Sunday, January 26, 2014

Solving the Mystery of Protection Island

Hello. My name is Kelly, and I am a Groupon addict. For those of you who don't know what Groupon is, it's one of those websites that offers discounts on all kinds of things. (similar to "Living Social"; which I'm also addicted to) Although, I don't buy all kinds of things; I buy one kind of thing...getaways.
Quinault Beach Resort and Casino
Obviously I'm a sucker for a bargain; which I blame on my mother. We used to tease that the "I bought a piston engine" Monty Python skit was written with her in mind. (the joke being that of course unless one has a use for a piston engine, it's not such a good buy) Except the great thing about buying getaways is that I absolutely always use them. And the fact I get such good deals; well, that lessens the guilt about spending money on such frivolousness.
Checked in just in time to go and watch the sunset
You may be asking what does all this have to do with hiking? Well, it's winter; which means limited hiking options. Some of the best opportunities this time of year are beach hikes--which I've exhausted most in my area. So when I saw an amazing, can't pass it up deal for a night at the Quinault Beach Resort in Ocean Shores, I knew Damon Point would be my next hiking adventure.

I didn't read much about the Damon Point hike. I saw pictures of snowy owls, and something about them being there in January, and I was sold. I HAD to see the owls. I invited my friend Jewell to come along. We did a hike together a couple years ago and an owl swooped down right in front of us; so I figured she must be some sort of owl whisperer. Plus we didn't get to do even one hike together last year; so we were due. 
People playing in the water kept us entertained
Can you say "burrrr!!!!"
Even though I didn't read much about the hike, I printed out the description off of the WTA website to make up for the fact I had no sort of map whatsoever. You go around a point...I mean, how simple can you get.
Just a little windy
After we found the obvious parking area, we decided to read about how to go about doing this hike. Head east to Protection Island, across a narrow spit that connects the mainland to your destinationFirst of all, I have to confess I didn't know which way was east. Secondly, what exactly is a "spit" again? And thirdly, what the hell are they talking about an island for? We were both thoroughly confused.
So, we just started walking. East or not, we could see what looked like a point, so it seemed logical to head to the end of it. Neither of us could imagine any sort of "island", and we kept telling each other it would all make sense eventually. 
Accommodations at the end of the point.
I can get you a good deal.
We continued to read our "directions". After crossing the spit you have some choices: hike around the point along the beach or head down the old road to the point.This was even more baffling. Road? What the heck? We finally ran into some locals who filled us in. They told us if we ventured into the "brush" (the area between the beaches) we would run into this road , complete with road stripes and all. Okay...why not. We wanted to see this no longer functioning road to nowhere. (well, the directions said it used to go to "Protection Island"...whatever that was)
Lunch break
After wandering through the brush for a while, Jewell announces she needed pee. I told her to go for it; I mean, I was doubting we would ever find this stupid road and there was not a soul in sight. Why does it never fail that as soon as you squat, someone shows up? Two people walking on the just out of sight road...if only I still had my she-pee for Jewell to borrow, it wouldn't have been a big deal. (it fell out of my pack on my Buck Creek Pass loop hike. Yes, the same hike I lost my tent poles. Even though I was happy to get my poles returned, if you found my she-pee, consider it a gift. ;))

If we would have gone east and hiked the loop clockwise,
maybe we would have found the road straightaway.
(see it to the right?)
We walked on the road back until suddenly it was no more. We finished up the hike on the sand; and still pondering what this island that never materialized was, we came back to the access point to the beach (which was paved) when Jewell had an "Aha!" moment. "This is the road to the island. The point used to be the island, until the 'spit' grew and connected the two and destroyed the road." And sure enough, look what we found when we got to our car and looked at the road sign. Mystery solved. 
In case you didn't already guess, the owls never showed. I won't lie, I was pretty bummed. But, this is a hike I would consider doing again...if I can find a deal at one of the cute cottages right on the beach. No falling off the Groupon wagon just yet.

P.S. We threw in the "Sandpiper Trail" at Gray's Harbor Wildlife Refuge for good measure. I would recommend stopping if you have the time.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, we'll have to check it out! Heading to Ocean Shores for our anniversary in December.