The boardwalk

Posted by Ken Campbell June 3, 2008 0 Comment 400 views

The birds and the seals seem to speak with almost human voices down here. There are times when I could swear I just heard peoples voices as they peered over the edge of the ravine, but there are no people there. The grunts and the cries of the animals are almost distinguishable as words, thoughts and phrases. I stop for a moment to consider the strangeness of that thought.

The water is calm again today and I get underway at about 9:00 am. The plan is to get back to the van at Hobuck Beach, then drive south to the trailhead at Lake Ozette. From there, I’m planning on hiking the 3-mile trail out to Cape Alava, where I’ll make camp.

I work my way south along the coast, fighting the same current that was my ally yesterday. At one point, about halfway between the Cape and Hobuck Beach, my path crosses the path of a whale. A young gray, from the look of him. He parades along on the same route between two rocky shoals, back and forth three or four times. There are times when he surfaces as many as six times in succession, and other times when a deeper dive keeps him below for ten minutes at a time. I watch him for a half-hour, and then he is gone.

I get off the water, into the van and down to the trailhead at Lake Ozette in as short a time as possible. Almost four hours, but time moves in different increments out here. I’m pleased with the progress. The weather has taken a turn, however, and as I hike the boardwalk trail to Cape Alava, the rain begins to fall. I don’t realize it yet, but the rain would continue to fall for the next 24 hours. I set up camp at the cape, in one of the many sites that are tucked into the shelf of land above the high tide mark.

There are drift logs everywhere along the beach. Giant timber defines the line between land and sea, with logs that must have floated for decades mixed with newer, fresher castaways. As I walk the beach north toward the mouth of the Ozette River, I pass enough wood lying there on the shore to keep a sawmill in business for a long, long time.

The Ozette reaches its end and trickles across the sand to mix with the salt water. Somewhere very close to where I am are the remains of the Ozette village. Preserved in mud, the site was excavated in the early 1970’s and most of the items in the excellent museum in Neah Bay came from here. After it had been documented and its smaller specimens removed, the site was covered with mud once again, on purpose this time. I don’t know exactly where the archaeological dig was located and I didn’t come here to find it; I just sit on a log near the river mouth and look out to sea, where the squalls are lined up and the waves are foaming. I head back to camp and bed. It rains all night long.

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