Past Meetup

Olympic Coast Backpack

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Up on the Olympic Peninsula is the longest stretch of wilderness coastline in the lower 48 states, part of Olympic National Park. Last June we did the middle thruhike, from Rialto to Ozette (photos here (http://www.meetup.com/NW-Wilderness/photos/9004502/)), but this time I want to see the southern stretch (which I haven't done except for portions of it) and hike from Third Beach to Oil City. Total distance is 17 miles or so, but parts of this hike go very slowly over difficult terrain, some of which was recently underwater. The reward comes in the form of spectacular scenery: beautiful remote beaches, misty vistas of sea stacks, and strange rock formations carved out by the ocean.

There are short stretches of trail but the route mostly follows the beach when there's a beach. But where there are headlands or impassable stretches of rocky coast, the only way to progress is to walk through the intertidal zone, sometimes hundreds of yards from shore -- not your typical backpacking experience -- or climb over the headlands clinging to tattered old ropes. The difficulty is moderate to hard, requiring agility with a heavy pack over slippery rocks or on muddy trails. This is not an outing for novice backpackers. Hiking this coastline can’t be done without careful attention to the tide chart and the discipline to stay on schedule. We will also have lots of leisure time to enjoy in camp, where we can build big driftwood fires.

This is a four-day thruhike (Thursday - Sunday), so we will have to set up a car shuttle, which may take a couple hours. If we have 9 people, we will need at least 3 drivers. On Thursday we will drive to the Park Service office in Forks to register, then to the trailhead. The drivers will then take the cars to our exit point at Oil City, and return in one car to the trailhead. Then we will hike about a mile and half to Third Beach for our first camp. The driving distance to Forks is about 300 miles.

Expenses: reimbursing drivers plus $2 per day per person that the Park Service charges to backpack the coast.

Other notes: the Park Service requires the use of hard-sided bearproof containers. If you don’t have one, they loan them out free of charge at the ranger station, although theirs are rather large and unwieldy. I will schedule a pretrip meeting where we can discuss our other equipment needs.

You can register for this outing starting on June 1st at 7 a.m.