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    Solo Summer Trip Report - Olympic Peninsula / Ozette Loop, WA

    Solo Summer Trip Report - Olympic Peninsula / Ozette Loop, WA

    Iíve been very inspired by the trip reports here on the forum. Thanks to all that put them up! This summer I took my first hammock camping 5 day solo trip on the Olympic Peninsula.

    I knew that I liked hammocks, but had never considered camping in them until I started watching Shugís videos. I get a kick out of watching him and have learned so much. In one of his videos, he recommends just jumping in and trying something to start with and see how you like sleeping in a hammock. So, thatís exactly what I decided to do.

    I hit Amazon and bought the only well-rated inexpensive full sized hammock I could find there. I watched videos about how to tune it, set it up, lay diagonally, all that stuff. Thanks to everyone that posts these videos and article. You folks really make hammocking happen for a lot of people, myself included.

    The Plan:

    Finally I thought, OK, time to get out there and try this for real. I had not yet spent a night sleeping in a hammock, but I planned to do the first two nights car camping to get most of the bugs worked out, and then head to the coast for a few more days.

    A few years ago, my wife and I had done a day hike called the Ozette Loop which begins and ends and the Ozette Lake Campground on the Olympic Peninsula and Iíve been dreaming about camping there ever since. Itís such an incredibly beautiful place that it almost seems like you are on another planet. I looked forward to enjoying some coastal hammock camping on the 3 mile stretch of primitive beach that is part of the loop trail. I took a few days vacation and off I went!

    But first, some car camping....

    Salt Creek:

    I spent my first night in a hammock at Salt Creek Recreation area. Before hitting the loop, I wanted to do some car camping in a hammock to make sure that I could comfortably sleep in one and work out any other details while I still I had access to whatever I might need from the car. I decided to spend two nights car camping.

    Salt Creek Recreation area is near Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, but only about 90 miles from Seattle with a short ferry ride. I had visited this area in the past and always wanted to camp there and this seemed like a great opportunity.

    This is a map of the campground area, I spent both nights right above Tongue Point.



    Itís a great car camping spot with incredible views, bathrooms, fire pits, picnic tables, and is extremely well maintained. Many of the camping spots are right on the edge of a bluff overlooking Crescent Bay on one side and the Straight of Juan Defuca on the other.

    I arrived and setup my camp. Wow! There is a lot to learn and practice in that first setup. I had to select trees, then setup the hammock, then the tarp, line it all up, then attach my underquilt and bug net, then figure out what I was going to do with my pack. There were many decisions to make that first time and I felt like I was taking an exam!

    I made plenty of mistakes. First, I tried using a section of stout fencing to anchor from, but decided it was too low. Then, I tried using a diagonally lying downed tree that was a perfect distance, but too unstable to safely use. Then, I finally figured it out and had a decent hang overlooking the ocean.

    My first setup


    I got my hammock and site setup and I was feeling pretty good! A young family was in the site next to mine and the father was very interested in my hammock. We chatted for quite awhile. He asked me how well I slept in it and I told him that Iíve never slept in a hammock before and to check back in the morning and Iíd let him know! To my surprise, he also mentioned how he watched me setup and was impressed with how easy I made it look. Thank goodness that Iíve trained myself to silently curse! That put a smile on my face! I thought, hmmmm.....maybe Iím better at this than I thought. Apparently, I at least look like I know what Iím doing.

    I had dinner, made some coffee, did a little hiking of the area, explored a few tide pools, and then went back to relax in the hammock and was treated to an incredible sunset. Color and light just bursting down from the sky right into my hammock!

    Sunset from the hammock out the back porch!



    The same shot from later that night and the next morning





    I enjoyed the sites, swung a bit, had some decaf and then turned in for the night.......

    The first night I slept ok, but had two big issues. First, was just getting used to being so exposed and out in the open - much different than any tent. It took some time to get comfortable sleeping comfortably that way. Second, I kept sliding down toward the foot of the hammock and woke up with cold feet several times during the night as I had slid down so far that they were no longer on the underquilt. A quick adjustment by scooting back up and pulling on the underquilt and I would get a few more hours sleep until it happened all over again.

