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  • Jeff

Outstanding Oympics

Hello all,

Writing to you today from Port Townsend on, wait for it, THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA! I know its only been a few days since I last had the chance to write, but the towns came thick and fast in this last section; one could probably just carry snacks and resupply along the way as you make your way down Whidbey Island. Its pretty astounding, going from such remote and logistically difficult part of the state, with mountains and forest, down to flat coastline and towns every 30 miles within the span of just a few days. The entire character of the trail has changed to beach walks, fishing villages, and farming communities in a way that is reminiscent of the Te Araroa and its wild mood swings. Anyway, here's the last few days.

I decided to stay in town for a good breakfast at the Calico Cafe, and ended up hiking out a gigantic cinnamon bun worthy of song for a midday snack. The trail out of Anacortes was a mishmash of navigation through small suburbs, twisting trails through local parks, and road walks on long, straight highway as it sprinted southwards. After bumbling through the forested Heart Lake region, with about 30 different trail intersections every few tenths of a mile, the trail arrived at Deceptions Pass (which is more a narrow straight than a pass, with surging tides changing the flow of water through its aperture every few hours). Mom, Elise and I had visited here at the end of my PCT hike, so I once again found myself walking familiar ground. The area was shrouded in a clammy morning fog but bustled with tourist activity regardless. From here, I decided to take the "old" PNT route that led along the west coast, with a short section of beach to change the scenery a bit. Eventually the trail cut in to detour around the Whidbey Island Naval Air Base, where jet fighters constantly screamed and circled overhead (something, something, North Korea). After a quick stop at a local farm stand for some ice cream and fresh peaches, I continued the slog along SR 20, a busy highway that the path has been running parallel to for the last several days. Farther south, the official trail starts another rocky beach walk, but by now the tides had risen to make it impassable. With no options to camp in the area (I mean, there are always options, just not good or specifically legal ones), I just went ahead and pounded out the miles of pavement paralleling the beach down to Whidbey State Park and its campground. Here I caught the last glimpse of sunset before having dinner on a bluff and settling in with several cyclists for the night.

Foggy Deception "Pass"

An owl outside Anacortes

An old mine shaft near Deception Pass

Sunset over the Pacific

Having put in a lot of miles yesterday, I was in position to arrive early for the ferry to Port Townsend this morning. The trail essentially follows the coast, climbing on highly eroded bluffs and along beaches while passing by the remnants of old WWII gun emplacements that were thankfully never fired in wartime. Today, they see more use as giant cement playscapes for children. The weather was gray and overcast as I walked down the coast, the light drizzle in the air being the most precipitation I've seen all trip. I ended up in Casey State Park where a half marathon was taking place amongst the gun emplacements, a stones throw from the pier. Unfortunately I missed the first ferry across Puget Sound by ONE MINUTE, because a problem with a boat had necessitate a change in the schedule I was unaware of. Not that it really mattered, given that I am farther along than I need to be... but damnitall. I caught the next ferry under clearing skies, and booked it to the post office to retrieve my bounce box with the rest of the maps and gear I would be needing. This included my bear canister, the plastic barrel designed to stop bears from getting to your food, that I have to carry through the Olympic Park or risk getting fined by a ranger. The bulky item makes packing difficult, and is one of the things I have to figure out while here.

Old gun emplacements

Old gun emplacements

Eroding cliffs

Some brave deer in Casey State Park

Approaching Port Townsend

Unbeknownst to me and my terrible planning skills, there is a fair going on in town this weekend. A summer weekend. In a tourist town. Which means no real rooms are available. Thankfully some trail angels reside here and have been gracious enough to put me up for the night, so I'll be heading over there asap for a shower and such. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me. Additionally, I have to sort out my permits for camping in the park, resupply, and figure out how to spend the last few days out here given that I'll probably finish a few days in advance of my mom and brother arriving on the 23rd. It should be a restful few days here, but I can't wait to explore the Olympics. Wish me luck!

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