Yesterday I decided to take a road trip to the northwestern-most point of the contiguous United States, Cape Flattery. Located on the Makah Indian Reservation in Clallam County, Cape Flattery is located on the Olympic Peninsula where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific Ocean.
The hardest part of the trip wasn’t the 4 1/2 hour drive from my house, nor was it the weather (it was absolutely perfect)…..it was figuring out what camera gear I could take since I’m still under a ‘no lifing over 10 pounds’ restriction from the surgery a month ago to repair a couple of hernais I developed after donating a kidney to my cousin last year. Due to that, I was forced to leave my telephoto lens at home. Oh well, I guess that’s a great reason to have to go back one of these days. With the camera bag and tripod, I was close to the 10 pounds (we’ll call it good at 12 as that’s as close as I could get it and I wanted my tripod with me).
Upon arriving at Neah Bay, I stopped at the Makah Cultural and Resource Center to purchase a recreation permit in order to park at the trail head for Cape Flattery (the pass is good for parking on all tribal lands and is good for one car for the year in which it was purchased).
After purchasing the permit, it was time to travel tot he trail head. Because of the long weekend and the length of the trail, the trail head was full of cars and people were out enjoying the nice weather. The trail isn’t long (only about 3/4 mile one way) but it’s one of the prettiest trails I have ever been on. As you descend down through the coastal forest (douglas fir, sitka spruce, western hemlock, and western red cedar), the smooth trail turns to boardwalk as it passes over boggy areas of skunk cabbage and other plants that thrive in swamp-like environments.
The boardwalk trail was gorgeous to walk on and it wasn’t long before water became visible through the trees.
Upon reaching the first viewing platform, you are treated to waves breaking over the sandstone rocks. We got there before the tide starting coming in, so there wasn’t much for wave action. I used a 10-stop ND Filter to get a shutter speed of around 30 seconds in order to blur the water as it washed over the rocks.
From another observation platform, it was possible to view the sea caves. I really want to make the drive back up here again when there is a good storm brewing. I have a feeling that the wave action would be incredible. Good thing my pass is good until the end of the year as I might try to find a way to make that adventure happen sometime in the next 3 months.
The northern part of the Washington coast line is absolutely breathtaking, especially when you get calm winds and blue skies to go with it.
The coast line along Cape Flattery is a great spot to watch for whales, seals, and shore birds. I saw one gray whale surfacing while I was there as well as comorants and a puffin. From the last viewing platform, you can also get an excellent view of the Cape Flattery lighthouse, one half mile off of Cape Flattery on Tatoosh Island. Unfortunately, without my telephoto lens, none of the pictures I took of it did it justice. It wasn’t long before the winds started to pick up and I looked at my watch and realized it was going on 7 o’clock and we still had to get back to the car and drive home.
As we hiked back up the trail, I thought about how lucky I am to live in a place like Washington State. If I want to go to the coast, it’s only a couple of hours drive and if I want to go to the mountains, it’s even less than that. Opportunities to get out and explore are everywhere if one just takes the time to look.
…And who knows, at the end of your day, you might just be rewarded with a spectacular sunset…
Until the next adventure…