    It wasnít that cold, but I chose a spot with an amazing view knowing that I would also get some wind there. That wind makes a big difference even when itís not that cold.

    In the morning, I hiked around the point and took a shot of my site from below. In the middle of the night, I could feel the waves at times vibrating through the rocks/trees, along the straps, and right to my hammock.



    The next morning as I drank my coffee from the hammock, I thought about many of those videos that I had watched and made some tweaks to the hang angle, foot height, and underquilt. I felt like I finally had it pretty well dialed in.

    It rained briefly but strongly early in the morning and I learned that while porch mode at night is amazing for sunset and star gazing, the rain will pool on that relatively flat surface and water is HEAVY. Luckily I was there and quickly adjusted the tarp. Iím pretty sure that the weight of all that pooling water would have ripped the tarp at some point.

    A few more observations from the new hanger. First, there just ainít a lot of room in there! I had tried to have too much stuff in the hammock with me and it all just got in the way. Better to go as lean as possible. Second, I found that a hammock is the best pick pocket on the planet. Anything in my pockets was soon in the hammock and I have no idea how or when it happened - keys, headphones, my phone, better to just empty my pockets before I get in and not worry about it. Third, an inflatable pillow is a GOOD THING. About 25% was just about perfect.

    I made these adjustments after moving to a new site in the same campground and had my first completely blissful night in the hammock! I slept like a baby for a solid 10 hours. I woke up and felt like taking on the world. My back felt great, I was fully rested, and ready to hit my next stop - the Ozette Loop!

    This was my site and setup for the second night. Lots of trees on this one and a nice tidy hammock.







    Here are a few more shots I took while exploring the area on foot. Such a beautiful place.


    \




    After two days of working out the kinks, I felt I was ready to tackle some more primitive camping. I packed up and headed for Ozette about 60 miles away.


    Ozette Loop:

    The Ozette Loop (also called Ozette Triangle) trail is shaped like an equilateral triangle. Two sides of the triangle are trails through the coastal forest out to the coast, and the third side where the campsites are is all along the coast. This is a great part of the park and you can continue down (or up) the coast all the way to Rialto or Shi Shi beach for an epic coastal adventure if you have the time. If you like camping and the coast, I donít think it gets much better than this.

    This is a map of the triangle/loop and also the surrounding area - great for hammock camping.


    Closeup of Ozette Loop


    The park tightly controls the number of people that can camp on the coast and you must register for a permit for each campsite area and night that you are staying. Bear canisters and spray are also required in this part of the park. There is also no cell service out there to speak of. Itís great!

    The trail through the coastal forest to the beach is relatively easy and fairly flat, but does present a few challenges especially since I was carrying a pack. Itís a 3 mile trek on old oftentimes rotting elevated wooden slats that weave through the forest, over streams, across a meadow, and down to the beach. Itís beautiful but you need to constantly watch your step. Those 3 miles took me much longer than I would have guessed.

    Wood slat trails through the forest. Nearly all of the 6 miles through the forest are like this.


    Clearly marked trail - no chance of getting lost here


    I decided to take the north Cape Alava path out and came back on the southern Sand Point trail.

    As you get to the last quarter mile or so, the air changes from forest fresh to ocean breeze. I could feel and hear the ocean long before the old growth trees cleared and allowed me to see it. I could also hear the seals. They are all along the coast out here, but concentrate on an island just north and offshore from Cape Alava. If I listened closely, I could hear them off in the distance most anytime during the day. At other times, it truly sounds like a huge party going on. At night, they quiet down, but you can still hear them occasionally. Your brain starts to play tricks on you and their barks often sound like human speech catching a word here or there.

    Ocean through the trees


    At the end of the forest trail there are campsites right on the beach and they stretch out to the north along the coast up around the bend. They are mostly at the tree line above high tide and overlooking the ocean. All the sites were impressive - not a bad one in the bunch, but I wanted to camp at Wedding Rocks which is about 1.5 miles down the beach to the south.

