Joelle Nelson, with the very sharp eyes, found some treasures along the high tide line. Algae, a shark pouch, and on the right is some vertebrae.
The Olympic Coast Cleanup 2005!
"The wildest, the most remote and, I think, the most picturesque beach area of our whole coastline lies under the pounding surf along the Pacific Ocean in the State of Washington . . . It is a place of haunting beauty, of deep solitude. "William O. Douglas
Oil City/Hoh Head topo Map
What to Bring?
Once again the Washington Alpine Club participated as a club in the annual Beach Cleanup. This is our Fourth year. We had an excellent turnout and very nice weather overall!
The Olympic Beach Cleanup is the idea of our 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 500 volunteers participating, as well as the Park Service, Cities of Port Angeles, and Forks, and even the Makah Indian Nation. The WAC is also one of the sponsors.
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 dream. Now it is only a place in the Hoh Rain Forest, at the mouth of the Hoh River. 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! Ruby Beach sounds much more inviting, but isn't really.
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, sheltered from the wind by big driftwood logs. We had a group kitchen area, and the tents dispersed following large group camping procedures. We practiced "Leave no Trace".
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 redeposited. What is a sandy beach one year, might be a huge pile of logs the next.
This year the low tide was a 7:00 am. We immediately headed North along the beach and cobbles around Diamond Head to Jefferson Cove. Only Michael and Jonathan were able to make it. The rest of us were too late with the storm surge raising the tide beyond the 8 feet predicted.
In the past, with more debris on Jefferson Cove we carried it to the far North end of the beach where we made a big cache high above the High Tide Line. Jan arranges a vessel and a Zodiac to come and pick up all the backcountry caches.
At the North end of Jefferson Cove is some wonderful tide pools at low tide. 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.
Michael and Jonathan were able to return in the early evening when the tide again receded. They carried 4 bags around from Jefferson Cove to Hoh Beach and later to the trailhead. Thanks you guys!
We had learned from our friend the NPS Ranger that the styrofoam and plastic were the worst, 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, prescription glasses, and other good stuff. There always seems to be metal cables, chains, plates, and other big metal items. There was even a big 40 gallon barrel. This stuff is considered okay pollution wise so we didn't worry about hauling it out. Our only interesting finds were a water bottle from Japan, and a water bottle from Australia. The mild winter resulted in less debris washing up on shore.
The famous Japanese Glass Floats are still found occasionally along our Ocean, but not near as many as in times past.
Evening saw the team have some great fun! We had a big Beach Fire and enjoyed appetizers all evening. We ate fresh mussels (supplied by Chris), deluxe Jiffy Pop, and reportedly, the best Smores ever! At 10 pm raindrops signaled time to retreat to the tents for the night. The fire burned all night, and served as a signal passing ships.
The lighthouse far offshore on Destruction Island came on exactly at sunset. Does anyone know why it is called Destruction Island? We made a big bon fire to signal passing ships.
Sunday morning saw the sunlight streaming down the Hoh Valley and lighting the monuments in the Ocean. Soon we were basking in the warm sunshine. Bald Eagles perched in the Sika Spruce high above, while others soared at the edge of the sky.
The Bald Eagle, which is our national bird, is the only Eagle unique to North America. At one time, the word "bald" meant "white," not hairless. Bald Eagles are found over most of North America, from Alaska and Canada to northern Mexico. About half of the world's 70,000 bald eagles live in Alaska. Combined with the British Columbia's population of about 20,000, 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
We even saw a Sea Otter!
Almost 150,000 northern Sea Otters inhabit the coastline of Alaska down to
California, and there are approximately 9,000 in Russia. Two
hundred years ago, demand for the otter's pelt nearly led to its extinction.
Sea otters are one of the only mammals other than primates known to use tools. Otters use small rocks or other shellfish to pry prey from rocks and to hammer or pry open their food. They can dive up to 180 feet when foraging for food. Their favorite foods include sea urchins, abalone, mussels, clams, crabs, and snails. More info at http://www.npca.org/marine_and_coastal/marine_wildlife/seaotter.asp
A leisurely morning and then a leisurely hike out on Sunday. A grand time was had by all.
Everything collected on the Hoh Beach had to be hauled out to the Trailhead for pickup by volunteers from Port Angeles. We left them a large load of 21 bags, a tire, and big pieces of plastic.
Thanks always to our leader Jan Klippert for organizing this huge event.
Thanks to Jonathan Balise, Michael Balise, Lee Parsons, Sean Parsons, Tim Sargent, Chris Sargent, John Sargent, Joelle Nelson, Victor Caro, Laura Sargent, John, Audrey Pitigliano, Doerte Mahanay, and Mike Mahanay for taking time out to participate in the cleanup!
For more information on visiting the wild Olympic Coast: http://www.nps.gov/olym/wic/coast.htm
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