So Seattle has had a 50+ day stretch of no rain and I’ve been wanting to try an overnight backpack trip to the beach. I’ve seen quite a few hikers rave about using a hammock in lieu of a tent so I figured let’s give it a whirl! I was missing a couple items so I had to pick up a burner and a water purifier as you have to get your water out of a stream there. Don’t want to get some crazy bacteria that makes me violently ill when you know you have to hike out for over an hour! Then the excitement of deciding which dehydrated food to choose! I was actually surprised at the variety. I even saw dehydrated neapolitan ice cream! That seemed maybe a bit too adventurous for my first trip so I stuck with a couple staples–lasagna, chicken teriyaki and eggs and bacon for breakfast. I will admit I was a little nervous about what it would taste like so I packed “survival food” that I knew I would eat. I will admit I brought pretty much all of that home so I know for next time to not pack so much extra food. Weighed down my pack for nothing!
I convinced Tami she should go too so we got all loaded up! Of course the weather decided to take a slight turn and rain was now in the forecast. It wasn’t listed as heavy rain so no big deal. I mean we live in the PNW so we are all accustomed to a bit of rain!
So it takes like 5 hours to drive there. Didn’t realize that. Plus you have to stop at the WIC (information center) in Port Angeles to get an overnight permit. We were only about the 8th camping party in line, but I swear we were there for an hour! Luckily we did not need a bear can for our food as Tami had a friend that loaned us one. They were all out so everyone in line had to drive to Forks to get one, which was at least an hour or two each way out of the way. Yikes! We finally got our pass and headed to Neah Bay, where we had to stop to purchase a Makah annual visitor pass. Oddly, they sell them in restaurants! Now that we had all the required passes we head to the trailhead! You can’t park at the trailhead so we dropped all our gear off and I drove back to a house that lets you park on their front lawn for $10 a day. There are two residences that allow this and they are the ONLY places to park. One is a half mile from the trail and the other is a mile away. Luckily I got the last parking spot in the lot a half mile away and walked back to the trailhead.
The trail meanders through the Olympic National Forest, which is pretty cool!! It’s a really well maintained trail which several bridges to cross, including a cantilever bridge! The trail is 2 miles long. The second half is kinda muddy, but not more than I was expecting in a forest. The last section of the trail is a steep section down to the beach. You have to navigate over many roots, so they have added a rope to help you down and up that section of the trail. At this bottom this drops you out onto the beach. What a sight! It’s a cross between Ocean Shores and the Oregon Coast. Smooth sand with huge rock pillars out in the water. People tent camp all along the beach which is 2.3 miles long. We headed down towards the Point of the Arches as that is where most of the driftwood is located, which is necessary for hanging a hammock, and it’s also where the water sources are located! Walking the beach is pretty, but by this time, carrying a 35 pound pack is getting a little old.
It took about an hour to get our hammocks set up. I bought a bug screen for mine and could have sworn it also came with a rain guard, but boy was I sadly mistaken when I took it out! Note to self, read the description more closely when ordering!! Luckily Tami’s rain guard was large enough to cover both of our hammocks. By this time we are starving and break out the dehydrated meals! I try lasagna and Tami has a rice dish. I have to admit the lasagna was really good!! It could have fed 3 of us! Didn’t read the serving size closely either! Didn’t need the chicken teriyaki. We could see the rain was coming so we went on a scavenger hunt for driftwood for a campfire. Luckily there is plenty to choose from! I brought a couple fire starters and we quickly had a nice campfire going. In true PNW style everyone was out at their campfire in the rain and not seeking shelter!
We were suppose to see a really cool meteor shower but the cloud cover prevented that. Instead of a spectacular glowing sunset, we were treated to a pink/purple sunset that held on until the blue hour, which is after the sun has set 12 degrees below the horizon. At this point all the clouds turn blue. The whole thing lasted about 20 minutes and we fell to darkness. We decided to get all settled in the hammocks as the rain was obviously not going to stop. I bet it rained from 5 pm to 3 am pretty steady then some wind after that.
Hammock sleeping is really comfortable. As a person with a bad back and who can barely walk after sleeping in a tent, I had to problems! Well, except for the occasional bit of water that fell off the rain guard when it couldn’t hold the puddle anymore. Nothing like being woken up at 2:30 am by ice cold water running down your back! Brrr!! I just rolled up in my Rumpl camping comforter (so comfy!!) and went right back to sleep. I kind of figured we would have some good fog in the morning, but the weather front blew over and we woke up to blue skies!
We were able to do some sightseeing at low tide as there is a ton of tide pools with starfish and anemones as well as some other sea life. We could explore around the rocks. Shi Shi beach is a beautiful beach. You definitely have to work to get there but worth it! I could see staying 2-3 nights to make the drive easier as well as give yourself a break in carrying a pack!
So I survived my first backpack trip!! YAY!! A couple learning lessons. I packed one change of clothes too many. I packed WAY too much food, so I ended up brining most of it home(which meant extra unnecessary pack weight)! I only packed enough water for the hike in and got all my other way at the stream after I filtered it. That worked awesome!! The backpack is heavy so being as savvy with supplies and packing as light as possible is important! I will re-arrange how I pack so most of the weight is in the middle of the pack. Easier on the shoulders!
I’m hooked! I can’t wait to do it again!!