Exploring Northwest US and Canada: Week 3, Day 18, Cape Flattery to La Push, ONP

Published: July 8th 2018
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7/28 Cape Flattery, the furthest northwestern-most point in the continental US was our next destination on this chilly 48 degree morning. I drove along on a very curvy and hilly, beautiful winding road through tall green forests. The fog broke around the tiny coastal town of Sekiu, a world famous recreational fishing destination. When the shoreline poked through we could see Vancouver Island draped in the low hanging clouds. Pillar Point was our first coastal stop where the eye popping scenery was sadly despoiled by the sign that read Danger Toxic Shellfish.

We continued on the Strait of Juan de Fuca National Scenic Byway, 50 miles west of Port Angeles on Highway 112 stopping frequently to photograph the beautiful viewpoints along the road. We stopped at beautiful Clallam Bay, considered the twin city of Sekiu, where we watched a family of 6 bald eagles dive for fish in the bay, unfazed by the many local fishing boats tied to the piers. With some lovely sea stacks and rugged rocky shores this coastline is an untouched wonder. Twenty miles further we reached Neah Bay on the Makah Reservation. In 1790 Spanish explorers mapped this area where generations of Makah had lived and hunted whales, seals and salmon before this European “discovery”. Visitors have called this area “the gates to stunning wilderness beach hikes” in the Pacific Northwest. Cape Flattery, the oldest permanently named feature in Washington state, so named by James Cook in 1778, is at the end of this long road. The road ends in the middle of the woods with no view of the ocean. There is a short walk on the woodsy Cape Flattery Trail where, at the entrance, walking sticks were left for those who wanted to use and return them. I wish we had been able to hike the 1.5 mile round trip trail to see the views at the end but we didn’t because my husband was worried about his knee and we had to make it to La Push for the evening, so our long drive in the woods was more to say we got there than to actually see anything. Now, looking at pictures of the majestic coast, Shi Shi Beach and Point of Arches, I definitely would have stayed longer to go on that hike. In hindsight it appears that at minimum, a day or two would have been well spent here.

Having reached the end of the road we retraced our steps back down Highway 112 to the not-named shortcut to Lake Crescent. I stopped at a cafe to ask about this shortcut that was shown, but not labeled on the map. The woman at the cafe laughed and said it was Pembroke Road by the local school. She had no idea why it was not labeled as the route to Lake Crescent. We found that poor signage was a consistent problem here. Having found our road we drove enjoying this impressive drive to Lake Crescent. The Log Cabin Resort at Crescent Lake, Olympic National Park overlooks the brilliant blue waters of Lake Crescent and the dusty green mountains in ONP that frame the lake. There are many cabins lining the beach (all fully rented) but the historic National Park Lodge was open to guests which is where we enjoyed a nice lunch overlooking the lake. I enjoyed a delicious grilled goat cheese and roasted red pepper sandwich, tomato basil soup and fries; Dave had a chicken salad wrap and fruit. After lunch we walked around the lakefront testing the water (not too cold!) and watched swimmers and paddlers in the water. I wanted to sit and relax here but since we were unsure how long it would take to get to Forks and our lodging, we pushed on. We anticipated many stops for road construction on 101 around the lake but were pleasantly surprised to find smooth sailing. Once again I was a bit homesick for Lake Winnepesaukee in NH for the sights, sounds and smells were so familiar. Dave slept as I drove, waking for my routine photo stops along the way. The road into the park's other lodge at the south end of Crescent Lake was lined with moss covered trees, a hint at what was to come at the magical Hoh Rainforest.

We left Route 101 in the ONP and continued on Route 110 to the small town of Forks where we had reservations at Huckleberry Lodge, a camping and cottage resort located halfway between the Hoh Rainforest and the ocean at La Push. Our home for the night was log cabin-adorable and a perfect retreat in the woods complete with a vase of fresh red roses and two wine glasses. The rustic but well appointed interior included a mounted deer head, wooden carvings of Indians and animals, and attractive Indian blankets folded on the bed. We should have booked two nights here with all the hiking trails and outdoor activities. We had been cautioned not to stay in Forks but I'm finding many such suggestions have been faulty. The owner, Bill, met us with his new goat Charlotte (the other goat is called “the goat”, and the unnamed chickens ran wild. There were yurts and tents tucked in the trees in addition to cabins. Bill informed us he would make us the healthiest and best tasting pancakes in the morning along with the strongest Cowboy Coffee known to man. (We looked forward to breakfast!) Bill kindly had Guadalupe, his cleaning person, put our laundry in the wash and he left money in the dryer enabling us to leave without hanging around to finish our laundry.

We left Huckleberry in Forks with driving instructions to reach La Push, and the Quileute Indian Reservation. The half hour, 16 mile drive was well worth it to see the sea stacks on the beaches. I had wanted to wait until dusk to go to the beach but with several hours of daylight left to photograph we left our relaxing chairs in the woods around 5:30pm giving time for my husband Dave to nap in the car before the 8:45pm sunset and me to record the beauty of this area. When I arrived I made a reservation for dinner at the local restaurant (it was crowded with a waiting line already) then for several hours I had a wonderful time talking to local Quileute fishermen and people interested in photography while getting some beautiful photographs of the sea stacks, fishing boats and the sea. I found Dave close to sunset and he joined me for dinner at the popular River's Edge Restaurant overlooking the bay in Quileute. Dave had a large bowl of clam chowder and I had fresh grilled salmon on a salad with lemon dressing with a hot cup of tea to take off the evening chill. It was late when we returned to our cabin at Huckleberry Lodge and with our wash still needing to go in the dryer I stayed up to finish our laundry and recount the days adventures. Bonfires were lit and campers were out in the evening enjoying the woods surprisingly without many bugs! I called it a night without the bonfire ambiance.


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