La Push, Friday night

Posted by Ken Campbell January 3, 2009 0 Comment 451 views

I have the door wide open, even though it was snowing just ten minutes ago. The wood stove here is very, shall we say, efficient.

We rented a house for the weekend out here in La Push. I’ve actually stayed in this cabin before, a couple years ago, and it makes a decadently comfortable base camp. Any time you’ve got a shower and a kitchen and a wood-fired stove, you’ve got a well-appointed home base. It does make me feel a bit soft, but I spend enough nights sleeping on the ground through the course of a year that I don’t mind getting away with this scene now and again. I’m getting older, you see.

We got into town in the late afternoon, about an hour before sunset. I helped unpack the car, then headed down to the beach for a look at the surf, as well as to give the dog a chance to stretch his legs after the car ride. We made our way over to the river mouth as the waves pounded the sand. The surf was big but the swells have some shape and I’m hopeful about surfing opportunities tomorrow.

Where the river enters the bar, there is a breakwater. I turned here and went up into the town, which at this point is little more than a quiet collection of broken down houses. There are some civic buildings, a restaurant (closed), and a small fish packing plant, but mostly there are dilapidated wood-framed structures scattered along the main road through the community. Yards are peppered with rusting cars that have no tires, discarded appliances and dogs. Lots of dogs.

(To be fair, much of the village of La Push is located up the hill, away from the beach. I am only seeing a small piece of it along the waterfront.)

To the north of town lies the river. On the other side is Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park. There used to be a bridge here, but only pilings remain now. It’s a 20-mile drive to Rialto Beach from La Push these days, back up the highway toward Forks, and a left turn onto another road that ends near the park boundary. A bald eagle sat on the upper snags of a logjam in the middle of the river. He was out of camera range for me but I could still make out his crest of white and the turn of his head.

James Island dominated the western view. It is situated at the mouth of the river, where it splits the current and forms shifting beaches and sand bars. It is covered with a thick topping of spruce and hemlock that shimmer in the last rays of sunset. On the walk back to the cabin, it started to snow.

I just looked outside, and there’s an inch or so of snow out there now. A thin layer of white on the cars and the rooftops, on the rocks and the branches of the tall trees. Down on the beach, the logs and rocky high tide zone are likewise covered, and the different colors and textures of the gravelly shore are, for the moment, wearing the same uniform.

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