Olympic National Park Coast Tour

Mariner Chuck

Paddler
Joined
Feb 26, 2010
Messages
89
Location
Puget Sound
On Monday, May 21st, I started from Hobuck Beach (a few nautical miles south of Cape Flattery at the NW tip of Washington’s Olympic peninsula) planning to make a two-week trip south along the coast to the Columbia river. After watching large surf pound the unprotected part of Shi Shi beach on the third day of the trip (having only made 5 nautical miles of progress due to the weather/sea state), I began to reconsider my itinerary.

Due to the weather, concerns about camping on reservation and private land once out of the Park and a healthy reluctance to get pummeled in big surf on the long beach stretches of southern Washington, I changed my plans to a down-and-back tour of Olympic National Park’s west coast. The first 7 days I got 3 moving days of challenging paddling (the usual West Coast stuff: surf, boomers, fog, wind) and enjoyed 4 layover days of beachcombing, bird-watching and reading. The next 6 days saw 3 layovers and 3 moving days, which included one exhilarating day of rock gardening on the move from Cape Henry to Point of Arches (much of this part of the coast is littered with rocks, reefs, stacks and islets) and a beautiful day out at Cape Flattery exploring its caves and arches.

Many people hike this part of the coast but, according to a Ranger at the Park’s Wilderness Information Center (WIC), not many paddle it. It’s got all the hazards found on the open coast from Northern California to B.C. to Alaska, though without the remoteness of much of the B.C. and Alaska coasts. There are established campsites where hikers congregate, but a paddler can access many pocket coves, nooks and crannies where hikers rarely, if ever, go. You need to get a camping permit from the Park WIC (cost is nominal) and give them an itinerary, but the Ranger I spoke with was clear that I did not have to stick to it and should change it as conditions warranted in order to stay safe. The Park also requires that you carry what they refer to as hard-sided Animal Resistant Food Containers (ARFC)—i.e., bear barrels—for your food. Apparently they aren’t worried about the bears, but the raccoons that raid camps. They’ll rent them to you if you don’t have any.

This is a spectacular coast to explore by kayak (and, from what I saw, if you're comfortable on the open coast then paddling it is way easier than hiking it!), but be prepared for all the objective hazards that the wild west coast can throw at you! My favorite section, which is easily accessible from the town of Neah Bay and the Hobuck Beach Resort (both on the Makah Indian Reservation--get a recreation permit at the grocery store when you get to Neah Bay) runs from Cape Flattery through the rocks south of Point of Arches.

My photo/video album is here:
https://picasaweb.google.com/mariner.ch ... koO3xIGMNg
(Note: if you view this in "Slideshow" mode, the captions for the videos don't appear)
This trip was my first using a GoPro Hero on my helmet, so I’m still figuring out how it works—never realized how much I swivel my head around and talk to myself! ☺ I have to figure out how to add music or commentary. The crackling noise on some of the videos is the rain hitting the camera.

If you have experience paddling the Washington coast south of the Park, please consider PMing me with any info as I hope to explore that section another time.

Have fun on the water!
 

benson

Paddler
Joined
Aug 28, 2011
Messages
117
Location
Sequim, Wa
Great photos of the coast! It's not an easy stretch for a multi-day trip with limited spots to land when the surf's up...not something I'd want to do solo, but those Coasters can get in and out of about anywhere. Hobuck is a great spot for surf when it's up and day tripping when it's not. Thanks for sharing!
 

Mariner Chuck

Paddler
Joined
Feb 26, 2010
Messages
89
Location
Puget Sound
Glad that you enjoyed them!

Watermark...I've gone back and forth over the years among various wing and "euro" blades. Lately, I've been using the Epic Small Mid Wing for touring. Cheers,

Chuck
 

Reef

Paddler
Joined
Mar 22, 2011
Messages
117
Really enjoyed following along on your trip. The combo of movies and stills is great. Thank you!
 

haydenslides

New Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2013
Messages
1
Beautiful photos.....this trip is on my bucket list! Any hints or tips on weather, tides, time of year, etc?
 
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