Ah, the coast. One of my favorite parts of Washington, but admittedly the part I visit the least often.

So when a friend invited me on a somewhat last-minute backpacking trip to hike the Cape Alava Loop (AKA the Ozette Triangle), I jumped at the opportunity even though my week had been overwhelmingly hectic. I borrowed gear from my friend and rented the rest from the REI Flagship store, prepped my gear, charged my camera and finished packing and headed to bed at 2am. 

Day 1

Cut to roughly 4 hours later, and I’m turning off my alarm and hopping out of bed to gather the rest of my gear, eat breakfast, feed the cats, answer some quick work emails and get out on the road. 

I broke up the 5 hour drive to grab an annual National Park Pass at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles and I was reminded that I still haven’t done the Hurricane Hill hike. That’s now on my summer “must-hike” list. 

After grabbing lunch at a lovely local pizza shop called Gordy’s Pizza & Pasta, I got back in the car for the 80 mile drive to the trailhead. Around Lake Crescent though, I couldn’t help but stop for a few photos.  

Finally reaching the trailhead around 2:30pm, I reconveined with the group and got ready for the 3 mile hike to camp. Outfitted with my friend’s pack and my rented gear, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel on the trail, but meeting new people and the excitement of my first trip made the hike fly by. Not that it was a difficult hike, per-say. Just 3 miles and about 500 ft of elevation change. I was too excited to be out in the woods to remember to take photos of this portion of the trail. The boardwalks were stunning and I was glad the weather held until we got to camp. 

And then we got to Cape Alava Campground just in time for the rain to come. It was pretty manageable while we set up camp and made dinner, but shortly after we retired to our tents and called it an early night. 

Day 2

The rain started to clear up as we rose in the morning around 7am. We wanted to beat the high-tide that was starting to come in, so we broke down camp, ate breakfast and got on the beach pretty quickly. 

The hike to Sand Point Campground is just over 3 miles along the beach. We started with our rain covers and jackets on out of caution, but after a few minutes of hiking the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds. 

Hiking on the beach has never been my favorite (post-holing in pebbles, balancing over tide pools and climbing over driftwood makes 3 miles feel much longer), but it was a stunning day with new friends, so I couldn’t complain. 

We got to camp before noon and found a lovely site with a makeshift table and someone had built a hammock and a swing out of driftwood and fishing nets. The sun was still shining so we lounged around for a bit, and I got to take a few more photos. 

Birds blended into the washed-up wood and seaweed on the beach, and chipmunks were aggressively looking for food at our site. (This is why we don't feed wildlife, friends!) We found hoof tracks on the beach a quarter mile from the campsite. Once I found this babe it was clear who left them.

Heading Home

Around 3pm, I said my goodbyes and started the last 3 miles back to Ozette Lake Trailhead. This was easily the least-technical part of the trail. Boardwalks covered the majority and there were very few hills to climb, which made it a quick 3 miles - I made it back to my car in just over an hour. 

After changing my socks, washing my face in the bathroom and organizing the gear in the back of my car, I set off back to Seattle. The rain came back off and on throughout my drive, but by the time the sun started to set I was crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and almost home. 

It was a great trip! Probably one of the easiest introductions to backpacking as possible (with very low milage and only one night to camp) but it definitely confirmed my appetite to do more trips this summer. I also got inspired by someone’s truck-camping rig so I might have to convert my SUV for some quick trips this summer.