location to boil brats and couscous for dinner. I forgot my own titanium pot at home, but I made due by cutting a gatorade bottle in half and using that instead. It isn't something that I'd do by choice, but it worked! As the sun started its descent into the sea the temperature dropped and we soon prepared our hammocks for sleep. Our view from inside the hammocks went from this:
...to this in a matter of minutes:
I don't know about the other two, but I certainly slept like a baby for most of the night. The waves lapping on the beach were nature's lullaby. They only became an issue when the tide came in early in the morning, when they sounded a little too close for comfort.
In the morning we pack up our things and head north along the beach. Rather than heading back on the path on which we came in, we wanted to take in more of the scenery on our way out. The path took us through tons of driftwood and other miscellaneous obstacles. It was a slow-going three miles, but in my opinion the view was worth it. We saw another bald eagle perched on top of a rock outcrop, checking us out.
After navigating all the logs and moss, we arrive at the opening of the other fork of the Ozette trail. Looking back towards the ocean before heading into the forest reminded me so much of the movie “The Goonies.”
The trail itself is extremely unique. It's made out of wood planking for the entire way so the hiker can avoid the messy, wet bog of the land below. It makes for really surreal pictures. Looking on Google Images of this trail after the fact makes me bitter, as you'll find photographers that have taken post-processing way out of proportion when looking at mine you'll see that it isn't needed at all – this place is one of beauty without need for further alterations!
Once out of the park we get some food in Port Angeles, Washington. It's a greasy diner-type place with bad coffee, but it warms us up and fills our stomachs. We try to make the nearby Port Townsend Ferry but miss it by two cars. To kill the time we walk the town and get some excellent coffee at a place called Better Living Through Coffee. Tommy and I get pour-overs of some Bolivian beans (if I recall correctly) while Bill gets some gourmet hot chocolate. All of us are content to take in the scenery of this wonderful little shop as we wait out the ferry. If you're ever in the Port Townsend area, I highly recommend this place.
Arriving back home, we all collapse into our respective seats after taking what must have been the best showers of our lives. We're completely spent and ready for some sleep for the next day, which we've planned to go to Vancouver.
Here's another one from my Outer Banks trip this past summer. Away from all the commotion of the bigger dunes, I spotted this couple walking along. I liked how they were framed by the enormous clouds of the day.
I've got a few more pictures from OBX that'll be coming along shortly, but I thought this was a good "end of a good day" post to have.
Since we're in the dead-middle of February, naturally it is cold as hell here in Northern Virginia. I look out the window at what appears to be a beautiful day outside only to face the cold reality of a temperature in the low 30s without wind chill. Sigh. My mind is wandering back to the North Carolina beaches we visited earlier this summer and how gorgeous they were. Having dropped off the little one with my parents for a few days, Kristin and I made full use of the beach in Kill Devil Hills. Just a little further south into Nags Head is Jockey's Ridge State Park where this picture was taken.
It was near the end of the day (obviously), and we had been hanging out at some of the local shops across the street from the dunes. We didn't realize how quickly darkness was encroaching, so we were a little surprised to see the sun so low on the horizon as we exited the shops. We'd wanted to be at the top of the dune for sunset, but it looked as though we were going to miss that. Not wanting to miss the shot of the sun peeking through the clouds, I ran to the car and snapped off this one shot before we went across the street. I'm so happy it turned out.
As the wind chaps my lips and burns my cheeks now, I'm thinking back on that evening. Maybe if I think hard enough I can bring the feeling of the sun-heat back.