Ikkatsu daily report – Cedar Creek to La Push

Posted by Ken Campbell July 19, 2012 0 Comment 1426 views

Talked with NPR’s “The Story” again yesterday, guest host Sean Cole… another great experience. There is just something about the relaxed attitude and intelligent questions that I’ve gotten from NPR, both yesterday and earlier, that make the whole thing seem more like a real conversation, rather than an inquest. I’m not sure when it will air, but I’m looking forward to it. Now, looking backward…
July 9, 2012
The morning sky is streaked with gray, but the rain we were half expecting has not materialized. We’re up and off the beach by 10 AM… not exactly an alpine start, but there’s nothing wrong with that. 
We go out to sea at first, heading for the distinctive outline of Jagged Island, about a mile out. As we approach, seals and sea otter pop up on all sides, watching us watching them. The seas are relatively quiet today, but the swell has gotten a bit bigger since yesterday and the outer shores of the island are white with the breaking waves. On the shore side, conditions are much less active, and we coast by easily. The serrated skyline of the island is white with bird droppings and thousands of gulls and guillemots flock on the land, air and water.
Moving south from the island, we paddle back toward the shore, toward Cape Johnson. Just past the cape, the beach where the Chilean Memorial stands, is the next spot we had identified as a possible camp site. The tide was falling, however, and the mood among the group seems to call for us to push on to La Push, but we stop in to see the memorial anyway. We pick our way through the reef and pull the heavy boats up out of the water.
On November 26th, 1920, the W.J. Pirrie went down in a storm just off this shore. She was being used as a barge at the time, under tow by a Tacoma steam ship with a cargo of lumber and oil, bound for Antofagasta, Chile. The wind and waves were more than the towing craft could negotiate and the unfortunate Chilean vessel was cut loose. Unable to make any headway on her own, it was simply a matter of time before she found the teeth of the reef. Of the 20 souls on board, only two survived. The concrete and brass memorial, perched on the brushy bluff just above the beach, marks the spot of the tragedy.
On our way up the beach to the memorial, we come across a weathered soccer ball. It has obviously spent a great deal of time in the water and it bears the remains of pelagic barnacles, a sign that it has traveled out in the deep ocean for some time. As we turn it around in our hands, we can see the kanji lettering that immediately sets our senses to alert. We don’t know it at the time, but we will later discover that the ball floated here from the Japanese coastal community of Otsuchi, one of the towns hardest hit by the tsunami. We take some photos and bounce the ball back and forth between us, wondering where it came from and where its owner is now.
Once the decision has been made to carry on and finish the second leg of the trip today, the remaining miles fall quickly. We paddle past the long arc of Rialto Beach toward the buildings of La Push. The waterfront seems small and far away at first, but it isn’t long before we’re sliding through the chop between Little James Island and its larger brother, crossing into the river, then turning left to land on First Beach.
And just like that, it’s over. Two legs down and one to go now. We’ll start again on the 6th of August, leaving from here on the Quileute reservation and finishing the roadless coast, seventeen more miles down to Ruby Beach, where Highway 101 makes an appearance and the shoreline gets a little less complicated. 
We haul our gear up the beach, past the children flying kites and the Twilight fans taking photos of their favorite Bella and Jacob locations, back to civilization, such as it is.

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