Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shi Shi Memories

Name the best memory that pops in your head. That's my new favorite question to ask around a campfire. I came up with it to counteract the scary ghost story session we had on our previous trip. (fun in it's own right; but I needed to be able to get to sleep!) I absolutely love the sometimes funny, sometimes touching, sometimes unexpectedly strange answers that help provide a window into someone's life. Of course, I'm not going to disclose any of them here; but I will say that Shi Shi beach may be the memory that pops into my head from this time forward.
Okay, not really...it just made a good intro. Watching my grandson come into the world changed my life--I can't even talk about it without getting teary. Although, I will say that Shi Shi (pronounced Shy Shy. I've been saying it wrong for years!) is up there in the top 20. When you have such high expectations, and they are actually met...well, we all know that is a rare thing.  
Almost there!
The ropes down the last quarter mile to the beach
are not nearly as extreme as I was expecting. I might even
call them unnecessary.
This was my 2nd trip to the area (my first being a day hike on the Ozette Triangle; another top 20 memory) and my 2nd attempt at Shi Shi. (because of a chicken out this January due to weather) Now that I have a full time job, I can't fly by the seat of my pants quite like I used to. Three weeks ahead I have to put in my time off requests, and then pray to the weather Gods for favor. And did I ever score this time! I could hardly believe the 0% forecast; and no sacrifice was even made!
The first campsite you come to is huge;
but who wants all that traffic?
Gotta hunt for a site on the beach!
The first thing you have to know about planning a hike here, it is all about the tides. Low tide = good experience/High tide = tent being washed out to sea. I'm sorry you have to copy and paste, but here is a great site (http://kaleberg.com/tides/lapush/index.html) because the good tides for hiking are highlighted in green, making it somewhat idiot proof. 
3 measly miles and they are conked out!
Another mile or so of sand walking to get to
the famous rock formations
A mile is a long way, apparently.
But worth it!!!
Second thing to keep in mind, a ferry ride will mostly likely be part of the plan, which always has the potential to screw you over. My convincing Heather we did not need reservations at 7:30 am on a Saturday (why???) almost ruined everything. 

Third thing to know is to bring your dollars. $$ for the ferry, $$ for the wilderness hiking permit at the Information Center in Port Angeles, $$ for the Makah recreation pass in Neah Bay, $$ for the parking on private property.
Fun at the Wilderness Center! The permit is 10 BUCKS, ha ha!
(actually, I think that is an elk)

$20 for overnight parking in somebody's yard.
The money box is right by the house.
This is not a cheap trip--which is why it is not a good option for a solo hike. Sharing is caring! And besides, if you're looking for solitude, this is not the place you want to be. I understood a weekend would be busy, even in May, but my goodness!! I can't even imagine what a weekend in the summer must look like!
Lots of peeps! Zoom in and you'll see some are SWIMMING.
No thank you!
Though, for me at least, it really was part of the fun. From the first step on the beach with a "full moon" view of a sunbather changing into her suit, to the late afternoon group yoga show, to our girls taking turns carrying an older woman's pack up the very steep 1/4 mile incline on our way out; Shi Shi was not just about being in nature, but being a part of humanity.
Downward dog, everybody!!
Looking like a pro!!
I loved watching all the different groups of people--family and friends, young and old, making memories just like we were. Though, we all need to be better about leaving no trace, or I'm afraid Shi Shi may not always have all the freedoms it has now. 
Junk art in the trees is cool! That's called being resourceful! 
But left behind booze bottles and toilet paper is not cool!
We can do better!

"Leave no trace" does not mean you can't make a little seat from a stump.
Thank you whoever did this; I loved my chair!!
It is a privilege to get to camp ANYWHERE on this beach (again, be mindful of the tide line) as well as be able to make whatever kind of blazing fire you want. Let's not wreck it for future generations. I hope my daughter can come back some day, maybe even with her own kids, and be able to tell about her favorite memory of her first trip to the glorious wonders of Shi Shi. 