    Two of the Cape Alava sites






    The beach hike is tough walking for the first 1.5 miles south from Cape Alava to Wedding Rocks due to rocks, surf, and large driftwood trees that cross the beach. Itís slow going for sure, but itís not difficult.

    Rocky beach until past Wedding Rocks





    I was often strategically placing each foot on various rocks in order to find proper footing. A pole or walking stick was essential. This is completely undeveloped beach - there are often huge trees, seaweed beds, and lots of driftwood washed up in certain areas. I had to remove my pack several times in order to scramble over or shimmy under large trees. I took my time.

    Depending on the tides, there are sections of the beach where you canít safely pass at high tide. You will need to get extremely close to the surf clinging to rocks, or repell up and over through the woods next to beach. I didnít relish either option and instead chose to relax and brew a few cups of coffee and watch the surf and wildlife while I waited for a few more rocks to appear on the beach so that I could pass.

    Up and over rope line. You can see a man on his way up in this shot. I offered him a cup of coffee while we waited for the tide, but he was in a hurry.


    When the tide receded a bit, I continued down the beach and made it to Wedding Rocks after a few hours. I found a spot I liked and setup camp. Itís first come first served and they are sufficiently spread out that you canít see your neighbors.

    I got lucky and was able to get the same site that had inspired me to want to camp here years ago when my wife and I had day-hiked this loop.

    Big trees


    Lots of sun


    Total relaxation after scrambling over all those slats and rocks!


    Reverse beach view. I LOVE this spot


    I had dinner, relaxed, and gathered some driftwood from my front yard for a fire. You can burn campfires on the beach where high tide will clear them up, but only with driftwood, no wood from the forest. My chosen spot had a nice fire pit and I used that.

    My God the sunsets from this spot are the most amazing Iíve ever seen. Just incredible. There is basically nothing out here, so star gazing is also incredible. As the sun set, then came act two with a full moon and I gazed at the stars as it moved across the sky - a magical experience.

    Campfire on the beach


    Ozette Island - sacred Makah island. You can reach it at low tide with some wading, but itís taboo to walk on it.


    Sunset from the hammock - heavenly!


    I tended a small fire and was in compete heaven. After dusk, I saw a bear on the beach digging at something. He was upwind from me, but when I got his attention he tore off like he had seen a demon. There are black bears out here - generally very timid. On the way in, the ranger told me that there hasnít been an attack in the park in over 75 years. I didnít ask about the 76th year.

    Sunset and moon panorama


    Around 1:30am, it was like someone had pulled a blanket over the sky. In less than 5 minutes it went from crystal clear, to complete darkness with fog as it rolled in and blanketed everything. I went to sleep.

    I spent another night at the same campsite. I explored the petroglyphs which were on the beach right near my site.

    These are Makah drawings etched in the rocks that predate the European settlers and explorers. They are believed to have marked village boundaries. There are some 41 of them, but they are not marked in anyway - they are like they have been for hundreds of years. The most easily found were of whales, hunters, fertility symbols, and boats. It could take days to locate all 41, even with a map, but many are easy to find.

    Orca petroglyph




    Etchings all among the rocks


    The nearby ranger station provides a legend and map, but many are still very difficult to find



    The last day out, I twisted my foot on one of those sea rocks I mentioned and somehow injured my toe of all things! Nothing serious, but the walk out was slow and a bit painful, but I only had 5 miles to go.

    I passed by the Sand Point sites on my way out. South of Wedding Rocks, the beach starts to level out with fewer rocks and eventually becomes smooth sand! I saw impressive sea stacks, seals, and driftwood along this easy walking stretch.

    Nice sand - few rocks!


