The view of Jefferson Cove from on top or Hoh Head. This beach can only be accessed at low tide.
Olympic Coast Cleanup 2008!
Oil City/Hoh Head topo Map
What to Bring?
Once again the Washington Alpine Club participated in the annual Olympic Beach Cleanup. This is our seventh year! We had an excellent turnout and mixed weather!
The Olympic Beach Cleanup was the idea of our good friend Jan Klippert. He was hiking the Olympic Coast and noticed a variety of debris that had washed up on the beaches. The current across the Pacific Ocean carries objects from as far away as Asia! Jan went home and started making phone calls. He now has a growing annual event with over 800 volunteers participating, as well as the National Park Service, Cities of Port Angeles, and Forks, and even the Makah Indian Nation. Sadly, Jan passed away in January 2007.
The Trailhead at Oil City is at the end of a dirt road, at the Olympic National Park boundary. Most people don't know it, but there is no city, nor any oil, at Oil City. At one time it was a drilling prospect in someone's crazy dream. Now it is only a place in the Hoh Rain Forest, at the mouth of the Hoh River. This year we even came across one guy looking for property he had bought at Oil City. I hope he didn't pay too much! The Hoh River begins itís journey high above on the Blue Glacier of Mount Olympus. Oil City is an ugly name for an extremely beautiful place. The silver lining in the name Oil City? It helps keeps folks away!
It is less than two miles to
the Hoh Beach and the Pacific Ocean. As usual, we set up camp above the high
water line in the shelter of the drift logs. The beach had changed a lot since last year.
All the driftwood was new, and the Hoh River had formed a spit and emptied
into the Pacific Ocean 100 meters north of where it did last year.
Hoh Beach is interesting in that large amount of logs and driftwood accumulate on the beach each winter. They wash down the Hoh River, and are deposited on the beach by the high storm tides. Each year the beach has a different character as logs and wood are washed away or deposited. What is a sandy beach one year, might be a huge pile of logs the next.
This year the low tide was at 11:40 AM. This was perfect as our team headed North along the beach and cobbles around Diamond Head to Jefferson Cove. Diamond Head can only be passed at low tide.
We have learned from our friend the NPS Ranger that the styrofoam and plastic were the worst of all the debris, as it continues to break down into smaller and smaller pieces, and leeches into the water.
Armed with trash bags we picked up floats, styrofoam, plastic bottles, rope, pieces of fishing nets, the annual propane tank, and tangles of fishing line. We did find a few pieces of metal, but not as much as in previous years.
We stepped up to carry all the debris from Jefferson Cove to the trailhead. This was quite a challenge, and involved big loads and multiple trips.
In past years we carried it to the far North end of the beach where we made a big cache high above the High Tide Line. The days of the support vessel and a Zodiac, or helicopter to come and pick up all the backcountry caches are over, and we carried 100% of the collection to the Trailhead.
At the North end of Jefferson Cove are some wonderful tide pools at low tide. They are full of starfish! This is also the place where a ladder takes hikers off the beach to the trail that goes over the impassable Hoh Headland to Mosquito Creek. 17 miles, two creek crossings, a waterfall, and two other Headlands later hikers exit at Third Beach.
The famous Japanese Glass Floats are still found occasionally along our Ocean, but not near as many as in times past. Jan has found one! Rumor on the beach was that one was found at Kalaloch Beach this weekend.
In the afternoon we had smores, then a light rain came, so we relaxed, napped, and made multiple trips to the trailhead.
Evening saw the rain go and the team gather around the fire for some fun! The lighthouse far offshore on Destruction Island came on exactly at sunset. Destruction Island has been the scene of many shipwrecks in years past.
John Olds got us going on some singing! We did some old Irish songs, and traditional folk songs. Singing was real treat! Thanks John! Our fire burned most of the night, and served as a signal passing ships. We had a shower just before sunrise.
