Past Meetup

Xmas Olympic Wilderness Coast Backpack

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Along the wilderness "beach", January 2013

Winter backpacking along Washington's wilderness coastline is a spectacular and exciting time to experience this magical place without all the crowds typical in summer. While the mountain environment lies dormant and silent in December, the longest continuous wilderness coast in the continental United States is bursting with life and renewal with every tide. Birds, seals, sea creatures, and bobcats, greet the walker in daylight while the pounding surf lulls the hiker to a fitful sleep at night.

Rating: Easy to moderate

Route: Drive from Olympia, 211 miles, to Lake Ozette TH (4 hours)

Gear: In addition to 10 essentials and overnight camping gear the following items are required

• Teva sandals or other suitable footwear for fording rivers (see photo below)

• Bear canister


The following items are recommended

• Synthetic fiber or wool clothing

• Lightweight golf umbrella

• Trekking poles

• Rubber muck boots - 16 inches high

• Large plastic trash bag to line inside of pack and/or pack cover

Carpool: We will carpool from Olympia to the trailhead at Ozette Ranger Station. We leave on time and do not wait.

Participants in Seattle will have to self-organize a carpool and meet at Ozette Ranger Station no later than Noon on Thursday 12/26/13.

Sunset at Shi Shi Beach, January 2013

Backcountry Permit required

No dogs allowed in National Park

Please contribute $30 gas money to your driver

Bring bag for wet clothing and boots

Disclaimer: We will be in the wilderness. Serious injury or death can occur. We are not professional guides nor do we claim to be experts. It is not our responsibility to get you to the listed destination. We hike at our own pace. By attending this hike you are assuming responsibility for your own personal safety and we will not be held responsible.

Fording the Ozette River, January 2013

Trek Description

The tides are favorable and the weather forecast is promising so there's time for a two-night, three-day Xmas trek before years end. This leisurely 12.5 mile loop includes 3 miles on a boardwalk, 4.5 miles on some of the most awesome beach in the world, and 5 miles on a logging road. The main obstacle on this trek is fording the Ozette River (see photo above) which is ice cold, 100' across, and about 2' deep. Contrary to popular myth, the ford is not especially difficult or dangerous but it WILL get your attention. Novice hikers with good attitudes are welcome.

Although this is NOT a guided trip participants will be asked to hike as a group throughout most of the route due to treacherous terrain, river fords, and difficult route finding on the overland sections. Participants will be required to sign a liability waiver at the trailhead.

We do not allow guests on our hikes - you must be a member to join us.


Drive to TH at Lake Ozette Ranger Station, begin hiking at Noon

DAY01 - Hike to Cape Alava 3.1 miles 12/26/13

DAY02 - Hike to Ozette River 2.4 miles 12/27/13

DAY03 - Hike to TH via Seafield Creek 7.1 miles 12/28/13

Drive home

What you can expect

• Ozette River ford - This is a serious crossing any time of year. The river is wide, cold, and at least knee deep for most folks.

• Steep, muddy, and slippery trails

• Rugged and treacherous walking conditions

• A true wilderness experience (unlikely to see other campers)

• Large campfires

• The longest wilderness sandy beach on the coastline (3.6 miles)

• Abundant wildlife - even in winter!


I cannot over stress the importance of having warm and dry feet when winter camping for multiple days. You can have a Mt Everest down parka but if your feet are cold you'll be miserable.

Trekking the Washington coast is wet in summer months. There is abundant mud and the curious hiker is drawn to tide pools when waves retreat. In winter the coast is that much wetter. In my experience, leather and leather/nylon hiking boots are just not up to the task. Especially when you consider multiple days in mud & salt water. In the winter you cannot just walk your boots dry like a summertime hike.

You can walk in leather or nylon hiking boots if you like. However, your Event Organizer has over 200 miles of winter hiking experience on the Washington Coast. Cheap high-top rubber muck boots work very well and are recommended by your Event Organizer. Suitable alternates to rubber muck boots include high-top classic LL Bean boots or Sorels. In both of these boots the seam should be well-sealed (two coats) where leather and rubber meet.

Recommended rubber footwear for "beach" hiking and sandals for fording