“The child in us is always there, you know, and its the best part of us, the winged part that travels farthest.” ~ Elizabeth Goudge
Until we started venturing off into the wild I only felt my inner child emerge on rare occasions. And when she did spill forth I hardly recognized her. But, each time my bold bunion-ed feet take flight upon a dirt path she wells up in my chest and seeps through my worn and wrinkled skin. She oohs and ahhs and dances and prances and wonders and wanders and wafts about. Her song is a silent melody of thankfulness, for all she sees, all she has and all that is yet to be. The wild enthralls her.
I get to dance around and explore the world with a part of me that never grows old or grows up but always and forever I am also a mother. And what I want for my kids, more than fame and fortune and friends galore, is to never lose touch with their childlike wonder. So although it seems as if they are growing less fond of the wild or just more fond of the unwild – I can’t help but continue to drag them out there.
The South Coast Wilderness Trail bobs and weaves in an out of the lush Olympic Forest and traipses along beautiful sandy beaches for 17 miles from Third Beach to Oil City. Early Friday morning we loaded up the few teenagers we could gather (Chase, Hadley and my nephew Parker) to make the four hour drive to La Push and portioned out a mere 6 miles of that stretch to a little camp spot we named GnomeWhere (somewhere in between Strawberry Point and Toleak). It was the perfect distance for the child within us all to come alive, breath the salty ocean air, feel the sand in our toes and welcome the sun drenched kisses from above.
Later while chatting around the fire we named this spot Gnomewhere. We saw a variety of pictures in the face of these rocks that promptly became the boys’ playground, but the one we liked the best was of two gnomes chumming it on the beach, sitting back to back:)
Bear canisters and backcountry permits are required for overnight stays on the Olympic Coast. You can obtain both at the WIC in Port Angeles. Or, if you own your own canisters you can grab a mail-in permit at the Third Beach Trailhead. Just be sure to take of the wild by following through on the mail-in portion. The overnight fee is $8 per person 16 and older per night.
I did a lot of searching before this trip to figure out just how low the tide needed to be to get from point A (Third Beach) to point B (Gnomewhere – or rather Somewhere in between Strawberry Point and Toleak). But, to no avail. So I just printed out a tide table for Third Beach at www.willyweather.com and then penciled in the feet at each ebb and flow as well as at several points a few hours in-between. Our morning high tides seemed to be relatively low (less then 5feet coming in and just over 5feet when we headed out), so I hoped that if we started our hike just as the tide was headed back out the beaches would continue to open up as we went along and we’d make it to camp just fine.
Luckily, my reasoning panned out on the way there. We even made it to the second rope climb at Taylor Point with just enough room to walk around the bend instead of climbing over it. I am guessing that the tide was at about 4ft when we passed through. At 4ft or less we made it all the way to Scotts Creek and around the next rocky bend without a problem.
On the way back out we didn’t want to wait for the tide to hit its 5.4ft height at 10:40 so we left camp at 8a.m., with the tide pulsing at what I think was probably just under that 4ft mark, hoping to slide through before it rose too high for us to make it all the way out. This proved to be a little more stressful than I thought. The first stretch of beach between Strawberry Point, crossing the rocky area by The Giants Graveyard and on down to Scotts Creek was fine. But, when we climbed back out of the woods around the bluff we had to wait in line to scale down the ropes. There were only two groups of two in front of us but one of them was really slow and at one point I wasn’t sure if we’d make it across the beach below in time. I am guessing the tide was close to 4.5ft as we slipped through and by the time we got to Taylor Point we had to climb the ropes rather walking around as we had on the way in. We reached Third Beach at a quarter after 10 which was just 30 minutes shy of high tide that morning (5.4ft) and even there there one little rocky spot that we just barely made it through. That second to last picture is of Hads acting like it was no big deal:)
With all that being said, I believe you want the tide to be at least as low as 4ft to get around the tricky spots – Taylor Point, the rocky beach in-between Taylor Point and Scott’s Bluff, as well as that point near the Giants Graveyard. And note to self, traveling while the tide is heading out is so much more pleasant than scurrying about while its heading in.
Day 1 – Third Beach Trailhead to our watering hole past Toleak and then back to Gnomewhere ~ 8 miles
Day 2 – Day Hike from Gnomewhere (somewhere in-between Strawberry Point and Toleak) down the beach and through the woods to that long and lonely stretch of beach just past Goodman Creek ~ 6 miles round trip
Day 3 – Gnomewhere back to the Trailhead ~ 6 miles
Trip Total ~ 20 miles for Mikey and Me, 14 for the kids (minus the day hike)