Sunday morning saw the sunlight streaming down the Hoh Valley and lighting the sea stacks in the Pacific Ocean. Soon we were basking in the warm sunshine on the beach.
A leisurely morning and then a leisurely hike out on Sunday. A grand time was had by all.
We saw several Bald Eagles
Fun Bald Eagle Facts
1. The Bald Eagle is not really bald; it actually has white feathers on its head, neck, and tail. Bald is a derivation of balde, an Old English word meaning white. The eagle was named for its white feathers instead for a lack of feathers.
2. Bald Eagles may use the same nest year after year, adding more twigs and branches each time. One nest was found that had been used for 34 years and weighed over two tons!
3. The Bald Eagle can fly 20 to 40 mph in normal flight and can dive at speeds over 100 mph.
4. Bald Eagles can actually swim! They use an overhand movement of the wings that is very much like the butterfly stroke. Bald Eagles have also been known to swim to shore with a heavy fish using their strong wings as paddles.
5. Eagles feed mainly on fish, but water fowl, small mammals and carrion supplement their diet, especially when fish are in short supply. Eagles can fly up to 30 m.p.h. and can dive at speeds up to 100 m.p.h. Their keen eyesight allows them to spot fish at distances up to 1 mile. Eagles swoop down to seize a fish in their talons and carry it off, but can only lift about five pounds.
Bald Eagles are a very important part of the environment. By eating dead animal matter, they help with nature's clean-up process. Bald Eagles are also hunters, so they keep animal populations strong. They do this by killing weak, old, and slower animals, leaving only the healthiest to survive.
The Bald Eagle is our national symbol, so when it became threatened with extinction in the 1960s due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and other problems created by humans, people took notice. For years the bald eagle was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Now the number of Bald Eagles has increased so much that in June, 1994 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed that they be downgraded from endangered status to the less urgent status of threatened in all but three of the lower 48 states. The success of the Bald Eagle is a tribute to the Endangered Species Act and is an incentive for increased awareness and conservation everywhere.
The northwest coast of North America is by far the most dense area for Bald Eagles. They flourish on the Olympic Coast because of the salmon. Dead or dying fish are an important food source for all Bald Eagles. More about Bald Eagles at http://www.eagles.org/moreabout.html
In 2006 we saw some Gray Whales swimming by on the way to Alaska! The weather needs to be quite clear, and the sea calm to see them.
Beginning in February we begin seeing whales migrating back to Alaska with their newborn babies by their sides. There is sometimes what appears to be an overlap in migration patterns with some whales still heading south while others are moving north. On their northern migration they swim close to shore, with their babies on the shore side. It has been said this is to protect them from attacks from Great White Sharks. This is often when the best viewing can take place because they are moving more slowly because of their young calves and also they are swimming against the current.
More info on Gray Whales
We didn't see any but the giant Pacific octopus lives along rocky shores in tide pools and in areas from the low-tide line to depths of 1,650 feet. It can be found along the Pacific coast from Alaska to southern California. More info at http://www.npca.org/marine_and_coastal/marine_wildlife/octopus.asp
Everything collected on the Hoh Beach has to be hauled out to the Trailhead for pickup by volunteers from Port Angeles. This year we decided to do one better and take everything to the NPS at Forks. We were surprised that they not only didn't want it, but suggested we take it back to Seattle! Yikes! Doerte and I made the run to Mora and deposited it there. We left them a large load of 26 bags, other assorted rubbish, and big pieces of plastic.
Thanks always to our leader Jan Klippert for organizing this huge event!!!!
Thanks to Michael Balese, Eli Holmes, Lee Parsons, Chloe Parsons, John Sargent, Tami Sargent, Betsy Bertiaux, Doerte Mahanay, Mike Mahanay, and for taking time out to participate in the cleanup, and making these two days so much fun!
Planning a trip to the Olympic Coast?
You'll need to check the Olympic Coast Tide Tables
For more information on visiting our wild Olympic Coast:
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