P.S. Hiking lesson #50: (geez, it seems like it should be more profound!) Never trust a 0% rain forecast. A poncho weighs next to nothing; thank God I threw one in last second, and Heather brought 2 as back up. Even a drizzle makes for a lot of wetness in a big hurry. 
Bye, Patrick!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Washington Rules, Colorado Drools

My co-worker, Kimberly, loves Colorado. She talks about it...A LOT. And even though she grew up here, she still dares to compare; and actually proclaims Colorado as more beautiful. Inconceivable!
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but I knew Kimberly was not looking at Washington through "hiker eyes"; so I was determined to give her a different perspective. 

I would have preferred to get way up in the wilderness (maybe not "14er" up...like that's so special ;)) but in May the really good stuff is still covered in snow. I had been seeing a flux of pictures coming through my news feed from the Diablo Lake area (this is due to Hwy 20 opening it's winter gate for the season, and the fact there are some fantastic photographers on the "Washington Hikers and Climbers" FB group) and decided it would have to do for the Washington vs Colorado face off. 

A drive on the North Cascades Hwy will fill your scenery tank even if you don't plan on hiking, but if you have time to hike, you will find many options. Even though it's a bit of a drive to get to there, the good news is you won't have to worry about heading up miles of forest roads. As far as I know, all the trailheads in this area are pretty much pull off the highway and you're there close. You do have to drive a few minutes to get to the Diablo trailhead; but the drive over the particularly beautiful dam is well worth it. 
The easy access and large parking lot, complete with obvious signage, gives you the impression everything about this hike is going to be totally straight forward. I definitely did not want anything complicated, because I needed some redemption with Kimberly.
You see, this was actually my second hike with Kimberly. We both attended a work sponsored hike at Sharpe's Park last November, where we tried to be the cool kids and brake away form the group to do our own (far superior, of course) hike.
Sharpe's Park Map; not helpful if your phone goes dead

Shape's park. "Maybe this is where we will be spending the night?"
I tried to pull off a "don't worry, I'm sort of an expert at this" persona by taking a picture of the map with my phone. After my phone died, we got so helplessly confused by the loops we actually considered bush whacking through the forest to intrude upon some private property to possibly call for help; but finally ended up being rescued by a kind hearted fellow hiker who literally had to lead us out. So, some image damage control was in order. Unfortunately, our Diablo Lake outing was not going to convince Kimberly of my navigation skills; though, I will still say it wasn't my fault.

The above sign was obviously placed here to help alleviate any confusion as to which direction to go...apparently the arrow on the trail marker pointing right was not clear enough. The problem is the word LEFT in bold letters and the fact most people tend to skim when reading directions. (blah, blah, blah, LEFT, blah blah blah)
Now, I'm sure I would have read the sign carefully, except I trusted the gals who were ahead of us had already done so. Hiking lesson #49: "Never assume other hikers are any less stupid than you". After catching up to them, we all four tried our darnedest to follow the pseudo trail that is a little ways down the service road we had turned left on. You would have thought the idea that we read the sign wrong would have came to us sooner, but the power of the clearly dominate LEFT instruction was a strong force. 
This is as close as you're getting to Ross Dam
After figuring out our mistake, we thankfully finished the remainder of the hike without incident. I will confess though, that I had it in my mind this trail would take us all the way to Ross Dam, instead of just a lookout to see it. But it does take you all the way down to Diablo Lake, where you will find a suspension bridge; and if you cross it, you will find on the other side a boat house for the lake "taxis".

We found the cement platform makes an excellent spot for a picnic!! Just be sure to please respect the signs and do not enter the restricted boathouse, even if the door is wide open and there is not a soul there to catch you. 
Kimberly demonstrating what not to do
On the drive back we stopped at my favorite Hwy 20 burger and beer joint, the Birdsview Brewery. I'm sure Kimberly would argue Colorado has better beers too...whatever, she still bought a growler to bring home. I didn't ask her if she still considered Colorado the winner of the scenic war; I knew that was a debate I was never going to win. Nevertheless, this amazing state I call home will always have my heart. 
I still love you, Kimberly; Colorado lover and all!