    A few seals


    Mars-like geography




    People can be so kind. On my hike out on the last 3 miles of wooden slat through the forest, I met a day hiker on the trail. She was out with a group of friends and noticed my laborious walking and asked me about it. Turns out she was a registered nurse. She insisted that she have a look at my foot and looked me over right on the trail. She offered to have her boyfriend carry my pack out for me, but I thanked her and refused. She gave me something for pain and off she went. Such amazing people. I gave her some parting good advice to never get old and avoid these kinds of inconveniences all-together!

    The last night, I spent at the Lost Chance campground. I was going to head back home, but my foot was killing me and I decided to just rest and get a good nights sleep rather than driving all the way back to Kingston and catching the ferry. Great decision.

    A quick note on the campground at Lake Ozette at the trail head. Itís a great campground, right on the lake, but it only has 20 spots and its first come first served. Unless you get there early morning or mid week, you will not get a spot. Luckily, there is a private campground right near the lake called Lost Chance. I call it Last Chance because there is nowhere else to camp anywhere near the area and their claim to fame is that they never turn a camper away, so it makes an excellent plan B. There are many nice spots to choose from. I chose this one as someone had left me a bouquet of flowers! Chalk it up to fate or good karma. Again, nice people!

    Nicely decored campsite.


    I slept like a baby in my hammock and had a great trip on the way back. I made a quick stop at Hurricane Ridge on the drive back home and made myself a nice lunch up there. What a view!

    Nice spot for lunch


    Hurricane Ridge



    That was my 5 day trip! Iím glad I took Shugís advice to just get out there, make mistakes, and learn from them. Itís FUN and I gained more and more confidence in my hammock camping ability. This was also my first trip solo and I loved it. There is something about keeping yourself company out there alone in nature that just soothes the soul. This was one of the most relaxing vacations that Iíve ever had and I will be exploring MUCH more of this beach to the north and south as well as other parts of the Olympic Peninsula in my hammock for years to come.

    Thanks for reading,
    -Tom

    PS - I came across this article recently, a great little story about Ozette Island and how nature demands respect. Check it out. https://robertmblevins.wordpress.com...ozette-island/
    Last edited by Tpatter; 09-24-2020 at 15:55.

  2. #2
    Senior Member oldbiker's Avatar
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    Good report. I enjoyed it.

  3. #3
    ObdewlaX's Avatar
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    Great trail report & pics!! Beautiful scenery & you're right, just get out there!

    Thanks for posting.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Greenman's Avatar
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    Great report and welcome to the club..... I also started because of Shug... I have hiked and camped all over the Olympic's but never that area. Guess I will have to head that way soon. Thanks again for your report.

  5. #5
    Alamosa's Avatar
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    Awesome trip and pictures. Well done!
    We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. - Ben Franklin
    (known as a win-win on this forum)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenman View Post
    Great report and welcome to the club..... I also started because of Shug... I have hiked and camped all over the Olympic's but never that area. Guess I will have to head that way soon. Thanks again for your report.
    Thanks Gman and all! It was a great trip. It’s so easy to go out there on short notice - due to COVID the backcountry permits are all done online and automatically now, no need to go to the ranger station in PA and pick them up.

    I am thinking about running out there for 2 days next week with my son - he’s been dying to go ever since I told him about it. Probably try the South Sandpoint campsites since I haven’t been there yet.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Very beautiful, thank you.

  8. #8
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    Great write-up and pictures. What beautiful places you camped! Well done!

  9. #9
    Moderator TallPaul's Avatar
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    Great write up. Iíve been to the Olympics a number of times but never camped on the coast. It looks beautiful-remote, rugged and powerful.
    And good lessons learned from a first timer. Thatíll be useful to others. On porch mode, you can usually lower one end and that will stop the water from pooling - depends on the tarp.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TallPaul View Post
    Great write up. Iíve been to the Olympics a number of times but never camped on the coast. It looks beautiful-remote, rugged and powerful.
    And good lessons learned from a first timer. Thatíll be useful to others. On porch mode, you can usually lower one end and that will stop the water from pooling - depends on the tarp.
    Thanks for the tip, I will try that this weekend! This weeks forecast is sunny, I decided to take a few days off and talk advantage of it.

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