Olympic Coast: Third Beach to Toleak and Back (Feb. 9-10)

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RobinB
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Joined: September 9th, 2013, 11:29 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Olympic Coast: Third Beach to Toleak and Back (Feb. 9-10)

Post by RobinB » March 24th, 2020, 3:22 pm

GiantsGraveyard.jpg
Opening picture: sunset on Giant's Graveyard

I came out of TR Retirement a bit ago for a quick (and, in retrospect, kinda preachy) report about my annual birthday hike, and I figured it might be fun, at this time when we’re all largely stuck inside, to write some more, more-or-less moving backward from that birthday hike. It’s been a rough couple of weeks—for me, and I suspect for many of us—and it feels nice to return here, to a place where I’ve spent so many happy hours reading and writing adventures.

Anyway, here’s the first of the backlog: a quick one-night backpacking trip with my dad to the Olympic Coast, Feb. 9-10.


Feb. 9

We drove up to Forks the night before, stayed in this hilarious hotel on the north side of town that felt a little like a treehouse in someone’s empty gravel lot, then eased over to the beach around noon. The tides were precisely wrong for hiking—high highs in the middle of the day, lows early in the morning and late in the day—but we figured that, if we got to Third Beach at or just after high tide, we could probably just make it to the Taylor Point Overland half a mile south, then go from there. Apart from having to wait for maybe fifteen minutes at Third Beach, things went basically to plan.

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The ropes to the Taylor Point Overland were not terribly obvious, and we found ourselves relying on GPS more than either of us had expected (“what, isn’t this just walking on the beach?”), but eventually we were up rambling through gorgeous deep forest.

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After Taylor Point, the trail returns to the beach for another half mile or so, passing between Taylor and Scott’s Bluff. We probably pushed the tide a bit here—for maybe 500’, we were scrambling on the bluffs to avoid crashing tide just a few feet below—but we made it through all the same, and, after another look at the GPS, found the rope up the very muddy slope to the Scott’s Bluff Overland.

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Our legs were pretty darn muddy from the rope slope up Scott’s Bluff, and we were glad to find, after a quarter mile on the Overland, a knee-deep crossing of Scott’s Creek, where we washed off and stopped for a quick lunch.

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The beach south of Scott’s Creek was absolutely beautiful: at times sandy, at times rocky, and throughout filled with more wildlife than I’d seen in the previous several months. We saw otters running (!) down the beach, a half-dozen eagles swooping through the water to fish, and more prints than either of us could count.

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The bay between Strawberry and Toleak Point is absolutely filled with good camps, many in the woods just a few feet from the beach. We set up in a lovely little clearing maybe a quarter mile north of Toleak, then rambled out for sunset: south to collect a little water for the night at Jackson Creek, up in the woods to find the old cabin site, and on the beach through piles of driftwood and tidal trash.

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The difficulty—at least, my difficulty—with winter backpacking is that the nights can feel a little long, but this one passed quickly, drinking and walking on the beach and watching a few stars peek out from the coming clouds.


Feb. 10

It froze overnight, but warmed up quickly, and we spent the late sunrise taking pictures at the Point.

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After a long breakfast, we decided to ramble down as far south as we could make it—probably to Goodman Creek—before turning around and heading back to the car.

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The ropes up the Goodman Creek Overland are somewhat easier than for either Scott’s Bluff or Taylor Point, and after a couple hundred feet of mild-ish climbing, we made it into gentle woods. I’m not sure if it’s old growth here—I doubt that it is—but it felt deep and old all the same.

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The trail degraded a bit on the way down to Goodman Creek—a few blowdowns, and a couple small muddy washouts—but it was all relatively easy to deal with. The creek, though, would have required us to get considerably wetter than either of us wanted to get, and we called it a good turnaround.

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From the creek, it was just that lovely thing of playing the tape in reverse: back through the forest and down to the beach, racing the tide back to the tent, taking down the tent and eating a quick lunch, then setting back to the car.

