Camping ONP with Tarzan (I)
The sun had just risen as our ferry left Downtown Seattle towards Bremerton. It came and went behind the buildings as if it were playing hide-and-seek with us. It lifted our spirits despite of late night at the concert and having to get up extra early to avoid Memorial Weekend campers who also wanted to make a bet at the often disappointing Pacific NW weather. We got lucky. However, the Hood Canal bridge was out of order forcing us to take a detour to the bottom of the canal and drive back up towards northern end of Olympic National Park, where I will be giving a new chance at camping, in an old Bronco that is too stubborn to retire, and with a man whom I thought were the epitome of a modern Tarzan.
Following the “hood” on 101, winding around the NE corner of the Olympic peninsula, we drove along the coast, with Strait of Juan de Fucca and Vancouver Island to the right, covered in mystical morning fog. Our first destination was Lake Ozette with beautiful beaches within short hiking distances. The sun broke through the fog around mid day and I started to strip off layers. The bronco felt much more like a cruiser compared to my mini, going at an easy pace of 45 mph. The drive was long but we were there to enjoy the journey and were rather committed to each other within the confine of the Bronco for the next 3 days. Conversation topics fly all over the place, no longer in a stack structure with pop and push operations, nor was it in a heap with random access, it was a complex graph. I was fine with it, again, really not trying to go anywhere by any time soon. For the first time in my life, I went outdoors to just be there.
Lake Ozette was gorgeous and surprisingly large. So much iron was in the water that it glowed red. Then one could add in the blue sky and brilliantly lit green branches, stir it up with some ripples to create a piece of Monet painting. We couldn’t resist the temptation of jumping over the ledge of the bridge to be part of it.
The hike from Lake Ozette to the beach was a mere 3 mile one way hike on level ground. Self correction, board walk for 90% of it. Giant trees and lettuce looking plants added trim to our hike. Once in a while, small ponds of water accumulate nearby. Scattered with vividly green leaves and their star shaped reflections in the water, fallen logs lay at the edges of these ponds providing spaces for adorable mosses to propagate. It was so picturesque that one would think only a talented landscaper could have designed it all.
However much my companion loved a peace of quiet on a hike, I almost couldn’t find a break in our conversation. Topics ranged from childhood stories to philosophical discussions on why Burma is the only Asian country without a need for artificial birth control. The boardwalk hike was over two miles long when we finally heard distant sonorous cries of seals. Were they crying for their mate laying dead on the beach which became the only exciting spectacle of the campers and hikers? We didn’t look for the dead seal but instead inspected a dead tree with an impressive root system.
There was not much wind or waves by the sea. The quiet low tide zone was filled with large rocks that enticed one to leap frog from one to the other. I thought they could potentially be photogenic at sunset but the sun was still hours before setting. Large island sized rocks stood in the distance with few evergreen trees on top. Tarzan said they looked like “hairy nipples.” I amused myself by looking for edible seaweed (inspired by Vadim’s video) while Tarzan sat idyllically making peace with swamps of harmless beach fleas that looked threatening as if they’d eaten us alive. After we charged up on Vitamin D, we trekked the same way back instead of venturing south on the beach to make the loop back to Lake Ozette.
Lake Ozette’s camping site was already filled with preserved campers. Tarzan drove us out of the area, found an unmarked logging road and parked us in a pocket opening in the trees for the night. Bronco sat facing the setting sun, with the back open wide, Tarzan played his flute while I bathed some more in the sun like a cat. When night came, he made fire and I made pasta. We ate burned marshmallows and watched the coastal fog wrapping the hills like a chiffon. When it was pitch dark, there was no strange animal sounds nor cackling branches. With Tarzan aside, I slept like a baby on cushy padded floor in the back of Bronco. My uneasiness of camping trips disappeared as I began to feel as part of nature (without having to swing amongst trees). Tarzan said that’s how we roll.
(To be continued…)