Additional Note: Several websites have cautioned parking your car overnight at Rialto Beach, as there have been several break ins. Some good advice is to leave NOTHING of value in your car, and leave the glove box and any other compartment open and empty to show that there are no valuables stored inside.
Maps: The Ranger station at Port Angeles, check the Olympic National Park website for ph.#, sells a customcorrectmap , a great map for $4.50, and it’s scale, 1:62,000, shows where along the coast to take caution at high tides, and where you will sometimes have to go overland to get around certain points. The ranger station also has tide tables, free of charge for the month that you’re hiking along the coast. Another good resource is the National Geographic Map of the Olympic National Park, it’s scale, 1:100,000, is not the same as the one from the Ranger Station, but it is waterproof and is chock full of information.
Permits: Overnight wilderness permits are required, $5 a day per person, contact the Wilderness Information Center at 360-565-3100. Also, if camping overnight, you will also be required to have a bear canister, as hanging food bags are not allowed. These also are free to use, and can be picked up at the Wilderness Information Center.
In an effort to avoid the record snowfall that still persists in the Washington backcountry, the four of us, Greg, Ed, Russ, and myself, decide on a trip along the North Olympic Coastline, starting at Rialto Beach. We had planned for months to take a 3 day on Kaleetan Lake Loop, off of I-90 above North Bend, but…The report we received was that the snow level was still about 5 feet deep on the trails. Sigh. Maybe next month?
We arrive at Rialto Beach, and begin our journey. A hearty welcome goes out to Russ, who joins us for the first time on this hike, along with the usual suspects, Ed, Greg, and myself. Quickly, we fall into the trudge along the coastline, the sand is soft, and in many places, it is more pebbles and shale than sand.
Photo opportunities abound, as the surf pounds against monolithic rocks soaring skyward, scattered like lone sentinels along the coastline. Many of them are sporting a remnant of life that refuses to give up, tall trees and grass hanging tenaciously to whatever foothold they can grip on the rock.
…causing many to do the slick rock shuffle, before regaining their balance, or crashing in an undignified heap after a comical two-step…
Once we reach Hole in the Rock, (named for obvious reasons), we have to take the overland route, as the tide is in, preventing us from safe passage through the archway in the rock. Steps are cut into the steep parts, to assist in the climb up and over. Since we got a late start, (it took us about 4 hours to get to the parking lot!), we find the tide pools are no longer visible, and the surf has reclaimed much of the lower beach area that would have made for easier passage.
Instead, we are relegated to climbing over large boulders, and rocks slick with seaweed and algae, causing many to do the slick rock shuffle, before regaining their balance, or crashing in an undignified heap after a comical two-step. Yep, lost some skin myself, I may never have knees that are not in some stage of the healing process at this point…
We push as far this day, as we can, and make our camp at the Chilean Memorial, a plaque inset in concrete as a memorial to those that had lost their lives in a shipwreck. This is in a nice cove right before Cape Johnson. There are only one or two other campsites there, and we cannot believe our good fortune to get a great site on sand, with plenty of driftwood for our fires.
Fresh water is nearby, and after dinner, we gather around a small campfire, before turning in. I make a note that it is a “small” campfire, because the following night, we would rectify this minor oversight…