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We ended up having to wait out the tide near Strawberry Point, playing cribbage on the driftwood, then hurried back through golden hour toward Third Beach, hoping to beat the sunset.

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We dropped off the Taylor Point Overland just as the sun was beginning to seriously set, and scurried up to Third Beach in the day’s last light, crossing Newbert Creek just as the sun finally, fully disappeared.

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The mile and a half or whatever through the woods from Third Beach back to the car was surprisingly pleasant by headlamp, despite a slight rain starting to fall. I actually love finishing hikes that way—in the dark and coming rain—because it feels like we’re squeezing everything we can out of the day. These days, at home looking longingly out the window, it feels good—surreal, but good—to remember how much one can see in an open day, how much of the world one can touch in the clear light between sunrise and sunset.

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retired jerry
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Olympic Coast: Third Beach to Toleak and Back (Feb. 9-10)

Post by retired jerry » March 24th, 2020, 3:41 pm

How weird is that, I was there Feb 8 to 12. Right at Strawberry Point for 4 nights.

I must have said hi to you.

Your bald eagle picture is better than mine. They were nesting somewhere above and behind me, making a racket. They sat out on the point and waited for food to show up.

Rather than parking at Third Beach, I drove about 2 miles back towards Forks, then south on a forest road about 1.5 miles. There's a decent, unmarked trail. You don't have to go between the beach and the inland trail three times. Once, the mud sucked my boot off, the unmarked trail is much better.

I love that place, go there once a year. I wish it had been a little colder. One day it rained a lot but I managed.

cfm
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Joined: June 18th, 2008, 6:49 am

Re: Olympic Coast: Third Beach to Toleak and Back (Feb. 9-10)

Post by cfm » March 24th, 2020, 3:48 pm

Hey RobinB! I've missed your detailed and photorich trip reports. This one is mighty fine. I've seen a few of your reports on that confusing facebook page where the pictures are little, but am so glad you have returned here! Our TRs now seem more like a historical record compared to the transient nature of other social media venues. That can be good or bad....

So nice to see you still hiking with your dad! I've been meaning to put up some of my recent TRs for months. You've inspired me to create more armchair traveling eye candy. Thank you, and cheers!

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RobinB
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Joined: September 9th, 2013, 11:29 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Olympic Coast: Third Beach to Toleak and Back (Feb. 9-10)

Post by RobinB » March 24th, 2020, 7:30 pm

retired jerry wrote:
March 24th, 2020, 3:41 pm
How weird is that, I was there Feb 8 to 12. Right at Strawberry Point for 4 nights.
I think we saw you - both on the way out and the way back! If memory serves, we passed you around 5 PM on the 9th. I think you were having a small fire or something? Then, on the 10th, we waited out the tide playing cribbage just down (a respectful distance!) from your camp, and I think watched you walk down south - maybe to go get water or something?

Anyway, sorry I didn't say "hi"! I actually vaguely thought I might recognize you, but vaguely enough that I didn't want to risk it.
cfm wrote:
March 24th, 2020, 3:48 pm
Hey RobinB! I've missed your detailed and photorich trip reports. This one is mighty fine. I've seen a few of your reports on that confusing facebook page where the pictures are little, but am so glad you have returned here! Our TRs now seem more like a historical record compared to the transient nature of other social media venues. That can be good or bad....

So nice to see you still hiking with your dad! I've been meaning to put up some of my recent TRs for months. You've inspired me to create more armchair traveling eye candy. Thank you, and cheers!
Hello! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! For a while I was kinda mourning the death of this forum, but then realized that it was totally in our control whether or not it dies. And you're right: it provides a lot of stuff that Facebook can't. Plus, I've suddenly got a bunch of free time to do some back-filling...

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markesc
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Olympic Coast: Third Beach to Toleak and Back (Feb. 9-10)

Post by markesc » March 28th, 2020, 11:23 am

Wow nice work!!! Looks rugged n well worth the trip!

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